It’s finally time to don that seersucker suit and bound out your door whilst whistling Frank Sinatra’s “Spring Is Here." Well, maybe not just yet. Depending on the day, you might step outside and hear the refrain from CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” or Bing Crosby’s “Let It Snow!” instead. Either way, we are edging closer and closer to warmer temperatures. Here are some things you might want to keep in mind as you think about transitioning your wardrobe with the promise of warmer weather.
Set a Comfort Level for Your Changeover
Although summer officially kicks off on June 21, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to shed that thick sweater or trench coat that’s been keeping you warm the last few months. Some geographies have more, and some have less predictable weather patterns.
Here in Atlanta, for example, any given day in April and May can see a high of 35 degrees one day and 85 the next. Case in point: last May we had a bout of warm weather. On one such day, it was a balmy 85 degrees outside, and our neighbor, dressed in nothing but her swimsuit, sandals, and an oversized sun hat, drove to the pool with the windows down and the air conditioning on full blast. However, over the next three hours, the temperature dropped more than 20 degrees. It wasn’t long before said neighbor returned, windows closed and heat cranked. With her towel cocooned around her she flew to her front door (I swear her feet never touched the ground).
My point? While one person might wear a short-sleeve Oxford in 60-degree weather, another might want to wait until it consistently hits 80 degrees to shed their long sleeves. Know thyself: experiment a bit, define your comfort level, and let that guide you in shedding your winter garments, regardless of what the calendar (or stylists) say.
When to Put up the Wool
Here in the warmer parts of the country, we love our lighter fabrics once we hit spring:
Cotton: we’re talking Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, hot summer days with hot dogs, beer, and popsicles. The king of fabrics and a year-round favorite.
- Pros: medium weight, durable and flexible, also works well with all skin sensitivities.
- Cons: absorbs sweat like a champ, but once it’s wet it stays wet. No wicking here, people. Also, does not take kindly to red wine spills, best to stick with the white!
Seersucker and Eyelet: iconic symbols of the South, evoking images of Colonel Sanders, fried chicken, ice cold sweet tea, and mint juleps.
- Pros: lighter weight, high breathability, unique and unmistakable look.
- Con: you’d better like stripes, good luck trying to find suit jackets and pants without them.
Linen: another natural fiber, like cotton, but thinner and with its own defined look.
- Pro: arguably offers the highest breathability of lightweight fabrics.
- Con: sneeze and it will wrinkle; better become a pro with that iron!
Silk: considered by many to be a luxurious, almost royal fabric.
- Pros: very lightweight, and will make you feel like an instant celebrity or Powerball winner.
- Cons: silk is prone to breaking down prematurely in direct, strong sunlight; avoid in summer if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. Most silk also requires dry cleaning and is generally more expensive than other fabrics in this list.
Lightweight / Tropical Weight Wool: the lighter-weight cousin to traditional wool. Seersucker and linen are great, but when the occasion is a little more formal, go with wool.
Pros: cooler than winter / traditional weight wool, and lends a degree of formality that cotton and linen lack.
Cons: not as cool as linen and as with any wool, water is your enemy. If you’re going to spend a lot of time outside and may sweat profusely, consider another choice.
Color, Color, and More Color!
Traditionally speaking, muted colors are called for in the fall and winter and vibrant ones in the spring and summer. You’ve probably been sporting grays, blacks, dark blues and maybe some white here and there. There’s a science behind that: darker colors tend to absorb the sunlight while lighter colors reflect heat. While you don’t need to eliminate dark colors from your wardrobe, consider adding a splash of vibrancy:
- Pink – one of my favorite warm weather colors. It’s versatile in that it can pair nicely with reds, purples, and blues. Spice it up with checks or lines.
- Light Purple – especially lighter purples like Lavender. Pro tip: purples pair well with blues.
- Light Blue and Green – another one of my favorite warm weather combinations. Try a combination blue and green gingham.
- Yellow and Orange – vibrant colors and another great pairing. Nothing says warm weather like a yellow and orange madras button-down.
Now appropriately armed with some handy rules of thumb, where should you shop? For those summer barbecues you’re going to need some serious T-shirts. Look no further than Bros With Beards – this boutique out of High Point, NC offers unique, one-of-a-kind shirts and pillowcases. Ledbury out of Richmond, VA is a good place to start when you want to add a splash of color to your wardrobe. They even let you sort by fabric type and weight so that you can be sure to get those spring and summer styles that you’re after. Ann and Sid Mashburn out of Atlanta, GA are southern-based retailers to check out as you look to breathe new life into your closet.
Down here in the South, college sports are king. If you’re looking for clothing with a bit of a twist and are a college sports fan, be sure to check out Onward Reserve out of Athens, GA. They’re a small boutique that lets you browse by school. Of course, no wardrobe revamp is complete without some swanky accessories. Donald J Fuss out of Forest, VA, takes woodworking to a whole new level by incorporating beautiful grains into cufflinks and tie clips. Go with the Jack Daniel’s cufflinks, you’ll thank me later.
Last, but certainly not least, how are you going to carry your accessories? What about that jacket for those days when the weather decides to flip-flop on you? Go Forth Goods, out of Marietta, GA, offers you a sexy and stylish solution: leather. From duffels to wallets, messenger bags, and totes, Go Forth has something for everyone. If you really want to showcase your swagger, be sure to check out the tobacco pipe roll; it’s sure to be a conversation starter. Whatever you do, be purposeful about it and go for a versatile look to ensure maximum enjoyment!