The tee is – thanks to menswear’s current loosening up – more useful than ever, an inexpensive warm-weather essential that works just as well with a full suit as a pair of chino shorts. But maximising your opportunities for wear means choosing wisely.
The redoubtable boss of basics, Japanese retailer Uniqlo offers tees that tick every box – covering off pretty much every colour and fabric composition you can think of – from sweat-deflecting Dry styles to timeless Breton stripes.
Premium: James Perse
While there’s little logic in blowing the guts of your seasonal budget on a couple of barely-there tees, LA brand James Perse’s are so finely crafted we couldn’t fault you for it.
Available in lightweight cotton-jersey, slub linen and performance blends of polyamide and elastane, Perse’s tees drape better than any we’ve seen and boast subtle details like a bound neckline that frames your face perfectly.
The Field Jacket
We use the term loosely. Because while an authentic M-65 style is sure to serve you well, any lightweight, earthy-coloured jacket replete with pockets ticks the trend box.
Proffered by designers across the board, a field or safari jacket is this season’s outerwear non-negotiable. Good news, because it’s well-built for layering in winter.
mango man spring 2016
Entry-Level: Mango Man
Less about flash-in-the-pan fashion than some of its high street competitors (in aesthetics at least), Mango Man has gone on the offensive with its army of military-style jackets.
Pick up its cotton-canvas style for something classic, or broach new territory with a safari jacket made from performance water-repellent fabric or buttery-soft suede.
Outerwear investments probably don’t rank high on your shopping list come summer. But make an exception for J.Crew’s Field Mechanic Jacket, an authentic re-working of the original M-65.
Available in navy or green, it comes equipped with field jacket signatures including a foldable zipped hood, a standing collar and flap patch pockets. Yes, it’ll cost as much as a week’s worth of London rent but you’ll be putting this one to work right up to winter.
The Knitted Polo Shirt
Gucci’s Alessandro Michele might want you to ride menswear’s 1970s wave in pussy bows and floral bell-bottom jeans, but there’s a less Are You Being Served? approach to tapping the heyday of disco.
The knitted polo shirt gives a summer-ready classic a retro treatment, resulting in something that’s smarter than a tee but still staves off sweat.
Trust one of the high street’s biggest runway-gazers to deliver designer trends at a fraction of the price. Zara’s got both plain and ribbed and tipped knitted polos cut in a slim-fit that steers this sporty classic in a smarter direction.
Premium: Roberto Collina
Heritage is expensive, which is why one of Roberto Collina’s masterfully fine knitted polos will set you back the same you’d pay for five at Zara.
But not only does the extra spend buy you something produced entirely in Bologna, it also gives you options including 100 per cent cotton styles and sweat-wicking cotton-polyamide blends in more colours than you can shake a breadstick at.
Some menswear rules may have been rewritten in the last few years, but sartorial etiquette still dictates you can’t wear shorts to the office. Which is why airy, featherlight chinos are a godsend for sweaty pins.
Marks & Spencer 2016
Entry-Level: Marks & Spencer
Next to fit, colour and fabric composition are key factors in making a quality pair of chinos. The right colours mean better cost-per-wear while finding the right composition means you’ll stay cool and comfortable no matter how far the mercury rises.
Whatever you’re looking for, household name Marks & Spencer probably has it this season, with colours including beige, black, blue and shades of grey, as well as classic cotton, quick-drying cotton-polyester and easy-iron linen styles. (And, to ease your conscience, most are made from sustainable fabrics.)
Those with deeper pockets might want to upgrade to Italian-made. Incotex, part of the decades-old Venice-born Slowear group, uses custom-developed fabrics honed over almost 50 years to produce chinos that are synonymous with the word itself.
The Boat Shoes
Unlike sandals or flip-flops, boat shoes don’t come with the risk of making people wince. Add to that their preppy cachet and the fact that you can wear them on city streets as well as boardwalks, and there’s no competition for what you slip on your feet in summer.
Boat shoe OG Sperry might have beaten Sebago to the punch in developing the first ever pair, but it’s the latter, for many, that offers the style and level of craftsmanship to clinch gold.
Try Sebago’s Docksides in Ariaprene for a pair that features a classic handsewn moccasin construction with the added benefit of breathability, or punch your budget up just slightly for a suede, leather or nubuck style.
Can’t find a pair of boat shoes worth your bread? Take the bespoke route with Maine-based label Quoddy. This shoemaker crafts boat shoes entirely by hand, letting you choose everything from the hardware to the colour of the upper.
Need them in a hurry? The brand also produces a superb ready-to-wear line in a variety of popular colourways.
Good news, we no longer have just budgie-smugglers and boardshorts to choose from. The men’s swimwear market has swollen over the past five years to include a wave of specialist brands offering both sporty and tailored styles.
David Gandy For M&S 2015
Entry-Level: David Gandy For Autograph
Tailored swim shorts under £50 aren’t exactly ten-a-penny. Which is exactly why you should snap up some of model/designer/world’s-most-envied-man David Gandy’s new line for Marks & Spencer’s Autograph.
Cut comfortably close to the leg, these tailored shorts come in classic beach-to-bar colours like black, navy, burgundy and white.
Although a newcomer to the swimwear market, Dan Ward’s eponymous founder is anything but, having held senior positions at Bally, Calvin Klein and Hermès.
Made in Italy, Ward’s broad beach-ready offering spans sleek plain-colour styles and punchy geometric patterns.
Have we name-checked the best brands here? Or are there other labels worth repping?
Drop your shout-outs below.