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Spring/summer casual attire

artdeco73

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In a recent thread I've seen the look of a polo shirt tucked into a pair of khakis combined with rubber-soled shoes described as "midwestern," the connotation being unsophisticated, boring, provincial, if not something even more sinister. This brings up the question: what are the alternatives? Try as we might to sing praises of classic business attire, the fact remains that for most of us suits/sportcoats and dress shirts with ties are frequently neither appropriate nor desirable. So come warm weather, what do we wear? There is still a desire to look tasteful and elegant, but some of us feel either too old, not sufficiently fashion-forward, or too difficult to fit, for the "Banana Republic" look. This seems to leave few, if any, alternatives to the run-of-the-mill Eddie Bauer/Land's End look of khakis and polo shirts. So what do you wear in the spring and summer when you need to look casual but still put-together?

This is not an idle question; I currently sport the dreaded "midwestern" look in the summer, but would be willing to branch out if I knew what to branch out to. I'm especially interested in the opinions of those 30-45 years of age.

Thanks in advance,
Tony
 

STYLESTUDENT

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I like polo shirts for comfort. In the summer I wear tan lightweight wool gabardines with a lisle polo shirt (think John Smedley) and suede loafers. Often I put a navy cashmere unconstructed jacket I own on top of this.
 

Concordia

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My default setting is khakis, button-downs, and a v-neck.  In summer, this becomes an alpaca until it's really too hot.  But I also worry that I'm falling into a rut.

To move beyond khakis, I'm thinking of visiting WW Chan next week to get a batch of tropical-weight wool trousers in various colors that I wouldn't think to wear with a navy blazer.  Navy blue, blue-grey, etc.  Linen herringbone a possibility.  And there are some very nice hemp trousers at Orvis for $100 that are most comfy in the summer.  Seems wasteful to spend much more than $300 on light trousers that will be seeing a lot of wear.  The cloth will give out long before the tailoring shows its weaknesses.

I don't mind the polo shirt thing at all (have a collection of Lacostes that fit fine and have lasted well), but might graduate to a linen button-down for the very hottest weather.  And somewhere, I need to commission a discreet linen/silk tweed sport jacket that will go from nearly informal (with polo shirt or open button-down) to shirt/tie-type events.  

Shoes are tough.  My instinct is for open and loose (Top-siders or loafers), but the moccasins have heels too short for good trousers, and loafers aren't too good for walking-- which I need to do when the weather gets warmer.  Somehow, I need to get a couple pairs of less-expensive shoes that will look good while taking a summer's abuse.  Brooks Bros oxfords or bluchers on sale, maybe.

Just to calibrate, I turned 40 a few weeks ago.  Midwestern roots, but living and more or less working in Boston.
 

AlanC

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As a chino and polo shirt wearing philistine, I agree, there often aren't a lot of good options. A few suggestions might include varying up the trousers as mentioned above. Lightweight wool is a good alternative, as is linen. I like a short sleeve button up in, say, a madras as an alternative for a shirt. Also as mentioned, a knit, as opposed to pique, polo can work well. You can also wear niceÂ
shoes, which will help set you apart.

Part of the issue is avoiding a rut, varying up the look, and not letting the khakis + polo look become a uniform.
 

Bradford

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I'm 37 and I second the idea of lightweight wool and linen pants... Additionally, I like to break up the polo shirts with some short sleeve camp style shirts w/ square bottoms so they can be worn untucked and I've also picked up some short-sleeve, v-neck knit tops from Claiborne that can be worn under a sportcoat. They are a bit nicer than a t-shirt, and work well in warmer weather. The biggest thing I see to avoid with the polo and khaki look is, if you're going to do it, make sure your khaki's are long enough. I think the really bad version of this look comes from the stereotype of the heavyset man who is wearing too tight khaki's that don't have nearly enough break. If you're going to wear this look, emulate the golfers on the PGA tour. Their shirts and slacks are always tailored just right, with the right break over their shoes. Check out guys like Lee Janzen, Davis Love III, Chris DiMarco or Greg Norman for more ideas. Mickelson and Tiger are both more fashion forward and tend to not wear khaki's and please don't dress like Jesper Parnevik Â
Bradford
 

cuffthis

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I prefer to wear blue cashmere coat, striped linen buttondown shirt, linen trousers and shoes with no socks, in this case sandals for hot East Coast summer weather.
 

drizzt3117

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I third the linen recommendation, I own quite a few linen pants, RLPL makes some very nice ones.
 

