Winter is (hopefully) dead. Many of us are looking at our closets, chock full of heavy wools, boots, and dark denim, and we’re thinking: it’s time to make the switch. It’s time to take the cold weather stuff, pack it up, pack it in, and get setup for the warmer months. Weep not for your tweeds & lambswool sweaters. You shall see them again. And fear not, since their alternatives will be more comfortable to wear, while also looking better among the bright sun & laid back vibes of spring & summer. Here are ten switches to consider making once spring decides to stick around.
Your Pants: Jeans –> Lightweight Cotton/Linen/Tropical Wool Pants
- J.C.F Lightweight Chinos in Slim, Straight, or Athletic Fit – $35ish
- Old Navy Slim Built-In Flex Dry Quick Ultimate Khakis – $35ish
- J.C.F. Oxford Cloth Pants in Straight or Slim – $32.00
- Bonobos Summerweight Washed Chinos – $98.00
- Old Navy Chambray Athletic Built-In Flex Pants – $40ish
- Spier & Mackay Tropical Wool “Fresco” Trousers – $118
This is a tough one for jeans addicts (my hand is raised). But denim, even if it’s in a trendier, lighter wash, can feel awfully weighty and suffocating once the mercury heads north. The key here is to not just switch to chinos, but chinos that are specifically designed for the warmer months. Look for the words “summer weight” or “light weight” in product descriptions. Or? An infusion of linen helps air out otherwise dense cotton chinos too. It makes all the difference.
Your Suits: Navy & Charcoal –> Med. Blue & Light Gray
- Spier & Mackay Blue Wool Sharkskin Suit in Slim or Contem. Fit – $398
- Spier & Mackay Light Heather Gray Wool Suit in Slim or Contem. Fit – $328
- Suitsupply Havana Grey Traveler Wool Suit – $599
- Suitsupply Napoli Blue Wool Suit – $399
- J. Crew Harbor Blue Ludlow Fit Italian Worsted Wool Suit Jacket & Matching Pant – $390 w/ SPRINGTOIT ($650)
- J. Crew Mineral Gray Ludlow Fit Italian Worsted Wool Suit Jacket & Matching Pant – $390 w/ SPRINGTO IT ($650)
Navy and charcoal are always appropriate for job interviews and other important occasions, but for daily wear, or, if you’re headed out for a nice dinner? Switch to a color that’s less London financial district in December. There are a TON of medium blue options out there these days, and the pale, almost dove gray look is catching up quick. Skip the black shoes here. That’ll look funny. Go with brown. Shade is up to you.
Your Shoes: Heavy Leather Boots –> Suede Shoes & Chukkas
- Banana Republic Suede Wingtips – $94.80 ($158)
- Allen Edmonds x Massdrop Suede Chukkas – $239.99 FINAL (currently unavailable)
- New Republic Suede Chelsea – $99
- Nordstrom 1901 Trent Wingtip Derby – $54.97 ($115)
- Nordstrom 1901 “Merick” Bucks – $110.00
- Allen Edmonds Nomad Chukkas – $345
- H&M Premium Quality Suede Bucks – $39.99 ($79.99)
Bye sh*t kicking boots. See you in September. Meanwhile, suede, with its matte texture, helps reflect the casual feel of the season, all while not reflecting the sun’s rays. Look for lighter weight (physically and visually) shoes for the warmer months.
Your Sportcoats: Tweed/Thick Wool –> Lightweight Wools, Linen, or Cotton
- Bonobos Unconstructed Italian Loose Weave Wool Sportcoat – $400 – $450
- J. Crew Unstructured Ludlow Blazer in Garment-Dyed Cotton-Linen – $168
- J.Crew Ludlow Light Blue Houndstooth Cotton/Linen Sport Coat – $100.80 ($168)
- Spier & Mackay Slim Wool/Linen Windowpane or Blue Sportcoat – $278
- J. Crew Factory Unconstructed Linen Jacket – $99ish
As much as some of us love an updated, dark blue blazer… even those get shelved for most of the summer. Unless there’s an unusually cold stretch or it’s after dark and plenty cool out, be sure to favor lighter-weight wools, linen, or crisp cotton sportcoats. And the less lining the better.
