The Ultimate Guide to Men’s Summer Fashion, Outfits, Trends & Style

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Young people having fun in summer
image via freepik

Come summertime the livin’ is supposed to be easy – but when it comes to men’s summer fashion, guys definitely face a few hurdles.

The biggest challenge stems from the fact that guys tend to run hot by default, so if the weather is sweltering, we’re probably sweating.

(At least I know I am…)

Making matters worse, it can be surprisingly hard to look masculine and stylish when you’re only wearing two or three pieces of clothing at a time, and can’t layer on classically masculine fabrics like leather, wool and tweed.

The good news is that while looking sharp, strong and confident in the summer can be tricky, it’s far from impossible.

If you pick up a few smart, lightweight pieces and learn how to wear them well, you can both step up your summer style game and keep pit stains at bay.

In this post I’ve rounded up the men’s summer fashion essentials that will (literally) help you look and feel cool all summer long.

Easy & Stylish Mens Summer Fashion

Breaking Down The Best Mens Summer Clothes ↓

Mens Summer Shirts

Man in colorful patterned short sleeve shirt
image via freepik

How to Nail Summer Shirts for Men:

Man in light blue short sleeved summer shirt
image via Bonobos

Finding the perfect fit is by far the most important factor in making any clothes look good.

But when it comes to a summer shirt – whether it’s a tee, polo shirt or button-down shirt – there are a few other factors to consider.

Namely, you want to pay close attention to the fabric, color and pattern/design of the shirt.

Summer Shirt Fabric

The best shirt fabrics for summer are natural, lightweight and breathable, like linen or chambray, or technical and sweat-wicking, like rayon and spandex.

Technical fabrics like the kind used in this polo from Public Rec wick sweat, and make you look active and athletic

Both categories contain lighter fabrics that will give you a more casual look and make you feel more comfortable in warmer weather, but they convey different messages.

Technical fabrics like the kind Public Rec use in their Elevate Polo (a personal favorite) make you look more athletic, so they’re great for barbecues where you might throw the football around or otherwise get active.

A chambray or linen shirt, on the other hand, will look more laid back and relaxed, making them better for patios and hot nights out on the town.

Summer Shirt Colors
Man wearing black tee shirt in summer
While light colors look great in summer, never underestimate the (sweat-hiding) power of a plain black tee

As for shirt color, summer is obviously a great time to break out lighter colors like baby blue, white and even pink.

But one of the best shirt colors for summer is also one of the most counterintuitive:

Black.

Why? Because while bright colors are great, they also make it hard to hide when you start sweating.

Dark colors like black and navy, on the other hand are a lot better at disguising sweat stains.

On particularly humid days I swear by shirts like Public Rec’s moisture-wicking Go To Crew, which in my humble opinion is damn near the perfect summer shirt.

When you pick up one in black (or navy), you combine the benefits of wearing dark colors with two sweat-wicking fabrics, tencel and spandex, which keep you feeling dry and looking fly.

(Side note: Do people still say “looking fly”? They don’t, right? Sorry. I’ve been binging The Fresh Prince of Bel Air pretty hard lately. [Side side note: It holds up!])

| Deep Dive:
Summer Shirt Patterns & Design
Winston Bishop from New Girl
No one rocks a summer pattern as well New Girl’s Winnie the Bish

Summer is the most laid back time of the year, so when it comes to shirt patterns, have some fun with it.

If you usually prefer a single solid color, you could mix it up by trying a graphic tee.

For button-downs, try mixing in a shirt that’s color-blocked, or has a subtle pattern like a stripe or a polka dot.

If you already wear polka dots and other patterns, look for ones that sub out the plain dots for something a little more fun, like pineapples, flowers, birds or other icons.

One word of warning though:

As a rule of thumb, I only rock a pattern if the shirt in question comes in a slim fit, particularly if it’s a loud pattern like a Hawaiian shirt.

To my eye, wearing a patterned shirt in a relaxed fit feels a little less GQ and a little more Tommy Bahama, which is not the look you should be going for.

Men’s Summer Shirts – Short Sleeves

Mens Long Sleeve Summer Shirts:


Mens Summer Shorts

Man wearing white shoes on a yellow background
image via freepik

How to Nail Summer Shorts:

When it comes to shorts, the single most important factor is length.

Your shorts should never touch your knees, and that’s true whether you’re wearing lightweight linen shorts, denim shorts, chino shorts or any other fabric.

This point was driven home to me one day on Twitter when I saw a user called @averagecupofjo tweet this:

While I don’t fully agree with her – there’s slightly more to being attractive than just the shorts you wear – I completely agree with the sentiment.

But I would also add two caveats.

Man wearing summer shorts
You want your shorts to hit roughly mid-thigh, not down at your knees (image via Banana Republic)

First, while 5″ shorts are great, 7″ and even 9″ shorts work well too, depending on your height and body type.

The idea is that your shorts should hit roughly mid-thigh, not down near your knee, and the right shorts to hit that mark will obviously vary depending on your height.

Second, while the length of your shorts is paramount, pay attention to the width as well.

You want a pair of shorts that’s fairly slim and hues closely to your body, rather than billowing out from your hips.

