Online Shopping Picks: The Best Men’s Transitional Footwear for Spring

Join us for the ride today as we kick off another Online Shopping Picks entry  — if you’re looking for the best men’s transitional footwear for spring, you’re in luck.   What exactly do we mean when we say transitional? Well, we — and by we, I mean me — aren’t exactly talking about rugged winter boots or even classic summer sneakers. No, today we’re talking footwear that’s a touch more durable than your average set of kicks — maybe they combine a few different elements, like the cut of a chukka and the materials of a sneaker (see: Exhibit A, the SeaVees Huckberry Chukka).  Or maybe, they’re both slightly dressy and yet suited for casual wear. Better yet, they should be relatively durable and versatile for fighting spring rain and looking great at the same time. So, you’ll see a solid mix below, from sleek suede chukkas to durable sneaker-boots and everything in between. If you agree with these picks — and even if you don’t — join me over on The Style Guide Facebook page to pick up what should be a lively #menswear discussion.

Greats

#1. Beckett Simonon Laval Suede Chukka Boots in Chestnut — $199

Supremely stylish and water-resistant suede chukka boots — perfect.

I’ve been fortunate enough to test out some Beckett Simonon footwear across the past few months, namely during a fall weekend in New York City. And the good news is that the brand’s chukkas are sturdy, sleek and extremely stylish. Such is the case with the Laval Suede Chukka Boot in a handsome shade of Chestnut. Pre-order these now and wait for them to arrive, because I’d wager you’ll want to wear them with everything from slim light wash denim to chinos. Oh, and an even better perk? The water-resistant suede, fit for taking on inclement weather.

#2. SeaVees Mariner Boot in Navy or Olive — $149.98

SeaVees

A collaboration between SeaVees and Taylor Stitch, with very stylish results.

When it comes to talking transitional footwear, the Mariner Boot just might be the ideal pair to buy now — and wear very frequently when spring rains roll through.  The end result of a collaboration between our pals at SeaVees and Taylor Stitch, the Mariner Boot features a British Ventile waterproof duck canvas upper for crucial spring protection. Plus, SeaVees’ signature herringbone tread outsole adds a nice dash of traction on wet streets, and the option to pick up either the Navy Mariner Boot or the Olive option bodes well for those of us who appreciate versatile footwear.
Frank & Oak

#3. AstorFlex Bitflex Chelsea Boot in Dark Khaki — $180

Astorflex Chelsea Boots

The combination of suede and a Chelsea boot silhouette is especially crisp for spring.

As seen in a Style Pick of the Week entry last fall, the Astorflex Bitflex Chelsea Boot has a lot going for it — it’s stylish and sustainably made, for one. And crucially, it combines both a relatively slim profile and a unique crepe rubber sole. Plus, who doesn’t love a great Chelsea boot? It’s an of-the-moment silhouette that’s transcended, well, trends, to become a footwear essential. And if you haven’t tried out a pair, this spring might be a good time to start. While they’re not water-resistant like the Beckett Simonon suede chukkas above, you still get nice quality & sharp looks.

#4.  CLAE Hayward in Mojave Pig Suede — $100

Retro style meets functionality — waterproof suede and a neat silhouette.

The retro-style runner continues to have a moment in the menswear space — in other words, it’s simply an excellent-looking shoe style. If you love a great pair of sneakers, give the CLAE Hayward a look if you’re seeking a new way to shake up your spring footwear rotation.  They’re certainly unique in both looks and functionality, incorporating waterproof suede with nylon side panels atop a crisp runner’s sole. Wear these guys with white jeans and a slim short-sleeve chambray shirt — plus a  stylish denim jacket — on a breezy spring day, and you’re all set.

#5. OluKai Pahoa Boots in Black Seal/Brown — $200

Note the burnished leather, waxed laces and easily wearable design.

If you’re sensing a theme in this post — that of durable footwear that also looks sharp — then you’re right on the money. And the last entry on the list definitely falls underneath that umbrella. Comin’ at ya all the way from Hawaii, the OluKai Pahoa Boots feature some mixed-media design touches — note the contrasting upper and waxed cotton laces. What’s more, the footbed features EquilFit technology for comfort and performance. Not bad for a pair of leather chukka boots, ehh?

