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Surrender Yourself to the Summer Accessory

In a season where not much else than shorts and T-shirts are an option, a simple hat, watch or pair of sunglasses can keep you from feeling like you’re living in a sartorial ‘Groundhog Day’

Dressing for summer is less impossible than it is highly limiting. It’s too hot to wear layers. It’s too sweaty for most fabric generally. Shorts aren’t for everyone. But most of all, everything just looks and feels the same. 

“Now that it’s gotten hot enough outside, I’ve been switching out my spring wardrobe for my typical summer clothes and noticed that most of my options look pretty much the same,” redditor AgitatedBreadfruit lamented in a recent post on r/MaleFashionAdvice (MFA), perfectly encapsulating this quandary. “Even though I feel like I have enough variety in both shirts and shorts — some camp collars, T-shirts and both athletic and casual shorts in different colors — every outfit seems to devolve into just some combination of short-sleeved shirt + shorts, and I’m starting to get tired of feeling like I’m wearing the same exact thing every day of the week.”

“Are there some obvious answers that I’m missing here?” he continued. “I’ve wracked my brain but can’t think of anything that doesn’t involve shelling out above my upper limit ($50-60 for a shirt) or straight up buying women’s clothing (which isn’t what I’m going for).”

The tried-and-true fix, of course, is to opt for a multitude of breezy summer fabrics. But even then, you’re probably gonna find yourself in a Groundhog Day scenario where every morning you wake up in a different color linen or rayon shirt. Which is why if looking different on a daily basis is important to you, there’s really only one way to fight against the sweltering sameness — accessories. 

“IMO the best option for summer is to get creative with accessories. You can take any boring outfit and spice it up with socks, hats, bandanas, cuffs, tucks, jewelry, belts, glasses, tote bags, etc., making it really unique and stylish,” one commenter responded to AgitatedBreadfruit’s original post. “Even if you have a suburban dad outfit, if you have your own style of accessories, you can still look really stylish and like you know what you’re doing.”

“+1 for jewelry and bags,” another commenter agreed. “A small shoulder bag is such a great thing, especially considering all the storage space you lost by not wearing a jacket. Also, a fashion tactical vest is an option for people going that route.”

A third MFA subscriber added that since he wears a watch, hat and sunglasses every day, each is an opportunity to change up his overall look — and even the look within the look. “I wear a watch 24/7 anyway, and I’m pretty bald so the hats are pretty utilitarian as well, but they give me some things to play with,” he explained. “I have my diver [watch] on its blue rubber strap now instead of the bracelet, and I put a black/white watch that would be on brown leather in the fall on a variety of colored nato straps in the summer — both because they’re better for the weather and are an easy way to change accent colors. For hats, I have a plain navy hat if I want to be more subdued, but I also have 59fifties from all my local teams which give me some color options. I also have tortoiseshell sunglasses that I wear the most, but grey and black in different shapes, too, to mix it up.”

All of this mixing it up can also extend beyond mere accessorizing and become more physically permanent as well — or at least more permanent than a warm afternoon. “Don’t forget other more bolder options, such as dyeing your hair, changing your hairstyle, growing facial hair, painting your nails and getting a tattoo,” one commenter pointed out. 

But if that’s too extreme of a makeover, again, there’s no amount of similarity that a hat can’t cover up. Just take it from Reverze1901, who’s pioneered a bunch of new trends (if just for himself) along the way: “Summer is when my stack of hats come out of hibernation and soak up all that vitamin D. Souvenir caps, tulip hats, bucket hats, berets, etc. I can go a week without repeating. Hats also do the job of completely altering the direction of a look. Blazer + bucket hat? Professor core. Blazer + dad cap? Book core. Blazer + fedora? Dandy. You get the drift.”