Two Summer Shorts to Try:

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  • The two pairs above are just a few of the many great options on the market. For more, check out our round up of the 15 best shorts for men.

Mens Summer Pants

Man wearing summer pants
Image via Banana Republic

How to Nail Summer Pants for Men:

When it comes to wearing pants in the summer, the first and most obvious factor to consider is weight.

You want pants that are lightweight, breathable and preferably stretchy, since summer tends to be a more active time when you’re more likely to be moving around.

Color Yourself Impressed 
Colorful mens pants
Image via Brooks Brothers

But while the weight and breathability of the fabric should be your first consideration, your second should be color.

Summer is the perfect time to break out the kind of light and carefree colors that just feel out of place in the depths of winter.

Everything from lighter shades of khaki all the way up to full don’t-wear-’em-passed-Labor-Day white chinos work well in summer.

But so do pastels and lighter shades of the core pants colors you probably wear all the time, like blues and greens.

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Get on a Roll 
Man with rolled up pants jumping on pier
Rolling up your pants a bit is a great, laidback look for summer

In addition to fabric and color, another key summer pants consideration is fit.

During summer it’s not just the living that’s easy – the rules are too.

While we generally recommend measuring your inseam to make sure you order pants in the right length, come summer you don’t have to worry if your pants fit a little long.

Rolling up your pants cuffs and showing a little more ankle (you are going sockless, or at least wearing no show socks, right?) is a great, laidback look that works perfectly for summer.

It’s an easy way to make an otherwise dressed up look more casual and relaxed (aka to “summerfy” it).


Men’s Summer Shoes

Man wearing summer pants
Boat shoes Image via Sperry

Come summer, men face something of a dilemma when it comes to our shoes.

Some of the most stylish and masculine kicks are the chunky leather boots we usually pair with jeans and rock all through fall.

But during warmer months, heavy, chunky shoes both look and feel out of place. (And before you ask, no: chunky leather sandals aren’t the answer, either.)

To help solve that problem, we put together a whole post outlining the best men’s shoes for summer, including suede loafers, boat shoes, driving shoes and more.

So rather than going into too much depth here, I’ll (sorry about this) kick (I’m the worst) you over to that post if you want to learn more.


Mens Summer Suits

Man in beige J.Crew chino summer suit
Image via J.Crew

There’s no piece of menswear that makes a man look sharper, more distinguished or all around more attractive than a good suit.

But come summer, there’s also no piece of menswear that makes a man feel more suffocated or – let’s just be honest – sweaty.

Fortunately, there’s a great way to get through weddings and other formal summer events without turning into a sweaty mess:

By mastering the three keys to the summer suit.

Summer Suit Material

Beige linen fabric
Summer suit materials don’t get much lighter than linen

One of the biggest mistakes guys make when it comes to summer suits is wearing the same suit in July that they would wear in January.

Come summer, leave the thick wool suits in the closet and opt for something in a breathable fabric like chino or linen.

(As I’m sure you can tell by this point, linen is a great summer fabric for almost every type of menswear.)

This will often mean that your summer suit is more likely to have a few wrinkles than your fall wardrobe, but that’s totally fine.

Remember it’s summer, and the livin’ is easy.

Unstructured

The inside of an unlined linen jacket
An unstructured, unlined jacket contains less fabric inside, making it lighter weight

Another thing to look for in summer is a suit jacket that’s unstructured.

Unstructured jackets don’t have a lot of lining or canvas inside, which contribute to making regular jackets feel heavy and warm.

But when I say “unstructured,” I’m also referring to a jacket’s shoulders.

An unstructured jacket will have thinner shoulder pads (if any), which gives the jacket a less formal look but also helps it feel a lot lighter.

Summer Suit Colors

Man wearing light blue suit
A brighter suit will really help you stand out from the (usually pretty staid) crowd

Finally, rocking a summer suit allows you to break out of the boring old grey/navy/black paradigm that most guys find themselves in.

If you don’t want to venture too far from classic styles and colors, a khaki suit is always a great option for summer, and the beige color family is broad enough to still provide a pretty wide variety of options.

But if you’re a little bolder, you might want to experiment with some of the pastel colors and lighter shades I mentioned above in reference to summer pants.

The downside of opting for a brightly colored summer suit is that you probably won’t wear it much outside of summer.

But the upside is that it’ll really help you stand out from crowd at weddings and other events where most guys tend to play it safe.

In a sea of navy, a pale blue suit like the one pictured above will definitely help you get noticed.


Mens Lightweight Summer Jackets

Man in light blue bomber jacket

Jackets aren’t really something you associate with summer, a time of year when most of us are more focused on shedding layers than adding them.

But in most parts of the world summer evenings can get still get pretty cool, especially towards the end of the season as fall slowly but surely begins to show itself.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying you need to throw a trench coat on over your shorts and t-shirt.

But you never know when it’s going to rain, so having a lightweight jacket that you can throw in your weekender can be a lifesaver.

Moisture-Wicking and Wrinkle-Free

When it comes to choosing the right summer jacket, the key is to opt for something that’s not only stylish and light, but also travels well and will keep you dry in a pinch.