Honorable Mention: Thursday Boots Honey Suede Scout Chukka — $149

Crisp, clean and well-made — all for under $150. That’s what you get with Thursday Boots.

We’re bringing back the Honorable Mention category in these Online Shopping Picks posts, namely because it’s mighty tough to pick just five great pairs of stylish spring footwear. And when the final brand on the cut line is Thursday Boots, you can be darn sure we’ll give ’em a second look. Featuring a slick European-inspired silhouette and plenty of traction via a studded rubber outsole, these are dressy enough for the office and more than ready for Sunday brunch.

From start to finish, I hope you enjoyed this essential, excellent, even tremendous rundown of the best men’s transitional footwear for spring. Finding shoes that serve a purpose while providing comfort and functionality can sometimes be tricky — yet, plenty of brands are hitting that sweet spot quite nicely.  From the water-resistant suede of the Laval Suede Chukka Boot to the toughness and on-point styling potential of the Mariner Boot, you’ve surely got options aplenty. If retro-inspired style is more your bag, grab the CLAE Hayward for a change, and I’d urge you not to pass up a pair of dressy-yet-versatile Chelsea boots (like the Astorflex Bitflex Chelsea Boot). Of course, who can resist yet another pair of suede chukkas, like the Thursday Boots Suede Scout Chukka? No one, that’s who.  If you’ve got questions on how to style these boots or heck, if you should buy any of them, drop me a line via Twitter or in the comments below.

More importantly — stay stylish!

-Beau

Online Shopping Picks: The Best Men’s Cardigans for Cold Weather

Editor’s note: Click through for a full set of menswear shopping picks.

In recent weeks, things have really picked up in terms of fall style preparations in my neck of the woods — if you’re into menswear, that probably means it’s been much the same for you. A late September weekend in New York City really brought with it the first slight hints of fall, and slight seasonal changes should remind us of all of gear we need for the chillier months ahead. In the case of today’s latest Online Shopping Picks post, that means we’re talking about a valuable sweater style to keep on-hand — and wear plenty — during fall and winter. What’s that style, you ask? It’s the ever-versatile modern man’s sweater — the cardigan. Whether cut in soft cotton-cashmere or premium merino, or with a more substantial shawl collar, a stylish cardigan is a nice hybrid style that fits in seamlessly with more tailored or more casual looks. Want to go more dressed up? Throw on a slim cotton-cashmere cardigan in place of your blazer with a wool tie and crisp dress shirt. Want to stay casual? Take that same cardigan and pair it with a long-sleeve henley and a durable, essential pair of sturdy selvedge denim for your off-duty hours. The picks below come in at price points low and high, and feature style that’s minimal and tailored — as well as casual and rugged. If you haven’t bought a cardigan for fall and winter, consider this the perfect starting point.

#1. JackThreads Fair Isle Cardigan — $79

A neutral base livened up with a visually interesting Fair Isle pattern.

A neutral base livened up with a visually interesting Fair Isle pattern.

Quick, what brand makes all manner of essential goods for every season? At nice, low prices? It’s JackThreads — and this cardigan is a big-time winner in that regard. The brand keeps taking steps forward as far as its products go — pieces like this Fair Isle cardigan nod toward trends without being too over-the-top. The fabric quality and fit should be reliable and modern, and the tan base should help it play nicely off navy chinos or grey flannel trousers — yes, it’s almost flannel season!

#2. J. Crew Cotton-Cashmere Cardigan Sweater — $74.50

Nothing too fancy about this sweater -- but with fabric this nice, it doesn't need to overdo it.

Nothing too fancy about this sweater — but with fabric this nice, it doesn’t need to overdo it.

Like JackThreads, J. Crew consistently comes up with fresh takes on wardrobe staples no matter the season. Although some of those creations can lean quite expensive, this cotton-cashmere cardigan is the definition of an everyday sweater at a low price. If you keep a weather eye out for sales and deals, you could snag it even cheaper. As it stands now though, a slim burgundy cardigan from a reputable brand is something every guy can put to good use. Team up this cardigan with a blue Oxford, slim tan chinos and high-top sneakers for a bit of sporty, retro style.

#3. Grayers Shore Club Cotton Cardigan in Navy Heather — $93.75

A cotton cardigan can still work in the fall -- just pair with a slim henley and cold-weather accessories.

