Online Shopping Picks: Best Men’s Shorts to Buy For Summer

Editor’s note: For more spring and summer shorts picks, click that link. Shop on!

It sure seems like it’s taken us some time to get to this point — gearing up for shorts weather, that is. As someone who loves a great pair of denim — be it classic raw denim or even a pair of lightwash jeans for spring — it can be tricky to shelve those pants in favor of shorts. The same thing goes for classic slim chinos, of which I find myself wearing a ton all year-round … and even when it gets crazy hot out. But, stylish shorts can be surprisingly versatile, including in looks both classic and more tailored (see this Effortless Gent piece on how to wear tailored shorts for more ideas). The below picks lean a bit higher end, and certainly, they keep a modern fit in mind — that is, they might be a bit shorter than you’re used to, and a little slimmer. They don’t necessarily cover casual picks like sweatshorts, but that should make ’em a little more versatile. And as to the slimmer fit — it’s definitely a good thing, trust me! Got your wallet handy? Get ready to shop away, and let me know if I missed any picks in the comments. Stay stylish!

#1. Bonobos Summer Weight Shorts — $78

A somewhat unexpected color from a brand that definitely provides expected quality.

A somewhat unexpected color from a brand that definitely provides expected quality.

Nearly $80 for a pair of shorts? A bit more than most of us are used to paying, true — but, these summer weight shorts are coming from the same folks who know just how to make a great pair of chinos (and of course, their famous Travel Jeans). The fabric in these things is lighter, the cut is more tailored and the option of a 7-inch, 9-inch or 11-inch inseam hits the sweet spot for most of us. Plus, that Wisteria color is a change of pace from khaki or even navy — and we’ll get to those color options (or similar ones, anyways), soon enough.

#2. JackThreads 7″ Chino Short — $39

Oil Blue? There's a new color name. Stylish and well-priced!

Oil Blue? There’s a new color name. Stylish and well-priced!

If you prefer to go with a 7-inch inseam right off the bat, JackThreads has you covered with its reliable, stylish and versatile Chino Shorts. They offer a slightly more unique shot of color than the Bonobos shorts above, and they do it for a price that would allow you to snag two-for-one. Other color options (including a nice-looking Stone pair) are up for grabs, but if you’re of the opinion that shorts should be about throwing in some color and fun, these are the pick to reach for. Keep the rest of your outfit simple — say, maybe a white pocket tee and brown leather loafers — and get ready for stylish weekends galore.

#3. Bridge and Burn Stringer Dune Short — $88

One pair of shorts with twice the cool, thanks to the comfy drawstring waist and the cotton-linen blend.

One pair of shorts with twice the cool, thanks to the comfy drawstring waist and the cotton-linen blend.

Just as with the Bonobos shorts above, $88 is definitely nothing to sneeze at in terms of price. But, the Stringer Dune Short from Bridge & Burn provides you with a ton of value and a neat look for the cost. For one, there’s the linen-cotton blend, which just works a bit better to get airflow going if it’s hot out. For another, they should be super-comfortable — just check out that drawstring waistband. These are your go-to shorts for a spring or summer bar crawl, without a doubt. And the khaki color is just what most of us look for when buying new shorts.

#4. Johnnie-O Cotner Shorts — $79

Malibu Red? Malibu Red for summer.

Malibu Red? Malibu Red for summer.

For as much as this #menswear writer loves the color blue (A LOT), it’s sometimes nice to inject a different shade of color into a summer outfit — like the Cotner Short from Johnnie-O. For those times when you want to make a bit more of a statement (or just rotate in some new shorts), red is the way to go. Now, it’s a decidedly preppy look, but it works for some of us — and it can certainly work if you tone down the rest of your outfit (perhaps snag a slub jersey polo and simple white sneakers?). The 8-inch inseam is a bit more forgiving than the 7-inch inseam of some of these picks, too.

#5. Apolis Transition Scout Short — $108

Equal parts effective and stylish, with details like adjustable waistband tabs to match.

Equal parts effective and stylish, with details like adjustable waistband tabs to match.

While a slim pair of chino shorts works for all sorts of situations, there are a few times where you need to combine form and function in a rather literal sense. Maybe it’s a quick day hike that turns into drinks on a patio, or a summer BBQ with some vigorous yard games (or touch football). In that case, Apolis’ Transition Scout Short is your best bet. With nylon fabric, a tailored fit and styling details like adjustable waistband tabs for comfort, they’re very much ready for all sorts of activity — note that the Navy color is going fast, but the Olive or Khaki options would be just as versatile when paired with a white polo or a simple crewneck.

