The Summer Staples, Revisited

Last year I posted a photo outlining my core pieces for the Spring and Summer months. As I anticipated, I did wear all those items extensively last year, and continue to do so now. However, my lifestyle has changed a bit in the past year and I find myself having less opportunities to wear sportcoats and ties; for that reason, I thought I would update with a version more congruent with what I’m wearing now. So here are my summer 2014 all-stars, piece by piece:

Popover: Proper Cloth. I was very excited when my favorite custom shirtmaker released a popover style a few months ago. Although many have been searching the interwebz for popovers utilizing Italian-inspired cutaway collars, I went for a more traditional approach and paired a lightweight chambray fabric with an ample button-down collar (inspired in no small part by voxsart’s collection). As many other menswear blogger types have noted, popovers are a great item to have on hand during the warmer months – they toe the line between dressed up and laid back, and that’s exactly what I need.

Field Jacket: Gap. Yeah, that’s right. Gap. I mentioned this jacket in my M-65 roundup, and after consulting my own positive remarks, decided to buy it. It ended up being under $50 shipped and has already proven to be a great purchase. San Francisco summers are notoriously chilly, so I am often forced to bring a light jacket with me during my summer outings. This one is exactly what I need – lightweight, durable, well-fitting, and in a color that goes with everything. I have another M-65 in the classic army green, but find myself reaching for this one more often (sorry, Gant). Oh, and it’s currently on sale for $52.50 with the code EXTRA…not bad.

Shades: Warby Parker “Sinclair”. These shades are now over two years old, which might be a world record for sunglasses. They’re with me almost every day and have held up remarkably well. I like the idea of having multiple pairs of glasses to choose between, but find myself grabbing these so often that I haven’t bothered picking up a different pair.

White chinos: J. Crew Urban Slim FitThis cut isn’t perfect for my build – a bit too big in the thigh and a smidge too tapered at the ankle – but they’re reasonably well-made and easy to grab on sale. I bought a few brand new pairs on ebay a couple years ago for next to nothing and they still get worn all the time. I like wearing light-colored chinos in the summer months, and these white ones help me remember that it’s probably really lovely out in Oakland and Palo Alto, even though it’s cold and foggy in SF.

Lighweight suede chukkas: J. Crew. I’m a little tight on funds right now, so although I have been lusting over Alden’s unlined suede shoes for a while, I jumped at the opportunity to try these chukkas for the sweet price of $60. They’re certainly not as nice, but for a cool 1/9th of the price I ain’t mad at all. As a matter of fact, I’m downright impressed. The color of the suede is exactly what I wanted, the construction is pretty solid, and the toe shape is great. And although they’re currently only available in blue suede, they’re on final sale for a screaming $42 – read more here.

I had no intention of writing an article about how you can still dress well without spending too much money, but I suppose that’s exactly what happened. All of these items were relatively affordable (all purchased for under $100), and they have each earned a top spot in my summer rotation. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating high-end clothing and investing in it – I certainly do. That said, it’s important to keep some perspective; when you start to have the opinion that nothing inexpensive can be good, you’ve gone in too deep. It may be more difficult to dress well on a tight budget, but it’s far from impossible.