A cotton cardigan can still work in the fall — just pair with a slim henley and cold-weather accessories.

Have you had your fill yet of navy sweaters? Hope not. Grayers’ fabric quality is top-notch (which explains the Grayers x SeaVees sneaker collab), and that’s the case with this easygoing navy heather cardigan. With details like a chest pocket and dual hip pockets, plus that heathered fabric, it’s going to wear easily over a slub pocket T-shirt with olive chinos and a pair of durable moc toe boots — like the ones seen in this #OOTD. It’s the perfect cardigan for weekend coffee runs — and you’ll be the sharpest guy in the place.

#4. Todd Snyder Shawl Cardigan — $157.50 (Available via East Dane)

If you're not a Todd Snyder fan, get on board -- this cardigan is but one example of his excellent work.

If you’re not a Todd Snyder fan, get on board — this cardigan is but one example of his excellent work.

It’s tough not to be a huge fan of what Mr. Snyder has done for casual, rugged menswear — right? The designer’s collaborations — from the Timex x Todd Snyder partnership to his work on P.F. Flyers sneakers — merge menswear’s past with modern fits, a dash of Americana and all-around terrific style. So, it should come as no surprise that his knitwear knocks it out of the park. A midweight jersey fabric is complemented by a faded indigo wash — that combo means it’ll stand out stylishly even up against dark blue denim. And while you could style it with an essential chambray shirt and tan chinos, it’s going to be at its best with a vintage team T-shirt during your next football game.

#5. Rag & Bone Standard Issue Avery Shawl Cardigan — $275 (Available via East Dane)

A strong silhouette, neutral color and luxury fabric make this cardigan worth the investment.

A strong silhouette, neutral color and luxury fabric make this cardigan worth the investment.

Did you think we’d make it out of this post without at least one eye-popping splurge? Not a chance. Some of us aren’t necessarily into brands that skew more heavily toward minimal high fashion — Rag & Bone is one such brand, yet they always temper that approach with military styling, classic colors and beautiful fabrics. This navy knit shawl cardigan has a lot going on visually — the shawl collar, front hip patch pockets and textured fabric — but it’s done so in a pleasing way (with a strong silhouette to boot). When teamed with a red plaid shirt, you’re getting a look that’s heritage-inspired and fall-appropriate without going too far overboard.

With any of the above cardigans, you’re checking some key fall #menswear criteria — 1) Warmth and solid layering potential. 2) Visual interest — in the form of a shawl collar or a slim dress cardigan. 3) Plenty of styling versatility — crucial when you want to switch things up from a stylish fall or winter blazer. And while some of the above price points stray upward a bit, it’s worth it to make an investment now — especially when you can wear a nice cardigan all through winter (even the Grayers cotton cardigan can be layered under a winter topcoat when snow hits). If you suspect you might get funny looks or comparisons to everyone’s favorite neighbor, rest assured that the cardigan is a modern style move — take the plunge, y’all! If you have suggestions for other stylish men’s cardigans, check out The Style Guide on Facebook.

Online Shopping Picks: The Best Men’s No-Show Socks For Summer

Editor’s note: For shopping picks that’ll sort out the rest of your summer wardrobe, head this way.

Crisp white sneakers, and not a sock in site. More great no-show sock options are below. White Wilson Sneakers by GREATS Brand.

Crisp white sneakers, and not a sock in site. More great no-show sock options are below. White Wilson Sneakers by GREATS Brand.

While there are certain style essentials that are a given for the warmer months — your classic sneakers, your slim polo, your stylish shorts — there are others that are trickier to sort out. For every piece that’s easy to place, there are those select few that can actually make or break an outfit in terms of fit and comfort. Yes, it’s the unseen details that come up so often that we’re talking about today — and there’s a good chance you’ve got a pair on your feet right now. Well, regular socks, that is. When you’re throwing on everything from leather loafers to crisp boat shoes (as featured here) to low-cut white sneakers, a good pair of socks are an absolute must — no bones about it. And ones that keep your look sleek and well-composed are just as much of an essential. We’re talking the crucial no-show sock, meant to sit below the top of low-cut shoes, adding an extra layer of comfort, support and protection for your shoes (against odor, dirt, you name it). So the picks below are, far and away, the best no-show socks money can buy — according to this menswear writer. Get in on the debate at The Style Guide Facebook page or hit me up on Twitter with any additions to this list.

