Essentials? Maybe not each and every one for each and every body. These pieces are more guidelines really. Guidelines that add up to a versatile, warm-weather friendly wardrobe. Ten items that are good to have one, if not multiples on hand once the temperatures start to sniff 80 (or more). Feel free to add your favorite spring style essentials in the comments.
Linen or Linen Blend Pants
The Pick: Banana Republic Kentfield Pant in Linen/Cotton – $41.70 – $48.65 w/ BRRAIN
The problem with affordable linen is that sometimes the fabric can be a little too translucent. That’s where a cotton linen blend pant like the B.R. Kentfield comes in real handy. Enough depth to the fabric to provide plenty of opaqueness (opaqueacity?) (UPDATE: Almost had it. Opacity. Duh. Yeesh. Thanks southy in the comments, for pointing out that the vernacular sunglasses that I was looking for, were in fact, on top of my head.) but still light and airy. 55% linen / 45% cotton for the “transition cream” that won’t be confused for boring ol’ khaki. Also available in a sharp looking grey as well as navy. Just as good with a blazer as they are with a polo. Nice and lightweight, but made in a straight cut that sits decently close so they won’t be flapping in the breeze.
Tortoise shell sunglasses
The Pick: Ray Ban New Wayfarer – $97.50 ($135)
A pair of slimmed down wayfarers in tortoise shell occupy the center of the sunglasses universe. Sporty enough to play beach volleyball in, but dressed up enough that they don’t look out of place with a suit. Nice and durable. And… boy these got expensive over the last few years. You used to be able to find em’ for around $70 – $80 on Amazon. Now on sale through Nordstrom for just under $100. At least they ship & return free.
An Unstructured, but not too rumpled Blazer
- J. Crew Italian Cotton Ludlow – $228
- UNIQLO Cotton Linen – $49.90
- Express Deconstructed Blazer – $103.60 w/ 1515
You want something you could wear to a more casual wedding, or even with a polo, jeans, & loafers while it’s still relatively cool. The J. Crew option is pricey… but it’s something else (especially in the “caspian blue” option). Finally caught the Express in store (but it was the bright red option). Nice and lightweight and unlined. Not bad if you can catch a sale. More over here. NOTE: The Express blazer drops to $88.80 if you tip the $150 must spend to get 40% off threshold. So, consider a pair of socks or something.
The Non Leather Belt
Lightweight pants, a short sleeved shirt, sleek easy going shoes and… a heavy leather belt? There’s a reason why lighter feeling & looking belts appear in the spring and summer. Same reason why most heavy boots and thick denim spend a good chunk of time on the shelf during the warmer months. That said, a leather belt won’t really ever look out of place (unless it’s the only thing you’re wearing… and then… well…) but try a woven cotton, web, or ribbon belt on your down-time this spring & summer.
A chambray necktie
A standard silk can look a little heavy now that it’s starting to warm up. While a chambray tie will pair easily with a seersucker, chino, or linen suit, these things do an even better job relaxing the look of a standard charcoal or navy business suit. The visual texture and lack of shine nod at weekends in shorts & boat shoes, while still remaining relatively professional.
A lineup of well fitting, logo-free polos
The Picks: Right over here.
Polos are a bit like sweaters. When we’re kids, we usually hate the things because we’re stuck in itchy, uncomfortable, baggy things. They don’t have to be that way. They can be just as comfortable as a t-shirt, but still dressed up enough to wear with chinos or even pressed summer trousers. You’ll want a fit that skims but doesn’t cling to your torso, as well as a sleeve that hits around mid bicep, and doesn’t droop down into the crook of your elbow.
Oxford Cloth Pants
Yep, spring & summer is a good time to transition oxford cloth from your torso, down to your legs. OCBDs can get a little stuffy in warm weather, but oxford cloth pants are usually much lighter in weight, very breathable, and still stupid soft. The Oxleys from Bonobos are terrific, but almost a hundred bucks for one pair of pants is pretty steep. Gonna have to wait for a sale on those. The more dressed up Bowery from J. Crew is currently on sale for $61.60.
The better than leather (during warm weather), glare free watchband
A flexible, washable, sweat & stink resistant band is a good thing to have on hand (and on your wrist) during the sweaty seasons. You’re leather straps will stay stink free, and your stainless steel bands won’t blind anyone thanks to the bright sun. The C&B “Bond” has the color scheme of 007’s watch band from Goldfinger. There’s color, but it doesn’t wallop you over the head. Try the code “dappered” for 15% off (thanks to Thomas for the reminder). Meanwhile, the Maratac Silicone Deployant is a nice alternative to other rubber straps thanks to that stainless clasp. Now, if you happen to stink up a leather band and want to try to salvage it? Give saddle soap a try.
Smooth leather can look a little… hot… once it warms up. Suede is more relaxed. So when you’re picking out a pair of shoes to wear out when it’s warmer than 75, think more riviera and less funeral parlor. And while bucks are great, they’re often a little boxy looking in shape. Consider giving a sleek, suede loafer a shot. Look for something a little more dressed up and more supportive than a driver. Say, a penny loafer with a longer vamp (makes em’ look less like boat shoes) or a single monk if you can find one. Feel free to break these out early and wear them with dark denim and a grey cotton blazer.
A non pre-frayed baseball cap
It’s a good idea to keep the sun off your face if you’ll be outside for an extended period of time. And sometimes you want to keep dirt and debris out of your hair while working in the yard/garage/shop. Maybe you’re not quite to that place where wearing a Panama hat wouldn’t look contrived. Or maybe, you just want to wear a darn ballcap every once in awhile. If you do, and you’re a sports orphan, consider rooting for the fictional, Roy Hobbs led New York Knights. Cap is made in the USA by Ebbets Field Flannels.
Your turn guys. Take a look in the closet. What do you use the most once the weather finally starts to warm up? Leave any additional spring “essentials” suggestions in the comments.