17 Men’s Clothing Items Worth Considering For Your Spring Capsule Wardrobe

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Smart Casual

The weather is starting to warm up (slightly) and we’re getting a glimpse of better, less dreary days ahead.

Now’s the perfect time to evaluate your spring capsule wardrobe and make sure you have the necessities in your closet to adapt to swings in temperature—warmer days, cooler nights—from now and well into summer.

This is my list of spring- (and even summer-) worthy casual and smart casual menswear options to consider adding to your wardrobe.

Great Additions For A (Slightly) Warmer Weather Wardrobe

You probably have a few of these items already, and in that case, great! Hopefully the other clothes I’ve listed here inspires you and gets your gears turning as you put together your warm weather / spring wardrobe.

Bonus points: You’ll be able to wear many of these things well into summer.

linen / cotton blend Casual pants

An unstructured looser pair of pants in a linen or lightweight cotton (or a blend of both!) will be really comfortable in summer, but also in these transitional spring months. These will be your go-tos more and more as we get increasingly warmer weather.

Uniqlo Linen-Blend Relaxed Pants

"Premium twill weave material combines the benefits of linen and cotton."

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Everlane The Linen Easy Pants

"This piece features an elastic waist, mid rise, regular length, and relaxed fit."

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In terms of fit, go for a straight or more relaxed fitting pair. You want your legs to move unrestricted and be able to breathe.

knit polos / knit button-up Shirts

I bought my first knit polos in 2018, and my latest ones as recently as last summer. I don’t think this “trend” is going anywhere anytime soon. This polo or knit button-down style is modern and of the moment, while at the same time, having a retro vibe.

Percival Knitted Polo

Deep espresso-colored cotton knit with a raised diamond pattern, designed in a comfortable relaxed fit. Ribbed collar, cuff, and hem.

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Abercrombie Retro Johnny Collar Polo

"Short-sleeve sweater polo in our luxe sweater-knit fabric and relaxed-fit silhouette, featuring textural tonal stitching details throughout, no-button Johnny collar and banded hem and cuffs."

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You can go simple and unassuming (like one in a solid navy color), or a little bolder in color, or pattern, or both.

chambray shirt

In my opinion, chambray shirts are an all-season piece—I wear mine all year long. They’re one of my favorite shirts, and over the years I’ve had several different variations, from different shades of indigo, to short and long sleeve styles.

J.Crew Chambray Shirts

Softer and lighter than denim (thanks to a different weaving process), chambray looks great no matter how you wear it.

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Polo Ralph Lauren Chambray Shirt
$90

Cut from pure cotton, this button-down style is detailed with Ralph Lauren's multicoloured emblem at the chest

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If you’re looking for one this spring, go for a more relaxed or traditional fit chambray shirt in a medium to light wash with casual detailing. You want it to be looser and not so slim.

espadrilles

Espadrilles are a great footwear option for warmer weather. They are the perfect alternative (as well as much more refined and interesting) to any sort of flip-flop or slide. They instantly elevate your spring outfit, and can be worn just as easily near a body of water as they can to an outdoor lunch with family or friends.

Soludos Espadrilles
$41.95

An eco-friendly jute sole, easy-to-wear print, and blanket stitches that have just enough give to fit to your foot perfectly. Comes in several colorways.

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04/07/2023 08:52 pm GMT
Viscata Sitges Espadrille Slip-ons
$99.95 $89.95

Designed and handcrafted in Barcelona, Spain.

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02/14/2023 12:18 pm GMT

A (looser) Oxford cloth button down

It’s undeniable that looser and more relaxed fits are in style right now. But after 15 years of “all slim everything”, you should embrace this! It’s a good thing to have the pendulum swing the other direction.

While you don’t wanna replace all of your dressier and more formal clothes with looser versions necessarily, your casual wardrobe could benefit from more relaxed shirting.

Gap Big Shirt

"Smooth garment-dyed cotton oversized Oxford shirt."

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J.Crew Giant-fit Oxford Shirt

"Inspired by vintage oxfords from our archives, our designers made this with traditional-weight, 5.5-ounce cotton oxford (which has a bit more structure than our Broken-in oxfords)."

