So, you’re a guy and it’s almost spring. You’ve been blithely wearing your black, navy and brown clothes all fall and winter, and looking mighty fine that way too. And maybe you’re not welcoming the thought of wearing the kaleidoscope of colors and patterns those puckering dudes in the style catalogues are rocking.
I hear you. You won’t find many pastels or floral patterns in my closet either. But spring does give us a chance to shake things up sartorially, and the transition can be subtle.
I took a spin around the Internets and picked out some clothes and accessories I could actually see myself wearing this spring. If you’re looking for a thaw, not a melt, in your regular wardrobe, consider these:
The suit: J. Crew Ludlow in Oxford cloth
This would be a fine lighter, chilled-out alternative to your alpha-male navy wool suit (which should be first in every man’s wardrobe). For some reason the J. Crew site calls this a navy suit, though it’s really more of a blue-gray, thanks to a blend of two different-colored threads.
I like the slim silhouette the Ludlow brand is known for, and this will save you some time with your tailor. As with an Oxford cloth shirt, you’re going to find a little crinkle in these duds, but not so much so that you couldn’t impress your girl’s parents in them. Cost: $506.
The casual jacket: Ben Sherman nylon Harrington
I bought the special-edition cotton version of this bomber-style jacket last year, and I’m a fan. The polyester construction and buttoned pockets makes this a sharp-looking, lightweight layering option for dry or wet weather. If you have to have navy, they’ve got it in that color too. Cost: $150
Another casual, lightweight jacket I'm finding myself drawn to is anything with a sporty, baseball-themed look. Spring training is under way, after all.
If logos aren't your thing, take a look at the cotton varsity jackets made by Shades of Grey. As for me, I supported my San Francisco heritage and bought a satin San Francisco Seals windbreaker from Ebbets Field Flannels. They've got a a plethora of vintage baseball team gear, and the quality is top notch.
The button-down shirt: Yellow Oxford from Shades of Grey
That’s right, not the mustard color that some fashionistas are into, but straight-up yellow. This makes for a fine curveball in your rotation of white and blue shirts, and you can balance it well with dark-blue jeans and a navy jacket. I haven’t tried the Shades of Grey version, but I bought a yellow long-sleeve from a vintage store 10 years ago, and I give it a gleeful spin every spring and summer. Cost: $99
Also, if you’re on the Jay-Z budget, you won’t find many better floral patterns than this $180 shirt from Gitman Vintage.
The polo shirt: White button-down from Topman
You’re going to be invited to barbecues and brunches. Lots and lots of barbecues and brunches. This classic-looking polo will be a heady option for all of them -- the contrast stripe and button-down collar are both great details for the price. And if you’re worried about staining your whites with honey-mustard sauce, Topman has darker versions on their site. Cost: $40.
If you'd rather wear a T-shirt, I like the pocket tee from Club Monaco that goes for $32.50.
The pants: Jeans and chinos from Uniqlo
Ever since Japanese Uniqlo opened a store in San Francisco and went online last fall, I’ve been singing their praises to anyone who will listen, and even some who won’t. Their pants are exactly what I’m looking for: slimmed down, simple and affordable without feeling cheap. They’ll even hem your pants for free.
Uniqlo’s jeans are made of sanforized (pre-shrunk) raw denim, and they’re the best bargain I know of. They have a dizzying color array of chinos, but my first choice would be the olive ones in this picture. Cost: Around $40.
The sneakers: Gola Quota Blue Chambray
I like my sneakers the same way I like my music: British. I’m a big fan of Golas in general for their lightweight, stylish construction, and these denim kicks would pair well with your worn-in blue jeans. Cost: $60.
The loafers: Robert Wayne Reese in suede
Full disclosure: I don’t have any loafers in my arsenal right now and I rarely have because they’ve never really been my style. But aside from being great for airport security lines, loafers can look great in suede and are considered a spring staple. Rather than buying brown or black, think about opting for green-tinted ones like these. I wouldn't spend more than $100 unless they really knocked me out, but at $99.95, these Robert Waynes make the cut.
The belt: Climbing belt from Club Monaco
True story: Belts aren’t only made in brown and black leather. If you’re looking to switch things up with your casual pants, this nylon version with a sliding buckle will do just the trick. Cost: $24.50.
Dots and ties are like vinegar and French fries – they aren’t paired up often enough. You can match this tie with a conservative suit and plain white shirt, and you’ll still stand out. Even if this pattern doesn’t do it for you, take a long, hard look at knit ties – they both look and feel superb, and they’re good for almost any occasion.
I bought this exact tie from The Knottery last year, in the 2.25-inch width (only the 3-inch is available now). At $30 for its quality, it’s grand larceny – I could have convinced people it cost three times as much. I’d absolutely shop more with these guys.
Did I miss anything? What are your thoughts on spring style? Let us know in the comments.