#1. Pair of Thieves Cool Hand Luke No-Show Socks — $10

A bit of pattern when you slip your sneakers off, and comfort plus performance when you slip them back on.

A bit of pattern when you slip your sneakers off, and comfort plus performance when you slip them back on.

Unlike super-premium brands that upsell their socks, you’ll find no such funny business here. In fact, the team at Pair of Thieves has nailed the difficult balance of delivering affordable, approachable and high-performing socks. The Cool Hand Luke fits and sits low on your ankle, and it’s moisture-wicking and breathable. Plus, there’s performance fabric incorporated into the socks, something that standard cotton no-show socks just don’t have (although there are a few of those on this list). In short, buy them for the performance, keep them for their durability and buy a heck of a lot more pairs.

#2. Mack Weldon No-show Socks — $16.50 (Two-pack)

Mack Weldon gives you two pairs for the price of one (compared to some brands), complete with a solid fit and versatile colors.

Mack Weldon gives you two pairs for the price of one (compared to some brands), complete with a solid fit and versatile colors.

Mack Weldon knows what it’s doing as a brand when it comes to reliable basics that emphasize performance and fit; its No-show socks again hit smack dab in the middle of that delicate intersection. They’re not too tech-y, they’re not too fragile — they’re comfortable, well-fitting and available for a nice price for a two-pack. From personal experience, they sit solidly on your foot and ankle, and they won’t go sliding around when you slip on sneakers or loafers. Plus, the colors and design are such that they won’t look out of place if you need to slip off your kicks.
Join Frank & Oak Elevate - Enjoy FREE Shipping, Cashback + more at Frank + Oak! Try it now for 90 days, risk free!

#3. American Trench Summer Footies — $13.50

A quality pair of no-show socks that's made in America and crafted to last all summer.

A quality pair of no-show socks that’s made in America and crafted to last all summer.

American Trench definitely does more than just reliable cotton striped socks fit for fall, winter and spring. Its Summer Footies use recycled cotton yarn woven in a random plait technique, creating by far the most refined and visually interesting end result of any pair of socks on this list. They’ll run you $13.50 (or $30 for a three-pack), but the price is absolutely worth it — as with the rest of the brand’s versatile, well-crafted socks. Plus, the neat colors (including Lawn and Summer Orange) are fun to say and fun to wear — right?

#4. J. Crew No-show Socks in Grey — $16.50 (Two-pack)

Nothing fancy about these no-show socks, but nothing fancy's needed this time around.

Nothing fancy about these no-show socks, but nothing fancy’s needed this time around.

As is the case with dozens upon dozens of other #menswear style essentials, J. Crew offers a reliable, easy-wearing and price-effective option with its version of the no-show sock. Available in a two-pack for the same price as the more colorful (and better-looking) Mack Weldon socks offered above, J. Crew nonetheless keeps things straightforward with these socks, which are available in three basic colors. The cotton-nylon blend should pack in a bit of stretch, and the cut should also ensure no bit of sock peeks above your new summer boat shoes.

#5. Calvin Klein 3-pack Colorblock No-show Liner Socks — $20

Subtle colorblocking and a fair price would make these a solid budget pick-up.

Subtle colorblocking and a fair price would make these a solid budget pick-up.

If you’re looking to (quite literally) save a couple bucks, best grab a pair of these Calvin Klein no-show socks. They’re available in the color block options seen above in a handy three-pack, too. They’re certainly not as high-quality as other options on this list (particularly the Pair of Thieves or Mack Weldon versions), but they’ll work suitably well if you’re on a style budget — and who isn’t, these days? Plus, the color-blocked aspect is visually interesting, and the style & performance should be on-point.

Florsheim

Sure, it’s fairly easy to walk into any old store and grab no-show socks out of the bargain bin, but if you want quality style that’ll last and set you up to walk in comfort, any of the above picks should have you sorted out. Keep in mind that Old Navy also offers up a pack of no-show socks for just under $6 — talk about a standout deal. And more technically focused retailers like SmartWool make socks that lean distinctly performance-heavy in looks and functionality (think trail running as opposed to city walking), but they still can get the job done in a pinch.  Want to see all the ways in which no-show socks can be worn with, say, a great pair of leather loafers? Check out my most recent Effortless Gent “Five Ways to Wear One” post for all the styling tips you could ever need. And get a few pairs in your cart before they’re gone!

