Greeting Summer Head-On
I will admit it: I hate summer. I come from San Francisco, where summer is two mild weeks in mid-September. I melt in the heat, even here in Los Angeles, where the high temperatures are ameliorated by dry air. I spent a few summers in Washington DC, so I understand that hot can really be hot.
When I don’t have any appointments and the mercury hits about 84, I put on shorts. Sometimes, though, I have people to meet. In those times, well, a bit of head-on goes a long way. Today was one of those days. Interview (with the great comedian Todd Glass) in the afternoon. Temperatures in the mid-80s. So I threw on this new suit, which features - wait for it - checked seersucker.
Frankly, it’s a little ridiculous. But when it’s this hot, who cares?
(Photo by Noe Montes)

Greeting Summer Head-On

I will admit it: I hate summer. I come from San Francisco, where summer is two mild weeks in mid-September. I melt in the heat, even here in Los Angeles, where the high temperatures are ameliorated by dry air. I spent a few summers in Washington DC, so I understand that hot can really be hot.

When I don’t have any appointments and the mercury hits about 84, I put on shorts. Sometimes, though, I have people to meet. In those times, well, a bit of head-on goes a long way. Today was one of those days. Interview (with the great comedian Todd Glass) in the afternoon. Temperatures in the mid-80s. So I threw on this new suit, which features - wait for it - checked seersucker.

Frankly, it’s a little ridiculous. But when it’s this hot, who cares?

(Photo by Noe Montes)

Swimwear That Doesn’t Look Like Swimwear
Traditionally, there have been two kinds of swimwear for men. There are swim shorts, which are mid-length trunks with an elasticized waist. These are arguably the most comfortable, as they have the most flexibility. Then there are boardshorts, which comes out of Californian surf culture. These are a bit longer (usually about knee-length) and instead of an elasticized waist, they have a rigid waistband, Velcro fly, and some kind of lace-up tie. This double fail-safe system ensures that your trunks won’t be ripped from you in a wipeout. 
When I go swimming, I like to wear what some might call “all day trunks,” which are trunks designed without any of those traditional details. So, no elastic bands, visible ties, or sporty designs. Instead, I look for trunks that look a regular pair of shorts, but are constructed from a fast drying fabric. 
As a result, I get something I can wear in the water, but also pair with other things once I towel off. For example, I recently wore my swim trunks to go to the beach with friends, but then paired them with a linen button-up shirt and some woven Rivieras when we decided to hang out till night. It’s an incredibly easy and convenient combination when you want to look presentable afterwards — say, if you want to grab tacos in a beach town or hang out at the hotel bar — but don’t want to have to go and change clothes. 
You can find such trunks at any number of places. I have a pair of Orlebar Brown’s Bulldogs, which are a mid-length short with side tabs. The tabs are not only a nice stylistic touch, but they also give a more adjustable fit. I also have a pair of Onia’s 7.5” Calders, which are just as nicely constructed, but have a slightly longer length that I think looks more flattering when I’m out of the water. Additionally, Robsinson Les Bains is good for more interesting prints, while Faherty does the same thing, but in more casual flavors.
As usual, if retail prices are too high for you, you can wait for end-of-season sales or check eBay. Orlebar Brown can be had at the moment at The Mens Market for $72, while Onia is about the same at Wittmore and Barney’s Warehouse. 
(Pictured above: Onia shorts, Orlebar Brown t-shirt, Oliver Spencer linen shirt, and Riviera slip-on shoes)

Swimwear That Doesn’t Look Like Swimwear

Traditionally, there have been two kinds of swimwear for men. There are swim shorts, which are mid-length trunks with an elasticized waist. These are arguably the most comfortable, as they have the most flexibility. Then there are boardshorts, which comes out of Californian surf culture. These are a bit longer (usually about knee-length) and instead of an elasticized waist, they have a rigid waistband, Velcro fly, and some kind of lace-up tie. This double fail-safe system ensures that your trunks won’t be ripped from you in a wipeout. 

