Be preppy: "We're seeing a strong return to traditional Ivy League clothing,” says Scott Dayton, owner of Edina menswear store Twill. “That includes vintage oxford cloths, rugby shirts, cotton suits, and linen blazers.” Plaid shirts, shorts, and ties are back, too, especially those with brighter colors. Nordstrom’s Gregg Andrews recommends plaid Bermuda shorts. “They’re Bermuda length, so they hit right above the knee,” he says. “You can wear them with a polo shirt or a cardigan. It’s an old-school, country club look.”
Lighten up: During the recession, men were looking for year-round outfits. “Now it’s time to add seasonal clothing back into your wardrobe,” Dayton says. “A nice cotton or linen pant works well for an outdoor luncheon or company picnic. Wear it with a nice sport short and a pair of driving moccasins.” For a look that works in the office and after work, there are light gray suits in shades of cement or pewter—a great alternative to the cooler-months color of charcoal, Andrews says. Another option is a tan cotton suit. “It’s still very polished, but it’s appropriate for warm, humid days,” says Andrews, who suggests wearing a cotton suit with a V-neck T-shirt or an open-collared plaid shirt.
Think in threes: It can be tempting to wear just a shirt and trousers in the summer, but adding a third piece polishes your look, Andrews says. He suggests adding a cardigan or sport coat. Or opt for a vest. “The vest is showing up as part of a three-piece suit,” he says. “It also can be worn with a jacket and a pair of jeans, or it can be worn as an alternative to a jacket.”
Military maneuvers: Designers are creating jackets and shirts with military-inspired details, such as epaulets, patch and flap pockets, and rolled, tabbed sleeves. “The military jacket is a great alternative to a traditional sport coat,” Andrews says. “Because it’s masculine, and it’s grounded in tradition, it will work on a man of any age in almost any work environment.” Just make sure the look isn’t over the top, he says. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing military surplus.