Until next time,

-Beau
Frank & Oak Logo

 

Online Shopping Picks: The Five Best Polos to Buy for Spring and Summer

Editor’s note: To fill up your digital shopping cart with  more spring shopping picks, start over here.

When it does warm up, you'll be glad you grabbed a sharp polo. Pictured is one from last year's Michael Bastian x Uniqlo collaboration. Linen shorts by Frank & Oak. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Brown leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Glasses by Warby Parker.

When it does warm up, you’ll be glad you grabbed a sharp polo. Pictured is one from last year’s Michael Bastian x Uniqlo collaboration. Linen shorts by Frank & Oak. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Brown leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Glasses by Warby Parker. Shot outside the Los Angeles Shinola store.

The polo — underrated style move, or a once-cool style move that’s been co-opted by fellas rocking one too many with popped collars? We’ll consider those important questions and more here today on The Style Guide, where we’re into full-on spring shopping mode. A trusty spring jacket is going to be an essential layering piece, as will a slim, lightweight sweater, but eventually, things will warm up. And when they do, don’t count out the polo. The key to differentiate it from polos of years past (likely florescent in color — see Exhibit A) is to pick out one that’s cut slim and modern, with some unique texture or pattern to boot.  The great thing is that designers have certainly stepped up their game in recent years — get a load of the retro, high fashion-inspired polos produced as part of the Michael Bastian x Uniqlo collaboration in recent years. And as with the style you see at the top of the page, you should be looking for similar inspiration and a trimmer fit. Yes, the polo has gotten its own upgrade (thankfully). And hopefully, the picks below are going to be upgrades for yourself, too. Read on, and get to shopping — those polos won’t buy themselves now.

#1. J. Crew Textured Cotton Tipped Polo Shirt — $49.50

Retro style, meet a very competitive price point from J. Crew.

Retro style, meet a very competitive price point from J. Crew.

J. Crew’s take on the textured cotton polo shirt looks to be a nice return to form from a retailer that’s had its struggles as of late. But when it comes to easygoing seasonal staples, it’s still tough to beat them. This polo combines some retro style inspiration (check out the tipped collar and sleeves) with what should be soft fabric and a trim fit. Any of the three colors would be remarkably solid to rock at the office with slim tan chinos and a retro pair of sneakers, but this writer’s a fan of the navy-and-white colorway in particular.

#2. Uniqlo Dry Shirt Collar Polo — $19.90

The dressier answer to the casual polo, courtesy of Uniqlo.

The dressier answer to the casual polo, courtesy of Uniqlo.

While this Uniqlo polo loses the fancy stripes of the J. Crew option in slot #1, it manages to look surprisingly dressy and crisp thanks to the button-down collar. Plus, the built-in DRY technology will keep you cool. Notably, Uniqlo’s polos are a remarkably good value for the price. The range of color options here again means any of the brand’s picks would be suitable to rock under a lightweight blazer in a heightened shade of blue. While plenty of us just can’t seem to stop wearing blue (myself included), the light shade shown here is perfect for spring Sunday brunch — and beyond.

#3. Grayers Slub Nep Jersey Polo in Denim Blue — $59.50

Spring and summer-ready fabric at a reasonable price.

Spring and summer-ready fabric at a reasonable price.

When it comes to prep style staples, Grayers is definitely a brand to which you want to turn. Its Slub Nep Jersey Polo is crafted from soft jersey fabric that manages to be surprisingly breathable. Having checked out one of these myself, the fit is slim and the styling potential is perfect for spring — for a styling suggestion, check out a recent #OOTD from this site. The heather blue fabric is a nice change of pace when you want to add some texture to a denim jacket, and the price is solid for a polo that can be worn with everything from lightwash denim to grey chinos.

#4. Bonobos Classic Pique Polo in Heather Brick — $58

Don't let the blues get you down -- grab this heather brick polo instead, ehh?

