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Men’s spring fashion: How to build a transition wardrobe

Stay comfortable with clothing between seasons

Man dancing with a woman in suede jacket
Arina Krasnikova / Pexels

Seasonal wardrobes are simple things. Your summer wardrobe is stacked to the brim with the best shorts, t-shirts, swim gear, and other warm-weather staples to keep you cool. You also have a winter wardrobe that includes the warmest coats, the best hats, the softest scarves, and the most versatile gloves, all of which take up ample space in your closet. Of course, those pieces won’t always help you if you don’t know how to combine them to get through those in-between days. Men’s spring fashion is built for those times when it isn’t still cold enough for the coats, but it isn’t quite the time for shorts and swim gear.

A transitional wardrobe is specifically designed to help you navigate the seasonal transition between the beginning of spring when snow could still surprise you, and the random sun-beaten day that can destroy your mood when you are still dressed for the cold. Of course, many of these days will involve both problems with cool mornings, hot afternoons, and even rainy evenings. Spring fashion isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It is a matter of mixing cold and warm weather items to stack them in the most stylish ways. Here are the four tips we can give you to look great and stay both warm and cool (depending on the hour) from March to May.

Fabrics to love

Man in linen leaning on a counter
Riccardo Bernucci / Unsplash

Fabrics are immensely important no matter when you are putting together an outfit. When you are putting together a transitional wardrobe for spring (or fall), getting ahold of a handful of versatile fabrics and combining them with warm and cool fabrics is vital. Here are four that will serve you quite well in your transitional season.


This fabric is light and breathable. It will absolutely be your best summer fabric and will save your life when the sun is the highest and the hottest in the sky. It is also a great transitional wardrobe piece since it is light enough to help you through the hottest hours of those temperate ups and downs. Of course, adding other fabrics during the cooler hours is vital. More on that in a bit.


There will never be a time of year when you can’t or shouldn’t wear cotton. This is one of the most versatile fabrics, and you will run into it over and over in your wardrobe. It can be lighter for warm hours and heavier for cooler hours, making cotton your best friend in the spring.


Wool is another fabric that will cover all areas of your closet. We love wool here at The Manual. Whether you wear it in your suits, socks, or sweaters, wool is the most luxurious on the list. And, of course, it is light and breathable, so it is perfect for all weather.


While linen is the quintessential summer fabric, you need a heavier fabric for the cooler hours, and alpaca is the number one choice. If you have paid attention, each of these fabrics on the list is a natural fabric. That makes them breathable and light, but also able to stack and be warm. Out of all these fabrics, alpaca will be the softest and coziest you wear.

Garments to get

Man in cashmere coat getting on a rain
Bruce Mars / Unsplash

The most efficient way to store your clothing in the offseasons is to pack away the winter clothes during the summer months and vice versa. However, there are some great pieces you can pick up that should never be packed away. These perfect pieces can be worn nearly nine months out of every year.

Jacket – J. McLaughlin Khaki Herringbone – A good linen jacket will be your best friend when the weather is cooler than it rightfully should be in the sun. The breathability makes it the best combination. The herringbone blends it perfectly into the fall weather and makes it your go-to jacket from March until October.

Sweater – Paka The Original Crew – An alpaca sweater is the comfiest thing you will wear at any point during the year. But since it is a natural fiber, it is going to be breathable and the perfect layering piece in the transition months. Wear this piece from September to April.

Polo – Southern Gents Knit Polo – A good cable knit is not just reserved for winter sweaters. The knit polo has made a Hell of a comeback and this button-up version from Southern Gents is the perfect version to wear all year round. Even in the colder months, it can look fantastic under a cardigan or jacket.

Pants – Y.Chroma The Skyline Pant – Pants may seem like they are a dime a dozen. In truth, some pants rise above the rest. And the right pants are going to look great all year round. The Skyline Pant is the perfect pair that wears just as well in the summer with your light linen shirts as it will in the winter with your cozy alpaca sweater. A true year-round pant.

Layers are your best friend

James Bond wearing layered outfit with waxed coat in Skyfall
Courtesy MGM / MGM

If you haven’t figured this out yet, layering is critical when building a transition wardrobe. Your life is going to go on regardless of the weather, which means you have to find a way to brave the cold and the warm. Painting your linen jacket over your polo or your alpaca sweater will keep you warmer in the mornings, and shedding it in the warmer hours lets the fabric breathe when the sun begins to cook.

Cardigans, t-shirts, and pullovers are also solid additions to this wardrobe. They are light layers that can easily be used as base or top options. Wearing the polo, open or closed, over the t-shirt and adding the cardigan over top sets you up perfectly for any temperature you face in the wishy-washy months. Take inspiration from James Bond in Skyfall and his masterclass in layering. Every day, you should have a base layer, a mid-layer, and a top layer.

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Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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