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I recently picked up the Big Shirt from GAP and it’s overall wider silhouette is incredibly comfortable. J.Crew also has the Giant Fit Oxford shirt for men. (There’s also a Giant Fit Chino at J.Crew, which has been wildly popular. Pretty sure I had one of the original versions in the 90s.)

In my experience, you may want to consider sizing down one for a more approachable fit that’s still forgiving and loose without being overly billowy. Or, just stick to your true size.

I actually sized UP in the Gap Big Shirt. You can see it in this video where I include it in an outfit… it doesn’t look as big as you’d expect. Plus I figured there would be some shrinkage over the first couple washes.

a lightweight sneaker

Lightweight sneakers are my go-to casual option in warmer weather. I start wearing them more and more around April, especially when there’s no threat of rain.

The Converse Chuck 70 is an easy-to-wear style that’s been around for decades and still looks great today. You’re never too old to wear a Chuck Taylor in my opinion (and the Chuck 70s are built slightly better and feel nicer, same with the Jack Purcell line).

Converse Chuck Taylor 70s Low Top Sneakers
$79.00

They’re versatile, classic and entirely yours to wear any way you want, anywhere you want, anytime you want. We just make the shoe.

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02/21/2023 08:20 pm GMT
CARIUMA Ibi Low Top Knit Sneakers

"We knit our sneakers from self-regenerating bamboo & recycled plastics from heel to toe. IBI is high performance, low impact and ultra lightweight."

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You could also consider a knit fabric sneaker in a classic tennis shoe silhouette I’ve also seen unlined leather sneakers in that same silhouette, or in a runner style, which would be great for warmer weather as well.

wife pleasers

When I was in high school, I wore wife pleasers under my shirts all the time. I haven’t really worn them at all since, probably until last summer when I re-accepted, and even embraced, the wife pleaser as a go-to base layer.

See outfit on Instagram
Fruit of the Loom Tag-Free A-Shirt

"They are made with super-soft, 100% cotton ribbed fabric, providing a cool and comfortable fit that forms to your shape."

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Having an A-shirt (the real name of “wife pleasers”) allows me to wear my button up shirts with more buttons unfastened, without feeling like a 70s porn star wannabe. Also, from a stylistic standpoint, you’re visually layering when you have an undershirt peeking out from a loose-fitting summer-friendly button-up. That’s a good thing.

chore coat

Of course, spring and summer weather can sometimes be unpredictable, and you may find yourself needing a lightweight jacket. A cotton chore coat is one of the best jackets for transitional weather.

Le Mont St Michel French Work Jacket

Le Mont St Michel produces the genuine work jacket, outfitting French farmers and craftsmen in Normandy and Brittany since 1913. Seven colorways available via Huckberry.

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Uniqlo Utility Jacket Chore Coat

Fabric-dyed cotton twill, with an oversized pocket design inspired by vintage workwear. Relaxed fit lends a modern look. Available in three shades

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They are unlined, relatively lightweight, easy to wear, and they pair up well with a variety of different looks. Plus, they’re often designed with three to four exterior pockets, which comes in handy when you have to carry a few things and you don’t want to stuff your pants pockets.

camp collar shirt

Similarly to the knit polos in my life, I started picking up camp collar shirts about 5 to 6 years ago, and I bought my most recent ones this past summer.

They’re an easy and breezy style to wear in warmer months, and the relaxed vibe it gives off is a great addition to your spring wardrobe. Plan on wearing these throughout the spring months, and well into summer.

J.Crew Slub Camp-collar Shirt

"This shirt has a vintage-inspired camp collar and is made with a breathable cotton-linen blend that's perfect for everything from winter getaways to warm summer days."

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harrington or work jacket

This lightweight option is similar to a chore coat, in that it’s a great transitional outerwear piece to add to your wardrobe. You could wear it three seasons out of the year!

The Harrington jacket is a classic. The silhouette itself has been around since at least the 30s (originally called the G9, made by a company called Baracuta, who is still making them today).

A work jacket would be a more of-the-moment option, especially considering how popular workwear brands like Dickie’s and Carhartt are. I really love this plainly designed yet elevated option from Madewell, with tons of neat little details (like cinches at the hip, a double zipper, button cuffs, etc.

Ben Sherman Harrington Jacket

Ben Sherman's classic Harrington jacket with iconic gingham-checked lining comes in a wide array of colors.