Don’t let the blues get you down — grab this heather brick polo instead, ehh?

Designers and brands have definitely been changing up their approach to polos, opting for softer fabrics than pique — but Bonobos knows its knitwear, so this pick still stands (or is it pique?). The Classic Pique Polo in this case takes a shade of burgundy more commonly seen in fall & winter and updates with some nice heather texture. It’d be a great piece to work into your rotation if you’ve already got polos in other colors, and the price isn’t too bad for being Bonobos (home of tuxedos that push $1,000). Feel free to rock this with slim stone chinos and brown suede chukkas on weekends galore.

#5. Sunspel Riviera Polo Shirt in Navy — $125

As worn by Bond himself, a heritage style updated for modern times.

As worn by Bond himself, a heritage style updated for modern times.

Last but CERTAINLY not least, I give to you — the polo worn by James Bond. Yes. Yes, indeed. Sunspel sure did strike it big when Daniel Craig wore its Riviera Polo in Casino Royale, simultaneously putting that particular style on the map and encouraging a bunch of guys to hit the gym.  At any rate, if there’s such a thing as investment-quality polo, this is it. It’s about the furthest thing from the bad connotations given to the polo — this shirt is all class, with breathable cotton mesh fabric and styling potential worthy of James Bond.

As I sought out the perfect polo (or polos, in this case), I looked several places — perhaps you should, too. Brands like Banana Republic offer their own, slightly dressier takes on the polo, while a more classically focused retailer like Old Navy offers very reasonably priced, sport-inspired options. As with any picks here on the ole Style Guide, focusing on fit, quality and price are going to put you in the right position to pick up the perfect polo (say that five times fast!). Did I miss any key picks? Drop me a line on Twitter, and check out The Style Guide on Facebook either way.

What’s your favorite polo on this list? Do you have yours picked out yet?



#OOTD: How to Dress Down a Wool Blazer

Editor’s note: You’ve surely seen this hashtag lots of different places, including on Instagram. But how does that carry over to real life? The #OOTD series will take one great item and put together a versatile, stylish outfit around it. Look for past features here.

With winter weather still in full force for a lot of us, there can be a tendency to get into a bit of a style rut. That is, there are only so many ways you can style a shawl-collar cardigan or a crewneck sweater  before you want to change things up a bit. The good news is that, for so many of us, high-low dressing (that is, mixing and matching casual and formal pieces) is easier to do than ever before, regardless of what you might find yourself doing day-to-day. The below outfit makes use of some staples you likely already have in your closet (like dark denim, for starters) and puts ’em together in a slightly unexpected way. As a matter of fact, you might recognize the blazer from last week’s #OOTD post. Get the lowdown here, and then get those goods in your shopping cart.

Putting it all together -- combining style essentials you might already have in your closet.

Putting it all together — combining style essentials you might already have in your closet.

The Blazer: Frank & Oak Fairmount Deconstructed Blazer in Light Brown, $145 –A slim, soft sportcoat with a tailored fit and minimal padding — ideal for casual wear.

The Henley: JackThreads Daily Henley in Indigo, $34 — A great price for a superb piece that’ll age well over time; the “dressed-down” part of this outfit.

The Denim: Mott & Bow Skinny Mosco Denim, $96 — A classic pair of denim with great color and a nice bit of stretch (full review here). Note that Slim and Straight options are also available.

The Shoes: Frank & Oak Modern Leather Brogues in Dark Tan, $175 — Italian leather and European construction takes this pair to another level, plus  the color stands out remarkably well against the denim. Click here for a full Frank & Oak review.

The Socks: Anonymous Ism Wave Socks, $25 — Definitely a pricey splurge, but worth it for the quality and nice color they provide.

The Watch: Timex Waterbury Watch, $80 — A new Style Guide favorite; very well-priced, clean and classic. The ideal blend of casual and classed-up style.

Oh, and seeing as it is winter and all, finish off your oufit with my picks for the best winter accessories.

So with the above outfit in mind, I’d say give it a try just as soon as you can — when you pick up style staples that fit well and can be mixed and matched with ease, you’ll give yourself plenty of #OOTD options.

Would you rock the above look? How do you dress down your blazer?

