10 Summer Style Essentials Under $40

Ten items, each costing less than the average ATM trip.

1. A Navy Polo: Banana Republic Luxe Touch – $31.15 w/ BRFRESH30

Shorts, Pants, Suits, whatever.

Shorts, Pants, Suits, whatever.

Everyone looks good in a navy polo, and sleek non-pique versions can easily be dressed up with a summer suit. This one from Banana Republic is awfully close to perfect. It’s made in their “luxe touch” fabric, which is glass smooth. The collar is more of a spread, so it’ll sit nicely under a suit jacket (like the linen Copenhagen from Suitsupply shown above). A marled jersey or slub version is great, but those won’t look quite right with a blazer. Keep an eye out for solid, smooth options.

 

2. A stink proof watch band: Maratac Silicone Watch Strap – $18.00

The un-leather.

The un-leather.

Hikes with your dog in the hills where you’re both sweating buckets. Bloody steaks getting thrown on the grill. A swim in the lake. You might want to take an old, favorite watch, and swap out that leather band for a stainless steel or rubber one for the next few months.

 

3. A slightly shorter-than-you’re-used-to haircut: $10 – $35

There's short, and then there's REAL short.

There’s short, and then there’s REAL short.

Might even cost nothing at all if you’re the type to buzz your own head. Doesn’t have to be a fully clippered head, but now’s the time to try going just a bit shorter than you might normally be comfortable with. Worst case scenario is it grows back. A pretty fail-safe cut for most guys is just under finger length on the sides (like a 4 or 5 guard) blended into a bit longer than finger length up top. If you down’t want the uniformity that clippers give you, ask your stylist/barber to use a straight razor + comb to shorten the sides and back. If your guy/gal always uses clippers on everyone… might not want to ask for this. You might get a funny look. More on haircuts over here. (Photo Credit: Mr. T in D.C.)

 

4. Non Staining Sunscreen:  Banana Boat Titanium Dioxide Sunscreen

Prevents clothing (and skin) damage.

Sunscreen for kids? You want sunscreen that uses Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide, and that’s almost always going to have a “for KIDS!” label on it. Most sunscreens use the chemical Avobenzone (which goes by many names), which can cause stains on light shirts if they’re washed in hard water. The chemical actually turns to rust, and you look like you sweat gravy. Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide won’t do that, and it also doesn’t feel as greasy going on.

 

5. Toddy Gear Smart Cloth: $9.99 per

The Duke, Brittany, & Gingham Style

Full credit to reader Tom who sent in the style tip about these things as well as providing the photo. Ten bucks is a lot for a polishing cloth, but man these things work. If you’re wearing sunglasses a lot, chances are you let your shades go a bit too long before cleaning them. Toddy cloths do a bang-up job on sunglasses, phones, tablets, and other touch screen devices that get all mucked up with oil. One side is a terry-like cloth for wiping/de-smudging, with a patterned side there for polishing. And some of them can work as a pocket square in a pinch.

 

6. A white OCBD (jcp – $23.99) and the “guts” to tuck it into shorts

Repurpose your long sleeves for short sleeve weather.

Repurpose your long sleeves for short sleeve weather.

Tucking into shorts? The feck? It actually looks good if you’re in decent shape, but it’s not in everyone’s comfort zone at first. The key is to find an OCBD that’s not too thick and has a decently long tail (one long enough that you wouldn’t wear it untucked anyway). The jcp OCBD is perfect for this. Since oxford cloth has a tendency to rumple a bit, it won’t stick as close to your skin as poplin. In a way, a rumpled OCBD creates air channels like seersucker. Tucking it in and rolling up the sleeves gives the entire look just enough purpose. Pair it with grey shorts, a lighter leather or summer striped belt, and go sockless. (Original look above from over here)

 

7. A basic, good looking Umbrella:J. Crew Factory – $34.50 |  Totes – $20.00 |

Wait for a sale on both of these.

Wait for a sale on both of these.

Thunderstorms. They happen. And getting caught in a hot downpour (ooh, sexy) ain’t a great idea if you’re in a good suit and a pair of nice shoes. Consider skipping the tiny collapsible ones, and instead go with a standard size that you actually have to carry around. They look awfully smart, and you and a date can fit under one.

 

8. White or Off-White Sneakers: PF Flyers Center Lo: $37.62

Summer favorites.

Summer favorites.

They go with just about everything, and unlike sandals, these won’t leave your toes open for getting sunburned. Careful with these PF Flyers or other shoes that have eyelet portholes on the side… if you spend a ton of time out in the sun, you may end up with two little burned red-dots on your feet at the end of the day.

 

9. Easy reading, in actual book form: The Travis McGee Series

Lighter and more flammable than a tablet.

Lighter and more flammable than a tablet.

Even if it’s not plugged in, doesn’t mean you still won’t feel “plugged in” if you’re reading off a tablet. Tablets and e-readers are great, but if you’re heading somewhere sandy, maybe hit the thrift store and find a cheap paperback. Hard to argue with the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald.

 

10. White Wine: $6 – $15 per glass / $10 – $40 per bottle

“But white wine is un-manly!”  Go ahead. You argue with 007. Ask for something dry, sip it slowly, and unlike gin and tonics or a beer, you won’t be left with a bloated stomach after a few. A glass or two of white over a late lunch can rate pretty high up there on the luxury scale.

Your turn guys. This list could go on forever. What’s your favorite ultra-affordable style item once the temperatures rise? Leave it all in the comments below.