When green hits the trees and men start hitting the greens, a strange cloud begins to form in the mind of many men. It is obvious that winter sweaters no longer feel quite right and certainly the summer means the beach, but in between ski parkas and speedos, how is a guy supposed to dress? March to September is a long stretch of time to be seen wandering around in white socks and sandals or the college t-shirt that is now older than your first child.
Listed below are 5 items that every man should own and that when mixed together, in any number of combinations, can last an entire season or two – maybe even three if you really get the hang of it! From shirts to shoes, shorts to sunglasses, these never-fail items work every year and will keep you from embarrassing yourself and your family, or worse, looking like your own father. After all, just because you may some day retire to the golf course, doesn’t mean you need to look like you’ve given up on life before 70.
#1, The Polo Shirt
Ah, the polo. Less than 100 years old, this summer staple, designed by Renee Lacoste as a tennis shirt in 1926, has long become a part of every man’s wardrobe. Usually in cotton, but also in cashmere, linen, or silk, it is by far the easiest way to transform your closet. Polo shirts know no age boundaries, fit every bank account, and are as easy to wear as your favorite t-shirt. Solid color, plaid, stripe, black, pink, lime green – it doesn’t matter. Every brand from Old Navy to Gucci provides a polo shirt as part of their lineup. And you can find them in every mall, boutique and online shop. Classic, timeless, clean and functional, the polo shirt is the first step in a successful wardrobe transformation.
#2, The Khaki Pant
At just over 150 years old, the khaki pant has been around slightly longer than most men keep their underwear. Initially designed for military wear, the tan cotton pant spread to civilians in the 1950s and has hung around ever since. The general rule for purchasing khakis is that if you wear larger sizes, you will want them pleated with a cuff at the bottom (the cuff adds weight to the trouser leg to keep the pleats in shape). Otherwise for those buying around a 36″ waist or smaller, stick to flat-front options. Khakis come in a variety of shades from white to green to black and they are all appropriate for summer.
#3, The Boat Shoe
Sperry invented boat shoes in 1935 and they are now worn for much more than boating. Usually made of leather or canvas, worn with or without socks (I prefer without), the boast shoe is a casual men’s shoe that is neither too stuffy nor too lazy. Too often men wear athletic sneakers with just about every pant they own and this is a look that should have died when Seinfeld was cancelled. Save the sneakers for the gym. Slip on a pair of boat shoes with jeans, khakis, or shorts, and you’ve instantly transformed yourself from the “What-is-He-Wearing” Guy to the “Lookin-Good” Guy in 30 seconds.
#4, The Aviator Sunglasses
Few items in a man’s closet are more masculine and invite more compliments than a pair of aviator sunglasses. Ray-Ban cornered the market when they introduced these and there is not a man in America that should be without a pair. The wire-framed glasses usually have a lens that is two to three times the size of the eye socket, and come in lens shades that are often grey or green but I’ve even seen them in blue and purple. Make sure they offer UVA/UVB sun ray protection and if you can afford it, stock up on two pairs or more – say, a gold frame and a black frame. And you have every right to quote “Top Gun” while wearing these.
#5, The White T-Shirt
When I say white, gentlemen, I mean white. Not yellowed, stained, soiled, sweat-through…I mean white. It really doesn’t get more basic than the tee. And the crisp, clean, white tee is the most wonderful and timeless article of clothing a man can own. Crew-neck or V-neck (which I prefer) the cotton t-shirt works with just about everything a man will ever own – shirts, shorts, suits, swimwear. Stocking up on white t-shirts is probably the most important thing a man can do and these days white t-shirts are not the old-fashioned shapeless blobs of cotton worn by previous generations. They are sleek and slim, they keep us cooler thanks to new fabric technology, and they don’t need to be decorated with logos, catchphrases, or fraternity symbols. And since so many cost just a couple of dollars, it is important to replace them as soon as they lose their spic-and-span look.
The five items listed above are an all-access pass to the world of warm weather wear. They work for every man, every time and will transform you from dud to dapper at home, on the links, or at the bar.