The 11 Best Summer Shoe Styles for Men

Want to look hot when it heats up? We’ve rounded up the best styles to help you step up your summer shoe game

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Come summer, the living is supposed to be easy—but finding the best men’s summer shoes is a little harder than you might think.

A lot of guys tend to look for the same qualities in shoes that they want to have themselves.

Whether subconsciously or not, we’re often drawn towards shoes that are good looking, tough, rugged, versatile, and resilient.

The problem is that summer’s warm temperatures and laid back vibes make it harder (not to mention hotter) to wear shoes that fit that description.  

Close up shot of a man wearing penny loafers on a boardwalk
Don’t let the laidback vibes fool you: finding the right shoes for summer can be deceptively difficult
[image credit: Our Robot Overlords Dall-E]

Your usual chunky winter boots might look awesome after autumn, but they don’t pair well with khaki shorts, bright colors, and lighter fabrics, all of which are absolute musts come summer. 

Fortunately for those of us who want to look both laid back and masculine in warmer weather, all is not lost.

To help you find the right shoes for the season, below I’ve put together a list of the best summer shoes that will help you stay sharp when the weather gets warm. 


The Most Stylish, Seasonally Appropriate, & All-Around Best Men’s Summer Shoes

We Got That Summertime, Summertime Sadness sharpness

The Best Mens Casual Summer Shoes ↓

White Sneakers 

Man wearing white sneakers and shorts walking on the boardwalk in summer
Why They’re Great for Summer: 

Number one with a bullet. 

No casual shoes are more essential for the summer season than a pair of crisp white trainers, and it’s not hard to understand why. 

In addition to being comfortable, they give off a care-free, laid back vibe that’s perfect for warmer months. 

And despite their casual nature, they’re surprisingly versatile, especially when you opt for a minimalist pair with clean lines.

How to Wear ‘Em: 

For everyday wear, you can throw on white sneaks with chino shorts and a tee for an easy (and eternally stylish) summer look. 

But you can also dress them up pretty easily too. 

Pair them with lightweight chinos and a polo for a laid back look with smart-casual appeal, or try them with a linen suit for a look that’s simultaneously sporty and sophisticated. 


Related Resource ↓
How to Keep Your Kicks Clean 

White sneakers are a great choice, but they’re also notoriously hard to keep clean.

Check out the video below for a quick and easy method that will help you keep ‘em clean. 


Boat Shoes

Man wearing sperry shoes on a pier
[image: Sperry / Instagram]
Why They’re Great for Summer: 

No pair of summer shoes says “quiet luxury” quite like a pair of boaters. 

The preferred warm weather footwear of John F. Kennedy and his sea-faring friends on Martha’s Vineyard, boat shoes give off not just a nautical vibe, but an aristocratic one—because, well, who else can afford to own a f*cking boat?  

The most classic versions have a brown leather upper and a black rubber sole, but nowadays you can find them in just about every color combo imaginable. 

How to Wear ‘Em: 

Boat shoes are one of the preppiest shoe styles a man can wear, so they work well with other staples of preppy summer style, like a polo shirt, linen pants, khaki shorts and a classic pair of Ray Bans

How Not to Wear ‘Em: 

You can find boat shoes with uppers made from pretty high-quality leather or suede, and as a result a lot of guys make the mistake of thinking you can wear them in place of leather loafers. 

But make no mistake: these aren’t for dressing up. 

The combination of boxy moc toe and their nautical origins mean that boat shoes are inherently informal, so it’s best to keep things casual and resist the urge to wear them with dress pants. 


Driving Shoes 

Closeup of man wearing brown driving shoes and jeans
[image: M.Gemi]
Why They’re Great for Summer:

In my opinion driving shoes are kind of like the chukka boots of summer footwear:

They’re classic, masculine and versatile, all of which makes them an excellent choice.  

But they’re particularly good for summer because they’re also lightweight and easy to slip on and off, making them great for hot summer days when you want to sit on the patio, kick your shoes off and put your feet up.

How to Wear ‘Em: 

Drivers are arguably the best option for summer vacation shoes because they offer a metric sh*t ton of versatility. 

(I’m Canadian and I can never remember how to do the conversion, so I can’t tell you exactly how many imperial sh*t tons that is, but suffice to say, it’s a lot.) 

During the day, throw them on with a simple tee and a pair of shorts for an easy, casual look.

Then for dinner, swap the shorts out for a pair of comfortable linen trousers and a blazer for a dressed-up look that can carry you straight through the night. 


