I receive lots of questions via email, and around this time of year, I start to get this one a lot. So I thought I’d answer it in article form so it helps more than just one dude. Here it goes:
Since the weather is starting to warm up, I want to know what I can wear and still look well-put-together, without resorting to the cargo shorts and tee shirts that most guys my age wear.
Ah yes, I love this time of year, when we need to start shedding layers and choose lighter, more breathable fabrics.
For some, that means bustin’ out the baggy cargo shorts, Affliction tees (as if those were ever put away), and flip flops with built-in bottle opener. Ugh. (By the way, that was an affiliate link, but please don’t buy those. I don’t want to earn $0.43 from your purchase of those flip flops.)
But not you! Am I right? You read Effortless Gent, so of course the aforementioned outfit isn’t an option… not one you’d fess up to, anyway.
So what to wear, what to wear. Let’s assume your main concern (other than looking put-together) is the temperature, and the desire to stay cool. This is what I usually put on when the sun starts to beat down for hours on end:
The Bottom Half
Opt for a pair of lighter-weight chinos instead. Sure you can stick with the khaki variety, but go for the darker khaki color, or the really really light (almost white) hues. That medium khaki is ubiquitous among the corporate middle management crowd. Let’s let them have it.
Even better, go F’ing crazy with your chinos this spring and summer. Pick up two or three pairs in some wild, bright ass colors. Just do it! Don’t even think about it. Seriously. This will be fun.
Stick to around $50 a pair and you won’t go broke before Labor Day. Or if you were a good boy this winter and saving up all your scratch, check out some of these options from Bonobos (about $90 a pair, scroll down past the Middle Management Khakis).
If you can grab a great pair of slim linen trousers, you may want to live in them all summer. You may also see varieties in a linen/cotton blend, also a good option.
I love denim as much as the next guy, but that heavy, dark stuff can get really swampy if you’re outdoors all day.
There are a few good pairs of chambray trousers out there; if you can find a pair, bravo. This may or may not be your cup of tea, but I think they can look good if pulled off correctly. They essentially look like denim, but are very light and soft to the touch.
Speaking of chambray, let’s talk about shorts.
All the pants I mentioned above also have their short counterparts.
An aside, before we get too far into this discussion: Shorts are great, but please, learn to wear them right.
Baggy cargos and denim shorts might’ve worked when you were 14, but you’re not a high school freshman anymore (right?). You’re a grown ass man. Stay away from the cargos, and learn what the appropriate length for shorts is (and nope, “at the ankle” is the wrong answer).
Sport shirts in… you guessed it, linen, cotton, chambray
Hey, guess what? You know the fabrics I kept mentioning over and over for the bottom half of your body? Linen, cotton, chambray? They make shirts in those same exact materials! Brilliant, right? So not only will your bottom half stay cool, your top half can as well.
If you’re sticking to long sleeve sport shirts, the traditional oxford cloth is a good option. So is any other lightweight cotton shirt, for that matter. Chambray and linen, also good options for shirting. Here are a few to choose from.
I love Polo shirts, both the style of shirt and the actual brand with the horse. I have probably 50 of them. They’re essentially my t-shirts, as I always throw one on in lieu of a t-shirt if I’m exiting my place of residence and it’s hot as balls out.
A collar always adds to the formality of an outfit, so if you want to slowly start upgrading your wardrobe this summer, pick up a few Polo shirts in basic colors, and maybe a few bright, crazy colors too.
Try as many as you can, but if you’re looking for recommendations, I prefer the Custom Fit Polo by Ralph Lauren. The fit is trimmer and more athletic vs. the regular version, which is a more traditional cut (read: HUGE and billowy).
For a less pricey option, Gap has some good polos.
The rules of fit still apply
Fit is just as important now as it always is. Just because you’re letting loose doesn’t mean the silhouette of your clothes should too. You’ve learned a lot over the years by reading EG, so make sure you apply those rules to your summer wardrobe.
Pants should still be cut trim relative to your body size, and have the right amount of break (please no pooling of fabric at the ankle, and no shredded cuffs due to constantly walking on them).
Shirts shouldn’t be able to fit two people, just one, so keep these trim as well. You’ll probably be wearing many of your sport shirts untucked, so make sure they hit right below the belt. Take a look at this article from Primer Magazine for where your shirt should hit.
This rule applies to Polo shirts as well; you don’t want them covering your butt. Also, don’t tuck these in. If you think you have a situation in mind where you’d want to tuck in your Polo, let me know in the comments, but I generally advise against this.
Ah, we can’t forget about shoes.
For the love of God, say no to flip flops, sandals, slippers, whatever you call them. I can already hear it in the comments, all you pro-flip-flop wearers. It’s your life, do what you want. Just know I’ll be watching you, and judging.
Haha, just kidding. Or am I?
No but really, here are the only times you should be wearing flip flops: 1.) On the beach, 2.) Walking to the beach from your home / hotel, 3.) within 5 blocks of a swimmable body of water or a shoreline, 4.) a public bathroom shower (eew).
If you live in a big city, stop wearing flip flops. If you live in a corn field, stop wearing flip flops (besides, you might be risking your toes’ safety, aren’t there snakes in those fields?).
If you live in a beach town or an island, then I’m okay with you wearing flip flops 365 days a year, but the minute you leave your town (or island), put some real shoes on.
Okay, so we’ve established that flip flops / sandals / slippers are a big no. What to wear, then?
Sperry Top-siders are a great option. They’re breathable, made of leather (or canvas), they take a beating, they’re meant to be worn in warm weather, they can get wet, you can wear them without socks… the list goes on.
There you go, three options that work well for warm weather and with casual wear. Just remember, flip-flops are great for the beach or pool, but not for… anything else.
This should get you started in building your wardrobe for the upcoming warm months. Are you as excited as I am? Any fun trips planned where you get to wear some snazzy new gear? Tell us below in the comments.
PS — I’m finalizing my first manual, called The Effortless Guide to Graduating Your Style, or GYS for short. If you love the info you’ve gotten from men’s style sites, but want a concise guide that helps you reinvent your wardrobe from the ground up starting with what you already have, you’re gonna love this.
Get on the list for early notification and a chance to snag a copy at a discounted price. Our early group has already left the building! You’re a bit late. But it’s cool, get on EG’s mailing list for more info on the release of GYS. You can sign up here.