Your Hair: Long –> Short
No, you don’t have to go full buzz cut. But if you do, more power to you. Ask your barber or stylist for a shorter version of what you’ve been carrying around all winter. Plus, reducing your scalp sweater can help keep you cooler. Less hair = less product = less weight and better air flow.
Your Sweaters: Heavy Wool –> Lightweight Merino, Cotton, or Linen
- Brooks Brothers Shawl Collar (sold out) but Lands’ End has something similar
- UNIQLO Extra Fine Merino V – $39.90 (very lightweight and perfect for year round)
- Banana Republic Silk/Linen Crew – $41.70 ($69.50)
- J. Crew Cotton-Linen Crewneck Sweater in Heather Multistripe – $41.70 w/ SPRINGTOIT ($69.50)
- Lands’ End: Button Shoulder Striped Modal Sweater – $60
Heavy winter sweaters are probably the first thing to hit storage once spring rolls around. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to have a couple options on hand for cool nights and the occasional cold snap. For fabric, think lightweight merino (or, if you’re splurging, cashmere) and linen blends. Cotton is good too, just be aware that thicker knits can get swampy if it warms back up while you’re wearing it.
Your Belts: Heavy Leather –> Cotton, Ribbon, or Suede
- Banana Republic Suede D-Ring Belt – $35.70 ($59.50)
- Jomers Made in the USA Sagamore Cotton Macrame – $20
- BB#1 Stripe Ribbon Belt – $36 ($48)
- Suitsupply Brown Suede Belt – $59
Like switching from boots and smooth leather dress shoes to suede chukkas and wingtips, losing some weight at the belt line is also a good idea. While some guys might be afraid that one of these belts won’t match their shoes (because you’re “supposed” to match your belt to your shoes), this is where that rule has wiggle room. As long as the belt is in the same ballpark in terms of shade/color, working a woven belt in with suede shoes or leather loafers shouldn’t clash too much. In fact, the opposite is true. Sometimes that contrast can look terrific. Just don’t take it too far (i.e. black polished oxfords with a cotton woven belt or something).
Your Watchstrap: Leather –> Rubber/Fabric NATO
- Crown and Buckle HD NATO Strap – $15.00
- Clockwork Synergy NATO Strap – $17.49
- Maratac Silicone Deployment Clasp Strap – 18.00
Not only can this give an old, favorite watch a new look and therefor new life… it can also prevent stanky sweat funk from infiltrating your leather strap. Rubber/Nylon/Cloth straps are just easier to wash and won’t rot out like leather will after repeated submerging. BUT… if you do end up with a stinky leather watch band? Try washing your strap gently with some saddle soap.
Your Ties: Smooth Silk or Wool –> Knit Silk/Linen/Chambray
- TheTieBar Chambray Tie – $19.00
- TheTieBar Pointed Tip Knit Ties – $25
- Norstrom Holborn Stripe Cotton Skinny Tie – $39.50
- Suitsupply Knit Cotton/Linen Tie – $69
- Kent Wang Knit Navy Tie with White Dots – $70
Sun’s out? Skip the shine. Work in a knit silk (007 approved no less), linen, or cotton tie. It’ll spring-up and summerfy even the most sober of suits or sportcoats.
Your Underwear: Contrasting –> Try to match your Skin Tone
- UNIQLO Airism Boxer Briefs – $9.90
- Nordstrom 3-Pack Stretch Cotton Trunks – $20.70 ($34.50)
- Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Brief – $42.99 per 2/pack
The key is to go for something that’s a relative match to your epidermis. Tighty Whities under lighter colored chinos/linen pants can often result in an embarrassing outline showing through. Same goes for something on the dark end of the spectrum if you’re pale and pasty. Grey seems to work pretty well for anyone with a medium to light complexion, while burgundy and blues can work for those with darker skin tones. You might think that pair of summer-weight pants isn’t translucent in the least, but check your arse before you walk out the door to see if your underwear is showing through. You might be surprised.
A version of this post originally ran in 2016, but has since been updated with current product suggestions.