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 for these days that aren’t just warm, but hot. Assorted specific picks are added below as well. Enjoy the summer.
NOTE: Summer is always travel season, and some of the picks below reflect that. (This post is based on a similar post from years past.) But this year, staycations are obviously a GREAT call. If you do choose to hit the road, be safe out there guys. Mask up. And consider picking destinations (and ways of getting there) that will help us all work through this mess sooner rather than later.
Trim fitting shorts… that aren’t too short
- Amazon Goodthreads Men’s 7″ Inseam Comfort Stretch Linen Cotton – $30
- J. Crew 9″ Tech Shorts – $69.50 (wait for sales)
- Target Goodfellow 9″ Linden Flat Front Shorts – $19.99
- Banana Republic 9″ Slim Core Temp Short – $29 ($69.50)
No cargos. No below the knee stuff. But no budgie 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. For the drinkers, try Campari and soda or a Duplex. If you’re sticking to non-alcoholics, try just soda with a few dashes of bitters, or, the above recipe of:
- club soda (or la croix)
- stirrings blood orange bitters to taste (they’re not as bitter as “true” bitters)
- couple dashes of Peychauds bitters
- “slapped” mint as a garnish/fragrance enhancer
Versatile, do-anything, comfortable sunglasses
- Sunski Topekas – $27.19 w/ SUNNY20 ($68)
- Kent Wang Keyhole Sunglasses – $55
- Ray-Ban Polarized Wayfarers – $79.97 ($188)
- Ray Ban Updated Clubmasters – $154
- J. Crew Portico sunglasses – $19.50 exp 7/14 ($65)
- American Optical Original Pilots – $100ish
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 classic aviators 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. BIG thanks to reader John P. for passing along the Sunski Sale at Leftlane Sports. He also said he’s ordered from that site before, and that they’re legit. So, should be good to go!
Lightweight, comfortable, breathable/wicking polos
- Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Polo – $49 – $88
- Target All in Motion Tech Pique Golf Polo – $22
- Amazon Peak Velocity Performance Athletic-Fit Polo – $20
- Arc’Teryx Merino A2B polo – $99
- Proof 72-Hour Merino Polo – $69.98 ($88)
I have seen the future, and it is tech wear that doesn’t look terribly much like tech wear. Polos are a perfect garment for this blend of function and style. Trim fit tech polos that don’t look like bulky golf polos are what you’re after. They’re comfortable in the heat, wick sweat, and you’ll never go back to all cotton/spongy pique clubhouse-style junk ever again. Those old-style polos feel like wearing a bath towel in the heat. They’re just plain uncomfortable. So go with tech that feels cool, crisp, and breathes like crazy. Merino does this too, but you’ll pay more for it.
- Nordstrom 1901 Suede Driving Loafers (sold out, similar from Jack Erwin Here)
- J. Crew Kenton boat shoes in suede – $100ish
- Nordstrom Men’s Kai Penny Loafer – $44.99 ($125)
- Banana Republic Nyle Buck – $94 ($158)
- Allen Edmonds Sea Island Suede Loafer – $179.97 ($295)
- Alden Leisure Handsewn Loafer – $577
Suede is just all kinds of right, especially in warmer weather. Has to be the softer, matte texture. Less glaring sun reflecting off your shoes. Smooth leather in super hot-hot-heat can look almost… heavy? The classic summer suede shoe is the dirty-buck… but loafers, monk straps, brogues, and yes… even chukkas… all look good here. They go with everything from seersucker suits, to chinos and polos, to jeans on those strangely cool days.
A decent weekender or duffel bag
- Filson Medium Duffle – $276.50 ($395)
- Amazon Basics Canvas Weekender – $53 (review here)
- WP Standard Leather Military Duffle – $398
- J. Crew Abingdon Weekender – $298
- Matador SEG42 One Bag Travel Duffel – $190
- Halfday “The Garment Duffel” – $95 (sometimes a Bespoke Post box for $45)
Something that’s easy to grab and go. You want something flexible, versatile, and not overly fussy. It’s (responsible) travel season. Having decent luggage is part of the fun. Even if you’re headed for a short drive to a family cabin or a quiet Airbnb.
