Affordable Summer Style Essentials – 2012

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The best thing about summer?  Fall is next.  Heat can be awfully limiting, and the Northern Hemisphere has a lonnnnnng, sweaty way to go until we get back to layering, football, and tweed.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t look at least a few degrees cooler than you feel.  Affordable and good looking tools to keep you outfitted during the hottest months of 2012 are as follows:
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The Shirt Weight Blazer: Zara – $99.90

Size shown: 40. Size up if you're in between.

The less lining the better.  A+ if there’s no lining at all.  These are the sport coats and blazers that are barely more than a shirt, cut and stitched with lapels, vents, sleeve buttons, and all the other stuff we’re used to on our jackets.  The Macy’s brand INC used to have more than a few available, but so far this year… nothin’.  Your best alternative is Zara.  This one has a micro gingham pattern, there’s no lining, and only a hint of any padding in the shoulders.  Functional cuffs and side vents.  Does a $100 seem like a lot for so little blazer?  Not when you can wear it in 100 degrees of (dry) heat.  Zara runs small, so size up if you’re in between.  A 38 on my frame came up real short in the tail and tight in the chest.  The 40 seen here will need a bit of tailoring at the sides, but not much.

 

Going Grey… instead of Khaki: GAP Tailored Fit – $44 – $60 | J. Crew Linen Suit – $430

Shades. There are many.

This is hardly an “essential” but instead something to just keep in mind.  When it gets hot, most reach for pants or summer suits that would match most Best Buy Employee’s dockers.  And that standard khaki color is great.  But consider a cooler grey.  At $430, that J. Crew suit is a big investment, but holy hell is it something else.

 

Driving Mocs: Polo RL Telly – $89 | Roderick Driver – $79 – $99

Penny & Boat influenced.

Drivers aren’t the most elegant shoes in the world, but their foundation is in utility.  That grip piece on the back heel is for keeping your feet stable while driving.  You can find drivers that are plain, have penny loafer straps, ribbons, or like these, have rawhide laces and a boat shoe look.  As comfortable as slippers but a notch above sneakers when it comes to formality.

 

The Tough Vacation Duffel: Frost River – $140 | L.E.C. – $98.00* ($140)

Both good looking, but ready for anything.

You want it to not only get you to a place with a beach, you want it to not look all that out of place on the beach.  Or in the woods, up in the mountains, etc…  A real smooth/city looking piece of luggage is great, but it’s this time of year that you just might need something that can do multiple jobs.  You’ll need the expiring-today code & pin HONOR and 4288 to get the lower price on the LEC trip duffel.  Ships free too.  Frost River bag is made in the USA.

 

All business sunglasses:  Calibrate – $69.50

Ship and return free through Nordstrom

Wayfarers and large aviators are all well and good, but if you’re headed somewhere important, you don’t want to look like you’re about ready to hop a flight to Cabo, or, hop on a fighter jet and pilot it.  You need something that’s a little more serious.  Wire rims with plastic ear pieces walk that line perfectly.

 

Knot Cufflinks with some color:  $4.99 and up

Barely noticeable.

If it’s too hot to touch your seat belt buckle, then it’s too hot to be lugging around chunks of metal at your wrists.  Skip the heavy metal and instead go with lighter knot cufflinks.  You get to still use your french cuff shirts and they’ll inject a little color too.  You can find sets for ultra cheap if you’re willing to go with an unknown seller from ebay, or, Macy’s carries some sets as does Jos. A Bank.  Something called “Cuffs & Co” sell a wide variety of colors and two-toned knots for $5 with free shipping on Amazon.

 

The Lighter than Chino Shorts: Merona Shorts in Seersucker + Chambray – $24.99

Your butt will thank you for the extra breeze.

Hooray for the standard chino short.  We all got a pair.  But when it’s so hot enough that cats morph into sloths, you linger in front of the freezer every time you open it, and your ass crack becomes a perspiration aqueduct, then you’ll want to get even lighter in weight.  Look for linen, actual seersucker (not just the stripes), or chambray.

 

The Flight Dial Casual Watch: Stuhrling – $97.99 | Citizen – $131.25

Black and orange aren't a requirement.

Not to be worn with your summer suits.  These are for the hikes that get so hot you don’t know who smells worse, you or the dog.  Or for cutting the grass with a beer in your hand.  Review of the Stuhrling here, and the Citizen here.  Three word update on the Stuhrling:  It’s doing fine.  And feel free to replace the band with something lighter, or, keep an eye out for lighter color combos all together.  That one is pretty… severe looking for this time of year?

