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, with a few non wearable additions thrown in. Twenty suggestions follow which are good to have on hand once the temperatures start to sniff 80 (or more). Assorted specific picks are added below as well. Enjoy the weather.
A decent weekender or other get-out-of-town luggage
- Filson Medium Duffel – $359.25 w/ VIPSALE
- Everlane The Mover Pack – $78
- Wood & Faulk Waxed Canvas USA Made Duffel – $194.49 ($389)
- Gustin Horween #8 Weekender – $519
- WP Standard Full Grain Leather Weekender – $350
Something that’s easy to grab and go. If it meets carry on requirements, all the better. You want something flexible, versatile, and not overly fussy or relegated to an airport concourse (wheels are great, but not always the best for quick trips). It’s travel season. Having decent luggage is part of the fun.
Versatile, do-anything, comfortable sunglasses
- Ray Ban Updated Clubmasters – $99.99
- American Optical Original Pilots – $55 – $75
- Ray Ban New Wayfarers – $84.50
- Jack Spade Snyder Sunglasses – $49.97.
These are the sunglasses that look equally good at a warm weather wedding as they do out back enjoying a cold one while in shorts and a t-shirt. Not all sunglasses can accomplish this. But classic, trimmed down aviators (not too bulbous or droopy lenses), as well as Ray-Ban’s New Wayfarer, do just that. Also, they’ve got to be comfortable. They can’t be sliding off your face all the time, and they can’t dig into your ears.
Lightweight, comfortable, breathable/wicking polos
- UNIQLO Airism Button Down Collar Polo – $19.90(or 2 for 99.90)
- Amazon Essentials Tech Stretch Polo – $15.00
- Old Navy “Go Dry” Performance Polo – $2oish (size down if in between)
- J.C.F. 100% Poly “Performance” Polos – $17ish
I have seen the future, and it is tech wear that doesn’t look terribly much like tech wear (see the new BR core temp chinos). Polos are a perfect garment for this blend of function and style. We wear em’ when it’s warm to hot, and we want them to breathe and wick. Not all polos do this. Hell, most don’t. So wear a spongy, thick, pique all cotton polo at your own peril.
Light (but not bright white) or rich brown suede shoes
- Suitsupply Suede Double Monks (sold out, got em’ during an outlet sale a while back)
- Banana Republic Waller Suede Wingtip – $118.99 ($158)
- 1901 Merrick Derby – $110
- 1901 Cardiff Plain Toe Derby – $54.98 ($110)
- Jack Erwin Mason Suede Chukkas – $195
They’re the perfect shade and texture for warm weather. The classic is the dirty-buck… but loafers, monk straps, brogues, hell even lightweight chukkas all look good here. They go with everything from seersucker suits, to chinos and polos, to jeans on those strangely cool days. More suggestions on how to wear these things can be found here.
Breathable, wicking underwear that won’t show under lighter pants
I used to wear cotton underwear in the summer. Never again. It was like living in the dark ages. Whether you go spendy (Ex Officio) or cheap (UNIQLO), do your junk a favor and try out some tech underwear that’s been engineered to breathe and wick sweat away from your skin. It’s a life changer. Also, try to go with shades that aren’t too far off from your skin tone. If you’re lighter skinned, grey should be fine, since white or black can leave “lines” where your underwear starts and stops showing through semi-translucent pants like white chinos or cotton/linen pants.
Something to put stuff in for a trip to the beach/pool
- Hex Tote Bag – $49.96 ($99.95)
- Beckel Canvas Handi Bag – $53
- J. Crew Stonewashed Canvas Tote – $69.50 (often on sale)
- Goodfellow & Co Canvas Tote Bag – $24.99
If you’re going to be spending a day at the beach or beside the pool, you’ll probably be bringing some stuff with you. Sunscreen, a frisbee, beer, towel(s), etc. And while the humble tote bag doesn’t get a lot of love in the menswear community, this is the perfect reason to acquire one. Keep it stashed in your car (if you have a car) for quick-ish trips to the grocery store.
A Good Book (or better yet, a good series)
The dog days are coming, and sometimes a good book or series of books is a great way to get those of us who can’t stand the heat through the season. Fiction is usually a better idea. And nothing terribly abstract or super dense or… you get the idea. Summer usually means kicking back a bit. So leave the books that give you a headache just thinking about them on the shelf. Also, skip the tablet. Go paperback or hardcover. Books don’t crash, aren’t overly susceptible to splashes of water, and if you accidentally leave it in your hotel room, it’s not that big of a deal.
A dive watch on a nato or rubber strap
- Seiko 009 – $179.99
- Seiko 007 – $179.99
- Casio Dive Watch – $45
- Glycine Combat Sub Automatic – $475
- Christopher Ward C60 Trident PRO 600 – $830
Leather soaks up sweat and then starts to stink. Stainless steel is great, but in the blaring sun it can be a bit blinding. A fabric nato, or rubber or silicone strap is perfect for hot weather. And you’ll need the water resistance. Even if you don’t go for a dip with the thing on your wrist, usually a higher water resistance means it’s built tougher and can handle what summer often throws at you. Not in the market for a new timepiece? Understood. There are plenty of sources on the web for NATO straps. And often, swapping out the strap on an old, forgotten wrist watch can give it new life.