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Madewell Lined Work Jacket

"Designed with a point collar, plenty of pockets (on the outside and inside) and a cinchable waist, this vintage-inspired workwear jacket looks great over a hoodie or zipped up on its own for a night out."

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lightweight cotton sweater

If you only have one type of midlayer for the spring season, make it a lightweight sweater, preferably in a cotton or cotton linen blend. You can also consider a lightweight wool or wool blend option.

Lightweight cotton sweaters are great to throw on when the temps dip in the evenings and they also work great as an impromptu scarf, tied around your neck loosely. As far as color options, I’d suggest a lighter shade of blue, off white / cream, or heather gray, for starters.

This Oceano sweater from BR is a good example of what to look for.

Banana Republic Oceano Sweater

"This lightweight sweater offers wonderful warmth to carry you through the seasons thanks to a special yarn that blends Merino wool with luxurious, breathable linen."

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Tan Suede loafers (Lug soles recommended)

This rugged twist on a standard tan suede loafer is one of my favorite options for spring and summer. The classic elements of a penny loafer matched up with a hardwearing (yet light) lug sole is one of my favorite looks.

G.H. Bass Larson Weejuns Loafer

Classic penny loafer-style upper in a soft suede, outfitted with a rugged lug sole. Also available in leather.

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Velasca Suede Leather Ost Penny Loafers

"Suede is made from the innermost layer of leather, superficially buffed to enhance its typical velvety feel."

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I see many brands carry this style of loafer, but you can’t go wrong with a pair of G.H.Bass Weejuns. Their suede model may be running low, but they have a full leather version, plus several variations if you browse their site.

The Velasca loafers aren’t lug soled, but an awesome option with a more classic silhouette (slim leather sole).

trench coat

I picked up my first real trench coat this year, and I have to say, it’s a game changer when it comes to braving any sort of wet weather.

In case you’re worried about looking like a private investigator from a 1940s noir film, it really depends on what you wear with it. Trench coats have a slightly more formal vibe, at least when compared to a Barbour waxed jacket or a standard rain coat, for example.

One outfit I like to pair with my trench: dark jeans, a sweatshirt, and Chelsea boots. That way, the trench doesn’t feel so “dressy” and I achieve more of a high / low look.

The best part is, you can still wear the trench coat with a more traditional and dressier look if needed. Don’t be scared to mix casual and formal elements in one outfit; it’s one of the best ways to have a more visually interesting style.

J.Crew Ludlow Trench Coat

"Built with practical, everyday wear in mind, this trench features a single vent at the back and raglan sleeves for greater range of motion with a relaxed (but not oversized) fit."

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Mango Relaxed-fit Cotton Trench Coat

"Relaxed fit. Cotton-blend fabric. Wide lapel collar. Decorative shoulder straps. Design with double-breasted front closure. Long sleeves with buttoned strip cuffs."

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a classic sweatshirt

I’ve picked up a few classic cut sweatshirts over the past few months, and they become one of my most worn items in my closet. Not only are they perfect for wearing around the house, but they’re also the perfect midlayer for spring, an alternative to a cotton sweater, especially for a more casual leaning outfit.

If you want to go the high / low route like I always suggest, you could always pair it up with dressier elements like the cotton linen easy pants I mentioned earlier and a pair of loafers.

Trumbull Vintage Wash Crewneck Sweatshirt

Taking inspiration from midcentury sportswear, Trumbull's vintage wash crewneck is thoughtfull designed with a modern, relaxed fit that balances comfort and style.

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Nike Sportswear Crew Neck Fleece Sweatshirt

A closet staple, the Nike Sportswear Club Fleece Crew combines a classic embroidered logo on the left chest with the soft comfort of fleece for an elevated everyday look.

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denim jacket

A well-fitting, medium wash denim jacket is one of those pieces you’ll have in your closet for years, if not decades. And luckily, it’s great for spring and summer weather. You can wear this year after year and like the Harrington jacket or the chore coat.

Thursday Boots Denim Trucker Jacket

"Our version honors the history of this timeless classic with premium 100% cotton denim, long-lasting metal hardware, and a meticulously handcrafted finish to go wherever the day takes you."

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Levi's Denim Jacket
$39.20

The original jean jacket since 1967. Can buy true to size for the perfect fit, or size up if you want to wear a thicker layer undreneath. 100% Cotton, button closure, hits at hip.


