What to Wear in the Summer: 49 Must-Have Men’s Summer Essentials

Dave Bowden

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What to Wear in Summer MenIn summertime the livin’ is supposed to be easy – but when it comes to figuring out what to wear in summer, men 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…)

If we don’t wear the right fabrics or colors, we can easily end up looking like we just took a dip in a (particularly foul-smelling) pool.

Another hurdle is that it can be surprisingly hard to look stylish when you’re only wearing two or three pieces of clothing at a time. As I mentioned in my post about what to wear in the spring, putting together a dapper look can be a real challenge when you 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 keep yourself looking stylish all summer—while keeping pit stains at bay.

Must-Have Men’s Summer Essentials

That’s where this post comes in. Below I’ve rounded up 49 men’s summer essentials and provided a few sneaky men’s summer fashion tips that will help you look and feel cool – literally – all summer long.

As with previous What to Wear posts, I’ve focused on stores and brands that will be familiar and easy to find for most guys. As always, the goal is not to look like some outlandishly fashion-forwad GQ model, but to help you choose some stylish summer staples you can keep wearing for years.

And finally, note that some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that if you click them and end up making a purchase, I may receive a small commission.

Alright, end of introduction. Let’s get to the picks for men’s summer essentials!

What to Wear in Summer Men

What to Wear in the Summer for Men

What to Wear in Summer Men


Boat Shoes

What to Wear in Summer MenI included boat shoes in multiple sections of my post about the best summer shoes for men because boat shoes are to summer what white sneakers are to spring: practically mandatory at this point.

You can’t go wrong with a classic pair from Dockers or Sperry (like the one pictured here), but after years of wearing the same brown boat shoes, personally I prefer to mix it up a little.

To stand out from the crowd, grab a pair in a different color (navy looks great and works with almost every other piece of your summer wardrobe) and/or a different fabric – think canvas instead of leather.

The Picks:

Driving Shoes/Loafers

What to Wear in Summer MenA less nautical alternative to boat shoes, driving shoes achieve basically the same purpose but look a little more appropriate if, like most mortals, you spend more time stomping around the city than sailing off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

The Picks:


What to Wear in Summer MenI’m willing to concede that there’s a time and place for sandals—namely when it’s hot as hell and even slip-on shoes seem like too much clothing.

But guys, please, if you’re going to wear ‘em, wear ‘em right. Opt for leather straps rather than the cheaper, more plastic-looking options (yes, leather is a slightly heavier material, but since there’s only enough of it to cover half your foot, you can get away with it).

And above all, remember this: flip flops are not for public consumption.

The Picks:

Flip Flops

What to Wear in Summer MenYeah, I know: I just said don’t wear flip flops. But if you’re going to the beach, a pool or any other place where you need to be able to easily slip out of your shoes and into a body of water, there’s really nothing more convenient.

Look for pairs made with leather (rather than just rubber) and, again, only wear them when you’re within a reasonable proximity to water.

The Picks:

What to Wear in Spring for MenWant to Out-Dress the Other Guys?

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What to Wear in Summer Men

What to Wear in Summer Men


I recommended some lightweight socks for the spring, but for most of the summer I actually forego them entirely and expose my ankles to some (much needed) summer sun. (Click here to find out how to go sockless in summer.)

If you’re not comfortable slipping your naked foot into your shoes (or you want an extra layer to help contain your foot funk) go for a pair of no-show socks, which give you the best of both worlds.

The Picks:


What to Wear in Summer MenWhen it comes to shorts, fit is king. In terms of width, look for a pair that hugs your thighs rather than drapes off of them like a pair of curtains.

And when it comes to length, make sure they hit an inch or two above the knee. If they hit any higher, you’ll look like you’re trying out for the 1978 Boston Celtics. Any lower, and you’ll look like noted piece of shit Mario Batali.

For my money (and my body type), Banana Republic’s Aiden shorts meet both standards and hug my legs perfectly, but there are plenty of other good options available.

