With everyone’s favorite patriotic holiday quickly approaching, I’m sure you’re wondering what to wear (or at least, I assume you’re planning on wearing some form of clothing for the holiday!). Around special events like these, there’s always the option to wear things with a full-on Americana tilt. In situations like this however, there actually isn’t a ton of need to go all out and wear, for example, an actual American flag print pair of pants. Keep things simple, stylish and classic — as well as well-fitting. American-flag pants aside, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with your outfit while still sticking to a patriotic color palette.
This shirt knocks out the blue portion of the outfit right off the bat. Assuming it’ll be hot where you are on the 4th, or at the very least a pleasant temperature, a shirt with short sleeves loses the added bulk of a long-sleeve shirt. And if short sleeves get too chilly when the sun goes down and before the fireworks start, a lightweight cotton sweater or cardigan in a neutral color could be handy to have near you. The above option pictured above from Old Navy is inexpensive and (from personal experience), just the right quality for the price point — not paper-thin, not too heavy either. It’s also available in a lighter-color wash, in case you feel the need to lighten things up a bit. And perhaps most importantly, in an all-season fabric like chambray, this shirt is highly versatile (for more options on what to pair it with, see a recent post by yours truly on Effortless Gent).
Directly on your lower half, we now see the red portion of the outfit. Without going full-on red, white and blue pants, a nice washed red shade will do the job nicely while losing the extra fabric of pants in the heat. In particular, these shorts from J. Crew have a stellar washed feel to them, without burning your eyes in terms of intense color. As with every other item in your closet, keep an eye on fit — the proper pair for your wardrobe should hit above the knee and fit trim (stay away from cargo shorts!). If your plans call for something more dressy and you’d like to keep going with red bottoms, reach for a washed chino in a similar color. (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a PR intern with Bonobos — I can say without bias that their pants really do fit as well as advertised!). Conversely, if the situation calls for some dark denim, reach for a slim, inky blue pair like these.
And here we have the white portion of the outfit. The key to keep in mind with this combination is that while it nods to the colors of the holiday, it doesn’t go overboard. Particularly, a subtle, classic canvas sneaker can be worn nearly anytime of the year, and so it just seems like a natural choice — especially in the heat of the summer. Additionally, it pairs equally well with colored shorts because of the stark white color, and it also wouldn’t look out of place with some cuffed denim or rolled chinos. If the bright white is too much, a simple grey pair could work, too. Keep in mind that the collared shirt up top helps you go more casual with your shoe choice. But, if it gets fancier on you and plans change, some polished-yet-casual loafers would be perfectly in order. And when going sockless with these shoes, keep in mind these tips about proper shoe (and foot) care.
Although it’s assumed that your pants or shorts could most likely rest just fine without a belt based on proper fit, it’s always a nice fundamental touch to wear a belt (let’s say you get the urge to tuck in your shirt, or attend a gathering that’s a bit more dressed up). In the summer, keep things casual and don’t overdo it — avoid the shiny leather dress belt you might reach for with a suit, and go for something lighter-weight, like a cotton option with a hint of stretch. The above option from Club Monaco is decently priced, available in most sizes and, more importantly, epitomizes summer casual, especially with the D-ring loops.
Adding in a watch can go one of two ways — if you stick with the largely casual version of this outfit and go with shorts and sneakers, something like a sturdy yet still-polished rubber strap watch could blend in perfectly with the rest of the casual outfit. And since the outfit and watch are both casual, there’s no need to worry about matching the black rubber strap to the leather on the belt. However, if you go with the dressier version of the outfit (denim or chinos and loafers), a stainless steel dive watch would be an excellent, versatile accent to the ensemble. Given the ability to go either way on this occasion, this Timex Easy Reader watch hits both points of the dressy spectrum. It’s well-made for the price point and can do almost anything, too. The leather strap is a go-between option to both dressy or casual outfits, yet the crisp, white face (with numerals) is sharp without being crazy minimal or too dressy. And although it wears somewhat smaller than some other brown-leather watches, it’s still an extremely valuable pick-up for the price point.
The biggest key with this patriotic (yet simple) outfit is to nail fit on the shirt and shorts and keep the accessories relatively minimal and simple, while nodding to the colors of the holiday. More importantly, these are just clothes — the biggest thing is to enjoy the day and have fun spending time with loved ones!