Canvas Sneakers 

Man wearing black canvas sneakers
[image: Marcus Wallis / Unsplash]
Why They’re Great for Summer: 

Sneakers with a leather upper give off a sophisticated vibe that makes them more versatile, but a canvas upper is (much) lighter weight, which arguably makes it better for summer. 

The downside is that, in addition to being light weight, canvas is also a more casual fabric. 

So unlike the white leather kicks I recommended above, these ones can’t really be dressed up for business meetings or formal occasions. 

But what they might lack in sophistication they make up for in breathable construction, and a classic style that evokes the laid-back cool of California skate culture, both of which make canvas sneaks good options for warm weather. 

How to Wear ‘Em: 

The combination of canvas sneakers, slim fit chinos and a plain tee is a classic casual look that basically never goes out of style. 

And on really hot days, you can easily swap out the chinos for a good pair of shorts


Knit Sneakers 

Close up of grey knit Allbirds sneakers
[image: Allbirds]
Why They’re Great for Summer: 

Canvas sneakers have been a summer wardrobe staple for decades, but knit sneakers are the new kicks on the block. 

Made famous by direct-to-consumer brands like AllBirds, knit sneakers combine a rubber sole with the kind of breathable upper material traditionally found in (you guessed it) knitwear. 

The result is a new summer essential that’s lightweight, laidback and a great option when you want something that’s in between a sandal and a traditional sneaker.  

How to Wear ‘Em: 

The best way to work knit sneaks into your summer wardrobe is to pair them with similarly breathable and lightweight clothes.

Throw them on with a plain tee and a lightweight pair of chinos or slim-fit shorts for an easy casual look, or try dressing them up a bit with light blue jeans and a linen button-up.


Espadrilles

Man walking wearing grey espadrille shoes
[image: Patara Shoes]
Why They’re Great for Summer:

What boat shoes are to the United States, espadrilles are to Europe.

These lightweight slip-on shoes give off a similarly coastal vibe, but one with a lot more sprezzatura than a pair of boaters, making them the ultimate holiday shoe for beach vacations where you want to look both laid back and put together.     

What’s cool about espadrilles is that they evoke an age-old method of shoemaking without looking like historical cosplay. 

For centuries their outsoles were made with rope, which itself was made from a unique kind of grass native to the Mediterranean, called esparto (hence the name espadrilles).

Nowadays espadrilles are still defined by the rope along the outside of the sole, but modern pairs, like Velasca’s Inguriatt espadrilles, use a lightweight rubber for the sole. 

How to Wear ‘Em: 

Espadrilles are the perfect shoe to wear if you hate sandals, but want something easy to slip on and off when you’re at the beach. 

They’re an ideal choice for pool parties and beach outings because they’re super laidback and practical, but their European heritage gives them a certain sophistication that helps them stand out. 

Pair them with a tank top and swim trunks for a day at the beach, then throw on shorts and a breezy linen button-down shirt as you transition to the beachside bar in the evening. 


Sandals 

Man wearing white pants and black leather sandals
[image: Mango]
The (Controversial) Case for Sandals: 

Whether or not to wear sandals is arguably one of the most controversial footwear choices in all of menswear.

On the one hand, there’s no better way to keep your feet cool in high temperatures. 

On the other hand, a lot of modern sandal styles look ridiculous, as if someone cut the sole off a hiking boot and glued on some velcro straps. 

Your best bet? Stick with leather, and keep it classic. 

The best leather sandals for the 21st century are the ones that look like they could have been worn by Cary Grant, Paul Newman or James Dean in the middle of the 20th. 

Opt for a simple, timeless design, real leather and a versatile color like black or brown, all of which will help them stand the test of time. 

How to Wear ‘Em: 

Another advantage of going for classic leather sandals is that they’re more versatile than sh*tty plastic flip flops. 

You can (of course) pair them with a swimsuit when you’re on the beach, dock or deck of the pool. 

But you can also dress them up a little. Trying wearing them with lightweight khakis and a polo or short-sleeved button down to give your look a sense of relaxed elegance that’s perfect for summer. 


The Best Summer Dress Shoes for Men ↓

Penny Loafers 

Man wearing white pants and brown shoes
[image: Banana Republic]
Why They’re Great for Summer: 

Penny loafers are perfect summer shoes because they nicely straddle the line between casual and “dressed up.” 

It’s easy to find pennies with a moc toe that makes them look like driving shoes, but in my opinion you’re better off opting for more elegant loafers with an almond-shaped toe, which are easier to dress up or down.  

