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The 5 Best Summer Shoes for Men

best summer shoes for men

As much as I love boots, denim, and heavy sweaters, I still emerge from every Chicago winter longing for spring.

During the winter, I have to spend five minutes tying boots and getting dressed in battle gear just to walk to the corner store.

So the ease of being able to slip on my summer shoes and walk out the door becomes a greatly missed luxury.

How to wear summer shoes

Dressing for the season and weather is one of the hallmarks of well dressed men.

While you don't have to strive for the full on country club look, it doesn't hurt to have some lighter weight trousers, colorful patterned shirts, and a few pairs of summer shoes reserved specifically for the season.

More often than not, I wear all of my summer shoes sockless (read this article to beat foot odor while doing so).

And in modern times at least, going sockless is perfectly acceptable even in a formal city like Chicago. The summer heat just demands a more relaxed dress code.

For shoes, this typically means lighter colors, woven fabrics, suede, and slimmer profiles.

The shoes on this list are what I consider the essential summer shoes for men, roughly ordered from most to least formal.

1. Dress shoes

summer shoes grant stone men

While not specifically a “summer shoe,” some dress shoes that lean a little more to the casual end of the formality spectrum can pair well with dedicated summer clothes.

They work best if you have more colorful socks or skip them all together.

I would avoid shoes that are made of black leather or those that are highly polished, as they're just too hard to dress down.

Bluchers are much easier than balmorals (I explain the difference in my free eBook) to pull off in a casual manner.

summer shoes men leather wing tips

Buying tips

  • Lighter colors are going to be easier to wear casually
  • Suede is a good option for warmer weather
  • Look for earth tones and contrasting rubber soles
  • Pointy or chiseled toes are more formal – instead look for something with a more rounded profile
  • Choose bluchers over oxfords
  • Broguing adds a casual element (also explained in my free ebook)

Recommended dress shoes

summer shoes for men dress shoes

Allen Edmonds ShreveportGrant Stone –  Cole Haan Willet

2. Loafers

summer shoes men loafers

The second most formal summer shoe option is the leather loafer.

Their slip on construction makes them the perfect addition to a dressy look while still having the ease, comfort, and coolness you need for the hot days ahead.

You can wear these with a short sleeve button up and chambray pants, with a summer suit, or even with shorts.
summer shoes men loafers shorts

summer shoes men loafers wedding

Buying tips

  • You may have to size down half a size to prevent slippage
  • Unlined loafers will be cooler due to one less layer of leather
  • Look for softer construction for a more casual look
  • Rubber soles enhance comfort and traction in the rain

Recommended loafers

summer shoes loafer

Allen Edmonds AddisonFlorsheim Berkley (the ones I have) – Messico Berriz

3. Espadrilles

summer shoes men espadrilles

summer shoes men espadrilles shorts

These summer shoes just make me think of an Italian Riviera vacation in the 1960s.

Sean Connery actually wore a pair similar to the ones above in his role as James Bond in Thunderball.

Sounds like a solid endorsement to me!

Espadrilles are perfect for transitioning from beach to boardwalk or just slipping on to run errands.

They look great with cuffed jeans, shorts, or even as part of a destination summer wedding outfit.

summer shoes men espadrilles jeans

Buying tips

  • Breathable mesh will help keep your feet cool
  • Higher end espadrilles will have a coiled rope insole (very interesting detail)
  • Rubber soles will help tremendously by the pool
  • If you're wearing them casually, try some bold colors
  • Although they may not fit the technical definition, leather espadrilles are awesome

Recommended espadrilles

summer shoes espadrilles men

H by Hudson Ipaneema – RivierasSoludos Original Dali

4. Boat shoes

summer shoes men sperry topsider boat shoes

I've already written a full review here on these jack-of-all-trades summer shoes.

Guys frequently view them as more dressy than they actually are due to the popularity with the wealthy East Coast crowd.

But don't make the mistake of thinking these should be worn with a suit.

In my experience, they look best in casual summer settings and always improve with a little patina.

summer shoes men boat shoes shorts

Buying tips

  • Functional, 360-degree laces
  • Siped soles
  • Leather insoles to help prevent foot odor
  • Since these are casual shoes, go for whatever color speaks to you (and there are plenty of options)

Recommended boat shoes

summer shoes boat shoes men

Frye Sully TieAllen Edmonds Maritime Sperry Top-Sider Gold Cup

5. Classic sneakers

summer shoes men sneakers

summer shoes men sneakers pants

Sneakers are a great combination of classic good looks and functionality.

They aren't nearly as fancy as dress shoes or loafers, but they provide a lot more cushion and probably won't give you blisters if your day involves more walking than intended.

In general, unless you're a master of your own personal style, I don't think you should attempt to wear these with a suit or even a sport coat.

That look works perfectly for J.Crew models, but most guys should wear these in a strictly casual arena.

summer shoes men sneakers jeans

Buying tips

  • If they look like they could've been worn in The Sandlot, you're golden
  • Look for canvas over leather to cut down on foot sweat, you'll also be able to wash them if need be
  • Some newer models are made of mesh making them the perfect summer shoe
  • No need to go designer, the classic models are perfect

Recommended sneakers

summer shoes classic sneakers men

Converse Jack Purcell – Tretorn Tournament Gola Seeker Mesh

Take away

While you definitely don't need to buy a pair of summer shoes from every category, having two or three wouldn't hurt.

It's also a good idea to give your summer shoes a day or two to breathe between wears.

A good starting rotation would be:

  1. Classic sneakers
  2. Boat shoes
  3. Loafers

This'll ensure that you have options to change things up based on where the day will potentially take you and get you through events that vary in their level of formality.