Online Shopping Picks: Rugged Men’s Henleys for Summer Weather

What started as a functional shirt for British rowers is now a style staple. Short-sleeve olive henley by Pistol Lake. Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Glasses by Warby Parker. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

What started as a functional shirt for British rowers is now a style staple. Short-sleeve olive henley by Pistol Lake. Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Glasses by Warby Parker. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

So this site just ran an Online Shopping Picks piece awhile back detailing the best T-shirts for spring and summer — so what makes a henley different than a T-shirt? It’s all in the details. By its nature, a henley, with a two-to-four-button placket on the front, has slightly different visual details than even a pocket T-shirt — and it can sometimes get boring to wear pocket T-shirt after pocket T-shirt (take it from a guy who has about five). The henley has evolved from its origins as sportsman’s shirt into a symbol of rugged 21st-century style — check out how Daniel Craig and Chris Pratt rock the style, for starters. While one shirt won’t turn you into a dinosaur-fighting badass, it doesn’t hurt to emulate that move — and the five selections below just might help you do that.

#1. Buck Mason Short Sleeve Henley in White, $45

Made in the USA the right way for a fair price.

Made in the USA the right way for a fair price.

Just as with Buck Mason Oxford shirts, this henley is made in the U.S.A and is but one of the many excellent basics the brand has updated for modern times. The Pima cotton keeps this shirt soft, while small details like a rounded hem, a clean four-button placket and ribbed cuffs at the sleeves all set it apart from more typical henleys. This is the type of shirt you can wear on its own now with rugged denim or slim chinos, and continue wearing under cardigans (a la Mr. Craig) well into the fall and winter.

#2. Pistol Lake Short-sleeve Henley — $35

Rugged and deeply cool at the same time, and made in America on top of that.

Rugged and deeply cool at the same time, and made in America on top of that.

You very well might recognize that henley from the above picture, or from this spring Style Pick post. It keeps popping up simply because it’s just that good — as far as made in the U.S.A quality for the price, there’s nearly no better value out there than what the dudes at Pistol Lake are doing. While the olive (or Quartermaster) number has proven excellent and versatile on a personal note, the Faded Black colorway would be the epitome of rugged downtown cool when paired with grey jeans and some white sneakers — the unfinished sleeves are perfect for rolling or styling as you please.

#3. J. Crew Slim  Broken-in Short-Sleeve Henley — $34.50

A decidedly brighter shade than other options on this list.

A decidedly brighter shade than other options on this list.

Unlike its counterpart above, this J. Crew henley isn’t made stateside. It does, however, boast a cheaper price, a range of colors to pick from and a seasonally appropriate sunfaded wash. The faded black, navy, red and white colorways all have a large range of sizes available (rather surprisingly), but the red color would be an interesting change of pace and still wearable with navy or light grey chinos and leather sneakers for a high-low look.

#4. Steven Alan Self-Placket Henley — $48

A deep indigo blue color with some unique, sporty touches.

A deep indigo blue color with some unique, sporty touches.

What’s got the texture and striped pattern of a polo, but the more laidback design of a henley? This lovely Steven Alan piece, that’s what. It’s made from a heavier textured cotton blend, so it might not be nearly as breathable as the other options shown here, but it’s got some neat styling touches. The shorter two-button placket adds an almost retro look, while the heavy textured cotton creates a microstripe pattern — can a regular henley do that? Nah. At $48 on sale (marked down from $125), it’s a little pricier but honestly still a downright steal.

#5. Billy Reid Pensacola Polo in Steel Blue, $78

A cool sky or (Steel) blue color and designer details like Mother of Pearl buttons make this a standout piece.

A cool sky or (Steel) blue color and designer details like Mother of Pearl buttons make this a standout piece.

Unlike some of the other entries on this list, this piece isn’t made in America — it’s made at the source in Peru though with heathered Peruvian cotton. It’s the priciest of the bunch by a good amount, but the side vents and four-button placket actually make it a bit dressier — and more versatile, by default. This piece should wear a little more like a polo, so that means you can and should take it for a spin with a khaki blazer. The contrast stitching and mother of Pearl buttons also upgrade it slightly — and with Billy Reid, you know you’re getting quality.