When I go swimming, I like to wear what some might call “all day trunks,” which are trunks designed without any of those traditional details. So, no elastic bands, visible ties, or sporty designs. Instead, I look for trunks that look a regular pair of shorts, but are constructed from a fast drying fabric. 

As a result, I get something I can wear in the water, but also pair with other things once I towel off. For example, I recently wore my swim trunks to go to the beach with friends, but then paired them with a linen button-up shirt and some woven Rivieras when we decided to hang out till night. It’s an incredibly easy and convenient combination when you want to look presentable afterwards — say, if you want to grab tacos in a beach town or hang out at the hotel bar — but don’t want to have to go and change clothes. 

You can find such trunks at any number of places. I have a pair of Orlebar Brown’s Bulldogs, which are a mid-length short with side tabs. The tabs are not only a nice stylistic touch, but they also give a more adjustable fit. I also have a pair of Onia’s 7.5” Calders, which are just as nicely constructed, but have a slightly longer length that I think looks more flattering when I’m out of the water. Additionally, Robsinson Les Bains is good for more interesting prints, while Faherty does the same thing, but in more casual flavors.

As usual, if retail prices are too high for you, you can wait for end-of-season sales or check eBay. Orlebar Brown can be had at the moment at The Mens Market for $72, while Onia is about the same at Wittmore and Barney’s Warehouse

(Pictured above: Onia shorts, Orlebar Brown t-shirt, Oliver Spencer linen shirt, and Riviera slip-on shoes)

Linen Sport Coats for Summer
Everyone has their own pick for what they’d consider a summer essential. For me, it’d be a breathable sport coat. Something made from an open weave material — and has little canvassing, lining, or padding inside — will wear much cooler than your standard year-round wools. In fact, as hot as the weather gets in July and August, I don’t even touch my “year round” sport coats until October. 
Most open weave materials can be classified as one of two types: tropical wool and linen. More of than not, breathable sport coats will be made from linen, partly because tropical wools tend to be very smooth, so they’re reserved for suits. The upside to linen is that it not only breathes well, but it’s also a good way to take the inherent dressiness out of a tailored jacket. Nothing says carefree and casual like having a few rumples and wrinkles in your sport coat. 
You can wear linen jackets with almost anything, but I find they tend to look best with linen trousers. Something in a contrasting color, but similar weave, will make it so that your jacket and trousers are distinctive, but also harmonious. That is, pair smooth, tightly woven linens with other smooth, tightly woven linens; and slubby, spongy linens with other slubby spongy linens. A linen jacket will also pair well with cotton chinos, as both will have the same casual, summery sensibility. Between these two fabrics, you have a world of trouser options once you play around with color. 
Don’t get too hung up on rules though. Luciano Barbera once advocated wearing a linen jacket with wool flannels, and while I personally wouldn’t do it — who am I to argue with one of the world’s best dressed men? Patrick Johnson of P. Johnson Tailors is also pictured above wearing a linen jacket with denim. If you want to try that kind of combination, consider getting a jacket that’s slightly shorter in length and forgoing the tie. As usual, the danger with denim plus sport coat combinations is that they can look a bit discombobulated — very dressy up top, too casual down low. Play down the jacket by getting something that has a slightly less traditional cut, and forgo any neckwear. That way, you’ll bring the tailored jacket down a notch in its formality.
(Photo via Patrick Johnson Tailors)

Linen Sport Coats for Summer

Everyone has their own pick for what they’d consider a summer essential. For me, it’d be a breathable sport coat. Something made from an open weave material — and has little canvassing, lining, or padding inside — will wear much cooler than your standard year-round wools. In fact, as hot as the weather gets in July and August, I don’t even touch my “year round” sport coats until October. 

Most open weave materials can be classified as one of two types: tropical wool and linen. More of than not, breathable sport coats will be made from linen, partly because tropical wools tend to be very smooth, so they’re reserved for suits. The upside to linen is that it not only breathes well, but it’s also a good way to take the inherent dressiness out of a tailored jacket. Nothing says carefree and casual like having a few rumples and wrinkles in your sport coat. 

