High Summer Additions
During the high summer season, when temperatures regularly rise above the mid-twenties, thoughts of layering and wearing anything long-sleeved are forgotten as comfort and circulation become our main priorities.
The majority of (sane) men will resort to a simple shorts, polo/tee and shoes/trainers formula – it’s inevitable. We hate to break it to you, but dressing for extreme heat isn’t particularly creative and your options are extremely limited; fashion and style does sometimes have to take a back seat to practicality.
Yet hopefully this latest instalment in our Capsule Wardrobe Additions series will demonstrate how, with just a few key pieces, you can reinvent your high summer (or holidaying) wardrobe with ease.
We’ll start with items that every guy should consider adding this year, working our way through to ‘non-essentials’ such as hot-weather-specific garments and accessories that will help individualise your look.
However, the following advice assumes that you already have a good foundation to build on – i.e. a nice collection of classic, simple and versatile basics that can be relied on all year round. If not, then check out our article on The Ultimate Streamlined Capsule Wardrobe.
The emphasis today is on simple, versatile pieces that you can mix and match and wear over and over again. There is often no need to spend more than £20 on ‘basic’ items such as polo shirts or shorts – and thanks largely to great brands like Uniqlo, ASOS and HE by Mango, this advice has never been more pertinent.
The £300 Budget
As with most things in life, we all have to work within a budget. Of course, some budgets are bigger than others but no matter how much money you have to spend, it’s all about making sure you buy the best that you can afford while considering quality, construction and, above all else, fit.
We can’t stress that last point enough. When the weather restricts you to basic combinations, fit plays an even bigger part in your look. It truly is the difference between a good outfit and a great one. It’s also what will separate you from the hordes of other men who seem to believe that more material equals more comfort.
But as always, remember this: slim, not skinny. Clothing that’s too tight and restrictive reduces air circulation and encourages sweating. Not what we’re after, at all.
Let’s start with a typical budget for most students or young professionals, as well as those who have other priorities that come first: rent, bills, children etc. When confined to a modest budget such as this, it’s important to prioritise value for money.
A Few Pairs Of Shorts
These are going to become the work horses of your high summer wardrobe, so purchase them in versatile colours like navy, grey and beige.
This allows them to be paired with pretty much anything you already own or plan on purchasing later. Make sure they fit you around the waist (you shouldn’t need a belt to keep them up), are cut slim through the thigh and end one to two inches above the knee for the ideal length.
For more on this subject, check out our Dos and Don’ts Guide To Shorts.
Uniqlo Men Chino Shorts, various colours, £14.90 each:
Key Styles (<£25)
- Gap Flat Front Shorts 8
- Asos Chino Shorts In Twill With Belt
- Next Linen Blend Short
- Topman Stone Chino Shorts
- River Island Navy Blue Chino Shorts
- Topman Off White Chino Shorts
A Handful Of Polo Shirts
Again, the same rules apply here: keep them neutral for maximum versatility.
There are plenty of designs out there but our favourites for 2014 have to be those with button-down collars – they look smarter, taking any outfit up a notch instantly, and if you do put a blazer or jacket on the collar will stand better.
Make sure the polo fits you around the neck and across the chest/shoulders. It should end an inch below your waist and the sleeves should hit around mid-bicep.
HE by Mango Button-Down Collar Polo Shirt, various colours, £29.99 each:
Key Styles (<£30)
- He By Mango Essential Cotton Polo Shirt
- Asos Polo In Jersey
- He By Mango Button-down Collar Polo Shirt
- Uniqlo Men Dry Shirt Collar Button-down Polo Shirt
- Next Short Sleeve Polo Shirt
- Uniqlo Men Novak Djokovic Dry Ex Short Sleeve Polo Shirt
A Short-Sleeved Shirt In A Colour/Pattern
The short-sleeved shirt is still a criminally underused item in menswear, perhaps due to its unfortunate association with IT nerds and fast food workers. But if you follow just a few simple guidelines, there’s no reason why the short-sleeved shirt cannot become a versatile weapon in your high summer arsenal.
There are two main areas you need to focus on: the sleeves and shoulders. The shirt should fit well across your shoulders without being too tight around your chest or through the sides. As for the sleeves, they should finish around mid-bicep and allow a single finger between the fabric and your arm.
With your capsule wardrobe already well-stocked with plain basic tees and polos, use this opportunity to introduce some colour or pattern to your personal style. Pick up one in a summer hue or print and wear it with absolutely every pair of shorts you own. You won’t regret it.
