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.
Finding a beach-appropriate T-shirt has gotten harder and harder over the years as designers have bedazzled casual tops with loud patterns, designs, and logos better fit for billboards. If surfwear was once a small corner of the fashion world stocked with Pendleton shirts, it is now a 13 billion-dollar industry defined by the obnoxiously fluorescent. This means that men no longer have to seek out memorable shirts: They have to find less memorable, less objectionable shirts. The reward for searching is feeling like the only guy at the beach who doesn't look like product placement.
A great retort to the T-shirt chaos are Jack O'Neill shirts, a line with 61 years of innovation from its brand patriarch, a man who invented the first wetsuit and changed cold-water sports forever. Our pick of the litter, the Premier tee, represents everything we look for in a T-shirt – it's slim-fitting, woven from 100 percent cotton, and, best of all, prewashed, so it won't shrink. The subtle screen-printed logo displays the address of O'Neill's original surf shop – the world's first, actually – which opened in Santa Cruz, California, in 1952. Everything old is cool again. [$26; oneill.com]