Putting together this post, as seems to be the case with our Online Shopping Picks entries, revealed a lot of brands doing shorts well. Mainstays like J. Crew are always worth a look, and even premium brands like Todd Snyder are getting into the game with tailored chambray shorts you could wear with a blazer. Of course, sporty-yet-crisp short options are out there, too — look no further than this warm-weather style suggestion from last fall. And if you find it exceptionally tough to trade in your denim for shorts, know that you’re not alone — it’s a process! But, reaching for a pair you can feel good about wearing — one made with quality materials and fabric — makes it easier to invest, and a lot more fun to wear ’em all through the summer.

Which of the above picks are your favorite? Would you add any options to this list?
Florsheim

Shop the latest in Men's styles Under $50 + get FREE Shipping on orders over $100 at Frank & Oak!;

#OOTD: How to Dress for a Rainy Spring Day

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.

If you’ve been keeping up with the #OOTD series here on The Style Guide, you might notice that the outfits as of late have leaned more casual (if a tailored look is what you seek, head here). Perhaps it’s the shifting climate that has this menswear writer more geared toward shorts, perhaps it’s the effects of a stylish trip to Florida, or perhaps it’s the return of semi-chilly weather earlier in April that has me digging the chance to , well, actually wear shorts now that it’s a bit warmer — regardless, that’s where we’re headed today. Just because you go with a more casual vibe (note the drawstring shorts below) doesn’t mean you have to look sloppy. That’s doubly true even if it rains or it’s breezy — you don’t want just any spring jacket. In the case of the below, we’re talking serious protection from the elements, and some neat heritage style thrown in the mix. Work in some new spring sneakers and an easygoing watch, and you’ll be all set no matter how hard the rain comes down. Sound good? Good. Want to see a different #OOTD? Head to The Style Guide’s Facebook page for a chat!


Casual vibes upgraded thanks to some high-quality brands & subtle style details.

Casual vibes upgraded thanks to some high-quality brands & subtle style details.

The Jacket: Taylor Stitch Beach Jacket in Navy, $128: Another standout from a brand that’s chock full of ’em, this piece is currently pre-funding, but the general idea remains the same — tough outerwear can look great and take you very far. You could also grab a classic JackThreads Mac Jacket and perhaps some light wash denim instead if you wanted something similar now.

The T-Shirt: Bridge and Burn Graphic Tee, $36: The tee keeps this outfit casual (so it’s probably more weekend-minded), but it’s part of some style ugprades we’ve talked about — the graphic is subtle and understated, and the fit is on-point.

The Shorts: JACHS NY Indigo Linen Shorts, $89: Another fantastic style upgrade from standard shorts, they’re easygoing yet not frumpy. If it’s a bit breezy or you want to dress this outfit up, sub in a chambray shirt & dark denim.

The Sneakers: The Hill-Side Standard Low-Tops in Natural Duck Canvas, $175: If you haven’t gotten around to checking out a pair of The Hill-Side sneakers, I’d recommend you do so. Sturdy, well-crafted and stylish!

The Socks: Mack Weldon No-Show Socks, $14.50: The same brand that makes your favorite merino T-shirt also makes some handy socks for that “ankles-out” look so common in the warmer months.

The Trunks: Mack Weldon 18-Hour Jersey Trunks, $22: Just as their socks are worth a look, this brand knows how to craft a great pair of underwear (no, really). Again, an investment that’s also a significant style upgrade from standard boxers.

The Watch: Timex Weekender Fairfield, $75: A downright simple watch for a downright excellent price, ideal for all kinds of casual wear.

The Sunglasses: Spine Optics Aviator Sunglasses, $88.99: As with the above Timex watch, sometimes, simple is better. These sunglasses are durable and remarkably flexible, and won’t upstage the rest of your look.

As with other seasonal spring style suggestions, be it how to dress for Sunday brunch or how to prep for a spring bar crawl, your gear should fit where you’re going. That is, if a T-shirt needs to be subbed out for a slim plaid shirt, that’s the move to make. But alongside that, choosing to upgrade your casual basics — like standard sneakers for a sturdier pair, or old boxers for new trunks — should also be top of mind. Wardrobe reinvention doesn’t have to be done all at once, but small steps can pave the way toward great style. Pick up that Taylor Stitch jacket for me while you’re at it, ehh?

