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Your Summertime Wardrobe: Key Basics Every Man Needs

The temperature and humidity are rising, and the days feel longer. No matter if you’re still working from home or spending more time outdoors, your summer wardrobe needs to suit these changes. Mainly, all those three-season transitional garments suddenly feel too heavy and thick, trapping sweat in the process. Instead, fabrics and cuts selected should feel light and keep your skin cool. At the same time, summer isn’t all shorts and T-shirts. You might be off to the pub – or have a beachside wedding to attend. You might think about venturing back to the office, complete with air conditioning and an ergonomic desk, or you might look out the window from your work-from-home setup and decide to enjoy the sun for a bit. Whatever your perspective or reasons, make sure your summer wardrobe is ready with the following basics:

A Variety of Shirts 

No one needs to tell you to have a few T-shirts ready. Whether it’s a day without any client meetings or a lazy Saturday, a classic short-sleeve crewneck covers all your bases and, for many men, is a quintessential summertime uniform in conjunction with a pair of shorts or lightweight chinos. Although solid colours have you all set, those aren’t your only options. Nautical stripes shake up the monotony, or you can revisit the ‘90s sportswear aesthetic through a logo, be it traditional and across the front like this Superdry Core Logo tee or wrapping around and off-centre, like this Lacoste Oversized Croc Detail T-Shirt. Then again, if you intend to spend more time in the office, a T-shirt can come off as too informal, even in the typical smart-casual dress code. Here, opt for something lightweight with a collar. A classic, solid-colour polo, fitted for structure, has turned into the summertime corporate uniform – and one that further proves its worth when you head to do a round of golf at 6pm Or, considering the variety of colours and prints out there, a camp shirt hits all of the season’s notes. Typical rayon construction lets the air flow through to cool your skin, the double-notch collar goes above and beyond for your work wardrobe, and the option to tuck it in or wear it out has you prepared for a spectrum of settings and occasions.

Don’t Forget About Denim 

Denim for 2021 involves a rapid revisit of popular ‘90s cuts. That doesn’t mean the skinny fits we’ve been seeing for close to a decade are out. Instead, this shift brings in more variety and offers a fit of breathing room. What should you expect for summer 2021 and beyond? This year and likely next are all about loose, regular and tapered cuts, mid-rise and falling to the ankle with a clear sense of structure. Mid and stone washes further add retro appeal, highlighting the last era when jeans were simply jeans without a plethora of options and constructions at our fingertips. The quickest way to convey this combination is to kick it partially old school. Yes, every menswear brand out there right now offers denim in some form, but you can’t go wrong with a pair of Calvin Klein jeans, preferably in a versatile mid-blue wash, or the timelessness of Levi’s 501, 512, and 502 cuts, ranging from slim and tapered to regular with a bit more space.

Go the Distance in Lighter-Weight Sneakers 

Although no one says you can’t leave your house shoes behind, you need something to handle the urban commute – and occasionally the office dress code. That’s where your footwear comes in. While some might prefer to live in flip-flops, there are times when you need coverage for your heel and toes – heading to the supermarket, for instance, or even going for a walk in your local park. For a mix of casual and coverage, a classic, versatile pair of canvas trainers – like Converse high tops – fits the bill. The cotton-based material keeps you cool when the humidity has decided to climb, while, at the same time, a treaded outsole, closer fit, and closed toe let you run, walk, and explore with ease. Yet, canvas high-tops might also be too relaxed for the workplace. These days, with more individuals heading back to the physical office space at least part time, you have to revisit the increasingly popular “smart casual” wardrobe. Loafers and lace-up leather dress shoes aren’t your only choices. Instead, the dress sneaker – sleek and made from high-quality leather with a nearly seamless silhouette – exemplifies its hybrid, transitional nature, with Adidas’ Stan Smiths serving as a paradigm.

Prepare with the Right Accessories 

The sun’s high in the sky, and you’re concerned about UV exposure. So, you slather on some SPF 30, but you know this won’t be enough, especially if you’re headed off to the beach or someone’s backyard get-together. When you want to add an extra degree of protection against getting a sunburn and all of its long-term effects like wrinkles, sunspots, and eye damage, your accessories fulfill this role. Cover your scalp and part of your face with a bucket hat, like this tri-coloured, reversible style from Lacoste. With brands revisiting ‘90s trends over the past few years, this fisherman’s-turned-raver’s essential does double duty down to its practical roots. Anything with a wide brim provides an additional degree of shade and sun protection for long days outdoors. Then, think about your eyes. Although sunglasses trends have leaned toward rimless, colourful, and geometric in recent seasons, classic frames continue to prove their worth. You can’t ever go wrong with a pair of Ray-Ban aviators, featuring a pilot shape known for a greater degree of coverage.

Revisit Your Workout Gear 

Workouts during the pandemic shifted from the gym to the outdoors and eventually the living room, with sales for Peloton and other equipment-meets-subscription services soaring over the past year. Especially with the changing weather conditions, you might be tempted to ditch your area in front of the couch for the park – but realise that this often means leaving the air conditioner behind you. So, to prevent overheating, make sure any summertime workout gear offers moisture-wicking and cooling properties to control perspiration and keep your core dry. Nike, for instance, adds its proprietary Dri-FIT properties to its tees, even its cotton varieties, and its active shorts, including the more freeing and breathable seven-inch options we’ve been seeing since the spring.

Ivan Yaskey

Philadelphia’s streetwear scenes and working as a copywriter for a Boston-based menswear brand sparked Ivan's passion for fashion and style more than a decade ago.

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