Breathable, wicking underwear that won’t show under lighter pants
- Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Brief – $20
- ExOfficio Give-n-Go Boxer Brief – $18 – $20
- UNIQLO Airism Boxer Briefs – $14.90
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 gently move sweat away from your skin. It’s a life changer. Also, try to go with colors and shades that aren’t too far off from your skin tone. As a pasty goober, I usually go with gray. That way, I don’t get VPL (or, “visible panty lines” as the ladies would say) if I’m wearing lighter colored pants. Not heeding this advice could result in “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 picnic or trip to the beach/pool
- J. Crew Abingdon Waxed Tote – $100ish
- Champion Signal Tote – $17.99
- Beckel Canvas Handi Bag – $65
- Banana Republic Camo Large Tote – $44 ($54.50)
- Filson Rugged Twill Tote w/ Zipper – $109.90 ($225)
If you’re going to be spending a day socially-distanced 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)
- Casino Royal – $12
- The Witcher Box Set – $26
- The Lewis Trilogy Box Set – $25
- Plainsong by Kent Haruf – $11
- The Travis McGee Series – $13 per
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 vacation rental, it’s not that big of a deal.
A wristwatch that can handle it all
- Bulova Surfboard Chronograph – $500ish ($695) review here
- Casio MDV106-1AV 200m Dive Watch – $47.56 Of course. Review here.
- Seiko SKX 007 or 009 Automatic – $279 – $299
- Seiko Samurai Automatic – $300 – $400
- Christopher Ward 38, 40, or 42mm C60 Trident Pro 600 – $895
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 serious 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.
White Leather or Canvas Sneakers
- PF Flyers USA Made Center-Lo – $80 ($145)
- adidas Stan Smith – $80
- Puma Super Liga OG Retro Sneaker – $59.99
- Superga Cotu Classic – $50
- Sperry Top-Sider Striper LL CVO – $59.95
- Banana Republic Nicklas – $80ish
Obligatory.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.
A decent pair of swim trunks
- Original Penguin The Earl Fixed Swim Trunk- $52
- Made in the USA Flint & Tinder Breaker Trunks – $6
- Patagonia 5” Baggies – $55
- Bonobos Riviera Recycled Swim Trunks – $58 ($78)
Go for a pair of swim shorts that’ll be a little bit shorter than what you normally wear in regular shorts, and do opt for mesh lined (control man… control). Patterns have gotten wilder in the last few years, so, why not have some fun with it. You’re at the beach (or lake or pool) after all.
A barely there sport coat in a breathable fabric
- Bonobos Unconstructed Italian Hopsack Wool Sportcoats – $400
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Jackets in Lightweight Wool, Linen, etc. – $399+
- Banana Republic Slim Linen Blazer – $99 ($199)
- J. Crew Slim-fit Unstructured Jacket in Cotton-Linen – $60ish ($168)
- Spier & Mackay Italian Linen/Wool Sportcoat – $378
- Spier & Mackay Hopsack Wool Navy Sportcoat – $328
Light, hopsack wool is the ideal. There’s just nothin’ like it. Linen or linen/cotton blends are fine too. 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
- Banana Republic Linen Silk Crew – $50ish
- Amazon Goodthreads Lightweight Merino Wool Crew – $35 (but it was $10!)
- J. Crew Linen-cotton lightweight sweater – $30ish
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.
Pants cool enough to wear in the heat
- Bonobos Stretch Lightweight Chinos – $88 – $98
- Banana Republic Core Temp Chinos – $60ish (review here)
- lululemon Warpstreme Commission or ABC Pant – $128
- Old Navy Slim Built-In Flex Ultimate Tech Pants for Men – $30ish ($49)
- J. Crew Tech Pants – $24.50 ($79.50) note that this deal expires today, 7/14.
Because sometimes you can’t wear shorts, or, you don’t want to wear shorts. There are plenty of types/fabrics to pick from that won’t leave you overheated. From full tech to totally natural linen. 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 a favorite forest hiking trail, you gotta find a place where you can look forward to getting out of the heat. Doesn’t need to be a trip to the ends of the earth. Hardly. Just somewhere cool and calm and quiet. (photo credit)
Moisture absorbing powder
And not just powder for your feet either. Discreetly applying a little (key word, little… you don’t want your crotch to look like a coke addict) 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. Food can effect your body odor, but so can an undetected disease, so it’s a good idea to get it checked out.
This post originally ran in 2018, but has since been updated with current picks. Stay hydrated guys. No really. It’s about as close to a fitness and wellness panacea as it gets. Obviously it won’t cure everything, but most of us are constantly dehydrated. Drink more water. I try to do this: When waking up, drink 16-20 oz of water. Mid day, drink another 16 oz. Early evening, drink another 16 oz. It makes a huge difference. I’m simple, so I use these.