Stay stylish,

-Beau
Shop the latest in Men's styles Under $50 + get FREE Shipping on orders over $100 at Frank & Oak!

Style Suggestion: Fourth of July

Putting together an outfit for the holiday that'll hopefully cause some fireworks (that is, in the reaction to said outfit).

Putting together an outfit for the holiday that’ll hopefully cause some fireworks (that is, in the reaction to said outfit).

Editor’s note: For more Style Suggestions covering what to wear at everything from a summer wedding to other holidays, head here.

In just a few short days, that well-known patriotic holiday centered primarily around fireworks, good food and great times will be here. It’s really starting to warm up everywhere, and that presents some tricky scenarios as far as what to wear while keeping cool and still looking good (if you’re curious about other Fourth of July options to wear, head here for last year’s rundown). Fourth of July is another summer holiday that, much like Memorial Day, can offer the potential for situations ranging from ultra-casual to a little more polished. Here’s an outfit that should toe the line between both. And if your holiday plans involve hitting the road, check out this post for accessories to pack, and this post for a primer on your potential travel get-up itself.

The Shirt: Michael Bastian x Uniqlo Polo, $14.90 (Sale Price)

One of the many options from this year's collaboration should keep you cool and looking sharp.

One of the many options from this year’s collaboration should keep you cool and looking sharp. Striped webbed belt by J. Crew Factory. Silver dive watch by Invicta Watches.

You read that price above correctly. This year’s collaboration between the noted American designer and the fast-fashion outlet has been another fairly successful seller, yet those prices are dirt cheap right now — so you could go a couple different ways with a purchase, from a grey-and-red striped option that nods to the holiday yet also throws off sportswear vibes, to a  more straightforward military-style chest pocket number. Heck, at that price you could buy both of ’em. Either way, these polos have a trim fit and aren’t too dressy or casual, whether you’re grilling in the backyard or heading to a nice patio restaurant. If a lightweight jacket is needed, you could throw on a neutral, lightweight (and classic) Harrington style from Ben Sherman US.

Ben Sherman US

The Pants: Mott and Bow Denim, $96

The Moso in Dark Blue in Skinny Fit from NYC-based Mott & Bow.

The Moso in Dark Blue in Skinny Fit from NYC-based Mott & Bow.

Now, $96 certainly isn’t cheap to drop on a pair of denim when some classic Levi’s go for about half that. However, Mott & Bow denim isn’t a heavy, overly rigid set of jeans that’ll cause overheating if the weather’s too hot. In fact, the brand’s Comfort Denim line offers jeans with 2% elastane stretch built in, for a pleasingly comfortable yet still slim fit. The Crosby in Dark Blue offers a versatile straight cut and a wash that could work across multiple seasons (even better — you can get 15% off your first purchase with the brand here). Tucking in the polo with those jeans is up to you; the Michael Bastian x Uniqlo polos seem to be cut slim enough to work either way. If it’s just too atrociously hot for pants, the Stadium Short from J. Crew Factory mixes a cool chambray fabric, flattering fit and an elastic waistband for ease of movement (potentially of use after wolfing down some hot dogs).

The Belt: Land’s End Club Stripe Elastic Belt, $39 OR H&M Braided Belt in  Light Beige, $12.95

Take your pick between a preppy Land's End option and a textured H&M pick.

Take your pick between a preppy Land’s End option and a textured H&M pick.

Unlike a more typical casual braided leather belt, the Land’s End option leans even more casual thanks to the elastic webbing, while still injecting some preppy style into your get-up. The mixed media option & beige color makes this a belt you could also wear in the spring & fall; conversely, you could go with a more patriotic red striped option. The H&M number also uses a neutral color and some texture to break up an outfit that might look a bit too stuffy with a plain leather dress belt — the incredibly cheap price doesn’t hurt, either.

Ernest Alexander Free Shipping

The Shoes: GREATS Brand Leather Wooster Slip-on, $149

A close-up look at both the Blanco and Cadet versions. Photo courtesy of GREATS Brand.

A close-up look at both the Blanco and Cadet versions of this versatile and sleek shoe. Photo courtesy of GREATS Brand.

GREATS definitely does get a lot of play on this blog, but with good reason — no brand right now is making shoes with the type of construction they make, for the low price point they offer. Crisp, casual options like the Wilson in White or the Rosen Runner in Navy could also be good pick-ups here for an even cheaper price. The Leather Wooster specifically is a relatively new offering from the brand that can go more casual or a bit dressier because of that sleek, no-laces look. The Cadet (or Navy) shade is perhaps going to be the most versatile choice here, although Nero (or Black) would certainly be equally adaptable. And to check out another way to style the Cargo (or Olive) shade of the Leather Wooster, head here.

