Opinion

The spring and summer must-haves

Roger Stone The Daily Caller's Men's Fashion Editor

There is no excuse for a well-dressed gent to wilt in the warm months. Here is The Daily Caller’s list of the good-taste must-haves for this spring and summer.

NANTUCKET REDS — Nantucket Reds are brick red trousers that every man must have in his spring and summer wardrobe. Cut and un-cuffed, they pair with a navy blue blazer for a dressy look appropriate for summer cocktails, yacht clubs, and thoroughbred race tracks. When paired with a chambray shirt, they connote a casual look, particularly when paired with a smart needlepoint belt.

THE NAVY BLUE BLAZER — The blazer got its name in the 1890s from the short, navy blue jackets that were designed for the crew of the “HMS Blazer,” a British ship. The proper navy blue blazer can be single or double-breasted and looks best in a three-button style. The proper blazer requires side-vents. Italian versions can have no vent at all, but I find this a bit fast. A natural shoulder and a relatively full-cut chest give a proper blazer the casual ease it needs when paired with Nantucket Reds, plain-front khakis and an open-collar Brooks Brothers button-down or a brightly colored polo shirt. When combined with a button-down, a brisk regimental striped tie and charcoal gray trousers, the look becomes dressier but should never be substituted for a proper suit in a business dealing.

A NEEDLEPOINT BELT — In 1981, when he ran for governor, I confiscated the needlepoint belts of New Jersey’s Tom Kean. It’s a patrician look that is right for the Vineyard, Nantucket, Darien, Greenwich, Charleston and Savannah. The highest quality needlepoint is done by hand by a female relative. When a female relative with needle skills isn’t in the bloodline, J. Press offers a serviceable needlepoint choice that includes tennis rackets, whales, golf clubs, Republican elephants and my choice — a skull and cross bones.

BASS WEEJUNS — Bass Weejuns are the Cordovan black or brown penny loafers originally called Norwegian Loafers, hence their name. Worn without socks in the spring and summer, they must be kept to a high-gloss polish and should become burnished with wax over time until they have a fine patina. Top-siders are even less informal and can only substitute for penny loafers on weekends and when actually aboard a sea-going vessel.

THE REGIMENTAL STRIPED TIE — The regimental striped tie was originally color coded to identify a specific regiment of the British army. It was considered vulgar and inappropriate to wear the regimental stripe of a military unit or group of guardsmen to whom one did not belong and with whom one had not served. Americans adopted the smart and colorful style without regard to one’s military history. In the 1960s, Jack and Robert Kennedy wore simple regimental stripes, sometimes called “repp stripes,” for a clean, American style. You can choose between a single-stripe design and a multi-stripe design. Fred Astaire went for a simple green stripe over an orange brown fastened to his button-down shirt with a simple tie bar. The man who doesn’t look smart in a clean, simple regimental tie, paired with either a navy blue blazer or a seersucker suit, isn’t trying.

THE SEERSUCKER SUIT — The seersucker suit is a hot weather favorite of men in the South as well as the sweltering cities of New England in the summertime. The puckered, all-cotton material originated in the oven-like humidity of India and works best in a full-cut, single-breasted, three-button model with full-cut reverse pleat trousers. Braces, which Philistines refer to as “suspenders,” should be a regimental-type stripe and are cooler to wear in humidity because they do not cinch the fabric of the pant waist to the body but rather suspend the garment from the shoulder.

THE MADRAS SHIRT — The madras shirt is making a strong comeback with the most vibrant and colorful versions by Ralph Lauren Polo, J. Press, and J. Crew. The colorful plaid material was first woven in Madras, India. The fabric works particularly well for short-sleeve summer camp shirts and walking shorts. The truly adventurous can also wear the bold plaid fabric for trousers, but too loud a pattern makes one look like Rodney Dangerfield on a country club dance floor in Caddyshack.

Roger Stone is a well-known Republican political consultant and is a veteran of eight national Republican presidential campaigns. He’s also the men’s fashion correspondent for The Daily Caller and editor of Stonezone.com.