Good news, gentlemen; summer is officially here. You can finally dust off your boat shoes and rock that favorite pair of shorts you’ve been dying to wear all winter.
Of course, these fashion staples are perfectly suited for a relaxing weekend. But for the modern professional, they certainly won’t hold up to the typical office dress code (if they do, go thank your boss right now).
If you’re like many working men, you might be wondering how to look both stylish and professional during the hot, summer months. We’re here to tell you that you don’t need to violate your office dress code just to keep from roasting in your suit and tie.
Bright colors, breathable fabrics, and a few styling tips are the key to successfully assembling your warm-weather office wardrobe. Do yourself a huge favor this year, and make sure that you have these summer staples in your closet:
Lightweight Linen Button-Up Shirt
If there is any fabric that lends itself well to the summer months, it’s linen. Made from fibers of the flax plant, linen allows for maximum breathability and will keep you cool – in more ways than one – during those unbearably hot days.
How to Wear
A linen button-up shirt is a quintessential summertime piece and looks great in both long and short-sleeve styles. A button-up shirt in classic white looks particularly stylish when paired with some navy chinos and brown Oxford shoes.
If you’re wearing it to the office, long-sleeve is arguably the better choice. Not only do long sleeves appear more professional but also the cooling linen works so well that you might even get chilly inside an air-conditioned office. You might even consider bringing a lightweight blazer to work to keep you comfortable if someone decides to turn the AC on full blast — and to further smarten up your look.
One gripe that some men have about linen is its tendency to look wrinkled. Our response to those men? You’ve been ironing your linen shirts the wrong way!
To properly iron linen, you need a high-quality iron, a buffer cloth and a water spray bottle to dampen your clothes. Check out this step-by-step post on how to iron linen the right way.
Chinos are an essential wardrobe staple for any modern man’s closet. Why? Because chinos are incredibly versatile and can be dressed up or down for work or play, depending on the occasion.
The best part is that most men already have a pair of classic camel chinos that can be modified for the summer. But who says that you have to stop at neutrals? Use summer as an excuse to wear chinos in light colors such as pastel blue or white.
How to Wear
If you would rather not attract attention with brightly-colored chinos, you can still look effortlessly stylish for the summer by sporting cuffed chinos with a navy blazer and loafers. This ensemble oozes sophistication and is a classic preppy style suitable for casual days at the office.
A navy blazer goes with a variety of brightly-colored chinos, from light green to salmon. To further elevate your look, pair a bow tie with your chinos. If you’re the type of guy who loves this classic accessory, then we’re betting that you’re always looking for an excuse to use your budding bow tie collection.
We know that many of you want to wear sandals all summer, but there is simply no men’s shoe that will bare your toes and be appropriate for the office. The good news is, with a pair of navy suede bucks or a similar type of suede shoe, you will look far too stylish to care that you are wearing a closed shoe.
How to Wear
Suede shoes are super versatile and can be worn with classic blue denim or your favorite pair of chinos to instantly polish up your look. From Oxfords to loafers, there is a style of suede shoe out there for every modern gentleman.
Summer is officially loafer season, which means that now is the perfect time to invest in a nice pair of suede loafers. This classic menswear staple looks particularly stylish with cuffed denim or chinos to show off a bit of ankle. Some men can pull off socks with loafers, but we recommend going sockless if you’re trying to keep cool on a hot day.
If you opt for the suede loafer this summer, be aware of your trouser length. There is no quicker way to ruin your smart casual style than by wearing pants that interrupt the ankle-to-foot line.
When temperatures start creeping up into the high 90s, the thought of wearing a heavy suit to work seems unbearable. How does a man professionally dress for the summer without becoming a sweaty mess?
Don’t worry, gentlemen; by wearing a suit that is lighter in both color and fabric, you can look sharp for the summer without being a miserable mess.
How to Wear
Lighter colors such as tans, whites and light greys will generally keep you cooler than darker colors, which is why the traditional summer suit feature these shades. Of course, comfort is really dependent on the fabric.
If you need inspiration for how to wear a suit in hot weather, watch how southern gentlemen suit up for the summer. These forks are huge fans of seersucker, a fabric that can be difficult to pull off but will earn you some serious style points if you can.
Other fabrics that work well are linen, tropical wool or even a blend of wool, silk and linen to give the suit body as well as texture and lightness.