The Socks: Richer Poorer Beginner No-Show Socks 2-Pack, $15

Two basic colorways among other choices at an affordable price.

Two basic colorways among other choices at an affordable price.

When you’re throwing on slip-ons as comfortable and well-made as the Leather Wooster, socks might actually not be much of a worry. However, a solid pair of no-show socks like these Richer Poorer no-show socks offer a layer of protection for your shoes and your feet. That’s especially important if you’re spending lots of time on your feet during the holiday. This pair should be a true no-show, offering that much-coveted, sleek sockless look. The price point isn’t too bad either, and the range of colors means you could pick up a few pairs to blend in with different types of footwear.

The Watch: Stuhrling Original Aquadiver Manta Ray Rubber Strap Watch, $83 OR Skagen Steel Mesh Watch, $165

Two choices, one sporty and one sleek, for a holiday that could involve activities in both areas.

Two choices, one sporty and one sleek, for a holiday that could involve activities in both areas.

Just as with Memorial Day, perhaps your Fourth of July plans involve heading to the beach or a body of water; while you don’t want a watch that’s clunky and overly large, you still want something that’s durable and tough — the Stuhrling Original Aquadiver (full review here) stands up to the test and doesn’t look too much like a digital sports watch. On the other end of the spectrum, the Skagen Steel Mesh Watch is super crisp and clean — no wasted design or added touches here. It is a bit pricier, but you get a watch that’s sharp enough to be worn during the week, and eyecatching enough to be worn on the weekends.

The Sunglasses: Randolph Engineering Concorde Flash Lens Sunglasses, $169

The Concorde Flash Lens series from Randolph Engineering -- an all-American pair of sunglasses for an all-American holiday.

The Concorde Flash Lens series from Randolph Engineering — an all-American pair of sunglasses for an all-American holiday.

This pair was first featured on the blog as this past week’s Style Pick of the Week, and they are lookers indeed (made in America, too!). There’s certainly nothing wrong with sunglasses you already might have, especially if they’re a timeless shape like an aviator or even the resurgent Wayfarer. But these shades as pictured here offer up a vibrant set of blue lenses that complements the theme of the holiday (if you’re into that sort of thing), while providing a style that’s versatile the entire year. The fact that they look like Mr. Bond’s preferred choice of eyewear in Skyfall isn’t a bad thing, either.

While these clothes can help you look good, the most important thing about this holiday is celebrating the occasion with family & friends — that’s something to be kept in  mind no matter what you were.

Will you be picking up any new items for the Fourth of July or the summer season in general? What’s your go-to fireworks-watching outfit?

Florsheim

Nunn Bush

Style Pick of the Week: Club Monaco Baxter Shorts

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

A slim fit, basic colors and imported cotton fabric make these Club Monaco shorts a winner.

A slim fit, basic colors and imported cotton fabric make these Club Monaco shorts a winner.

It hasn’t really felt like summer yet in NYC, but that hasn’t stopped me from shopping around for some nice, versatile shorts for warm weather. Ditching jeans or chinos isn’t something that everybody’s accustomed to doing, but for me, it’s a necessary (and fun) style move. Lots of designers have been updating their fits and fabrics as far as shorts go (Bonobos continues to make shorts out of its legendary Washed Chino fabric for example, and the linen shorts seen below from Frank & Oak are also a winner). And Club Monaco is the latest to follow suit with an updated, more tailored version that you might expect from a retailer with a distinct continental style. The brand’s Baxter Short is made from imported cotton with a 7″ inseam and what looks to be a fairly slim fit. Waist sizes run up to 36″ and down to 28″, a wide enough range of sizes for those looking to improve their short game.

One way to wear shorts in the warmer months. Linen herringbone pair seen here by Frank & Oak. Nautical print T-shirt by J. Crew Factory. White sneakers by GREATS Brand. Glasses by Warby Parker.

One way to wear shorts in the warmer months. Linen herringbone pair seen here by Frank & Oak. Nautical print T-shirt by J. Crew Factory. White sneakers by GREATS Brand. Glasses by Warby Parker.

The fact that the Club Monaco pair comes in just three basic yet highly versatile colors is another positive — the Graphite, Navy or Khaki shades would work with just about any color combination up top — especially a printed short-sleeve shirt or a colorful pocket tee (one variation on that can be seen above; those shorts are by Frank & Oak). Throwing on shorts certainly doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style or reverting back to the cargo shorts that many of us (myself included) probably wore in past years. Club Monaco’s iteration is pricey and it seems as if they don’t offer too many sales, but the quality of the fabric and the fit should be some comfort when investing in a pair.

Would you consider picking up some shorts from Club Monaco? What’s your go-to pair for the summer?
Ernest Alexander

Ben Sherman US

Online Shopping Picks: Stylish Shorts for Spring and Summer

Spring & summer weather means it's shorts season. T-shirt by American Apparel. Shorts by Banana Republic. Watch by Timex Ameritus and patterned watch strap by The Knottery. Sneakers by GREATS Brand.

Spring & summer weather means it’s shorts season. T-shirt by American Apparel. Shorts by Banana Republic. Watch by Timex Ameritus and patterned watch strap by The Knottery. Sneakers by GREATS Brand.

So, spring is finally here (right?). And while I love me a great pair of denim or some excellent chinos, it’s always good to have a pair of shorts in the rotation. I mainly stick to neutral colors like khaki or navy to pair with other like-minded shades, but several designers & brands are adding louder hues and more wild prints to their shorts offerings this year, too. I got a question from a friend the other day recommending a relatively inexpensive, versatile pair — hence the picks you see below here. Now to be clear — none of these recommendations involve the extra pockets or the baggy cut of cargo shorts — that’s outlawed around these here parts. So, turn tail and get yourself to the mall (or stay right at your computer) and do some shopping.

#1. J. Crew Factory 7″ Broken-in Reade Short — $44.50

Washed fabric in a slimmer cut that hits above the knee — exactly what's needed in spring or summer shorts.

Washed fabric in a slimmer cut that hits above the knee — exactly what’s needed in spring or summer shorts.

J. Crew Factory’s some kind of a bully when it comes to online shopping picks on this site, but these shorts check all the boxes in terms of the ideal pair. They’re available in a full range of neutral colors (particularly the grey seen here) and they hit above the knee in a clean, modern fit. The “broken-in” finish gives them an easygoing vibe, too.  J. Crew’s mainline Stanton short (seen here) is a similar style for a bit extra cash.

#2. Frank and Oak Sheldon 7.5″ Herringbone Shorts in Navy — $60

The 7.5" Sheldon Herringbone Shorts in Navy. Seen with an Invicta dive watch, Frank and Oak Cotton Plaid Shirt, and GREATS Brand sneakers.

The 7.5″ Sheldon Herringbone Shorts in Navy. Seen with an Invicta dive watch, Frank and Oak Cotton Plaid Shirt, and GREATS Brand sneakers.

These shorts were first seen in this Frank & Oak Hunt Club crate review just the other day. They’re a really excellent pair, with  great depth to the fabric and a cut that’s a little trimmer than the JCF option above. For having a length of 7.5″, they certainly don’t feel noticeably longer than a 7″ pair. The cotton-linen blend makes them lightweight and breathable, perfect for getting out and about. They’re also available in a darker Asphalt color, but this particular blue wouldn’t clash with, say, navy or indigo.

#3. Urban Outfitters CPO Crosby Chino Shorts — $44

An olive color that's different than the typical navy or khaki, paired with a decent price.

An olive color that’s different than the typical navy or khaki, paired with a decent price.

This pair of shorts from Urban Outfitters feature a similar price when lined up against the J. Crew Factory option above, and they’ve got a somewhat similar faded wash to them. But, that olive color is pretty visually pleasing — it plays well with lots of neutrals like white, tan, grey or navy but is different ahn a basic khaki short. These are available in some brighter colors too, like a Sky Blue or Red option, but the slightly fringed hem at the bottom might turn some away.

#4. Old Navy Slim-Fit Twill Shorts in Ink-Blue Stripe — $22.94

They should fit pretty trim, and the stripes are a nice touch … but that inseam could be a tad long.

They should fit pretty trim, and the stripes are a nice touch … but that inseam could be a tad long.

Old Navy’s shorts are a fairly underrated part of the brand — while they do excellent work when it comes to other basics, their shorts game has finally caught up — for the most part. Prices dip as low as $15 on slim-fit shorts in every color imaginable, from a heightened Beryl Blue and wild Blue Floral Print to a more pedestrian grey. The one caveat is that these do have a longer 9-1/2″ inseam, which might not work for the shorter among us (and even taller guys might prefer a slightly higher-cut short).

#5. Bonobos 7″ Washed Chino Shorts in Deep Khaki — $68

Almost $70, yes, but a nice combination of quality and price.

Almost $70, yes, but a nice combination of quality and price.

Nearly $70 for a pair of shorts? Yikes. Yes, for that amount you could buy almost two pairs of shorts from J. Crew Factory (or heck, almost 5 very on-sale pairs from Old Navy). But there’s a reason behind the pricing for these shorts — you get the same easywearing, relatively durable Washed Chino fabric that the company’s great pants are made out of, and you also get a range of length and color options (although this khaki is highly versatile).

NOTE: Other pairs that just missed the cut here include Bonobos’ newer, tailored Americano shorts (nearly too dressy to be worn casually), and these dark blue patterned chino shorts from H&M.

What do you think of the above recommendations? What will you be stocking your shorts drawer with this spring and summer?

And one final note: Looking around for more suggestions to pull together your spring and summer wardrobe? I’ve been putting together a series of weekly Buyer’s Guide pieces for the great team at lifestyle website VOUCH Mag; check out the full set here
Ernest Alexander

Style Suggestion: Fourth of July

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.

The Shirt

Chambray at an affordable price.

Chambray at an affordable price.

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).

The Shorts

J. Crew's Stanton short.

J. Crew’s Stanton short.

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.

The Shoes

An All-American classic.

An All-American classic.

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.

The Rest

A simple summer belt.

A simple summer belt.

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.

A clean and classic Timex.

A clean and classic Timex.

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!

Spring Style Essentials, Part One: Shorts

Warmer weather means it's time for shorts. Navy polo and shorts by J. Crew Stanton. Belt by Target Merona. Glasses by Burberry.

Warmer weather means it’s time for shorts. Navy polo and shorts by J. Crew Stanton. Belt by Target Merona. Glasses by Burberry.

With what appears to be the arrival of spring here in Michigan (finally!), it’s time to unpack some essentials from the closet. Spring bring with it breezy weather, sunshine and some occasional rain, all of which necessitate dressing differently than other parts of the year. Fall brings in colder temperatures and winter brings in chilly snow, meaning those parts of the year are about increasing the weight of textures and adding visual interest to outfits through unique layers.

With spring here and summer upcoming though, this time of year is all about lightening things up — in weight, color and texture.

These can be done through simple combinations that can easily rotate in and out of a personal uniform — an incredibly helpful and useful style move that can solve even the biggest conundrums. An easy upgrade to start comes with the occasional move from pants to (gasp!) shorts. Now, there’s a difference between putting on shorts and putting on shorts (kind of like the difference between a dinner jacket and a dinner jacket).

Forgo the bulky cargo pockets for something a bit more streamlined, like this Old Navy pair.

Forgo bulky cargo pockets for something more streamlined, like this Old Navy pair. Khaki works, but also look for color!

The right pair of shorts fall right in line in terms of fit with the best pieces in your wardrobe — as in slim or tailored.

This means that cargo shorts should be thrown out altogether, as there’s too much fabric hanging around with those extra pockets, bells and whistles (get a look at the top picture here). Several brands out there offer nice varieties of slim-fit shorts, which add a much more polished look to something as simple as a pocket T-shirt or striped henley.

A great starting point (slightly pricey, however) is J. Crew’s Stanton short. Unless you’re exceedingly tall or exceedingly short, look for something with about a 9″ inseam, like the Stanton — that seems to hit a little above the knee for most people, creating cleaner lines and an overall more tailored look. A wide range of colors for those J. Crew shorts is a nice touch, too. The Comer Chino shorts from Land’s End also are a personal favorite — two pairs have been in the personal rotation for two years now with lots of wear, and they’ve held up great. A lower price point is certainly beneficial, as well.

And because there’s less fabric on your legs, it’s OK to play around with color (for example: It might be too much to wear, say, bright blue pants at this time of year, but colorful shorts are definitely alright). In fact, stepping away from the typical khaki shades of shorts gives you more leeway to mix and match smaller colors in other parts of your outfit (just don’t go too color-crazy — keep it to one large pop of color and smaller complimentary colors elsewhere).

There also are both dressier and more casual options to pair with shorts —from a simple pocket T-shirt to a blue or white OCBD, but those will be explored in greater detail in future posts, as will essentials like spring shoes. Are there any go-to brands or colors you have for shorts or other spring style items? Leave feedback in the comments below!