Outdoor dining is one of the best parts of summer. Who doesn’t love to dine al fresco with friends and have a good conversation? But how casual is too casual? Let’s look at some of the best men’s shirts to wear when the occasion calls for outdoor dining.
The great part about a white men’s dress shirt is its versatility. From a job interview with the right suit and tie to a casual coffee date to outdoor dining in the summer, you know you can’t go wrong with a white dress shirt.
About the only drawback to a white dress shirt is the fact that it is white. When you go shirt shopping (either online or in a brick-and-mortar store) and find one that is a great fit, it’s best to stock up. At a minimum, always buy two white dress shirts. Keep one of those bleach pens handy (and check the manufacturer’s care instructions before using it), but sometimes you’ll just have to move on. When that coffee or red wine stain just won’t come out, you’ll be good to go with a fresh new shirt already in your closet.
A bit less dressy than a traditional men’s dress shirt, men’s button-down shirts are wardrobe workhorses. A white or light-colored button-down shirt looks great with chinos and makes the perfect casual yet polished summer outfit—especially if you don’t know exactly how casual a new restaurant may be. Add a men’s belt and a matching pair of loafers, and you are good to go whether you are hanging with old friends or impressing a first date. You can even add a sport coat to this ensemble to dress it up a bit more or give yourself a little extra insulation if your beautiful summer evening is likely to develop a chill.
The beauty of a men’s polo shirt is that it is wonderfully casual yet still has just enough structure (and that all-important collar) to land it squarely on the dressier side of sportswear. If you recall, years ago, when many companies went from professional attire to business casual attire, they often insisted that men’s shirts have collars. That kept the super comfy T-shirts and sweatshirts out of the office while still giving guys way more options for work clothes than they had experienced prior to that.
The only thing you will want to be careful about with polo shirts when it comes to outdoor dining is what else you have done that day. Unless it is the most casual of casual dining experiences, you won’t want to wear a polo shirt that you have played tennis or golf in on a hot day—sweat happens. But if you have a fresh polo shirt and time for a quick shower, you will be good to go. You can pair your polo with chinos, jeans, or nice-looking shorts and be ready for a lovely evening al fresco.
A pristine white T-shirt will take you almost anywhere in the summer. Check for official dress codes or ask a buddy what he is wearing, but the iconic white T-shirt is a summer classic that you can wear to locations where a fun graphic T-shirt would be inappropriate. Pair it with your favorite dark wash men’s jeans, a men’s belt, and matching loafers for a pulled-together look. To make it more casual, consider neat-looking shorts and white sneakers.
The same advice about white shirts goes for T-shirts as well as dress shirts. Always have a replacement ready to go in your closet that you know will be a stylish and comfy fit. If you spill salsa on your favorite white T-shirt, unless you can work a little laundry magic, relegate it to working in the garage or working in the yard. You can still get some mileage out of it, and if it gets another stain, there’s no loss. Meanwhile, when you go out, you’ll look and feel great in your white T-shirt that looks brand new because you just pulled it out of your closet or dresser.
When in doubt, dress up a bit. Leather shoes just look more put together. Your favorite loafers or deck shoes may be just the ticket, but make sure that they are perfectly clean. If you’re a sneakerhead, feel free to wear your favorite pair of kicks, but double-check the dress code first and then show them off by making sure that they are pristine. If you have heavily used sneakers, save them for later. They’ll be great for a picnic or sporting event where you’re likely to get them dirty anyway.
Enjoy the luxury of dining outdoors this summer! We’ll all be dreaming about this come winter.