Women can easily look pulled together and appropriate for summer occasions because we have the luxury of whimsical dresses and skirts for summer. What can men buy to get the same easy breezy polished style? I can only assume that most guys in the Northwest already own casual shorts, sporty t-shirts, and sport sandals, so I won't focus my attention there. Here are a few warm weather items that may not be worn every day but are great to have for occasions such as nice barbecues, afternoon weddings, graduations, dinners out, and in some cases even work. Times where a jacket isn't necessary, but you don't want to look as if you just returned from hiking in the Cascades.
- Flat-front chino shorts: A sleek pair of washable, flat-front chino shorts are a great staple. These are flattering and can look put together without looking too fancy for a fun barbecue. They can be worn with a short sleeved button down shirt or a nice t-shirt with a belt. These are available at JCrew for $48.00.
- Patterned swim trunks: Find some fun swim trunks for the season. If you dress conservatively during the week, this is a great opportunity to mix it up a little bit. Swim trunks with ferocious looking sharks all over made me laugh. They are currently on sale at Macy's online for $29.50. If this design is too bold, look for a more subtle tropical pattern. You go to the beach to relax and have fun. Let your swim wear reflect that.
- Fisherman sandals: A pair of good sandals that can be worn on hot days when sneakers just won't do. They can be worn with shorts, jeans, or pants. I like these because they cover the toes. There are other great styles out there that have an open toe. Before donning the open-toed style, make sure to get those toes looking sandal-worthy. I'm afraid I need to be clear here: No socks. You can find these sandals at Endless.com for $58.90.
- Linen trousers: Here's something most men don't have but can look casually pulled together quite easily. Linen pants come in different styles. Most men will only own one pair of linen trousers, so I would recommend avoiding the lined, pleated suit pant in stiff linen. This style can be pretty high maintenance. Also avoid the elastic waistband linen, because these can easily look like pajama bottoms. Instead, look for a flat-front linen pant with a structured waistband. You want the linen to feel soft enough to look acceptably rumpled. Anything too structured that gets rumpled will just leave you looking like you forgot to iron your pants. You're going for the "I didn't mean to look this polished. I just threw on some slightly rumpled linen trousers, a nice t-shirt, and my sandals." Available at Macy's for $69.99.
- Tropical print shirt: This is another way to break up the monotony of weekday work wear. Just beware, many men become addicted to Hawaiian print shirts. They are comfy and fun and set the party mood. If you own too many of these, people start to think of you as the "Hawaiian shirt guy." If you like the easy breezy style of these, Cubavera shirts are also a good option. If you find the all-over prints overwhelming (or causing unnecessary focus on your midriff), put one of your plain T-shirts underneath and leave one button undone. This will break up the pattern quite a bit. Important note: These shirts are not meant to be tucked in. This Tommy Bahama shirt is available at Nordstrom for $110.
- A selection of nicer T-shirts: A nice, plain T-shirt is always a great summer staple. My favorites this year are Club Monaco shirts with a little spandex in them. They are available in black, white, navy, and gray. The spandex helps them hold their shape. They can be washed and dried (on low) and the color still looks fresh. These particular T-shirts come in a crew neck style and a shallow v-neck style. I highly recommend the v-neck for guys with any extra weight around the middle. The v-neck is cut so that you're fully covered, but it really helps to draw attention up and away from the middle. Club Monaco is at Pacific Place in Seattle and soon to be Bellevue Square.