As we enter spring, I always like to take a moment and remind my be-penised friends about the appropriate clothes to wear during the upcoming warmer season. Flip-flops, cargo shorts and graphic tees (especially anything referencing a mixed martial arts educational association) are not acceptable attire for a self-respecting gentleman. “What if I don’t give a damn?” you might be saying to yourself. “You should give a damn,” would be my response. People, especially ladies, are constantly judging you based on your appearance—it’s what they do. Your only job is to act and dress like a decent person. Here are my suggestions for some quick ways you can bring some self-respect to your wardrobe this spring.
The OCBD/chambray shirts
By the time someone gets around to printing a humorous phrase on a T-shirt, the joke is already played out. Of course, my “What Sucks Is Life” shirt will never go out of style because it is beyond the comprehension of style. Do you get what I’m saying? As far as shirts go, you cannot go wrong with a classic OCBD—Oxford cloth button-down. This article from Primer magazine suggests the OCBD is the “quintessential American casual shirt.” The material is versatile, and the look can be dressed up or down, depending on necessity. Brooks Brothers is a great place to start. My go-to is J.Crew. You can get the shirt in a slim or regular fit (depending on your size) and even tailor the sleeve length. Wear one of these with some dark jeans and you’re set. Add a blazer for a casual look that will have people assuming you don’t spend all day on Reddit.
A high in the mid-60s still means the nights are going to be nipple-hardening brisk. You’ll need to layer up after the sun goes down, and the best way to do that is with a light sweater. This sweater doesn’t have to be 100 percent cashmere and cost you more than $400. We’re talking about a simple sweater that serves a utilitarian purpose without making you look like you’re in a Paula Abdul music video. LL.Bean has a ton of options in almost any style. I also like the price. This article from The Art of Manliness has everything you’d ever want to know about sweaters. What does Sean Phipps wear? My favorite sweater of all time is my prized Donegal from Orvis. Sometimes, I’ll carry a football around and pretend I’m Brett Favre.
A lot of my friends tell me my obsession with fragrances is a little too feminine. I disagree. And when I let them smell something like Knize Ten (which smells like a NASCAR race) or Montale Aoud Leather, which oozes this weird leather note that would make the Marquis de Sade blush, they quickly change their opinion. The problem with men’s fragrances is that most guys want to grab something easy that smells nice. Like shaving, they don’t want to take the time to enjoy the experience; they just want to get it done. This is why the spring air is filled with scents like Acqua di Gio, which is an inoffensive citrus/marine scent that is the equivalent to training wheels in terms of fragrance. There are better, head-turning options. How about a classic like Guerlain’s Habit Rouge with notes of rosewood, bergamot, cedar and vanilla? Do they make florals for men? Hell yes, they do! Try Dior Homme (Iris) or Le Labo Rose 31 (woody rose). My signature scent in the spring for the past few seasons has been Castile by Penhaligon’s. Castile has a delicious neroli orange note with just a touch of candy sweetness. The complexity is there with a hint of clean soap that I really enjoy. Check out Basenotes.net and Fragrantica for more options.
The blazer (navy)
I keep a blazer or two in my car nearly all the time, you know, just in case. These are blazers, not sport coats (which would be worn as a part of a complete suit). The purpose of a spring/summer blazer is simply to dress up your casualwear. If you’re already wearing an OCBD or similar shirt, jeans, and appropriate footwear, a simple navy or beige blazer can elevate your outfit from uber-casual to straight-up dressy. I prefer an unconstructed navy-colored blazer for most outfits. J.Crew’s Ludlow is a great choice, but it is expensive, with a $188 price tag. But you can always find a sale if you poke around a bit. Uniqlo also has options.
Socks (tons of color)
Men’s style is different from women’s. Instead of a single dress that outlines our figures, menswear is a composition of several elements coming together. Often it’s that one accessory that makes an outfit stand out in the crowd. This can be a watch, a bracelet, a ring, a necktie, eyeglasses, a hat, etc. As a guy who doesn’t really enjoy accessories, I like to spice things up with my socks. Most of my clothing is nice, but it’s also considered simple. Most of my patterns are reserved to one color, and I’m not really at the point in my style journey where I take many chances. But brightly colored socks are a way to add a touch of color that make an outfit shine. The socks at We Love Colors are cheap and available in almost any wacky color. The folks at Boldsocks.com have loud socks in almost any pattern you can imagine. Whatever your outfit, add a little splash of color, and enjoy the positive reactions.