Is there anything more typical of an Australian summer than a backyard barbecue? Aside from humidity, mozzies and blowflies, of course.
Over the past few months I've frequently had the pleasure of kicking back with something cold and frothy in hand, all the while inhaling the delicious aroma of cooking meat. While most of these gatherings have been low-key affairs, one invitation came with a pretty direct dress code.
It literally said: "Don't be a slob."
To some this might sound a little pretentious. We're eating dead flesh with our hands in a backyard, after all. But I did see their point.
Too often, men (myself included) confuse casual with sloppy, turning up to what is essentially still a formal dinner – only outdoors – looking like they've just rolled off their couch.
Old singlets, baggy denim shorts and the monumental evil that is a pair of thongs – fine if you're spending the day on the couch eating pizza, maybe not so great when you've been invited somewhere where your host has taken the effort to prepare you a meal.
With that in mind, I thought I would put together a 'how-to' guide to ensure your appearance is deserving of the efforts of your flesh-frying hosts.
Casual, but neat
Sure, the last thing that anyone is thinking about at a barbecue is putting on a backyard fashion parade. But that doesn't mean that you don't need to put in any effort at all.
Keep it casual, but neat. Ditch that singlet. It's basically one step away from being shirtless at the dinner table.
A simple cotton t-shirt, such as these ones from Australian label Bassike, are perfect to combat the afternoon heat while keeping you looking casually sharp. Otherwise, if you're keen to up the ante on your sophistication yet still maintain the perfect chill level, you could try something like this lightweight chambray by The Academy Brand.
Nothing below the knee
I've already waxed lyrical on the need for men to move on from their obsession for shapeless three-quarter length shorts, so I will keep this brief.
Shorts are called shorts for a reason. Anything finishing below the knee that isn't actual pants is really a culotte and doesn't belong on the body of any self-respecting male.
If you're fond of bold details, these tailored camo print shorts by Saturdays Surf NYC at Incu are a great choice. However, if the idea of loud patterns is about as appealing as vegetarian hamburger patties, a pair of simple black chino shorts such as these ones by Goliath are perfect for any occasion.
If the shoe fits
A simple pair of white, cotton plimsolls are about as fancy as you need to get when it comes to footwear. Comfortable and timeless, they'll protect your feet from dreaded bindiis as equally as they will random drips from your steak sandwich.
My personal favourites are these low-cut tennis shoes made by French label, Spring Court. Made using Egyptian cotton and vulcanized rubber, they're 100 per cent machine safe so if you happen to grub them up during a zealous match of backyard cricket, one spin with a touch of Napisan will have them looking sparkling new again.
What do you think is appropriate to wear to a barbecue?