Dressing well for warm weather is no cakewalk. Dressing well for hot weather is downright difficult. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that prioritising both style and sweat-prevention is enough to bring any man to the brink during the warmer months.
Even the professionally stuffy organisers of Royal Ascot have suggested they relax the race day’s stifling dress code this year – which, in the Royal Enclosure, would normally require black or grey morning dress, including a waistcoat, tie and top hat at all times.
Even if your summer plans don’t involve a sweaty flutter on the gee-gees you still need to back the right horses when it comes to style. Swot up on the staples and, for the next few months, you can mix and match them to produce handsome looks for holidays, weddings and nights out.
Here are seven easily executed smart-casual summer outfit combinations to add to your repertoire this summer, whether you’re by the shore or hitting the city streets.
(Related: The Complete Guide To Men’s Dress Codes)
Short-Sleeved Shirt + Trousers/Chinos
If you’re a regular reader of FashionBeans, you’ll know that short-sleeved shirt shame (SSSS) is a thing of the past. Much more hot weather-friendly than its long-sleeved brother, a short-sleeved shirt looks perfectly smart when teamed with a well-cut pair of trousers or chinos.
Remember to pay attention to fit; the short-sleeved shirt is, despite its simplicity, one of those pieces that can look elegant or erroneous depending on how it sits on your frame. Put simply, make sure yours is fitted enough to flatter your torso and arms, but not so much that it strains around the biceps or neck.
When it comes to legwear, keep your eyes peeled for styles that are either cropped or that turn up easily at the hems. Why? Because chances are you’ll be getting your ankles out and going sockless. Failure to do so will quickly see your efforts undone, so invest in a few pairs of invisible socks or your look (and body odour) will suffer.
Lastly, we’re probably stating the obvious but make sure your top and bottom half contrast or clash; one of the few head-to-toe colours that works here is white, which makes for a striking summer getup provided you have the skin tone to see it through.
Long-Sleeved Shirt + Shorts
If your biceps have had swoller days, then swapping a short-sleeved style for something more traditional could be your best bet.
The trick here is to make sure you match your top and bottom – for example, if opting for a smarter sky blue Oxford shirt up top, then pair this with something equally tailored down below. Likewise, if the local climate is cool enough for a flannel or denim shirt, then a rugged chino short will work best.
As with the previous combination, it’s also worth ensuring the shirt and shorts contrast to some degree. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking like you’re trying to make the men’s playsuit happen.
Getting into finer styling points (and extra ventilation), we’d suggest leaving a button or two undone (on the shirt, not the shorts), rolling your sleeves up slightly, and tucking your shirt into your shorts (belt optional).
And if you’re scoping this list in search of the ideal beach-to-bar outfit, look no further, gentlemen. This pairing works with almost every style of footwear you can think of – from suede Derbies to leather sandals, or even bare feet.
Lightweight Suit Separates
Suits usually mean serious outlay. Which is why it’s probably not within financial reach to purchase one for each season – as well as every occasion – of the year.
Sidestep crippling expense and maximise your wardrobe’s versatility by opting for suit separates instead. Whether you opt for a linen-blend blazer, a pair of tailored shorts in a lightweight twill or some nattily-cut cotton trousers, snapping up tailoring that you can mix and match is the easiest way to navigate the hotter months and still look smart.
Seeing as you’ll likely want these to work just as well together as apart, it’s best to stick to versatile summer-appropriate hues such as white, beige, stone, khaki and lighter blues.
T-Shirt/Polo Shirt + Suit
Sure, there’s nothing smarter than an expertly judged suit and shirt combination, but aside from a plastic bin-liner, few outfits are as sweltering in high summer, either.
Is there a smart-casual combination superior to a simple T-shirt or polo shirt and a suit? We’re not inclined to think so. Swapping out a restrictive shirt for something more casual instantly ups the comfort factor of your tailored looks, while also lending them a contemporary edge.
Whether you’re dressing down an all-season suit in a darker colour or a lightweight warm-weather style in a brighter neutral shade, remember to opt for a contrasting layer underneath. Navy suit? Try a T-shirt in white, or a Breton stripe. Sand-coloured suit? Go darker with a rich racing green or burgundy polo shirt.
Keep your look on the right footing with a pair of minimal trainers or sophisticated suede loafers.
Shorts + Blazer
We know, it might seem like questionable logic to suggest throwing on a jacket if it’s warm enough to wear shorts, but if the right style of blazer is selected, this combination is one of the sharpest around.
First up, prioritise lightweight fabrics when shopping for the perfect jacket. Unlined linen, cotton and linen-cotton blends come highly recommended not only for their breathability but also their laid-back feel.
Secondly, colours are key with this one. If you’re going down a more casual route, try adding a bold hue or design into the mix – a bright red pair of tailored shorts or a blazer, for example. If you’d rather steer smart, err a little more conservative by combining timeless neutrals such as black, navy, white, grey and beige.
Casual Shirt + Suit
On the list of swaggy essentials every man should own, a casual shirt (or five) is up there with classic white kicks.
What constitutes a dressed-down button-up is a net cast as wide as smart-casual itself. The good news is that this means there is a style every bloke can get on board with. Not a fan of Cuban collars? Tap up gramps for a Grandad collar instead. Want to keep the cut or collar classic? Make a statement with a print instead.
All of these variations add some lightness to heavyweight formalwear; and, in the case of Cuban or Grandad collars, omit the need for a tie.
This look also offers a sliding scale when it comes to formality. Start by framing the shirt with a matching two-piece, as opposed to separates, then either tuck in or out and finish with shoes or sneakers to move up or down the pecking order.
Tucked T-Shirt/Polo Shirt + Trousers
As tempting as it may be to ditch anything tailored for baggy casual pieces in the summer heat, certain calendar events will require you to scrub up well.
Fortunately recent styling trends – notably that of tucking tees, polo shirts and knitwear into trousers – helps immensely in this area.
Of course, with both pieces being inherently casual menswear staples, tucking can still leave the look hitting just below the required formality. So anchor it with a pair of shoes, such as loafers, derbies or double monk straps, rather than white sneakers.
Better yet (provided it doesn’t look too creased) the top can be untucked later in the day, making this a combination perfect for breezing effortlessly from a gallery opening to grilling with your mates.
Go-To Smart-Casual Summer Outfit Combinations
7 simple solutions for the sweaty season’s trickiest dress code
Image: River Island