You can wear linen jackets with almost anything, but I find they tend to look best with linen trousers. Something in a contrasting color, but similar weave, will make it so that your jacket and trousers are distinctive, but also harmonious. That is, pair smooth, tightly woven linens with other smooth, tightly woven linens; and slubby, spongy linens with other slubby spongy linens. A linen jacket will also pair well with cotton chinos, as both will have the same casual, summery sensibility. Between these two fabrics, you have a world of trouser options once you play around with color. 

Don’t get too hung up on rules though. Luciano Barbera once advocated wearing a linen jacket with wool flannels, and while I personally wouldn’t do it — who am I to argue with one of the world’s best dressed men? Patrick Johnson of P. Johnson Tailors is also pictured above wearing a linen jacket with denim. If you want to try that kind of combination, consider getting a jacket that’s slightly shorter in length and forgoing the tie. As usual, the danger with denim plus sport coat combinations is that they can look a bit discombobulated — very dressy up top, too casual down low. Play down the jacket by getting something that has a slightly less traditional cut, and forgo any neckwear. That way, you’ll bring the tailored jacket down a notch in its formality.

(Photo via Patrick Johnson Tailors)

Consider Vintage Ray Bans

The price of sunglasses can be pretty ridiculous nowadays, ranging anywhere from $150 to $750 for well-known brand names. And as many people know, most of those frames are just made by Luxottica – an Italian company that not only manufacturers ~80% of the major brands you see on the market, but also owns many of the retail outlets. I personally have no issue with the quality of their frames, but it’s true that their near-monopolistic position means that you’re likely paying very inflated prices. 

If you’re OK with spending that much on sunglasses, consider getting some vintage Ray Bans. Before Ray Ban became just another name under the Luxottica label, they were American owned and made by New York’s Bausch & Lomb. Those vintage frames are still being bought and sold today by boutique eyewear stores and eBay sellers, and they’re as classic in shape as anything sold today, but have a “vintage cool” factor that you won’t find anywhere else.

Some models to consider:

  • The Aviator: The most famous of Ray Ban’s frames, and the one that got Bausch & Lomb into sunglasses. Like with all the models listed here, there are a number of distinguishing marks on vintage pairs, but the most telling is whether or not you see a BL etched into the lenses (although, some vintage models dont have that BL etching, and you’ll have to search for other identifying marks). 
  • The Shooter: As the name suggests, the Shooter was originally designed for rifle shooters. They were popular in the ‘70s, and the o-ring you see at the bridge is meant to help strengthen the frames at that junction (important when bullet cartridges are flying back at your face).
  • The Outdoorsman: Another early Ray Ban model, this one was introduced in 1939 as an offshoot of the company’s famous Aviators, but designed for hunting, shooting, and fishing enthusiasts. It’s distinguished by the “sweat bar” at the bridge and temple end pieces.
  • The General: Originally released in the mid-80s for Ray Ban’s 50th anniversary, this model is one of the most coveted by collectors. The originals have a uniquely high gold content and a hollowed out font for the “50” at the lenses.

For a pair of vintage frames in good condition, you can expect to pay anywhere from ~$150 for your standard Aviators to $1,000 for The General. Unfortunately, if you have to wear prescription lenses (like me), then you may want to stick to newer models, as so much of what you’re paying for in vintage sunglasses are those original lenses. We have some suggestions in our sunglasses guide.

Expanding a Shirt Wardrobe in the Summertime

Luciano Barbera once said that while you can have too many clothes, you can never have too many shirts. “Shirts are quick to wash and easy to store. Plus, they look great. A man should own as many shirts as he wishes –- the more the better.”

