Hey gents,

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).

There’s a good variety of chambray shorts out right now. And of course, there are casual twill shorts in every color imaginable. Linen, also another awesome option.

Up Top

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.

Polo shirts

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.

Driving shoes are a nice choice when you’re wearing some of the chinos I mentioned above. Good ol’ canvas sneakers (Tretorn Nylite, Converse, Superga) are great too.

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.

All done!

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.



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PUBLISHED April 11, 2012

Barron is a Lean Wardrobe Advocate and Founding Editor of Effortless Gent. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Tumblr.

  • Greg_S

    I’ve seen the tucked polo done well. I’m not one to do it myself but I’ve considered it. When everything fits, and the guy is in good shape, I think it can be pulled off.

    • Yeah good point. Really fit dudes who wear slim cut polos and tuck them in look great. I think a V-shaped torso is necessary in this situation.

      It’s also all about what else the guy is wearing. Is that it, some chinos and a tucked in polo? Kinda boring. But if he has say, an awesome sweater or a rugby over it, or maybe a lightweight sport coat… it can be really interesting.

      Appreciate your comment!

  • I like to throw out the suggestion of LL Bean Double L Chinos and the matching shorts.  They come in a few different shades, run about $35-45/pair and like all Bean stuff they have a lifetime guarantee.  If the rip, split, whatever just call them and with a little UPSing you’ll have a new pair.  They come in a few different cuts too so you can fit them to your body type and they also go up to 46 waist for those of us with a more “robust” build.   I live in them year round.

    • As far as I can tell these would work well for our more meaty readers, as they’re a more classic cut with lots of room in the seat / thighs (at least compared to our usual slim suspects).

      Jim what kind of denim do you wear? Can you compare the fit of these Double L Chinos to say, a 501 Levis? 505?

      • Actually I wear the LL Bean Double L Denim too so I can’t compare to the Levi’s.  Things tend to get scarce when you get above 42.  I like these because they don’t have the overly generous cuts of your typical Big and Tall clothes ( ridiculously wide legs, etc) I was wearing the Natural cut of these pants but I’ve tried some of the Classic cut and have gotten compliments on how well they fit.  I’ll admit I was self conscious at first because they are slimmer than I’m used to but I guess I needn’t have worried.  It’s a hard niche to fit (no pun intended) but they offer a lot more than your traditional B&T which are cut horribly and have, IMHO, a sloppy look and I also find most B&T stuff very costly for the low quality that it is.  I urge folks to give them a try and if they don’t work out LL Bean has probably the most generous return policy in the world so nothings to be lost except a trip to your local UPS store to drop off the return.

        I don’t want to sound like I’m on their payroll, I’m not, it just that it can be difficult to find clothes when you are larger that don’t either look like they were ripped from a golf course circa 1987 or a Heavy D and the Boyz video shoot so when you find something that works you tend to adopt in a uniform like fashion.  


  • Totino

    What kind of socks would you wear with driving/boat shoes? No shows or no socks?

    • OnlyShawn

       none.  none. none. 🙂

    • i second that, none, especially in spring / summer.

      though, when it gets cold and i feel like wearing them, i’m not against socks (in that situation). http://www.effortlessgent.com/back-to-basics-which-socks-do-i-wear-with-these/

    • Greg_S

      If you get swampy ass feet like I do (lovely image, I know), loafer socks are the answer. The foot powder doesn’t cut it for me except in the evenings when it cools off. BR loader socks get quite cheap during sales. I recently got 4 pairs for $14.

