Summer style should be as relaxed as a Corona commercial, with a slightly larger wardrobe. The only rule? You can’t stick to basic black, especially this season. Play with colour—add a coral tie or lavender shirt to your repertoire and see what happens. Experiment with different fabrics, cuts, and textures. Consider linen. To get you started, we’ve created a checklist of summer style essentials. Think of it as a head-to-toe wardrobe in five easy pieces.
Try: Panama hat
For most men, wearing a hat is a fashion challenge in itself. The key to making it work is to find one that is the right size and shape for your face. Lightweight and breathable, the classic Panama hat is a stylish bet for neophytes and aficionados alike. How to wear it? With almost everything—jeans, shorts, chinos—except a formal dark suit. Tilt it back on your head for ultimate “I got this” insouciance.
Similar to a Panama, the fedora is more structured and pinched on both sides toward the brim. It’s a statement making hat. You want yours to say “Indiana Jones”, not “Michael Jackson”, so opt for brown or black, and keep the rest of your look casual.
Try: Coloured sports jacket
The easiest way to lighten up your summer wardrobe? Add a fitted sports jacket in a hue other than black. Navy blue, seen recently at Gucci and Dior Homme, flatters almost every skin tone, but if you want to go bolder, consider parakeet green or Naples yellow, which brightened the runways at Louis Vuitton and Trussardi 1911. Pair with pants in a different shade, like cream chinos, a perennially safe bet.
Dare: Double-breasted sports jacket
Double-breasted jackets can veer into old-fashioned territory—of the fuddy duddy, not classic cocktail, variety. For top-of-the-line vintage inspiration, add Cary Grant’s Arsenic and Old Lace to your Netflix list, then contemplate a 2011 revamp. First, make boxiness your enemy. Then choose a structured jacket that is cut shorter than normal, about four inches below your natural waistline.
Try: Khaki suit
You’ll only wear it in the warmer months. So what? The right khaki suit will take your look to red hot—and you can wear it from the boardroom to the beach bar. A cooler shade of khaki, with grey, not yellow, undertones, is almost universally flattering, while also perfectly complementing your mojito. For the ultimate win-win, check out Etro, Canali, and Simon Spurr.
Dare: White linen suit
Picture this: The Dude of Big Lebowski fame is getting married. What’s he wearing at the chocolate fountain? Definitely a white linen suit. That image, and its casual sartorial implications, is the key to pulling off the linen suit with style. Focus on the comfort, forget the wrinkles.
Try: Grey jeans
Blue jeans are a classic for a reason—see James Dean, Bruce Springsteen, Zach Morris—but this season, grey denim is edging onto the fashion landscape. To look on-trend but still like yourself, choose a straight-legged lightweight pair that looks distressed and/or worn in. (Try Diesel, Ralph Lauren Black Label, or Gilded Age for all of the above.) Consider them your new neutral: Top with James Perse tees or a lightweight leather jacket for evenings on the patio.
Dare: White jeans
Sure, white jeans can look a little Jersey Shore. Keep the situation under control by opting for a slim-fitting cut that rests a little lower on your hips. Hint: Skip the Ed Hardy. And the belt.
Try: Brogue wing tip
You know the wing tip—total classic. Your challenge this summer: Switch it up a bit. Buy a pair in white, or a subtle two-tone. Now you’re going places.
Dare: Leather strap sandal
More formal than a flip flop, but still casual enough to wear to the beach, the modern sandal is all about versatility. Choose a pair in black or brown, and steer clear of separate toe straps. Trust.
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.