The XX Factor

B.Y.O.-Style on the Fourth of July

In which our female counterpart breaks down how to attend all your Independence Day barbecues impeccably dressed and ready to eat.

Do your best "Cool Hand Luke" impression this Fourth of July (just keep yourself out of handcuffs).

Forget work-sanctioned weekday sunburns: Chief among the pleasures of celebrating Independence Day is the good old fashioned American BBQ, and since the menu has thankfully evolved from mayo-slathered salads to artisanal sausages and growlers of microbrew, your wardrobe should follow suit. Leave the oversize polo on the golf course tomorrow, gents, and embrace a more sophisticated take on backyard dressing.

Going casual is still the primary priority, so keep a few things in mind: Start with fabrics that are lightweight and summery (cotton, linen, seersucker); zero in on a few silhouettes that won’t inhibit you from buttering up your corn on the cob like you mean it (step away from the madras blazer with elbow patches); and take advantage of the fact that it’s July and flex your go-to-hell preppy muscle with bold primary colors that would make you feel like a sorry Superman impostor six months from now.

Once you’ve got the necessary elements down, mix and match them for an ideal barbecue look: A pair of seersucker pants, a slim-fitting cotton polo shirt, and topsiders say “I could be a long lost Kennedy brother,” yet aren’t so stuffy as to inhibit your enjoyment of some boozy bocce ball. A plaid short sleeve shirt and tailored chino shorts are the ideal intersection of cool and comfortable, provided you tuck in your shirt and add a canvas belt for good measure. And when all else fails, rely on the quintessentially American combo of khakis and a chambray shirt, which will put you in total alpha company with guys like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.

Take it from a chick who’s regrettably spent more than one black tie affair hiking up her strapless dress on the dance floor all night—it’s impossible to look cool if you’re not comfortable. Then again, it’s impossible to be the nattiest guy at the party if you’re not willing to push the envelope a little. So find the perfect balance between the two, then go forth and eat your weight in blueberry pie. It’s the American thing to do.

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