Updated: Jun 16, 2020
The lockdown is easing, the sun is coming out and it's time to start thinking about our wardrobes again.
Here are 10 easy steps to upgrading your summer wardrobe:
1. Beat the Heat with an Unstructured Jacket
I know that some of you are saying I don't have a blazer let alone an unstructured one. Well if you're reading this, I am presuming that you're 50plus and my friend, it's time to get one. No one is saying that you can't wear a tracksuit jacket, or even a hoodie when you want to but it's time to invest in yourself and upgrade your look.
Go for something with a relaxed fit, natural fibres are going to be best probably a cotton or linen mix. Layered over almost anything from a short-sleeved shirt to a t-shirt, it's going to improve your summer look.
I know in the current economic climate money is an issue for almost everyone, but this doesn't have to cost you a fortune. You can spend anything from between about £70 - £250 and get a pretty decent looking jacket from any one of the big high street or online retailers.
If you're like me and slightly larger than the average bear (6ft 7inch ) and currently weighing in at 18stone ( 12lbs gained during Covid lockdown - to be addressed in another blog) then your budget choices may be a little limited, but generally, I find Marks & Spencer will have something that fits and looks pretty good.
2. Step Up Your T-Shirt Game
Sometimes you just want to wear a t-shirt. There’s nothing wrong with that; but instead of choosing some standard screen printed t-shirt, go for something with a little more dimension.
A short-sleeve henley (buttons at the neck) provides the comfort and heat control of a t-shirt, but the button details make it so much more. Just like the polo and short sleeve button-up, the fit is paramount. You’re looking for one that looks trim without being tight.
The 4 keys to ensuring your polo/henley/t-shirt fit you correctly:
The sleeve seam should fall on the edge of your shoulder.
The sleeves should stop somewhere around your mid to lower bicep and should be neither baggy or overly tight.
The body should be fitted but not tight. If you're carrying a few extra pounds then go for a more relaxed look.
The shirt should stop about halfway down your flies.
White Henley t-shirt is available for $60 (£48) on the Daniel Sheehan Co website https://danielsheehan.co/collections/henleys/products/short-sleeve-henley
Whether you go for simple block colour t-shirts or something with a graphic design upgrading your t-shirts can be a simple and cost-effective way to improve your look this summer.
I know we're over 50 and our bodies have changed, but that doesn't mean we can't look good in a t-shirt. It just means we need to choose more carefully. If you're not in your best shape go for a slightly more relaxed fit. Again go for cotton or linen mixes if you can because they are going to breathe more easily in the sunshine.
3. While You're At It, Upgrade Your Shorts
It's time to let the baggy cargo shorts go. I know I shed tears too. All those pockets, man I missed them but things have moved on, this summer ( and to be honest every summer for the last few years) flat fronted fitted shorts have been carrying the swing. When I say fitted I'm not talking about something that looks like its been spray-painted on. If you want to do that, hell you're grown you can, but for me, that skin-tight look is a no. It's for the young hipsters and not the mature fashionista.
If you're carrying a little more weight than you would like, don't default to baggy cargo style shorts, stick with the fitted look, just find a brand that fits.
Cost-wise, you don't need to go crazy. You can spend any amount you like. From £20 at M&S or £295 for (James Bond-inspired) Thunder Ball day shorts from orlebarbrown.com. It's part of their range of summer clothing inspired by Sean Connery in James Bond. Cool but very expensive.
I recommend at least one pair of structured walking shorts. These are going to look good with that linen jacket we talked about earlier. They'll be perfect for one of those moments that require a relaxed but slightly more upmarket look, for example, lunch outside on a beautiful day with somebody special.
A pair of relaxed walking shorts. No jacket is required, you're just out for the day enjoying the sunshine. Again go for a natural cotton or linen mix as these will be more comfortable in the sunshine than their manmade equivalents.