    • With long pants wear whatever sock you want, maybe avoid white socks and socks with trademarks or similar. If you are wearing driving/boat shoes or modern loafers with shorts,instead, I suggest your socks to be much shorter, like the ankle socks.http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_dkSKcdAXtTY/S4xBoM1EGUI/AAAAAAAAALc/SOv4v-O8VII/s320/boat+shoes+socks.jpg 
      These striped ankle socks look cool with them even if personally I’d love them much shorter, just about the ankle, like these http://farm1.staticflickr.com/107/271103112_778d202f39_b.jpg, by the way, this shows that if you are undecided on how to pair, black socks almost always blend well with the outfit.
      If I feel I need to wear socks I just wear them with style, I don’t pretend I don’t have them at my feet. I think ankle socks can look very good if you think about them fitting well, and you choose consciously the right color to pair.
      But at least sometimes we must make it so wearing them sockless is comfortable, ask some girls you know how do they wear their cute ballet flats barefoot in summer and how do they manage to stay comfortable, take their advice and start wearing your loafers sockless more often, but don’t be ashamed to wear socks with them if you have to.

  • All great suggestions. I’m a big fan of color and I mention how important it is all the time on my site. I love that graphic of the chinos. I own about five of those colors. 

    One suggestion, if you’re looking at those chinos but don’t want to edge too close to 50 bucks a pair check out dockers. Great color options and they’re on the 30 buck side. H&M (whom I hate) has some colored chinos too for about 30. 

    Great article. Thanks for the share. 

    • Nice, didn’t check H&M. Thanks for the rec Christopher.

      • Vic Licciani

        was at H&M yesterday, tried about 5 shirts..

        all were too long (tried small size) and paper thin as well

        quality is just cr*p..

      • victor newman

        Expandwas at H&M yesterday, tried about 5 shirts..all were too long (tried small size) and paper thin as wellquality is just cr*p..

      • Bwilson

        dont bother checking out H&M for their shirts though

        still too long (tried small)  and paper thin

        quality is cr*p

  • Markus

    I love Ralph Lauren Classic Fit polo shirts, they are definitely cut just perfect for my body type. I also love their Oxford shirts as well. Another polo shirt option would be a Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece, they are quickly growing into one of my favorites.

    • I’ve always had a problem with the more traditional-cut stuff, esp from RL and BB. They’re just so billowy for me. Again, it all depends on your body type. I’m glad they work for you and you realize it.

      I suggest everyone try both classic and more modern, slimmer fits of everything to see what works best for your particular body type.

      Appreciate the suggestion for BB Golden Fleece.

  • Giantandre

    Since those Reef Flip Flops are the only ones that consistently be found in my size and I live in Southern California I own them. I will let you slide on your hate for now.

    • Since they’re the only ones that you can consistently find in your size, I will let you slide on your decision for now.

  • Otateral

    Came across some brown slim fitting chinos from Vans at Kohls, on clearance for $18 today. I have to wear khaki at work, so I try to avoid that shade in my off time and I thought the brown works well. And the fit was perfect for me. (Actually found a 28, hard to find)

    What’s your thoughts on combining an open sport shirt with a polo? I know it was in style a while back, but not sure if that was a passing trend or a lasting style. IMO it beats the alternative of t-shirt with open sport shirt.

    • I think it comes off as a little sloppy. Unless it’s a cool “shacket” (shirt jacket). I guess it depends on the sport shirt. If it were a heavier flannel plaid, that might look cool. It depends on the situation and the shirts.

  • Miles

    Must absorb all this info.. great read!

  • BoB Barker

    what do you think about boat shoes? better with or without socks? 

    • I think boat shoes are like the standard casual shoe nowadays, when you don’t want to wear a sneaker or a boot. Anyway yes, do it.

      In the summer without socks. Most traditionalists will say no socks ever. I wear them with socks in the winter here in SF.

  • In golf you need to wear a tucked in polo.

    • Markus

      Depending on where you are playing at, you should indeed have you’re shirt tucked in. If you are playing at a private course or a higher end public course, tucked. If you’re playing at a lower end public course, I personally would still keep it tucked in but I wouldn’t have a fit if I saw many people with their shirt untucked.

  • You’ll probably be wearing many of your sport shirts untucked, so make sure they hit right below the belt. 

  • Chinos are attractive and looking nice. A new age fashion, presenting good personality. 

  • this look makes me miss summer so much I could almost cry, but I won’t because it’s also very cute and made me smile 🙂