All the best,

Nate

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Tim
    April 29, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    I’m having to start planning for my summer wardrobe. I live in Texas, so we can have really hot and humid summers. At work I wear a full suit everyday and…. need to start planning on a cooler (literally) alternative that is still very professional. With that in mind, any recommendations? I will be having to review your book for additional ideas well.

    • Reply
      Nate
      April 29, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      Are you looking for summer appropriate suits or something different all together?

      • Reply
        Tim
        April 29, 2016 at 5:27 pm

        I’m looking for non-boiler professional attire ideas. I like dressing as much as I can, but I know things will be heating up. A summer suit may or may not be doable as the year moves on, but still something that has that professional image.

        • Reply
          Nate
          May 1, 2016 at 7:54 am

          Check out Suitsupply for inspiration. Even if you don’t buy suits from them, you can use the types of garments and fabrics for reference. I would suggest getting cotton/linen blend shirts (they won’t wrinkle as bad as pure linen), leaving a couple buttons undone and get slip on shoes. You can also look for tropical weight wool trousers.

  • Reply
    Matt
    April 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Hey Nate, I live in the suburbs of Chicago so I understand your struggles of how ho the summers can get. Could you do a guide on shorts and shirts for the summer weather?

    • Reply
      Nate
      May 1, 2016 at 7:56 am

      That’s in the works, Matt! I actually have to replace most of my shorts sine the inner thighs wore through on my others last summer.

      • Reply
        Levi
        May 8, 2016 at 11:35 am

        I’m looking forward to this. I just got both the free and $15 style guide, which is going to help me tremendously (much thanks for putting those together). I live in Alabama, so the heat and humidity require shorts if one is outside for more than 15 minutes at a time during the summer.
        Thanks for all the free information, Nate!

        • Reply
          Nate
          May 10, 2016 at 12:03 pm

          I feel you on the heat and humidity. Although not quite as hot as Alabama, it’s normal for guys to walk around with sweat soaked backs and butt cracks in Chicago so pants are out of the question unless strictly required.

  • Reply
    Uncensored Guy
    April 30, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    So are you wearing short socks with these or not? I always hesitate to go sock free in the summer since my feet get pretty hot.

    • Reply
      Nate
      May 1, 2016 at 7:58 am

      I prefer to go sockless most of he time. Less layers equals more comfort for me. Getting the right shoes helps. Most athletic shoes guys wear in the summer are highly padded (essentially insulated), but unlined leather shoes and canvas sneakers don’t hold in the heat nearly as much.

  • Reply
    Sam Brown
    May 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Nate, really enjoying the blog but what’s the name of those taupe espadrilles you’re wearing? They don’t seem to be listed in the ones you recommend.

    • Reply
      Nate
      May 5, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      I got those from Urban Outfitters at the end of last summer and they aren’t available anymore. The other recommendations are what I think are the closest alternative.

  • Reply
    Evan
    May 12, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Nate!

    Looking sharp as usual, and thanks a lot for doing this post! I remember I was curious about how we can wear good looking shoes, especially for the summer and relaxing occasions.

    This is a great clear-up for people looking to phase out of tennis shoes like myself, because while Jordan’s and Nike High Tops are great for a time, sometimes you’ve got to class it up even if it’s casual.

    Keep up this type of legit advice brotha

    – Evan

  • Reply
    Robert Sterling
    June 20, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve been meaning to look for sneakers for an upcoming bachelor party I’m attending. My only good pair have a leather upper portion: look really nice but lack ventilation. Wore them to a fest in May last year. Big mistake.

    I’m glad Chris from GLL tweeted this. I think I’ll stick around!

    • Reply
      Nate
      June 20, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Canvas uppers definitely breath better than leather. Not only that but the old school ones like the classic converse aren’t padded (insulated) so they don’t retain heat in that manner either. Glad to have you here, Robert!

  • Reply
    Sam
    August 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Nate, I live in New York City and a typical weekend involves a lot of walking for me. Since it’s summer I was looking for casual shoes that i can pair with shorts. I cant make up my mind between boat shoes and sneakers. I would really love to wear boats but have heard so many stories of people getting blisters after walking in them. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks
    -Sam

    • Reply
      Nate
      August 3, 2016 at 9:42 am

      I haven’t had any problems with blisters and I’ve broken in two pairs of boat shoes. But I’m not really prone to blisters in the first place. If you truly do a lot of walking, go with something familiar like sneakers to be safe.

  • Reply
    Cory
    September 23, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Nate- where can we buy the Espadrilles being worn in the picture? Thanks.

    • Reply
      Nate
      September 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Those are from Urban Outfitters but aren’t available anymore. Since writing this article I’ve also purchased a pair made by Soludos which are much better in terms of construction and quality. The Soludos look very similar but have more of an “authentic” vibe. Check the out and I think you’ll agree. FYI, I sized down one full size from gym shoe size and they fit perfectly snug.

  • Reply
    Rajiv Dmello
    November 8, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Will a pair of white sneakers go with dark blue denim , navy blue chinos , beige color chinos or black denims… And which color sneaker should i go for, to pair with dark or light shaded denims ? I am confused…

    • Reply
      Nate
      November 15, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      White sneakers will go with pretty much anything. I like to wear gray sneakers with dark denim so there’s less contrast with the whole outfit and the indigo won’t be as noticeable on your shoes.

  • Reply
    Leslie
    December 9, 2016 at 4:47 am

    Damn cool. Love your blog and its photography.

  • Reply
    Carmine
    October 3, 2017 at 9:51 am

    I think loafers and simple low top sneakers are the best summer shoes. They’re both versatile and fashionable :)

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