Advanced Style Tip: Learning to See The Details That Define Great, Simple Summer Style

Advanced Style Tip:

Learning to See The Details That Define Great, Simple Summer Style

Summer heat requires our outfits to be made up of only a short sleeve shirt and shorts – instead of getting frustrated by a lack of variety and layers, it's the perfect time to grow your ability to see and appreciate small details on style essentials that make a big impact.

men summer outfit olive henley

Learning good style is a bit like learning about whiskey. In the beginning, it can all taste the same and feel overwhelming. Then, you’ll pick up on broad attributes that help define one from another – bourbon is sweeter and rye is spicier. As your palate gains the ability to distinguish differences and your specific preferences take shape, it’s the most subtle of details that determine your personal tastes and how you experience new whiskies. 

Things like “finish” and “legs” factor in to your analysis, when in the beginning it all tasted like fire.  Style is exactly the same. When you’re first starting out, it’s hard to know what you’re looking at.  You’ll soon be able to see different styles broadly – preppy, street style, menswear – and as you gravitate to one, your likes and dislikes emerge. “I don’t like this pattern, I like this kind of fit, this is too colorful.” The farther down you go, your appreciation for specific details start to define your own style.

Consider the outfit Shane is wearing: Broadly speaking, it’s a t-shirt and chino shorts. But place it next to some bro at a bbq and the tiny – but essential – nuances of these specific items become abundantly clear.

men tshirt chino shorts

This is one of the most essential principles when dressing well with affordable brands. With an unlimited budget, it’s easy to find staples that have stylish details – that is exactly what fashion designers do. In fact, it’d probably be harder to find expensive designer options that don’t have unique attributes that make them stand out. Things like the width of collars, shapes of hems, intentionally longer, slimmer, or baggier cuts, unique textures, and so on.

When on a budget, these are the types of details to look out for when shopping for simple basics that have a more nuanced style, and consequently look more expensive than they are. This is because people will assume your attention to detail has led you to overpriced designers.

The struggle for beginners is balancing uniqueness with flashiness. Those new to dressing well often over-correct with picking unique items that stand out in a louder way. There’s nothing wrong with wearing items like this, but the eccentricity of a garment is directly proportional to how long you can wear it. The trendier or flashier an item is, the shorter it will be stylish, generally speaking. To nail this style principle it’s all about finding items that play on the classic elements of a closet staple in very subtle ways.

Take this short-sleeve henley from L.A.-based Buck Mason, for example. Four buttons at the collar create a longer, vintage-inspired placket, while the banded sleeves and curved hem add trendy, stylish touches which sets it apart from your basic tee that gets lost in your dresser drawer. At $45, it’s not much more than a henley you’d find at competing mall retailers, but it sports far greater quality. The soft and durable pima cotton is milled and sewed right in Los Angeles. It’s a solid investment, as it will instantly become one of the most durable, versatile pieces in your summer wardrobe. (Shane has since bought 2 more.)

They're currently sold out and available for waitlist, but we've compiled some more options and outline the details we think that make them unique:

Image of men's navy and grey marle stripe henley shirt

Tbar Premium Henley

CottonOn, $14.95

Unique stripes

Image of men's cotton jersey henley shirt

Cotton Jersey Henley Shirt

H&M, $14.99

Arm straps to hold sleeves up

Image of mens HEQU regular fit henley shirt

Basic Casual Henley

Amazon, $12.99

Contrasting placket and sleeve bands

Image of men's Vanca casual henley shirt

Men's Slim-fit Casual Henley

Amazon, $17.99

Pale color and thick sleeve bands

Image of Garment-dyed slub cotton short-sleeve henley

Garment dyed Slub Cotton Short Sleeve Henley

J.Crew, $34.50

Worn, faded texture

Image of men's organic cotton henley

Pigment-dyed Organic Cotton Henley

Nordstrom Rack, $16.97

Raglan sleeve and interestingly thin collar and placket

Image of John Varvatos snap short sleeve henley shirt

Short Sleeve Snap Henley Shirt

John Varvatos, $98.00

Extra long placket and thick sleeve bands

Image of short sleeve henley t-shirt

Short sleeved Henley T-shirt

Hamilton & Hare, $65.00

Interesting non-heathered medium gray color and thick sleeve bands

men summer fashion tips henley shorts white sneakers

Same goes for the perfect pair of summer shorts. We all know how shorts should fit, and with a pair of camp shorts you get a unique take on something basic. Camp shorts are chino shorts with an exterior pocket seam. It adds an extra element of subtle visual texture, resulting in a more rugged, less business casual feel for the rest of the outfit.

Two budget options include these $20 pairs from Lands’ End and CottonOn, and the Evan camp shorts from Saturdays NYC are currently on sale for $67.50.

MVMT Sam Kolder Watch

Complete the look with this sleek watch from MVMT and your favorite pair of white sneakers and you’ve achieved affordable designer nirvana. At a reasonably priced $180, the MVMT Voyager Kolder Edition presents carefully crafted design details on an overall minimalist aesthetic. Rose gold hands and markers lay over a beautiful deep sea blue dial (and two accompanying subdials). It’s all held together in a gunmetal stainless steel enclosure, and comes in a case commemorating the collaboration between MVMT and Sam Kolder, the photographer and videographer with whom this watch was created, in an effort to help people live everyday like its their last. The colors of the watch actually come from one of Kolder’s favorite travel photos. Strong design and storytelling will forever go a long way towards pushing unique product.

That’s the awesome thing about good design. Brands don’t always have to reach out and grab you with a bold logo. Good design is all about presenting a fresh take on the details of our favorite pieces, especially if (like so many of us) you need to be conscious of how much money you’re spending.  Sometimes, something as simple as a widened band around your bicep or a unique take on a strap watch can instantly transform a mundane part of your wardrobe into a subtle, impressive asset.

What are some details you like to pay attention to? Chat with us in the comments below!

Stephen Albertini is a freelance writer covering sports, fashion, music and culture. His work has been featured on a variety of outlets, including Grailed, Complex, Bleacher Report and Primer.

  • Zac Silk

    For me it’s buttons. Take a navy polo that I’ve worn for a while now. They contrasting buttons are something that I always look for and that really makes it stand out. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4cb804835c8104f14f40f040ad8876f96c1dd28498643c3e1f640845a5388e87.jpg

    As I’ve honed my style more I find it easier to find budget buys with intresting details. But for those just getting into style I can symphatise that it can be difficult.

    A piece of advice I would give is just to walk into a store and see what catches your eye. I normally talk to others and get personal reccoendatikbs as to what other people are wearing.

  • Ben

    Very well-articulated article on the nuances of style!

    The devil is in the details as they say!