A material like linen, which is perfect for summer suits or a summer-weight blazer, wrinkles too easily to be stuffed in a bag, so it doesn’t work as well for summer jackets that aren’t blazers or suit jackets.

Instead, look for the type of synthetic fabrics that wick moisture and help keep you dry, which also tend to be wrinkle resistant and easy to roll up.

Two to Try:

Public Rec Crosstown Bomber

This summer I’m loving Public Rec’s Crosstown Bomber.

It’s made from the same sweat-wicking mix of nylon and spandex as their form-fitting All Day Everyday (ADED) Jacket that I reviewed last year.

But unlike the ADED, this one comes in a bomber style that makes you looks a little less like a football coach and a lot more like a stylish modern man.

If you don’t like bomber jackets or worry that technical fabrics aren’t always a good look, I also recommend picking up a good lightweight denim jacket.

I grabbed one from Uniqlo a few years ago for $40 bucks, and found that it’s a great piece to help transition into and out of summer, when the weather is a little cooler during the humid dog days.


Mens Summer Sunglasses

Red aviator sunglasses

As with summer shoes, I’ve written a lot about sunglasses in the past, so I won’t do too much of a deep dive here.

If you’re not sure what style of sunglasses to buy, take a look at my roundup of the seven most classic men’s sunglass styles, which should give you some inspiration and help you choose your favorite frames.

But to keep this post summer specific, I’ll say this:

Just as your clothes have a different look and feel come summer, so too should your shades.

Warby Parker Durand Sunglasses
Come summer, I prefer streamlined frames that protect my eyes without covering too much of my face

When it comes to summer sunglasses, I tend to prefer frames that are thinner, as opposed to the sort of chunky plastic frames that look great in other seasons.

For instance, I swear by my Ray-Ban Wayfarers and sport them all through winter.

But come summer I’m ready to break out the Aviators or a more streamlined plastic frame like Warby Parker’s Durands.

| Deep Dive:

Mens Summer Hats

Man in white fedora

The same rule that applies to summer suits, shirts and pants above applies equally to summer hats:

You can rock a lot of the same types of hats, but in lighter colors and materials.

So if you’re the type of guy who still rocks a felt fedora all through fall (and if you are, thank you—you’re doing God’s work), come summer the right move is to find the same fedora in a lighter weight material like straw.

If you’re not a regular hat wearer but want to find something to keep the sun off your face and neck come summer, here are a few of the most stylish men’s summer hats:

Straw Fedora

Beige straw fedora

An absolute classic, the fedora was the preferred style of real life style icons like Frank Sinatra and fictional (but no less stylish) ones like Don Draper.

Today fedoras are much less common than they used to be, and tend to look quite formal today.

But straw hats like the one pictured here are inherently more casual, so you don’t have to worry as much about looking too “dressy.”

Panama Hats

White Panama hat

This is my personal favorite style of summer hat for men.

Similar to fedoras but with a wider brim, to keep the sun off your face and neck, Panama hats hail from (you guessed it) Panama.

That means they were specifically designed to hep men look dashing in warm, humid climates.

Bucket Hats

Black and white bucket hats

Everything old is new again.

The same hat that LL Cool J rocked in 1985 and the New Radicals rocked in the video for 1998’s You Only Get What You Give has become a stylish summer staple of the 2020s.

In addition to giving you a laid back look, bucket hats are also soft enough to easily stash in a bag or jacket pocket, and cheap enough that you can pick up a multipack so you have a few color options on hand.


Pulling it Altogether: Mens Summer Outfits

Man in green polo and grey shorts
Check out my Pinterest board for more men’s summer fashion inspo (image via Suitsupply)

While the information above will help you nail each individual piece of your summer wardrobe, let’s be honest:

Words on a screen will only get you so far.

Style is a visual medium, and sometimes you need to actually see a summer outfit to really understand what works and what doesn’t.

So, at the risk of sounding like your mom that year she got really into needlepoint, I made a Pinterest board.

Check it out to find a ton of handsome-as-hell summer men’s outfits that will show you how to look hot in the heat.


You Know How to Rock Men’s Summer Fashion

Now Learn How to Become Your Most Stylish Self

After reading our comprehensive guide to men’s summer essentials (thanks for hanging in there, by the way), you’re now armed with the insight you need to look sharp in the summer heat.

But the summer season is notoriously fleeting, whereas looking your best is a year-round pursuit.

Ultimately, the guys who consistently look the best are the ones who don’t just know what clothes to wear, but how to look polished and put together while wearing them.

That’s why we’ve put together a head-to-toe checklist outlining the nine details you need to nail if you want to out-dress the other guys and put your best face forward.

Enter your email address below and we’ll send it straight to your inbox, free of charge.

Don’t Let the Other Guys Out-Dress You

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More Resources ↓
More Men’s Style Advice from Irreverent Gent:

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Banner image: kiuikson / Shutterstock

About

Irreverent Gent founder Dave Bowden is a men’s style specialist, an Amazon bestselling author, an unrepentant introvert, a long-suffering (but very patient) Toronto sports fan and the husband of a wonderful (and thankfully even more patient) wife.

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