10 Summer Outfits Every Gentleman Should Master

Dressing for cold weather is easy. Footwear choices are limitless, textures are plentiful, and the possibility of layering provides an additional sartorial dimension.

Summer dressing, on the other hand, can present more of a challenge. The rising mercury brings with it many great things – barbecues, beer gardens and bronzed skin to name a few – but it also means that wardrobe options diminish significantly.

Staying cool is concern number one, but looking good is a close second. Thankfully there are a few tried-and-tested warm-weather outfits that manage to tick both boxes. Master these go-to, seasonal getups and you need never fall into a summer style rut again.

From tackling the office in heatwave conditions to picking the perfect wedding guest attire – here we present Ape’s ultimate summer outfit hitlist.

Breton With Chinos

France has done a great deal for fashion, but one of its most timeless and versatile contributions is the Breton top. First introduced as uniform for the French Navy in 1858, this striped pullover today enjoys wardrobe essential status.

Available in both short- and long-sleeved versions, the Breton offers a toned-down way to play with prints. Keep accompanying garments simple and stripped back: a cuffed navy chino will always be a fitting ally, worn with either minimal leather sneakers or Derby shoes, depending on the occasion.

Office Heatwave

The workplace isn’t always the most accommodating environment to find oneself in when temperatures begin to soar. However, a few seasonal wardrobe tweaks can help to make summer in the office a little more tolerable.

Ditching anything unnecessary is rule number one. Start with the tie and belt to make things instantly breezier. Next port of call is fabric – drop heavy, winter materials like wool and Oxford cloth in favour of linen and poplin. If you’re in the market for a tailor-made shirt, you could even request the back panel to be constructed from voile cloth to make it even more breathable.

Tie it all together with a pair of suede Derbies and your favourite sunglasses.

Shorts And Shirt

While shorts are never going to be part of the black-tie uniform, it would be remiss to say they can’t be dressed up. As long as you don’t sport it to a Buckingham Palace garden party, a simple shorts-and-shirt combo will serve you well for the vast majority of smart casual summer situations.

From the ground up, a pair of premium sneakers make a good jumping-off point – go for a slip-on silhouette for extra style points. Next, opt for either tailored or chino shorts in a subdued colour (beige and navy are both solid options). Finally, add in a well-fitting shirt. This can be either block colour, in a summery pastel shade, or subtly printed. Vertical stripes are both slimming and on trend.

Summer Wedding Separates

The thought of standing around in the sweltering sunshine all day dressed in a dark three-piece suit is enough to get anyone hot under the collar. Enter, suit separates.

Contrasting your top and bottom when heading for a wedding allows for increased freedom when experimenting with colour. Here, a cream jacket helps to deflect some of the heat, while a navy trouser keeps things grounded. A timeless, and winning, combination.

Warm-Weather Layering

Dress a shirt up and a tee down simultaneously by layering the two together. This failsafe combination is perfect for balmy summer weekends and beyond, particularly when the shirt in question is of the short-sleeved variety and the T-shirt is realised in a crisp, plain white cotton.

To nail the look, keep the rest of your outfit casual and relaxed. Jeans are a good option where legwear is concerned. Think stonewash for a laid-back feel or raw denim for something a little sharper. Whichever you opt for, top it off with a pair of white sneakers and don’t be afraid to show some ankle.

Get Tucked

Looking for a quick fix to elevate your look from pedestrian to Parisian? A simple tucked tee is all you need. Tucking T-shirts into trousers used to be middle-aged man territory, but there’s a new climate now, both in terms of style and temperature.

To pull it off, ensure your tee is the perfect fit. Its arm seams should rest neatly at your shoulders and the hem should fall just above the hips. Once that’s checked off, consider your legwear. Tailored pants can work well, especially if cropped at the ankle. For more casual settings, swap them out for denim or chinos.

Beach To Bar

Why let Richard Branson have all the fun? The linen shirt may have a bit of a reputation for its ageing-hippy connotations but to exclude it from your summer rotation would be to do yourself a grave style disservice.

The key to getting this beachy look right is all in the legwear. Unlike the Virgin CEO, forgo matching trousers in favour of tailored swim shorts. They’re smart, practical and can take you directly from beach to bar, oozing Riviera sophistication all the way. Finish off with some leather sandals and you’re good to go.

Summer Business Casual

Summer dressing doesn’t have to mean sloppy dressing. Contrary to popular belief, it is in fact possible to look put together and seasonally appropriate all at the same time.

A good summer shoe is your anchor here, so it’s well worth investing. A suede loafer is always a great option, provided it’s worn with no-show socks and cropped trousers. Speaking of which, this is a prime opportunity to break out the white jeans or chinos.

On top, opt for a contrasting jacket and layer over of a polo shirt, high-quality T-shirt or something similarly easy going.

Fresh Prints

Winter may provide a greater array of garment choices, but when it comes to prints and patterns, summer has the upper hand. A printed shirt is a warm-weather staple of the highest order, particularly when you want to make an impression.

Use it as a statement piece, keeping the rest of your look simple and restrained. Chinos are the ideal anchor for a patterned button-up. Go for a classic, understated colour like beige or green (match them to a base colour in the shirt to tie it all together) and cuffing them a little to give those ankles some air.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.