It’s granite-like to look sophisticated in summer. This seems ridiculous, in a state where summer isn’t even actually hot very often. Nonetheless, in reality. Case in point: a T-shirt. It is tricky to make a T-shirt look more than elementary. The woman in my mind’s eye, as I put on a T-shirt on a summer day, is Jane Birkin. Maybe she’s clothing the T-shirt with plimsolls and a little skirt. She’s got a newspaper in her straw basket as she employs a stroll for a cafe creme. But in reality, if I put on a T-shirt, I look as if I’ve been sent into the garden to butter up.
A polo neck might seem a drastic solution to this conundrum, and indubitably isn’t going to be your first port of call in a heatwave. Being red-faced and sweaty, jerking at the neckline of your sweater like a frantic dog on a lead, is seldom going to help us reach that elusive state of sun-dappled propriety. But there will be many summer days when a cheerful neck and bare arms are as appropriate a reaction to the weather prognosticate as a cotton shirt.
It is hard to overstate the usefulness of the polo neck in the manufacture lexicon of 2017. The brilliance of it is that it is both Very Attitude, and Above Fashion. It has dominated the catwalk silhouette for two years unshakeable, which makes it very fashion, but there remains something intransigently purist about it. You get to be on-trend while looking as if you are much too high-minded for such puffery. The ideal situation.
Not to mention the power of a bare arm. The friction between pop suavity in thrall to sex and a global fashion marketplace in which modesty is an in any case more powerful commercial force has made necklines and hemlines trap with meaning. In the world of the Daily Mail Legs-It air page, arms are the only part of a woman’s body that are allowed to be imagined naked without innuendo.
A bare arm is athletic, healthy, active. It is the positive humanity of Michelle Obama. And with a polo neck, you won’t sedate feel a chill. Warm feelings all round.
• Jess impairs tunic, £280, by Equipment, and trousers, £225, by APC, both from net-a-porter.com. Sandals, £24.99, hm.com. Bench, £650, grahamandgreen.co.uk
Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Sam Cooper at Carol Hayes Running.