I don’t know if I would go that far, but having more shirts does allow you to play around a bit with a tailored wardrobe. Solid and striped shirts in your basic colors (white and light blue) are great mainstays, but having a few causal options can let you get some versatility out of what you already own. For summer, I like the following:

  • Madras: A lightweight, plain weave cotton that’s known for it’s bright and bold plaids. By tradition, these used to be dyed with vegetable dyes that would bleed in the wash, which in turn would give the shirts a distinctive, blurred look. Today, madras is almost always colorfast (meaning they don’t bleed or fade), which is perhaps lamentable, but I find they still go excellently under cotton or linen sport coats, or even worn on their own with a pair of chinos and some plimsolls. You can find them at O’Connell’s, J. Press, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and J. Crew.
  • Linen: I love the look of wrinkled linen, as it adds a casual, carefree touch to clothes that make them look more lived in. Plus, the plant fiber is just so lightweight and breathable, making it ideal on hot days. With the breeze blowing through, you’d hardly known you were wearing a shirt at all. You can find them at Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Ledbury. Our advertiser Proper Cloth also can make you something custom from their cotton/ linen blends – which will have the breathability of linen, but won’t wrinkle as much.
  • A dressy chambray: This one is admittedly hard to find. A long time ago, some guys at StyleForum became enamored with a distinctive chambray from the French weaver Simonnot Godard. It had the right mix of white and blue threads to make it a chambray, but was dressy enough to wear with tailored clothing (so not like the workwear chambrays you see everywhere else). At some point, it was found that the cloth has a small percentage of polyester in it, so traditionalists quickly abandoned their stock. I personally still love the fabric, and count it as one of my favorite shirtings. It’s unique without being loud, and something you can wear to the office or outside of it. Today, the closest you can find to those original Simonnot Godard chambrays is this shirt from Ledbury (which is 100% cotton). Otherwise, you can try searching around for various end-on-ends, which is a kind of weave that sometimes yields a vaguely similar look.
  • A washed chambray: More the workwear variety, and perhaps something that’s better in the fall with tweed jackets. In the summer though, I’ve found light blue chambrays to go excellently with casual clothes (leather jackets, chinos, and such). Just find something that’s light enough in color to look like a regular light blue shirt, but has a bit of ruggedness to it so that it’s casual. I like the ones from Chimala and RRL, although the prices are admittedly very dear. For something much more affordable, check out this shirt from Everlane
An Affordable Summer Coat
People ask us all the time how to dress well in warm weather. Our usual answer is to wear linen and summer wool, and to wear coats with minimal linings to take advantage of those fabrics built-in breeziness.
The problem with that plan is that makers tend to fully line even summer coats, simply because it’s cheaper to cover up unfinished interior seams than it is to finish them. Certainly many brands - particularly the Italians - will sell you real summer clothes, but they can be very expensive. If you can find an unlined blazer, it’s often cotton, which is an improvement over wool, but less than ideal.
Enter Suit Supply. This year, they’re offering a style called “Havana,” which features summer-weight wool and very little lining. The coats are priced at $399, which makes them a really excellent value, given Suit Supply’s solid quality. The blazer above would be particularly useful. Full suits are $599 - so if you’re going to some summer weddings, they’ve got you covered.

An Affordable Summer Coat

People ask us all the time how to dress well in warm weather. Our usual answer is to wear linen and summer wool, and to wear coats with minimal linings to take advantage of those fabrics built-in breeziness.

The problem with that plan is that makers tend to fully line even summer coats, simply because it’s cheaper to cover up unfinished interior seams than it is to finish them. Certainly many brands - particularly the Italians - will sell you real summer clothes, but they can be very expensive. If you can find an unlined blazer, it’s often cotton, which is an improvement over wool, but less than ideal.

Enter Suit Supply. This year, they’re offering a style called “Havana,” which features summer-weight wool and very little lining. The coats are priced at $399, which makes them a really excellent value, given Suit Supply’s solid quality. The blazer above would be particularly useful. Full suits are $599 - so if you’re going to some summer weddings, they’ve got you covered.

Crepe-Sole Jack Purcells
I’m generally opposed to “classic with a twist.” I say: just go classic, and you know… be the twist you want to see in the world. That said, I’m basically salivating over these Jack Purcells.
They’re a bit dear at $90, and mostly sold out to boot (let us know if you can find a better source than the Converse website), but I just grabbed a pair.