JBZ

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I know they're not the most popular brand around here, but Tommy Bahama makes a nice silk trouser, which is lightweight and good in the summer. They are also pretty durable in my experience. The only complaint I have is that they don't seem to do many flat fronts. Say what you want about TB - their ad campaign ("life is one long weekend", etc.) is a pretty good one. Personally, I've grown a little tired of them (perhaps because TB has completely taken over my local Nordstrom). Linen and tropical wool are good choices for spring/summer trousers as well.

I also like the camp shirts with the square bottoms. Tommy Bahama and Nat Nast make good ones in silk (if you stay away from some of their more "out there" designs). I've also found some good Barry Bricken shirts (although they are somewhat expensive for what they are). I would put all of the above in the category of full fitting, so they may not appeal to everyone here. I'm sure there are other brands out there that are cut with a slimmer fit. Depending on the style, you can wear any of the above brands with anything from tropical wool pants down to shorts - very versatile. I will throw in the odd Hawaiian shirt on the weekends (although you do have to be careful with these - there's a fine line between "looks great." and "how ugly." with Hawaiian shirts - I'm sure my wife would tell you that I've crossed that line from time to time, although I try not to).

For shoes, I'm mostly a loafer guy in the summer, with sneakers or sandals on the weekends.

Regards,

Jeff
 

StevenRocks

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You could always change things up with woven shirts, linen and tropical wool pants, silk of any kind. The options can be endless if you open your mind to them
 

Etruscan

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Three suggestions:

1) Linen
2) Linen
3) and linen.

Otherwise, there's always tropical-weight wool for business or slightly cooler summer weather (our more temperate East Coast days or any summer day in San Francisco).

To avoid the suburban look, khakis must not only be of sufficient length and well-tailored generally, but pleats are better if inverted, if not omitted altogether. I'm not a fan of anything that looks like it was intended for wear on a golf course, but I recognize this is a prejudice of mine. To avoid it, however, one could opt for V-necked T shirts in interesting colors rather than Lacoste or other polo (or literally Polo) shirts. Logos seem more ubiquitous on casual summer clothing, and are of course to be shunned absolutely.

Shoes? Choices are if anything more numerous than in colder weather. I prefer mules (backless shoes) to sandals, as I don't think even well-kept masculine toes are very sightly. Have several pair (Magli, BCBG, etc.). Like Cuffthis, I omit socks at virtually any non-business opportunity from May to October. Let's not forget white bucks, saddles and spectators--though any of these could look like a costume if not well integrated to your overall presentation.

With a fresh March snowfall on the ground today in Boston, it's pleasant to think about one's summer wardrobe. It also helps to remind me to remember to wear some of my favorite sweaters and woolens before the present season comes to its welcome close.
 

artdeco73

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Thank you, all, for the recommendations. A couple of observations...

Unfortunately, I am too short to wear most shirts untucked, even those designed for it. Plus, an untucked shirt just doesn't seem to qualify as "put-together." Nothing wrong with it per se, just a little more casual than what I'm looking for.

Blazer with sandals? I'm pretty sure I couldn't pull this off. Just wouldn't feel right. More power to those who can.

Otherwise, thanks again. I'll have to look for some linen and lightweight wool this spring.

Best Regards,
Tony
 

Brian SD

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I think there's nothing wrong with oldER (as in the age bracket you listed, almost double my age) gents wearing polos and chinos and basic shoes so long as its done tastfully, which it usually is not.

Consider different brands of polo shirts (i.e. not RL), like Paul Smith, or Burberry - English is good - and different shades of Chinos, like more grey-tinted than your usual tan. Flat-fronts don't work for everyone but consider something a little more streamlined than your typical pillow-butt chinos. A straight-leg or slight bootcut will look much more updated. On rubber-soled shoes, I see those as being fine for this look as well, so long as the shoes aren't so damn clunky and huge as typically seen. And tassle loafers are out, out, out.

Cuffthis' get up is pleasing, but looks like it would be quite warm. I agree with the general consensus though that linen really is a wonderful thing, and probably even moreso for you guys in the more humid areas of the country.
 

amirrorcrackd

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And with regard to sandals. My general rule of thumb: rubber=bad. Usually anything but rubber will work: leather, cork, foam - and each has it's place. Also, try to avoid any sandles that don't slip on. If you have to buckle them on, they look like they're eating your foot. And NEVER EVER EVER pair socks with sandals.

Also, try a pair of boat shoes and wear them sockless.

Dan
 

Aaron

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A little OT, but can you guys make any recommendations for suede driving moc's? I bought a pair from BR two summers ago for next to nothing and now I think it's time to retire them. Any suggestions?

A.
 

Heron

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I like polo shirts for comfort. In the summer I wear tan lightweight wool gabardines with a lisle polo shirt (think John Smedley) and suede loafers. Often I put a navy cashmere unconstructed jacket I own on top of this.
Could you please explain what you mean by "unconstructed jacket"?
 

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