Affordable Spring Style Essentials – 2012

Step away from the lambswool.  Here comes spring.

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When it comes to style options, Spring just isn’t Fall.  But unless you’re married to your favorite wool topcoat, it’s hard not to feel a moderate sense of “this is awesome” when the temperature cracks 50 for the first time since weird kids were knocking on your door demanding candy.

Now, “essentials” is a pretty severe term.  These, as always, are more like suggestions.  The stuff that’ll have you looking great and more importantly feeling comfortable now that we’ve stored the bulky lambswool sweaters, but still haven’t shelved our favorite jeans.  Your additions, (again) as always, are more than welcome in the comments..
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The Lightly Loud Sportcoat:  J. Crew Linen Navy Glenplaid – $168.00

Keep it cool fabric. Personality to burn.

Light in fabric, light in color, or both.  And try to throw a pattern in there somewhere.  The INC ultra lights from last year accomplished this on the cheap.  The GAP/BR light grey options are both in stock and go on sale plenty.  But it’s the J. Crew Italian Linen Navy Glenplaid that has the early lead for blazer/sportcoat of the season.

 

A water resistant, mid-thigh trench: Tasso Elba – $99.99   – $139.50

Decently fitted for Tasso Elba. Around $100 during a O.D.S.

You want something that’s either a cotton/poly blend, or has a bit of a coating on the cotton that’ll shed water.  Double breasted looks great here.  Mid thigh or just above the knee is perfect.  Here’s a few options:

An unembarrassing umbrella:  Totes – $20.00 | J. Abboud Houndstooth – $29.94

Forget May Flowers, April showers bring a wet head.

That dinky little turqoise number might get the job done, but she won’t be too impressed if you open that up on your rainy night date.  You want something between compact and enormous golf monster.  The Macy’s Tote’s Gentleman’s/Stick umbrealla is the champ, but the Abboud comes in patterns like chalkstripe and houndstooth, even though it feels a bit cheaper in your hands.

 

Grey Suede Desert Boots: Johnston & Murphy – $97.99 | Clarks – $110

Wear with pretty much anything but shorts.

Grey goes with almost everything.  Even pair these up with a cotton suit for a dressed down post-work look.  Jeans, of course.  Stretch your cords until the last breath of winter is gone.  Should do just fine with all manners of lighter colored chinos.  Sizes are getting short over at Endless.  More sizes for $99.99 through J&M for now.

 

The Stretch Cord Belt: Martin Dingman “Beck” Belt – $49.95

"essential" like the belt, is a stretch...

They’re a cleaned up version of thicker, nautical cord belts that you’ll also be seeing everywhere.  The colors are a little more toned down and the cords are a little smaller in diameter.  Woven but w/out the woven leather Dad belt look.

 

The Striped Light White Sweater:  L.E.C. – $60.00 | Target Merona – $28.04 ($33)

Nautical but warmer weather appropriate.

Depending on your location, there might still be another couple months of layering/sweater weather left.  Once the sun comes back out and the trees start to green up, you’ll want to slowly start to stash those black and charcoal sweaters in favor of something lighter.  Don’t go all white all the time, but a white or off white striped sweater can breathe a lot of life into a sweater drawer that’s been in mourning since September.  The L.E.C. sweater ships free with the code CLASSIC and pin 1020 (free shipping over $50) but you’re probably better off waiting for a sale.

 

The Shoe Color: Rich Browns, Cognac, and Oxblood

Running the full range of prices.

Dark Brown is great. And you’ll even find an almost unheard of appreciation for black shoes on this website.  But now’s the time to lighten up that footwear and get rich. Clockwise from Top Left:

 

A Slightly Different Polo: Express – $44.50 | Original Penguin – $59.00

Express logo = no. Penguin? How do you not love the Penguin?

Solid, well fitting polos should be the casual torso foundation for most guys during the warmer months.  But finding a polo that’s a little different is a nice way to break the rut.  Maybe the placket is a different color like the new Express Signature polos.  Or like Pengin’s “Earl Polo,” it has some decidedly retro stripes.  Maybe it’s a chest pocket with a button flap.  Just keep it cotton, trim, and not too over the top.  Wait for sales on both of these.

 

The Pocket T-Shirt:  American Apparel – $18.00

So there's where I left those magic beans.

Graphic tees are too… y’know.  And plain crew or v-necks can sometimes look a little blank and/or underwear like.  Enter the pocket tee.  Don’t go sticking pocket squares in there, but feel free to use it as actual storage.  Notecard & Pencil for the grocery list, sunglasses when you head inside somewhere, that kind of thing.  Now only if Target’s Mossimo would make one.  J. Crew Factory has a decent cheap option too.

 

The Tie:  This one from Nordstrom’s 1901 – $39.50

AMERICA... F*#k YEAH!

A man in a red, white, and blue knit tie might not make the most intimidating presence, but it’ll look awfully slick with that khaki colored cotton or linen suit you’ve got on the first real warm day of the year.  More subtle color combinations can be found here and here.  Cheaper red/white/blue options are over here & here via thetiebar.com.

 

The Beer: An unfiltered Pale Ale or a Cloudy Looking Weiss

Opaque Awesomeness.

We’re drifting out of stout and porter territory, but we’re not quite to Pacifico weather yet.  An unfiltered pale ale like Manny’s from Georgetown Brewing, or a weiss with some stink like Hacker-Pschorr combines sweeter, more citrus leaning flavors with a fuller not-quite-chew-worthy-but-gettin’-there body.  Photo Credit

 

The Sunglasses:  Squared Off Aviators – Ray Ban Caravan – $104*$125

Not a lot of mid-price range options here.

While the balanced proportions of the Ray-Ban New Wayfarer will never go out of style, an Aviator with squared off, non droopy lenses mean all business.  Keep the shine on the frames to a minimum if possible.  If you’re the type to scan sites like Gilt, Rue La La, and Beyond the Rack, you can snag a pair of Ray Ban caravans for under $90.  A few options here:

 

The Music:  Pandora‘s Black Keys Station

Fresh Air + Bluesy Harder Rock = Yes Please.

You get everything from Zeppelin to JJ Grey & Mofro to John Lee Hooker.  Not a bad thing to call up on the stereo and play with the windows open.

Your turn guys.  What are you looking forward to the most, stylistically speaking, about the upcoming spring?
Top Photo Credit: Gardener41  And yes, those are Ray-Ban Caravans for those keeping score at home.