Summer style can be confusing. Heat leads to sartorial confusion as the line between formal and casual gets hazier and hazier. The best – and perhaps only – way to make it through the season is to have an arsenal of mainstays ready for every wedding, barbecue, and post-work beer bash. This no-sweat strategy requires exactly 15 items and a smidge of planning.
Most grown men probably own a few of these essentials, but every Tom, Dick, and Harry looking to spend a week at the beach or an evening in the park should stock up on all of the above. The point isn't to splurge – pleasant weather means less fabric means lower prices – but to put oneself in a position to relax. Summer is all about taking it easy, and a crucial part of that mindset is feeling confident that you're ready for anything. Our advice: Be ready for everything.
A rebooted polo shirt
The polo shirt has gone through some ups and downs, from its sporting heyday of yesteryear to its current sullied reputation as the uniform of emphatically daddish dads. We're here to say that the polo shirt has returned and caught up with the times. So instead of oversized, shapeless reams of cotton, today's versions have a slim fit. And taking cues from both dress shirts and the better T-shirts on the market, today's polo shirts are the ideal summer garment, equally appropriate for beach-based romps or dinner out on the terrace, or wherever else your summer days and nights take you.
Heading the increasingly crowded field is the Pensacola polo from talented son-of-the-South Billy Reid. His version does away with the standard cotton piqué in favor of 100 percent cotton jersey, giving it the instantly soft, comfy feel of your favorite tee. Details like twill taping on the placket and vents, and cotton sheeting under the collar, also mean that his shirts will keep their structure better, and longer, than the polos of the past. We especially like that, contrary to the old laws, the sleeves aren't banded – an oddly constrictive detail that never made much sense to us. Put a Pensacola on and you'll remember why the polo became a menswear essential in the first place. [$88; billyreid.com]