Florsheim

Now if none of these options float your boat (or you don’t fancy spending close to $50 on a henley), be sure to give old standbys like Old Navy or Target a look — you’re getting fairly solid quality for low prices and the option to buy a few at a time if you’re into that sort of thing. On the more lux end of things (but just missing the cut on this list), Club Monaco does a linen henley in a dark blue that you could even wear with, say, a light grey linen suit.

What are your thoughts on this list? Which of the above options would you (or will you) pick up? And what’s your favorite way to wear a henley?

Ben Sherman US

Online Shopping Picks: Owen & Fred

Goods made in America with an eye for masculine design.

Goods made in America with an eye for masculine design.

No, you’re not confused — although there was indeed a review on Frank and Oak published here last week, Owen & Fred isn’t that brand’s equally well-dressed set of twin brothers. If anything, Owen & Fred is a complementary set of lifestyle offerings centered around well-made items you never knew you needed. The Brooklyn-based company offers affordable, made-in-America accessories  (much more on that below) that add some cheeky zest and a nice masculine touch to … just about any area of your life you can think of. Best of all, the brand’s website is remarkably clean, easy to use and set in a crisp typeface that’s very pleasing to the eye (if that matters to you — which it should!). Peruse some picks from their Web store below, and get on into one of their partner retailers to grab some gear as well.

#1. Army Green “Work Hard, Play Hard” Duffel — $99

Sturdy exterior, nice space and a versatile olive color make this one travel-ready bag.

A turdy exterior, nice space and a versatile olive color make this one travel-ready bag.

The first pick on this list definitely fills a product category every guy needs — a great weekender bag. While it just missed the cut on that last roundup, it tops this particular set because of that rich (yet neutral) olive color, sturdy duck canvas exterior and moderate dimensions that make it ideal for a quick trip. And when you get down to it, a bag like this is going to see a lot of use — especially at that price point. It’s a little sporty mixed with a lot of classic.

#2. “This Bag Is Not Yours” Leather Luggage Tag — $26

Purchased on a vacation, fittingly enough, and ready for lots of use on the road.

Purchased on a vacation, fittingly enough, and ready for lots of use on the road.

Does every bag need a luggage tag? Not necessarily. But I guarantee you if you pair this tag with the above bag or another weekender (or heck, a regular suitcase), you’ll get questions and compliments, and you’ll feel just a little … dare I say it … cooler. Take it from a guy with this very luggage tag on my weekender. It’s not the most necessary accessory to be sure, but it’s well-crafted and made from thick, vegetable-tanned leather. It can definitely withstand everything you throw at a bag, which is saying a lot for a leather square.

#3. “You Earned It” Bottle Opener — $29

Nothing better than a little pick-me-up opened with this thing at the end of the day.

Sure, we’ve all got an assorted jumble of free bottle openers lying around, but there’s an argument for upgrading the little things — and thereby upgarding your lifestyle, bit by bit. The team at Owen & Fred is on to something with this one here (although by all means, if those freebies are your bag, more power to you). This is one bottle opener that’s hefty, made in the U.S.A from solid brass. And what’s better than a delicious soda or an ice-cold brew (perhaps one mentioned in last week’s Friday Read)? Knowing that you earned it, and using something this cool to crack it open.

#4. “It’s Only Money” Brass Money Clip — $20

Another cheeky piece that simply looks cool & serves a nice function.

Some would argue that spending $20 on a small money clip to hold more money might mean that you’ve simply got a bit too much cash. But this piece goes hand-in-hand with the bettering-your-lifestyle argument above, and it’s the little things that help that happen. Another piece made out of sturdy brass, and even having this thing should encourage you to carry more cash.

#5. English Bridle Leather Coasters in Black — $29

Water-resistant, English bridle leather coasters that’ll more than cushion any drink.

Perhaps you’re not the type who has a home bar, or even the space to do something like that. And if you’re recently out of college or still in college, this might be something to save for a purchase down the road. Although they’re just coasters, Owen & Fred’s mission shines through here with a simple design and high-quality materials, resulting in a minimal, premium product that would complement any living room table or bar.

Again, not all of these products are necessities for anyone, most of all if you’re shopping around for style on a budget. But any one of these items would really upgrade a home or bar and bring with it a nice, premium and … cool feel.

Tell me: Would you think about picking up any of these items? What’s the one accessory you’d really like to have for your space?