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02/15/2023 01:48 am GMT

My favorite is the traditional trucker style in a classic cut and a cropped length. The standard Levi’s denim trucker jacket is a good example of this. If you want something with more room, definitely size up, though in most cases, you can grab your true size.

unlined cotton sport coat

If I’m going for a smart casual sort of vibe, I’m reaching for a sport coat. And in the spring and summer, I grab a specific type.

Ideally my warm weather sport coat is:

  • made from a cotton (or cotton blend) fabric
  • unlined (or minimally lined)
  • unstructured, with a soft shoulder and no interlining
  • patch pockets, which helps with making a dressy garment more casual
  • in a mid-blue / navy shade, or the opposite end, a khaki / off-white / cream color
Suitsupply Navy Roma Blazer

"This new navy Roma fit blazer offers an unlined finish and a wider, subtly elongated silhouette for an overall more relaxed aesthetic."

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Spier & Mackay Navy Herringbone Sportcoat

This pure linen fabric is lightweight and breathable, naturally moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. It also features a subtle herringbone weave for some added visual depth and texture.

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Don’t be afraid to wear your sportcoat casually too. Think of it like a lightweight outerwear piece, instead of a formal garment that needs to be dressed up. So while, yes, you can wear them with trousers, a dress shirt, and a tie… you could also wear it with linen easy pants and a ribbed knit polo, two of the items I mentioned earlier in this article above.

striped t-shirt

Striped T-shirts, especially in a navy and white combo, always remind me of warmer weather, mostly due to them being historically synonymous with seafaring and coastal style.

The Breton shirt is what comes to mind first, and of course you can’t go wrong with the long sleeve classic. But I managed to find short sleeve alternatives at places like J.Crew and Gap that give off the same vibes.

Gap Relaxed Fit Pocket T-Shirt

"Easy on the body with a perfect slouch. This one is cut to look oversized but still feel pulled together."

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What Makes It “Spring Clothes”?

There are few distinguishing features of spring clothes and summer clothes, as opposed to fall / winter clothes.

1) Lighter weight fabrics

As spring rolls in, you’ll want to put away the flannels and heavy wools, and swap them out for lightweight fabrics like linen, cotton, and modern synthetics. Linen offers unmatched breathability and becomes softer with each wash.

Cotton keeps things cool and casual; you’ll find cotton garments in both laid-back (T-shirts, shorts) and slightly more formal (sportcoat, trousers) styles.

And modern synthetics such as Tencel are known for its softness, breathability, and moisture-wicking properties. So not only are they more comfortable in warmer weather, they’re sustainable and eco-conscious too.

These three fabrics are your go-to for a season that’s all about staying cool while looking effortlessly sharp.

2) Lighter “menswear netural” colors and shades

If you’ve been an EG reader for a while now, you’ve probably heard me mention (what I like to call) Menswear Neutrals. The colors are black, grey, white, brown, tan or khaki, navy, army (or olive) green, and light blue.

Now if you’ve learned about colors in preschool, you may think, “Hol up, these aren’t neutral?!”

Technically they’re not neutral colors in the classic sense of the term, but from a menswear wardrobe and outfit perspective, these colors go really well with each other, and with basically any other color out there.

What’s the point? Well if you take a lighter shade of some of these darker hues, they automatically become more spring wardrobe-friendly.

For example, think:

  • khaki instead of brown
  • cream or off-white instead of khaki
  • light blue instead of navy
  • heather grey instead of charcoal grey
Plenty of lighter, dustier shades in this outfit… all menswear neutrals

And so on!

3) Brighter and more vibrant hues

If you want to take it a step further, you could go for brighter and more vibrant hues overall. Those are your pastel shades, your neon shades, your brighter primary colors.

Of course I’d suggest doing this in small doses. You don’t want your entire outfit to consist of bright, vibrant, primary colors (unless you know what you’re doing, and you’re doing it deliberately).

But a more vibrant color or print paired up with menswear neutrals is a good way to go.

These Are My Suggested Wardrobe Additions For Spring!

And there’s a good chance you may have some of this stuff in your wardrobe already. If so, now’s the perfect time to pull them out and start wearing them!

And as always, buy just what you need and want. Experimentation is encouraged.

What are your favorite things to wear as the weather warms up? DM me on Instagram and let me know.