I’m writing this post with a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I know that the San Francisco summer will be a cold, foggy disappointment. The mild SF weather is a blessing and a curse, but in the summer it often feels like the latter. Nonetheless, I know that many of you hail from regions that do change in temperature when the months pass; this post is for you guys. I’ll probably be wearing a Shetland sweater, but if the temperature happens to pass 75 I might change into these.
Madras. This colorful fabric of Indian origin can appear on virtually any garment, and its lightweight and casual vibe is perfect for summer. You can find madras in most men’s stores, but trad staples like Brooks Brothers will have tons of the stuff. Stick to a mardas shirt or tie if you’re just starting with the fabric; madras sportcoats are best left to the advanced players and madras pants are best left to Bill Murray.
Polo shirt. Polos got a bit of a bad reputation after business casual drones and frat bros took them over, but they can still be a solid summer item if the fit is right (and the collar is un-popped). Like shirts, you can generally find these at any respectable men’s retailer at a wide range of prices. I’ve been perfectly happy with mine from J. Crew, but Uniqlo has some great inexpensive options as well (Kent Wang has a more dressed up version if that’s what you want). Keep an eye on Gestalt Clothing if you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious and Continental in style.
Canvas shorts. My skinny and pale legs just aren’t built for shorts, so I only wear these in summer emergencies. If you have the build to pull them off better than me, feel free to wear them more often. Just keep them slim and don’t let them go past the knee. And if you can’t roll with shorts, just stick with chinos. Pictured: shorts from J. Crew, circa 2010.
Linen. This isn’t exactly an original recommendation for hot weather, but it’s hard to argue with linen’s effectiveness in the heat. You can find easily find linen in shirts, pants, sportcoats and suits; I prefer it in shirts and trousers. One of the best aspects of linen (besides its heat resistance) is its ability to mix well with other fibers. For instance, if the louche linen look is a bit too much for you, consider a linen-cotton blend shirt or a linen-wool sportcoat. These will still carry the benefits of linen, but will show less signs of its telltale wrinkle. The above shirt is an icy blue linen/cotton stripe from Proper Cloth, but Brooks Brothers has some similar off-the-rack options.
A trim swim(suit). Every guy already has one, but if you’re still sporting 11″ board shorts with cargo pockets it might be time to consider upgrading. Try for a 5-9″ inseam, depending on your height and physique (I usually opt for 6-7″). I’ve been happy with the above pair from J. Crew, but around that price Bonobos has some with a higher quality tab/zip waistband and traditional waist sizing instead of alpha sizing. I’m not the kind of guy that appreciates high-end trunks, but if you are then consider Orlebar Brown.
Canvas sneakers. Every summer I buy a new inexpensive pair of canvas sneakers to beat into the ground for the next 12 months. The classic choice would be a simple white sneaker, and it’s hard to go wrong with that; for Summer 2014 I decided to switch it up and go with navy, since it will be a nice complement to all the off-white chinos I tend to wear. The pair above is the Superga 2750.
Sunglasses. They’re good for you and they’ll look good on you. What better reasons do you need? I tend to stick with simple styles like Aviators, P3s, and Wayfarer-esque shapes. Finding well-made eyewear at a reasonable price is difficult, so I often rely on Warby Parker (review here). I also prefer polarized lenses for their increased performance during water sports, at which point I’m also usually wearing…
A breton stripe shirt. I searched long and hard to find one of these nautically-themed classics; I settled on Uniqlo, but Armorlux and Saint James are the traditional choice. You’ll find me wearing it regularly this summer, whether I’m out sailing or just hanging out on the mainland.
Popover. it’s like the polo’s dressed-up cousin; the main difference is that a popover is made from a shirting material like oxford or chambray, while a polo is made form a stretchy knit like pique. Wear it under a navy blazer or on the beach – its power comes from its versatility. This one is from Proper Cloth, but they can also be found at Sid Mashburn, J. Crew, Brooks Brothers, and more. Expect the fit to be a bit looser in the waist, since shirting fabrics don’t stretch like knits and therefore need more space to get over your shoulders.
Sunscreen. Because burns, wrinkles, and skin cancer won’t help your look, unless you’re really dedicated to that leathery old Italian style.
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