ASOS own brand short-sleeved shirts, various colours/prints, from £15:
Key Styles (<£50)
- Topman Pink Mini Oxford Shirt – Short Sleeve Shirts – Mens Shirts – Clothing- Topman
- Asos Twill Shirt In Short Sleeve
- Asos Oxford Shirt In Short Sleeve
- Next Oxford Shirt
- Topman White And Blue Floral Short Sleeve Shirt
- Asos Linen Mix Shirt In Short Sleeve With Green And White Check
- He By Mango Slim-fit Short Sleeve Check Shirt
- Asos Shirt In Short Sleeve With Floral Print
- Asos Stripe Shirt In Short Sleeve
Arguably the ultimate high summer shoe, the espadrille will quickly become your go-to footwear choice throughout the warmer months. Ideal for everyday casual looks and a more refined alternative to flip-flops on holiday, every man should have a pair in his capsule wardrobe.
Opt for traditional canvas construction and a rubber/jute sole to ensure breathability and comfort over extended periods in the heat. Classic shades of navy, beige or black are your most versatile options, but due to their nautical and Riviera associations you can also choose to make more of a statement with a pastel-coloured pair or even a subtle Breton stripe, like our pick below.
Perhaps the greatest thing about espadrilles is that they can be dressed up or down effortlessly. Wear them with printed swim shorts and a vest during the day on holiday, switching for white trousers and a short-sleeved shirt when going to a beachside restaurant in the evening.
Dune Finch Striped Espadrille, priced £21.00:
Key Styles (<£30)
- Selected Homme Espadrilles
- Topman Navy Pinstripe Canvas Espadrilles
- River Island Grey Mesh Slip On Plimsolls
- Dune Frampton Canvas Grey
- Dune Fence Cotton Espadrilles Navy
- Welland Espadrilles
Summer Neutral chinos/trousers
Not a fan of shorts or just want to give your legs a break from all that UV? The right type of chinos/trousers can actually be just as good at keeping you cool – ideal for when you need to dress up in the day or on balmy evenings.
The key here is to focus on fabric, colour and fit. Look for a pair in a lightweight cotton- or linen-blend for ultimate breathability, and opt for a light summer neutral such as white or stone so they don’t absorb heat.
Finally, consider a slightly fuller cut with these trousers to help increase airflow while also promoting a slightly more relaxed, Bueno Vista Social Club vibe.
Charles Tyrwhitt Chalk Canvas Weave Summer Trousers, priced £39.95:
Key Styles (<£50)
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Trousers In 100% Linen
- Topman Stone Oxford Skinny Fit Trousers
- He By Mango Slim-fit Garment-dyed Chinos
- Uniqlo Men Slim Fit Chino Flat Front Trousers
- He By Mango Slim-fit Pleated Chinos
- John Lewis Linen Cotton Trousers natural
The Printed Polo/T-Shirt
Along with your neutral summer staples, it’s important to have some options to break out when you want to stand out from the crowd. A printed top is perfect for this, so pick your poison: t-shirt or polo.
More refined dressers can choose a collared polo in a timeless motif such as the Breton stripe, while casual dressers and festival-goers alike will naturally gravitate toward a bold print tee.
Anchor them with your neutral shorts or summer trousers (above) and break them out when you want all eyes on you.
Key patterns to consider include oversized checks, tropical florals and stripes (vertical or horizontal), which were all prominent at the SS15 fashion weeks and will therefore offer increased longevity.
Michael Bastian for Uniqlo Polo Shirts, £14.90 each:
Key Styles (<£25)
- Topman Tropical Birds Roller T-shirt
- Topman Red Check Skater T-shirt
- Asos T-shirt With Dip Dye And Stone Wash
- Asos Polo With Paisley Print
- He By Mango Tropical Print Pique Polo Shirt
- D-struct Polo Shirt With Palm Print
- River Island Black Floral Print T-shirt
- River Island Blue Tribal Print T-shirt
- He By Mango Striped Herringbone Cotton T-shirt
- Uniqlo Men Michael Bastian Washed Short Sleeve Polo Shirt
- Next Red Print Rever Polo
- Next Geo Print Polo
The £500 Budget
Another couple of hundred to spend? Well, now we can start to look at some investment pieces that will become key components of your summer wardrobe for many years to come.
Brown Boat Shoes
Because no matter how versatile they are, you don’t want to be wearing those espadrilles all day, every day, do you?