 

The Dark + Simple Silk Knit Striped Tie:  The Tie Bar – $15.00

Dressed up fabric, dressed down construction.

Cotton, madras, bright colors, big bold stripes… all well and good this time of year.  But if you’re wearing lighter colors because of the heat, consider a dressed up (thanks to the silk) but still summer appropriate (thanks to the texture), dark knit tie.  Should look summery but not clownish with everything from light grey wool to khaki chino.  Navy or black with thin white stripes is the easiest play.

 

Trim, Lined, non elastic waist band trunks: L.E.C. – $35.00* ($50)

*Use code HONOR and pin 4288. Free shipping too.

90% of the American (and Canadian) male population wears one of two kinds of swimsuits:  The super long board shorts that leave your junk wandering like a hobo with an unlimited Amtrack pass, or poofy elastic wasite band trunks that look more like a diaper than anything else.  These take the best of each of those two designs, and combine them.  They show a little leg but are no where near a speedo, they keep your leg and waist lines slim with their straight cuts and no elastic, and there’s a mesh liner.  A real nice price of $35.00 too.

 

Suede Bucks and Saddles: 1901 Logan, Carson, and Saddle Up – $99.95

Reviews have been real positive on these.

Like light pants and colorful chinos, bucks and summer go hand and hand… and foot.  Go crazy on the colors and you’ll be stuck with a 3 month shoe.  Keep it a little more subtle like the tan, greys, and brown shown here, and you can wear these whenever you want.  Also worth a look: The on-sale for $66+ with tons of colors/sizes CK Felix.

 

The Deep Blue Gingham Cotton Pocket Square: TheTieBar -$8 | 5th&B – $30 (sold out)

Goes with it all (except for gingham shirts & ties)

It’s your ticket to tieless.  Grey wool, khaki chino, linen, whatever suit you’re wearing, if you want to go tieless at this time of year, adding a pocket square in a bold but controlled pattern like this will help you look a little less like a certain world leader who shuns neckwear.  5th & Brannen is sold out of the splurge (and as silly as it sounds, it’s one of the nicest pieces of cotton you’ll get your hands on) so the backup cheap buy can be had at TheTieBar in navy or royal blue for $8.

 

A white polo or two:  Banana Republic Luxe Touch – $26.70 w/ BREXTEND

For the annoyingly hot days.

Many of us gravitate towards darker colors when it comes to polos.  But on those days when it’s not just hot, but blistering, this-is-stupid hot, a charcoal or navy polo won’t help even with the short sleeves.  A white t-shirt looks like (or actually is) underwear.  You want something that won’t absorb the sun’s rays, yet looks decent in a number of situations.  White polos are the answer.  Have at least one on hand if your area sees triple digits.

 

The Drink:  Magellan Gin – $37.99  and Soda

Or, just Magellan and ice works too.

A good gin and tonic will never go out of style, but a gin and soda is crisper and more refreshing.  Unless you’re going hog wild with a bottle of Q tonic water or something, chances are your tonic is going to leave you with a syrupy after taste.  Club soda lets the gin’s ingredients take center stage, which is something worth doing when you’ve got a gin like this.  Infused with iris root and flower, it has a naturally blue hue to it.  Real good on the rocks with a twist, but if you want to cut it and pace yourself, some soda will do.

 

The Music – Funk:  Sly & the Family Stone Greatest Hits – $9.82

It’s summer.  The sun is out.  Shelve the angry and contemplative stuff for a bit and roll the windows down.  Sing a Simple Song.  Soul, funk, rock & roll with some strut, whatever.  Just keep it moving in the right direction.

 

The Lighting:  Stringed Globe Lights for the yard – $12.99/string of 25

Awfully hard not to like these.

Consider them running lights for your house boat with a foundation.  Over do it and it might look like you’re about to throw a kegger, so don’t go completely crazy.  Perfect for backyard gatherings and quiet meals outdoors.  You can find these things at Target, Cost Plus, and lots of other places, but be warned:  They’re pretty fragile.  So be careful when you’re hanging them up.  String a ton together and you might blow a fuse on the strands every once in awhile.  Extra fuses come contained in the plugs on most of these and they’re easy to replace

Additions, alternatives, and your defense of summer as a great season for style, if you have one, can go below.