The Picks:


What to Wear in Summer MenIf you’re going to wear full length pants in the summer, you want to keep them light, both in terms of color and material.

Look for cotton and other breathable fabrics in shades that are on the same color spectrum as what you’d normally wear in spring or fall, but a few shades lighter (think sky blue as opposed to navy, or olive green as opposed to army).

And don’t be afraid to go for the lightest shade of all: white. I stayed away from white pants for years, afraid that they looked a little too “runway model” and a little less “regular guy.”

But now that they’ve gone fully mainstream, I love pairing them with a dark colored polo or button down shirt, which makes for one of the summer’s most versatile combos (more on that below).

The Picks:


What to Wear in Summer MenIn the summer your belt game should more or less follow the same strategy that you used in spring.

Opt for lightweight materials like canvas first, and if you have to wear leather keep it slim and trim.

The Picks:


What to Wear in Summer Men
SUMMER STYLE HACK: Wearing darker shades in summer can help hide (dreaded, but often unavoidable) sweat stains

Here’s one of those aforementioned men’s summer fashion tips that was a total game-changer for me when I stumbled on it a few years ago.

For years I would wear light colored shirts when the temperature got hot, only to spend most of my day stressing over just how large the pit stains under my arms were getting.

But a few years back I read an interview with a stylist, which made me realize I had been wrong all along: he said the hotter it is outside, the darker your shirt should be. Why? Because dark shirts more easily mask the sweat marks that will inevitably set in on especially hot days.

This basic principle can be applied to any of the shirt types below, but for me it’s especially true with button-up shirts, simply because they consist of more fabric than tees, polos and henleys.

So keep color in mind as you peruse the picks below, and as always, remember to look for styles that will hug your torso and arms fairly closely, but not so much that you look like a sausage stuffed into a casing. (The two pictures above and below provide good examples of what you’re going for.)

The Picks:


What to Wear in Summer MenWhen it comes to shades, I don’t mind admitting that my style tends toward the classic.

As I’ve written elsewhere, there are thousands of different frames on the market. (Click here to check out the 7 most classic sunglasses for men.)

But look closely and you’ll start to notice something:

The vast majority of designs are variations of just a few basic archetypes. Opt for any of the options listed here to shield your eyes in classic style. (And by “classic,” I mean handsome as hell.)

The Picks:


What to Wear in Summer MenWhen it’s hot as hell and you’re trying to keep your clothes lightweight, you obviously don’t want to be hauling around a lot of extra stuff. But sometimes a few well chosen accessories can help punch up your summer look (or, you know, just help you carry your stuff).

The Picks:
Canvas Bags:
Smaller Canvas Bags – But First, a Quick Word on Size:

There was a time, just a few decades back, when one Mr. Jerry Seinfeld made a point of mocking his friend’s small bag, which he famous referred to as a “murse” – a “man purse.”

To that I say, any man who dresses like this…

What to Wear in Summer Men

…does not get to dish out fashion advice.

If you feel like summer’s not the time to strap on a large, a full-size messenger bag, there are plenty of small, stylish and – I’ll remind Mr. Seinfeld – masculine options to choose from.


What to Wear in Summer MenAs with your bags and belts, with watches you want to forego the bulky leather in favor of lighter options – in both weight and color.

I’m a big advocate for the Timex Weekender, but there are a ton of other (and, dare I say it, equally stylish) options available that allow you to swap out different lightweight bands to mix up the colors and styles.

What to Wear in Summer MenSunscreen

Saving the best for last, don’t forget about the most important accessory of all.

Your skin is your body’s biggest organ (regardless of what you tell girls on Tinder…), and you need to take care of it. Because a light tan looks great. Leathery wrinkles and weird moles? Not so much.

What to Wear in Summer MenWant to Out-Dress the Other Guys?

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Enter your email address below to discover the Nine Details You Need to Nail.

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What to Wear in Summer Men

Further Reading:
Dave Bowden


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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