Crepe-Sole Jack Purcells

I’m generally opposed to “classic with a twist.” I say: just go classic, and you know… be the twist you want to see in the world. That said, I’m basically salivating over these Jack Purcells.

They’re a bit dear at $90, and mostly sold out to boot (let us know if you can find a better source than the Converse website), but I just grabbed a pair.

The Knockabout Cotton Suit

The poor cotton suit doesn’t get much love in men’s clothing. That’s because the material is considered too cheap to be worthy of good tailoring. A lot of time and skill is required to make a jacket, so while you’re paying for all that labor, the quality of cotton can only go so far. It doesn’t last as long as good wool (as it can shine up a bit more easily in areas of stress); it doesn’t have the natural “stretch” of animal hair (thus making it feel a bit stiff); and unless you go ultra-light in the cloth’s weight, it also doesn’t wear as cool as one might think (at least not as much as a good open weave cloth). 

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about how nice it’d be to have a cotton suit for summer. Maybe something in one the colors you see above – navy, olive, dark brown, or tan. One of the great things about cotton is that it rumples (like linen), which helps make tailored clothes look more natural and carefree. These are not the type of suits you wear perfectly pressed, but they’re also not the kind of suits that will make you look like you just came from the office. And while cotton does indeed shine up and fray a bit more easily than good wool, that kind of wear-and-tear seems like it’d only give the suit a nice, lived-in character. As our friend Will at A Suitable Wardrobe once put it, a cotton suit is a “knockabout suit” – something you’d wear on a casual day. 

If you’re interested in a cotton suit this summer, but are afraid of it feeling too stiff, you can search around for suits made from a cotton/ cashmere blend. Something with just a touch of cashmere (say 2%) won’t wear any warmer, but it’ll feel more broken-in from the get go.

The best thing about a cotton suit? You can wear the jacket and pants separately as a sport coat and pair of chinos, thus giving you a bit more versatility in your wardrobe. The more I talk about them, really, the more I want one.  

(Photos via B&Tailor, Patrick Johnson Tailors, The Sartorialist, and Men’s Ex)

At House of Majd, Hooman Majd has an eloquent defense of one of my favorite summer garments, the safari jacket. He’s absolutely right: it’s the perfect thing to wear over a t-shirt when you’re wearing jeans in the summer. Infinitely practical and relaxed.

At House of Majd, Hooman Majd has an eloquent defense of one of my favorite summer garments, the safari jacket. He’s absolutely right: it’s the perfect thing to wear over a t-shirt when you’re wearing jeans in the summer. Infinitely practical and relaxed.

What to Wear on a Tropical Cruise
I’ve rather unexpectedly become a cruise entrepreneur - a career cruiser, you might say. I founded a comedy-and-music cruise called The Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival, and it’s brought hundreds of people like me - people who’d previously thought themselves more likely to read David Foster Wallace’s writing about cruises than go on one - out to sea. The benefits are many, like hanging out with awesome comics and great musicians, and enjoying unlimited free ice cream. The sartorial challenges, though, are significant. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Dress for formal night. On most cruise lines, one night of your voyage will be designated as a “formal night.” It’s essentially considered a dinner with the Captain, though the Captain doesn’t exactly sit at the head of a 2000-person table. On the relatively (though not extremely) high-end cruise line we use, they suggest black tie. I saw evening formal on women - dresses and gowns. On men, it ranged from real black tie to “my good polo shirt.” You’ll be able to get away with a suit, but honestly? Just go black tie. It’s fun, your date will appreciate it, and it’s nice to have a formal break from the swimsuits on deck. And if you want to do something fun, try a white dinner jacket, like the one I’m wearing above, in the middle of a dance circle that Dan Deacon threw me into last year.
Bring shoes for on-shore and shoes for the decks. You’ll be spending a lot of time in the ocean or a pool, so it’s a good idea to bring shoes appropriate for that purpose. Flip-flops are fine, but think about something a little classier, like leather sandals or espadrilles. They make a big difference. And if you are planning any excursions, remember to bring walking-appropriate shoes. I was glad I brought sneakers when I walked from the docks of Nassau out to the great food spots the ship’s comic told me about.
Bring two swimsuits. If you’ve got a swimsuit rotation, now’s the time to put it in effect. You’ll be in all kinds of water for the duration of your trip. Always good to have something dry when something’s wet.
Bring pants. Even in tropical places, night time is night time. Also: most cruise lines expect pants in the nicer dining rooms. So, unless you want to eat chicken fingers in the “4 Teenz Only” dining room, bring pants.
Keep your palette simple. Blue, white and khaki is a good one. Like any trip, it’s easiest to mix and match. You’ll be glad you brought clothes that are interchangeable through the course of your trip.
Linen is your friend. Linen wears lightly, looks good and dries quickly. A white linen shirt is an easy way to make shorts or a simple swimsuit look a little sophisticated.
Wear something nautical. My friend and colleague Lindsay wore a romper festooned with rope knots and anchors on last year’s cruise. I’m sure she’ll have something just as fun this year. When all’s said and done, it’s a vacation - so have some fun.
If you want to join me, a dozen amazing comics and twenty brilliant musicians at sea this summer, just visit boatparty.biz for more information on the Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival.