GAP: 12in vintage shorts £19.99 (as of June 2020)
Cotton Traders: Ultimate Chino shorts £25.00 (as of June 2020)
4. Swap Your Winter Musk For A Summer Fragrance.
I know it's another WTF moment! I can almost hear you saying! Swap winter musk for summer fragrance! What is this guy talking about? Well, gentleman if you're not already into aftershave, it's time for you to get into it. Smelling good is nice, people especially women seem to like it. It doesn't have to cost a fortune. There are brands at every price point.
When I say winter musk I'm talking about heavier scents, things that are based on amber, musk and sandalwood. They are great smells but are not summer fragrances. Generally, when we're talking about summer fragrances we're talking about scents with floral or citrus notes.
Want some ideas, check out the Trendspotter website here!
5. Mix A Pair of Espadrilles Into Your Shoe Rotation
Trainers may be a weekend staple, but it's summertime and your feet are going to get hot. It's time to try something different, something just a little more sophisticated. Something that if you're wearing linen is going to work every time! Espadrilles are as easy to wear as flip-flops, as versatile as plimsoles—and if you don't believe you can pull them off, you haven't tried them on.
Espadrilles are available at most high street menswear retailers. You should expect to pay between £20 - £200 for them. The image below is taken from the John Lewis website see here.
6. Make Sure Your Polo Fits
The secret to looking good in a polo shirt is fit. Follow the guidelines set out above and you'll look good regardless of weight or shape.
Do not under any circumstances tuck your polo shirt in. We've all seen friends do it and we all know it always looks wrong. If you're going somewhere or doing something and you feel you need your shirt to be tucked in, don't wear a polo!
A common mistake older guys make is trying to size down to achieve proper proportions which can lead to a shirt with some of the details right but is overall too small. Look for a different brand, fit, or consider alterations by a tailor.
7. The Linen Shirt
Linen's porous nature allows your body to breathe easily in the heat and makes it one of the best warm-weather fabrics around. On humid days, forget cotton and go with linen.
Remember, linen wrinkles A LOT. Don’t get upset – it’s part of the package. when the wrinkles turn into creases you'll need to steam it. This can be done with a steam iron, but normally I get this done at the dry cleaners.
8. The Canvas Strap Watch
In the summer it's time to swap those leather and metal watch straps for a canvas Nato or Zulu strap.
Anybody who has worn a leather strap for any period of time in the summer knows that sweat stains develop and that after a while the strap itself will start to smell.
The canvas NATO or Zulu watch strap will give you a washable solution that also adds texture, detail, and a pop of colour to the rest of your outfit. Originally invented by the British military and often seen on James Bond's wrist in the movies, these canvas straps provide an excellent solution when you have to keep a watch on in tough conditions. The slip-thru design offers an easy way to swap straps depending on what you’re wearing for the day.
Photo by Louis Mornaud on Unsplash
9. Time To Think About A Man Bag.
Nothing looks worse than a lightweight summer jacket or trouser pockets bulging with all those items which we just have to carry around. Not only do we now have to find a place for our car keys, door keys, wallet, and mobile phone, but since the coronavirus, we now need somewhere to put our hand sanitiser and face mask. Add a phone charging cable, a little bit of loose change and sunglasses and you can see how the average man can overwhelm his pocket capacity without even really trying. In these circumstances, it's time to take another look at the man bag. You decide the style and material that goes with your personal look. Leather, canvas, plastic, get what works for you.
Photo by OVAN from Pexels
Photo by Lum3n from Pexels
10. The Fitted Short Sleeve Shirt
As with everything related to your personal style, the focus is to look sharp. Of primary concern with fitted short sleeve shirts is the looseness of the shoulders and the bagginess of the body. Similar to my polo guide above, you want a sleeve that hugs the upper arm – but is not tight – landing about half to three-quarters of the way down. The body should glide down the side of your torso, offering enough room for movement and comfort but without any excess for billowing.
OK, that's it. Take these steps and you're ready to enjoy a 50plus summer.