How to Wear ‘Em: 

As long as the toe shape is on point, a good pair of pennies can be sharp enough to pair with a casual suit for a summer wedding, or look just as good with a pair of five-pocket shorts and a polo. 


Hybrid Dress Shoes

Close up of man wearing brown hybrid dress shoes
[image: Wolf & Shepherd]
Why They’re Great for Summer: 

Hybrids are one of the best summer shoe styles because they’re kind of like a microcosm of what your entire summer wardrobe should be: 

A perfect balance between style and comfort. 

As their name (sort of) implies, hybrids are half dress shoe, half sneaker. 

Their uppers boast all the hallmarks of a traditional dress shoe, including a classic almond toe shape and high-quality leather or suede, while their soles have the kind of support and cushioning features you normally only find in running shoes. 

The result is a comfortable and versatile dress shoe that can help you look both athletic and put-together at the same time.   

How to Wear ‘Em: 

Some hybrids, like Amberjack’s Originals, have thin soles that make them look like regular dress shoes. 

These are arguably the most versatile of the bunch, and can be worn in pretty much any situation where you’d normally wear a traditional dress shoe—up to and including formalwear.  

Others, like the ones offered by both Wolf & Shepherd and Cole Haan, have thick rubber soles that make them look more sneaker like. 

These can still be worn in semi-formal situations, and will even satisfy most business casual dress codes, but they a look a little too sporty (and therefore, too casual) for formal occasions like weddings.     


Suede Oxfords or Derbies 

Why They’re Great for Summer: 

Say the words “men’s dress shoes” to someone at random, and the shoe style they picture in their mind will almost certainly be a leather Oxford or Derby. 

The two differ slightly in appearance, but they’re both formal dress shoe styles that you don’t usually think of as typical summer shoes.

And that’s a damn shame, because while their leather versions may be great for fall and winter, summer is the perfect time for a well-made pair of suede derbies or Oxfords. 

Suede is made from the underside of the animal skin, which tends to make it more porous and breathable than full-grain leather. 

Plus it has a softer texture and comes in a range of versatile hues and colors, both of which lend themselves  well to the laid-back vibe you’re going for in summer.

How to Wear ‘Em: 

Pair suede dress shoes with an Oxford Cloth button down and a lightweight pair of chinos for a perfect summer date night outfit. 

Suede oxfords and derbies can also work with summer suits, but be careful with the color selection.

A medium or even light brown suede can work well with light-to-medium blue suits, but if you’re wearing navy, I recommend opting for a darker, richer brown shoe. 


Horsebit Loafers 

Man holding brown horsebit loafers
[image: Martin Dingman]
Why They’re Great for Summer: 

Horsebit loafers have been a staple among clotheshorses for the best part of a century now, and they’re a great way to inject a little classic elegance into your personal style. 

Invented in the 1950s by Aldo Gucci, son of the eponymous Gucci founder, horse bits were intended as basically a European (that is, elevated and somehow more stylish, despite not being that different) version of a penny loafer. 

Today they’re a great way to channel Riviera sophistication and style while still looking laidback and relaxed. 

And while they can technically be worn all-year round, horse bits work best in the summer because their Italian providence practically begs you to wear them sockless, like a true Italian signore. 

(But you won’t get any judgment from me if you decide to opt for no show socks instead. Exposing your ankles may be cool, but there’s nothing gentlemanly about foot stank.) 

How to Wear ‘Em: 

One of the easiest ways to wear horsebit loafers is to swap them in  pretty much any situation where you’d normally wear driving shoes or penny loafers. 

The horsebit attachment will add a touch of sophistication that will elevate your overall look, and help you stand out from crowd without looking too try-hard. 


FAQ

Banner Image Credits:
Photo: Banana Republic
Illustration: Irreverent Gent

About Dave Bowden

Dave Bowden

Founder, Irreverent Gent
Author, Man in Command and Stop Doubting, Start Dating
Writer, Really Wordy Author Bios

Dave Bowden is a style blogger, menswear expert and best-selling author (in Canada—but still!) whose advice on how to look good and live well has been featured in New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Men's Health and more.

When not obsessing over style and self-improvement, he can usually be found spending time with his wonderful wife and two amazing sons, indulging in a hoppy craft beer, or sobbing over the woeful state of Toronto's sports teams.

Check out Dave's Style Story to find out how a chance encounter with his friend's step-dad taught him the value of looking good and living well (don't worry—it's less creepy than it sounds!), or email him at [email protected] if you want to get in touch.

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