What to Wear on a Tropical Cruise

I’ve rather unexpectedly become a cruise entrepreneur - a career cruiser, you might say. I founded a comedy-and-music cruise called The Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival, and it’s brought hundreds of people like me - people who’d previously thought themselves more likely to read David Foster Wallace’s writing about cruises than go on one - out to sea. The benefits are many, like hanging out with awesome comics and great musicians, and enjoying unlimited free ice cream. The sartorial challenges, though, are significant. Here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Dress for formal night. On most cruise lines, one night of your voyage will be designated as a “formal night.” It’s essentially considered a dinner with the Captain, though the Captain doesn’t exactly sit at the head of a 2000-person table. On the relatively (though not extremely) high-end cruise line we use, they suggest black tie. I saw evening formal on women - dresses and gowns. On men, it ranged from real black tie to “my good polo shirt.” You’ll be able to get away with a suit, but honestly? Just go black tie. It’s fun, your date will appreciate it, and it’s nice to have a formal break from the swimsuits on deck. And if you want to do something fun, try a white dinner jacket, like the one I’m wearing above, in the middle of a dance circle that Dan Deacon threw me into last year.
  • Bring shoes for on-shore and shoes for the decks. You’ll be spending a lot of time in the ocean or a pool, so it’s a good idea to bring shoes appropriate for that purpose. Flip-flops are fine, but think about something a little classier, like leather sandals or espadrilles. They make a big difference. And if you are planning any excursions, remember to bring walking-appropriate shoes. I was glad I brought sneakers when I walked from the docks of Nassau out to the great food spots the ship’s comic told me about.
  • Bring two swimsuits. If you’ve got a swimsuit rotation, now’s the time to put it in effect. You’ll be in all kinds of water for the duration of your trip. Always good to have something dry when something’s wet.
  • Bring pants. Even in tropical places, night time is night time. Also: most cruise lines expect pants in the nicer dining rooms. So, unless you want to eat chicken fingers in the “4 Teenz Only” dining room, bring pants.
  • Keep your palette simple. Blue, white and khaki is a good one. Like any trip, it’s easiest to mix and match. You’ll be glad you brought clothes that are interchangeable through the course of your trip.
  • Linen is your friend. Linen wears lightly, looks good and dries quickly. A white linen shirt is an easy way to make shorts or a simple swimsuit look a little sophisticated.
  • Wear something nautical. My friend and colleague Lindsay wore a romper festooned with rope knots and anchors on last year’s cruise. I’m sure she’ll have something just as fun this year. When all’s said and done, it’s a vacation - so have some fun.

If you want to join me, a dozen amazing comics and twenty brilliant musicians at sea this summer, just visit boatparty.biz for more information on the Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival.