Men’s Summer Fashion 2021: Style Essentials, Trends & Outfits

Summer is finally here, so it’s time to look at men’s summer fashion.

What are the essential summer clothes this season? What summer clothes are trendy? How do you put everything together into stylish summer outfits?

Summer events can range from dinner dates al fresco, happy hours in beer gardens, and fun outdoor adventures to office work and attending formal events. You’ll need summer appropriate clothes for everything if you want to avoid melting into a puddle of sweat.

If you follow these trends and choose the right fabrics, you’ll keep cool and look cool this summer.

Men;'s Summer Fashion guide

Men’s Summer Essentials & Trends

Whether you want to achieve the perfect preppy summer style or you’d like to know what’s hot on this summer’s street fashion scene, I’ve got you covered. In this article we’ll look at casual styles, smart casual outfits, and street apparel. First, let’s look at the clothes you’ll want to keep in your summer wardrobe.

Summer Shorts

Wearing shorts is essential to staying cool on the hottest days. To keep things neat and stylish, don’t opt for a pair that’s too short or too long or cargo shorts with lots of pockets. 

Below you’ll find some trendy short styles for this summer:

Chino Shorts

Chino shorts are a great compromise between style and comfort. The fabric (chino cloth) is breathable and light, while their silhouette is streamlined. They are perfect for a date, a dinner party, or a day in the city.

Chino shorts come in a wide range of colors, from navy, olive, and khaki to more colorful options like red, green and yellow. Summer is the time you can show your more playful side with colors, so don’t be afraid to rock a bolder pair.

Athletic Shorts

If you’re a fan of comfort, you will love athletic shorts (or sweat shorts). Even if you don’t plan to exercise in the heat at all, it’s worth having a pair of these on standby. They’re a solid option for casual outings, say to the grocery store or walking the dog. And they’re the absolute best for lounging at home.

Denim Shorts

Jeans shorts have gotten a bit of a bad reputation from too many unfashionable men wearing them too short or too long, or wearing frayed cutoffs. Your denim shorts should hit the top of the knee without too much fraying.

They’re a good masculine option if you know how to pull them off. Avoid the “bro” look and pair them with understated casual items like a plain white t-shirt and white sneakers.

The downside is that denim shorts won’t keep you very cool in the summer heat. Wear them for casual night outings like an evening barbeque.

T-shirts

T-shirts are essential summer clothes for men. No matter how hot it is, choosing a t-shirt over a tank top will ensure you always look tidy and ready for any situation. Choose a light-weight fabric to stay cool. If you find the perfect tee, go ahead and buy it in various colors. You’ll instantly be able to create a number of outfits with very little effort. 

Plain White Slim-fit T-shirt

This is a staple of any men’s summer wardrobe, thanks to its versatility. It will go with any shorts, pants, and shoes. Pick one that isn’t too see-through. No need to spend a fortune on this item, but make sure it’s made of good-quality fabric and it fits well.

A light grey T-shirt is another great versatile option.

Colored Slim-Fit T-shirt

Again, summer allows you to get more playful with colors, so consider adding two-three colored t-shirts to your wardrobe to switch things up.

Steer away from dark colors, which will attract the sun’s rays and make you feel hotter. Choose lighter shades, such as sage green, light blue, or coral.

Striped T-shirt

If you feel like playing with your outfit a little more, opt for a classic striped t-shirt. Keep it smart and avoid graphic and ostentatious print tees. A striped one will work in any situation, so you won’t feel like you need to go home and change before dinner.

Short-Sleeve Henley Shirt

Another way to spice up your summer wardrobe is to add a short-sleeve henley shirt. Henleys are collarless shirts with three to four buttons and sometimes a patch pocket. It’s typically made of cotton or linen. Choose it in white, olive, or grey to match it with most pants and shorts. 

Polo Shirt

Polo shirts are a great addition for guys aiming for the preppy look. Some offices or events will allow it as part of summer business casual attire, so you may get away wearing it to work or other official functions in summer. It’s also a good option for dates.

Neutral colors like white or navy will look elegant. Light colors for a more playful look, or consider striped polos as an alternative.

Summer Shirts

Shirts are a must in men’s summer fashion. Some guys avoid them all together, because they get too hot. But the right long-sleeved shirt can actually keep you cooler in summer than a T-shirt can (because they provide more shade).  

Choose natural fibers over synthetic ones, which trap the moisture and limit breathability. Opt for light, loose-fitting shirts. If you live in a hot place, wear yours in the evenings or for work meetings in air-conditioned rooms. 

Linen Shirt

This is a definitive piece in men’s summer fashion. It’s simple, yet timelessly stylish. A linen shirt is made of strong, absorbent, quick-drying fabric. It wrinkles quite easily though, but that makes it perfect for that effortless, care-free summer look. A linen shirt will look great in olive, white, cream, sand, and light blue.

Light-Weight Cotton Shirt

For a more polished outfit, you can opt for a light-weight cotton shirt. Choose white, light blue, or stripes to match it with anything. Wear it at a fancy restaurant, to go to work, or at an official function.

Chambray Shirt

Chambray is a light-weight plain-weave cloth that resembles denim, but is breathable and extra-light. Chambray shirts are available in various colours, such as white and light red, but the most common chambray shirts are blue. Just like denim, you can match it with almost anything.

Seersucker Shirt

Seersucker is a puckered all-cotton fabric that is mostly held away from the skin when worn. Thanks to the texture and print of this fabric, seersucker shirts don’t wrinkle much, so they’re perfect to wear on long days and trips. Seersucker shirts often come with a stripe pattern (railroad stripe), but you can also choose solid colors. 

Their cut is fairly elegant, so they are perfect for formal events or if you’re going for that preppy summer look. Pair yours with dress pants, chino pants, or roll up your sleeves and wear them with chino shorts.

Short-Sleeve Shirt

The short-sleeve shirt is another garment with a damaged reputation due to unfashionable men wearing the most oversized versions (often with cargo shorts, sandals and tube socks—yikes!). They’re not my favorite option, but as long as the cut is right and you avoid billowy sleeves and flowery eyesores, short sleeve shirts can look quite stylish. 

Summer Pants

If you don’t like the look of most shorts, you can still wear pants as part of your summer apparel. In fact, it’s worth owning some summer pants for those chillier evenings and nights out. The trick is to choose slightly looser-fitting, light-weight pants to help disperse the heat. Avoid thick, rigid fabrics and skinny fits.

Chinos

When you dress for summer, swap your jeans with a pair of chinos as your staple pants. Chinos are perfect for almost any occasion, especially if you opt for the classic navy or khaki. That said, colored chinos are a great statement piece — just make sure that you pair your colored chinos with an understated neutral top.

For a laid-back summer look, cuff the bottom hem a few times and pair them with no-show socks and suede loafers or espadrilles.

Linen pants

Linen pants are the best pants to stay cool in the summer heat. They shade your legs and let through any small breeze. 

These days, they come in all sorts of styles — from casual to elegant. White, khaki, navy, black, and olive are the most popular colors. If you want to minimize wrinkles, you can also opt for a cotton-linen blend.

Seersucker dress pants

Seersucker dress pants are excellent summer business casual pants. They look elegant like suit pants but are made from a more breathable fabric. They come in a wide variety of colors, such as light grey, light blue, navy, blue, and off-white. You can pair them with a seersucker jacket, if the occasion calls for it, or just wear them with a shirt.

What About Jeans?

Jeans are not an optimal choice for summer, because their material will trap the heat inside. If you’re looking to cool down, as you should, pick one of the other pants above. 

That said, if you can’t live without your beloved jeans and can stand the heat, go for it. At least go for a light-weight, light-wash pair though. No raw denim!

Summer Shoes

To keep cool in the hottest weather, it’s important to choose the right footwear. Opt for light colors and canvas or other woven materials. These will keep your feet dry and comfortable.

White Sneakers

White sneakers are a simple staple in every man’s summer apparel. They are minimalist and never go out of style. If you’re looking for a pair, check out my review of the best white sneakers for men currently on the market.

Espadrilles

Espadrilles are canvas shoes that got popular in Spain and the French riviera, but they are now a must in men’s summer streetwear. They are extremely breathable and slip on super fast; meaning they’re perfect to wear at the beach or to quickly pop out to take care of an errand. They work well with most shorts. If you match espadrilles with pants, make sure you cuff them and show your ankles..

Large Strap Sandals

There’s nothing lighter and airier than a pair of sandals. They allow your feet to breathe and are perfect for those super hot days to hang around the beach or pool. However, I don’t recommend wearing them in other situations. In other words, don’t wear them around the city, no matter how hot it gets. Go for espadrilles instead. 

The truth is, unless you get regular pedicures, your feet probably won’t look very pretty and nobody wants to look at them. Also, walking around in them too much can damage your feet in the long run.

Boat Shoes

Boat shoes were made to wear while sailing. The soles are white rubber, which prevents you from slipping on a polished deck. Boat shoes have become one of the most classic casual shoe trends. They are great for any casual event, such as a date, or a day trip to the lake. Don’t wear them on formal occasions.

Suede Loafers

Loafers have become a staple piece of summer menswear, and are a great option for when you need a slightly dressier shoe. The suede version is perfect for the summer. Wear them without socks. They look great with both pants and shorts. 

Light-Weight Suits

If your workplace doesn’t allow casualwear even in summer, you’re stuck with a suit. You won’t be able to play with your style as much, but you still have some options to make the summer months more bearable (and stylish) while commuting.

The best summer suits are:

  • Linen suits
  • Cotton suits
  • Seersucker suits

Avoid black and navy suits. Go for light grey, light blue, or khaki. 

Summer Outerwear

Summer has breezy or rainy days, as well as cooler evenings. When the temperature changes, even a few degrees difference can feel like a lot. It’s best to be prepared with some outwear pieces. These are your best jackets for summer:

Denim Jacket

If it’s mild, a denim jacket will do the job. It can take a beating without wrinkling and it offers good protection from the wind. A denim jacket layers beautifully over a t-shirt, but it works well on top of a shirt, too. 

Bomber jacket

For chillier nights, you can opt for a thin bomber jacket — just not the leather kind. A timeless piece of clothing, the bomber jacket now comes in all sorts of materials, such as cotton. They’re a cool piece that you can throw over almost any outfit. 

Anorak

The anorak is your savior if you need something to protect from a rainy day that is still lightweight enough to not overheat you. You’ll feel lucky when you have an anorak in your bag when you’re attending a summer festival and it starts pouring. There’s plenty of cool styles to choose from.

Accessories

Now that you have your outfits nailed down, you can add some finishing touches. You can elevate any look with these simple accessories.

Sunglasses

Duh. You need a pair of sunglasses in summer to protect your eyes and squint less (and to add some instant cool factor to your outfit. You can’t go wrong with classic models such as aviators, wayfarers or clubmasters, which look great on everyone. 

Sunglasses are an item you shouldn’t skimp on — quality lenses are important — but if you’re not sure about what type of sunglasses you want, there’s nothing wrong with trying out a cheaper model before you splurge on designer sunglasses. Check out my list of the best sunglasses for men, which covers various styles.

Summer Hats

Hats are a great weapon to protect your scalp and nose from the sun rays, while elevating an outfit. Go for a straw panama hat or fedora, a sun hat for a preppier look, or a baseball cap or bucket hat for a casual streetwear look. (Or if you’re not down with the “dad hat” baseball cap, you can go for the more modern 5-panel cap style.)

No-Show Socks

You should always wear socks in summer or your feet will feel uncomfortable, but the “socks & shorts” look is a fashion faux pas. So what can you do?

Just buy a few pairs of no-show socks. These will keep things comfortable, while going unnoticed. Make sure you buy a pair that covers your heel fully to prevent blisters. My favorite no-show socks are by Falke.

Woven Belt

If you’re looking for a belt to complete your summer wardrobe, make it a woven one. They come in all colors, but sand and brown look great on most outfits, and white is another good casual option (and will look great with your white sneakers).

Simple watch

A watch helps accessorize any attire. Opt for a fabric strap to complement your more laid back summer casual looks. You don’t have to splurge on a watch, a simple, affordable watch will do just fine.

Simple Bracelet

If you don’t like to wear a watch (because you carry a phone in your pocket, dammit!) you can opt for a casual bracelet instead. A simple leather bracelet is an easy addition that can finish your summer look. Your best bets are leather, bead or rope bracelets, or you can get a set so you can mix and match different ones on different days.

Men’s Summer Outfit Examples

Casual Summer Outfits

Casual summer outfits
  1. Sage green chino shorts, plain white t-shirt, white sneakers, sunglasses, panama hat, watch
  2. Red t-shirt, grey linen pants, white sneakers, sunglasses, bracelet
  3. Light green Henley shirt, red chino shorts, white sneakers, baseball cap, bracelet
  4. White linen shirt, yellow chino pants, panama hat, espadrilles, woven belt, watch, sunglasses

Business Casual Summer Outfits

business casual summer outfits
  1. Grey linen suit, lightweight cotton shirt, suede loafers, brown leather belt, sunglasses, watch
  2. Seersucker dress pants, white linen shirt, brown leather belt, suede loafers, watch, sunglasses
  3. Blue linen blazer, lightweight cotton shirt, camel chino pants, blue suede loafers, watch, sunglasses

Summer Business Outfits

Summer business outfits
  1. Light brown linen suit, lightweight cotton dress shirt, striped blue tie, light blue pocket square and sock, loafers
  2. Seersucker suit, lightweight cotton dress shits, red tie, suede loafers, no-show socks
  3. Light grey cotton suit, lightweight cotton dress shirt, striped green tie, light green pocket square, loafers, no-show socks

Preppy Summer Outfits

preppy summer outfits
  1. Turquoise chino shorts, white linen shirt, brown boat shoes, watch, sunglasses, panama hat
  2. Light blue polo shirt, red pants, suede loafers, watch, sunglasses, baseball cap
  3. Yellow linen shirt, Navy chino shorts, white woven belt, blue boat shoes, watch, sunglasses, baseball cap
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