A decent pair of swim trunks
- Original Penguin Earl Volley Trunk – $65
- Jomers Swim Trunks – $36.00
- Bonobos The Banzai Trunk – $70.80 w/ BLUEMOON ($88)
- L.E. Colorblock Board Shorts – $34.96 w/ FLOWER & 5771 ($49.95)
Go for a pair of swim shorts that’ll be a little bit shorter than what you normally wear in regular shorts, are either solid or have a basic pattern/some stripes, are mesh lined (control man… control), and don’t have an enormous, diaper-like elastic waistband. Most should feel comfortable in that setup. It’s basically a board-short/trunk hybrid. Boardshort looks on the exterior (but with shorter legs than knee-length boardshorts), plus the support and containment of a trunk.
A barely there sport coat in a breathable fabric
- J.C.F. Thompson Unstructured Linen Blazer – $99
- Bonobos Unconstructed Italian Hopsack Wool Sportcoats – $320 – $360 w/ BLUEMOON ($400 – $450)
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Linen Blend Sportcoats – $399 – $499
Light, hopsack wool. Linen or linen/cotton blends. And for goodness sake, skip as much of the lining as you can. There’s nothing more self-defeating than a lightweight linen or wool fabric fully lined in suffocating cheap polyester.
A fresh haircut and/or beard trim
It’s time to knock back the weeds. Whether you’re buzzing it yourself, or you’re on a first name basis with one of the best stylists in your city, going short (or at least shorter) for the warm weather is rarely a bad idea.
A sweater that’ll actually look good with shorts
- B.R. Heritage Mariner Stripe Sweater – $59.10 when 40% off ($98.50)
- Lands’ End Stripe Linen Cotton Texture Shawl Collar – $69.95 ($89.95)
- J. Crew Cotton-Linen Crewneck Sweater in Heather Multistripe – $69.50
No, you don’t have to wear it with shorts. Jeans or chinos work too on those oddly cool days. You’re looking for a lightweight wool, linen, slim but strong cotton, or linen cotton blend. Nautical stuff usually works quite well. Great for having on hand for long getaways to a lakeside cabin, or just hanging around your place outside after the sun has gone down.
White Leather or Canvas Sneakers
- adidas Stan Smith – $75
- Superga Cotu Classic – $62
- Sperry Top-Sider Striper LL CVO – $59.95
- Banana Republic Nicklas – $76.80 (when 40% off)
Not clunky velcro mall walkers. You guys know what I mean. The timeless design. Meanwhile, canvas might breathe better than leather, but I’ve never had any issue wearing my Stan Smiths in 100+ weather. Bottom line: White sneakers go with everything, especially in summertime.
Pants cool enough to wear in the heat
- Bonobos Summerweight Chinos – $78.40 w/ BLUEMOON ($98)
- J.C.F Lightweight Chinos in Slim, Straight, or Athletic Fit – $35ish
- Banana Republic Core Temp Chinos – $58.80 when 40% off ($98)
- Spier & Mackay Fresco Wool Trousers – $118
Because sometimes you can’t wear shorts, or, you don’t want to wear shorts. Plenty of types/fabrics to pick from that won’t leave you overheated. Full run down can be found here.
A silk knit or chambray necktie
It’s all about the texture here. The texture of a knit silk tie, or a chambray tie, goes great with summery fabrics. Meanwhile, it also does a hell of a job relaxing the look of a standard charcoal or navy business suit (as shown above). Standard silk ties can just look a bit off this time of year.
A place to escape to
Whether it’s a well equipped basement, a cabin in the mountains, or Tierra del Fuego, you gotta find a place where you can look forward to getting out of the heat. And if that requires long weekends and a bit of a road trip, so be it.
Trim fitting shorts… that aren’t too short
- Target Goodfellow 9″ Stretch Chino or Chambray – $9.48 – $12.99 ($18.99)
- J. C.F. 9″ Gramercy Oxford Short or Lightweight Cotton Shorts – $19.95
No cargos. No below the knee stuff. But no banana smugglers either. Shorts are a perfect example of how the extremes on either end can look a little off, yet it’s not too difficult to find the sweet spot. 7″ – 9″ inseams for most should work. Look for lightweight cotton or cotton/linen blends.
A Low/No alcohol cocktail
Day drinking happens. Especially in the summer, but if you’re hammered and sweaty and loose lipped by the time the brunch dishes are cleared, then you might not get invited back. I like Campari and soda myself as well as a Duplex. Just soda with a few dashes of bitters is another go-to.
Moisture absorbing powder
And not just powder for your feet either. Discreetly applying a little bit of body powder to certain areas can greatly aide in preventing what scientists have categorically labeled as “swamp crotch”. It’s like a dryer sheet for your crevasses. No sticking or clinging. Concerned about Talc? There’s plenty of talc free options on the market these days.
An overall feeling of sweat acceptance
Look, it’s sweat. You’re not hemorrhaging kerosene and Country Crock. We sweat when we’re hot. It’s one of the ways we keep ourselves cool. Being overly concerned about whether or not you’re going to get those darker, damp shirt underarms is only going to make you perspire. It’s a hell of a cycle. Now, this “sweat acceptance” is assuming that you don’t stink to the heavens when you do. And if you DO stink, you might want to change your laundry habits, your personal hygiene habits, or see a doctor and explore what it is that you’re eating that’s making you stink.