It’s getting to be that time of year – the time that all Houstonians seem to simultaneously curse and embrace – summer. Each year, I notice that Houston men become even more willing to sacrifice style for comfort as temperatures rise. But fortunately, these two things do not have to be mutually exclusive. Here’s what you need to know to stay stylish and comfortable in the Houston heat:
Embrace color – but don’t go overboard
During the cooler months, it’s easier to add uniqueness to your look by accessorizing and layering. But in a sea of short sleeve shirts and jeans, it can be a bit more challenging to stand out from the crowd. Thus, it’s important to incorporate few bold pieces into your wardrobe. But remember to keep your outfit in balance.
Really want to wear a pair of teal shorts? That’s fine, but pair with them a basic shirt. Choose a few “statement” pieces and don’t wear all of them at the same time.
Know when shorts and flip-flops are appropriate
Designer Tom Ford has been gaining a lot of attention recently for stating in AnOther Man Magazine that “a man should never wear shorts in the city.“ Ford, who is perhaps most well-known for his stint as creative director at Gucci in the '90s, went on to say that “Flip-flops and shorts in the city are never appropriate. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach.”
Obviously, Mr. Ford hasn’t spent much time in Houston.
However, I think he has a valid point. Shorts and flip-flops are great for the beach and fine for running around town on the weekend. But guys, if you’re going to a moderately upscale restaurant or bar, at least put on a pair of jeans.
Believe me – I realize that Houston is a casual city, and I rarely get more dressed up than jeans and a blazer. However, there’s just something about wearing jeans and flip-flops at dinner that says you don’t care, and that’s not a good look. And I shouldn’t even have to tell you that neither are acceptable for work – ever.
Invest in some high-quality Tees
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to ditch the T-shirts, too. I’m generally more of a button down guy, but in July and August, I succumb to the comfort of lightweight tees. Before the summer starts, I would recommend that you stock up on some basic colors in crewneck and v-neck styles. It’s important that you find some that are thick enough and fit well enough to not look like undershirts, and durable enough to withstand the beating that you’ll probably put them through. Some of the best ones I’ve found are made by L.A.-based designer James Perse, and they’re available at Houston’s own Mortar.
Madras is your friend
More often that not, If I need to wear a button down in the summer months, I reach for one made of a lightweight cotton, like Madras. It's exceptionally lightweight and often comes in fun plaids that can be dressed up or down. Some of the best ones that I’ve seen this season are from an exclusive collaboration that GantRugger did with Barneys. Unfortunately, we lost our Co-Op a few months ago, but you can still get them online.
Everyone needs a pair of white canvas sneakers
A pair of white canvas sneakers should be a summer staple for every guy: They’re lightweight, and more often than not, inexpensive enough to replace a couple of times. They can be worn with jeans, shorts and chinos alike. Some of my favorites include Vans, Spring Courts, Tretorns, Supergas and Jack Purcells. I’m also particularly satisfied with my latest shoe purchase: a pair of natural Venice Surf & Court sneakers from Billy Reid’s recent collaboration with K-Swiss. Whichever shoes you elect to go with, don’t be afraid to get them dirty, and try wearing them sans socks for an extra summery look.
Get some chinos that actually fit
Chinos are a great alternative to shorts and jeans when it’s warmer outside. But it’s time to ditch the pair that you bought at the Gap in 1995 – your chinos shouldn’t be excessively baggy. In fact, they should fit on the slimmer side, and have little to no to break. Pair them with a blazer and button down or roll them up with a T-shirt and the aforementioned sneakers to look like all-American badasss Steve McQueen. Unis and Epaulet both make a great pair.
Protect your eyes
I used to be one of those people who protested the idea of investing in sunglasses, as I always lost my cheap ones. But there’s something about spending money that makes you far more protective of vital objects like sunglasses, pens and umbrellas. Not to mention that sunglasses of the drug store variety often do nothing to protect your eyes — and as we all know, the sun can get intense here in H-Town. I’m a big fan of my Persols, but Ray-Ban, RetroSuperFuture, Garrett Leight, Moscot and Tom Ford are also worth looking into.
Be prepared – even for rain
It will inevitably rain this summer, and you need to be prepared. A lightweight parka is a great way to look stylish and stay dry. I’m particularly fond of all of the ones Daiki Suzuki at Woolrich Woolen Mills has cranked out this season – Mortar has a few and Unionmade has many, many more.
Lighten up the watch
If you’re going to shed the bulk off the rest of your wardrobe, you need to do the same for your accessories. A massive, bulky watch looks a bit awkward with a T-shirt. I would recommend going for a simple, clean face and pair it with a NATO strap. I’m a big fan of the Timex military watches at J.Crew. In fact, I wear mine year-round.
Invest in some year-round pieces, too
Speaking of year-round, make sure you focus some of your summer purchasing decisions on versatile pieces. Some things – for example, Hamilton oxford shirts – work just as well in the winter as they do in the summer, whereas if you buy a hundred Madras shirts, you’ll be in trouble when fall rolls around.