Still breaking a sweat in your summer suit? Add a stylish pocket square to your ensemble to discreetly dab away the excess sweat. It’s practical, and it adds flourish to your professional look instantly.
And no matter which summer suit style you go with, it needs to be well tailored. Nothing looks worse than a poorly-tailored suit!
Your summer style wouldn’t be complete without a classic polo shirt. Breathable and professional, a polo shirt can beat the heat and humidity and help you nail the smart casual look.
But how do you pull off a polo with dress pants without looking like Jake from State Farm? Have no fear, gentlemen. There are plenty of stylish ways to wear a polo without making a serious fashion faux-pas.
How to Wear
Before we tell you how to wear a polo, we need to specifically address the one way that you should NOT wear a polo—with the collar popped up. It is the calling card of tiresome frat boys everywhere.
Now that we’ve addressed the one mortal sin of polo shirts, let’s proceed to advise you on how to wear them fashionably in the workplace. Though a polo is an inherently casual piece of clothing, they can easily be “smarted” up with leather shoes, like loafers, and slim-fit trousers.
Idris Elba is a big fan of polo shirts and is a pro at dressing them up the right way for the summer season. We’re also big fans of how Pharrell Williams wears his white polo shirt with an eye-catching cardigan and light pastel chinos.
If you’re going to tuck your polo shirt into your pants, you need to pay attention to the fit of your polo. Polos come in three different styles: classic, custom and slim. A classic cut polo is more relaxed and won’t appear nearly as sharp with your nice trousers as a more fitted polo.
Hold up, there! How can shorts possibly be considered professional?
It’s a fair question. Truthfully, shorts will never be considered appropriate for a rigid office dress code, but they still have their place in the professional world. For instance, your office might have a more relaxed dress code, or maybe you just need something smart to wear to your company’s annual barbeque.
How to Wear
If you’re going to break out the shorts, you need the find the right ones for the occasion. Chino shorts in beige or similar neutral hues are best if you’re planning to build a more sophisticated ensemble.
You’ll hear some men say that you can’t wear a blazer with shorts, but if you ask us, an unstructured blazer can be super stylish on those who can pin down the look.
If you’re at a barbeque this summer, give the blazer-shorts combo a try to test the waters. With a pair of suede Derby shoes or leather loafers, you can class up your look instantly and earn some extra style cred.
To accent your shorts the right way, you need the right menswear accessories. A black canvas belt will complement your beige shorts, and adding a pocket square will add a touch of sophistication to your outfit.
If there is one menswear item that every modern gentleman needs in his closet, it’s a blazer. This classic wardrobe staple can be worn year-round, and fits right in at casual or business casual settings.
While you may have a blazer or two in your closet, they may not be suitable for summer. Warm-weather blazers in linen, silk or even a lightweight wool will keep you cool and stylish during the dog days of summer.
How to Wear
No one is stopping you from owning multiple types of summer blazers. In fact, we encourage you to do just that! But if you had to choose only one lightweight blazer for the season, it should be an unstructured navy blazer in a linen-blend.
The fabric offers breathability for the summer while also adding enough weight to keep you looking sharp and professional. Dress up your navy blazer for the office by wearing it with a dress shirt, khaki chinos, and a pair of cufflinks to enhance your impeccable style.
To dress it down, opt for cropped and cuffed chinos or a pair of slim-fit jeans. Truly, the navy blazer is one of the easiest menswear staples you will ever own. If you want to spruce it up a bit, you can choose a pastel blue blazer for a pop of color this season.
If you want to be slightly bolder choice, consider sporting a dashing seersucker blazer. Seersucker is designed to help you overcome those miserable hot and humid days while looking like a classic gentleman. Pair a seersucker blazer with white chinos and brown leather Oxfords, and you will be applauded for your heightened sense of style.
A high-quality seersucker blazer may not feel as light as other summer blazers, but don’t let this dissuade you from purchasing one. The cotton or cotton-blended fabric will still provide you with breathability and will hold its shape, despite the high temperatures.
To present a professional presence in the office, your closet needs to be updated for the summer with a few modern essentials. No matter how relaxed your dress code is, it always pays off to appear neat and polished at work. With the summer wardrobe staples above, you can look effortlessly professional and stylish for any occasion.