Sometimes you need to dress things up a bit – and nothing does it better in summer than a pair of brown boat shoes in leather or suede. Any versatile shade of brown/tan can be considered, including two-tone or tri-coloured versions.
Pair them with tailored shorts, linen trousers, sharp polos and striped tees to create a wealth of nautical-inspired looks that are wholly appropriate for the high summer season.
Sperry Top-Sider Amaretto Leather Boat Shoes, priced £85:
Key Styles (<£80)
- Selected Homme Philip Boat Shoes
- Sperry Top-sider Boat Shoes – Brown
- Bertie Battleship Boat Shoes
- Boat Shoe
- Dune Boat Party Lace Up Classic Leather Boat Shoes
- River Island Brown Slim Boat Shoes
A Pair Of Sunglasses
A high quality pair of sunglasses will last you for many years if you look after them properly. With approximately £120 left of your budget that puts you in the Ray-Ban price bracket.
Although Ray-Bans are now ubiquitous on high streets across the globe, the company produces thousands of styles, which means you have the choice of opting for something classic and timeless, like a tortoiseshell wayfarer/metal aviator, or a more individual limited edition colour way.
Of course, no matter what colour frame/lenses you opt for, it’s imperative that you pick a silhouette that suits your specific face shape. As a general rule, always look to balance your face shape – i.e. circular styles for square faces and more defined styles for round faces or those with softer features. For help on finding your ideal pair of sunglasses, take a look through our comprehensive guide on the subject.
If you have a little more cash to spend then consider bumping your budget up to the £200 mark – here you will find specialist brands such as Garrett Leight, Illevesta and Oliver Peoples, which come with added style kudos.
Ray-Ban Gold Frame/Grey Lens Aviators, priced £120:
- Ray-ban Wayfarer Sunglasses
- Marc By Marc Jacobs Mmj239/s Ai2 Aviator Sunglasses Black
- Calvin Klein Jeans Aviator Sunglasses
- Ray-ban Clubmaster Acetate And Metal Sunglasses
- Ray-ban Round Sunglasses
- Ray-ban Keyhole Wayfarer Sunglasses
- Illesteva Lou Reed Matte-acetate Sunglasses
- Oliver Peoples Bernardo D-frame Acetate Sunglasses
- Garrett Leight California Optical Angelus D-frame Tortoiseshell Acetate Sunglasses
The £750 Budget
If, after all of this, you’ve still got some money left, now’s the time to indulge yourself.
Start with some versatile separates in summer-appropriate fabrics, such as a navy linen short-sleeved shirt. It’s dark enough that it won’t appear sheer in the sunlight and pairs with every colour under the sun – perfect for transitioning from a day in the park to an evening in the pub.
Alternatively, consider a striking madras shirt or a pair of seersucker shorts. As long as you opt for colours that can be mixed and matched with other items in your capsule wardrobe you can’t go wrong.
Accessories will help bring personality to your looks. A hat not only shields your head from the sun, keeping you cool and stopping your face/neck from burning, but also makes an effortless statement and is the perfect addition to a simple polo and shorts combination.
Once you start venturing into the £50 price bracket you can pick up some superb head wear from true artisan brands – whether you opt for a wide-brimmed panama hat, stingy-brimmed straw pork pie or cotton canvas flat cap. Again, bear in mind your head shape and stick to natural colours like beige or navy and you won’t miss the mark.
Other key accessories to consider include jewellery, especially on trend bracelets, which can quickly become a signature of your personal style, and a new canvas/nato strap for your everyday watch – it’s such a simple switch that makes a big difference to both your comfort levels and overall aesthetic.
Finally, invest in some quality sun screen, please! Nothing ruins a great look more than random patches of pink and red skin glowing underneath. It’s also quite a good idea from a health perspective, we’re told…
- John Lewis & Co. Linen Short Sleeve Shirt navy
- J.crew Regular-fit Check Cotton Oxford Shirt
- J. Crew 9 Club Short In Tonal Seersucker
- Blue Harbour Luxury Panama Hat
- Brixton Castor Straw Fedora Hat
- Pure Linen Flat Checked Cap
- J. Crew Solid Watch Strap
- He By Mango Adjustable Canvas Bracelet
- Maison Martin Margiela 11 Mens Silver Ring Necklace
- Seven London Life Feather Pendant
- Miansai Mens Black Blithe Noir Bracelet
- Miansai Rope And Silver-plated Anchor Bracelet
So there you have it, three different price points and some great items to add to your wardrobe this high summer.
But as always, we want to hear what you have to say. Make sure you leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below…