By Greg Wahl
Here in the Midwest, accessories on guys often begin and end with something akin to a fanny pack. This is an unnecessary reality, and one that can be avoided without spending too much money on Main Street or wandering for hours like a lost bovine at the mall. Summer means dressing down, but accessories are a good way to dress back up a bit with seasonal style. Here’s a selection of add-ons that will help you do summer right, i.e., without a freaking fanny pack.
Baseball Cap: Brixton “Rift” Snapback
55 East Grand Avenue
If your baseball season dome wear isn’t strictly relegated to team logos of the Cubs, White Sox, etc., there are plenty of retail brand versions to choose from. This one from Brixton is a minimalist antidote to the dreadful Ed Hardy head styles of 2009.
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster
900 North Michigan Avenue
Perhaps the most ubiquitous summer accessory: the sunglasses. They’re often a matter of strong personal taste, and that’s fine, but my recommendation tends toward the retro/simple/classy, from a trusted and time-honored brand, Ray-Ban. There is a definite mix of studious nerdiness and mid-century cool with the Clubmaster model. The Mad Men reference is obvious, but this look has been around a lot longer than five seasons, and will endure well after the full run of that show gathers dust in the bargain DVD bins.
Bracelet: Burkman Bros
Having graduated from hippiedom and the grunge era, the man-bracelet is now a common accessory on the wrists of the casual urban sophisticate. Woven bracelets from Burkman Bros are beach-ready and inexpensive. Still not comfortable with the idea of wearing a “bracelet”? Just think of it as a cool-looking sweatband. There, done.
Watch: Fossil Decker Silicone Watch
K310 Woodfield Shopping Center
Don’t risk the safety of the good watch on the boat or at the beach. A lower-priced alternative like Fossil’s Decker Silicone Watch will withstand water, sand, and the occasional spilled beer.
Belt: Penguin D-Ring Webbed Belt
901 North Rush Street
With the weather like what we’ve been having lately, it’s time to ditch the heavy, hot leather for a more practical cotton weave. Penguin’s casual and uncomplicated version of the simple d-ring style should do nicely.
Umbrella: Totes AOC Max Super Strong Frame
111 North State Street
Random rain spells are almost as common in summer as in spring, and if you work downtown it’s best to be prepared without having to carry too much umbrella cargo around the Loop. Leave the patio table-sized version in the golf bag and pick up a durable compact like this one from Totes, with a good canopy and a frame reinforced for the windy city.
Work bag: Banana Republic Aidan Nylon Bag
744 North Michigan Avenue
Don’t call it a man-purse. Guys have things to carry, too, you know, and they shouldn’t always have to do so with a rigid, clunky briefcase. The Aidan from Banana Republic is a good, seasonal alternative; kind of like a messenger bag, but with prominent top handles for easy pickup, and a partially-open top to keep train reading within easy reach.
Greg Wahl, CBS Chicago