As the sun starts to shine and the weather warms up it can be hard to dress well and keep cool. So whether you're in the office, at a family party or chilling out in a pub garden, a summer dress shirt is a style must for those smart days.
When it comes to looking for men's summer clothes; let's face it - we've got the shorter end of the stick in comparison to the fairer sex. While the ladies have a plethora of options from summer dresses to silky skirts, we're left with a selection of trousers and some simple shirt options.
While we mightn't have a broad range of options at our disposal, this gives us all the more reason to be completely clued up on what we do have. In the complete guide below, we'll show you how a summer dress shirt should be worn on men, what materials you should be looking for and how to style one for several different occasions. You're welcome!
What Exactly is a Men's Dress Shirt?
Dress shirts are an essential item in any man’s wardrobe. They are the typical choice for business men or those looking for a smarter style, but they can also be worn in a more casual setting. It can be hard to see the difference between a dress shirt and a casual shirt as nowadays, the lines between them are more blurred. But there are a few things to look for when identifying a typical dress shirt:
- A Stiff Collar: Smarter shirts tend to hold their shape better all over, and with a stiff collar you won’t need a button down collar.
- Long Sleeves: Dress shirts always have full length sleeves with stiff cuffs that hold their shape better than sport shirts.
- Colour: The classic dress shirts were always white, but more recently a wider range has become available. That being said they don’t tend to come in crazy colours or patterns, unless of course they are bespoke.
- Material: Dress shirts will always be made from the best materials as they are known for their quality and fit, this means they can be quite expensive. If you see a cheap dress shirt you have to question its quality.
How to Wear a Dress Shirt in Summer
The dress shirt is no longer reserved exclusively for lawyers and accountants in full business regalia; they are now commonly worn for various different occasions, regardless of season, and by men from all walks of life. Before we continue, check out some simple styling tips on how you can make the most of your dress shirt for every occasion.
- Buttons: You can button your shirt all the way up for a smart look, even if you’re not wearing a tie. For smart casual you can get away with undoing only your top button. And for the more casual style, simply undo a few more buttons. But don’t go over the top, you don’t need your whole chest on display.
- Sleeves: Long sleeves and a tie give you the smartest look. You can also turn up your cuffs or roll them up to the elbows for a more casual look or when the weather gets a lot hotter.
- Tucked In/Out: If you’re in a formal situation you should keep your shirt tucked in, especially if you’re wearing a shirt and tie, but in more casual situations an untucked shirt is fine. Nevertheless, it is important to make your choice before you leave the house. If you decide to untuck your shirt halfway through the day it will be creased and crumpled – which is not a good look. If you get to the office and hurriedly tuck in your shirt without a mirror it won’t sit right. So make your choice and stick to it.
Summer Outfits for Men
While the dress shirt was once reserved for formal events, business wear and pairing with a suit; as with every faucet of fashion, the rules have relaxed in recent years meaning there's now a plethora of options at your disposal. Check out some of our ideas for summer dress clothes for men below and we'll show you how you can make the most of your dress shirt in every setting.
Summer Business Casual for Men
If you work in an office environment, you probably dread the summer months sat at your computer, but with the right outfit choices, you can look smart and keep cool without having to hog the office fan.
The typical business suit is black or blue with a white shirt, which isn’t great for those hot days. The mistake most men make in summer is untucking their shirt and losing the blazer and tie. You think this will keep you cool but it leaves your outfit looking incomplete and messy. The sweat patches and creases will show and you probably won’t be much cooler anyway.
Instead, choose lighter colours all over – sand, cream, beige, pale grey are just some of them. If you wear a sand-coloured suit you should go for a pale coloured shirt to complement it, avoiding white which will just blend into the light colour of the blazer. To complete the look choose brown shoes with pale socks. Alternatively, you can buy invisible socks that just fit around the shape of the shoe. They give the sockless look without the sweaty feet to match.
Depending on how smart you want to look you can keep the tie or lose it. If you would prefer to wear a tie, try a light cotton one. Or forego the tie and don’t undo more than your top two buttons. No one wants to see a man’s chest in the office.
Summer Party Wear for Men
No one wants to be that guy who turns up to that smart/casual event in a T-shirt and shorts because the sun is shining. It can be hard to figure out what to wear when you’re supposed to be smart and casual. But it’s better to dress smarter, and then tone it down than go full on casual.
A mismatched suit is a stylish choice for that summer business casual look. It looks like you’ve just left the office, but you’re ready to relax and socialise. Start with a pale coloured shirt – you can get away with wearing a slight pattern if you want, then add a darker navy blazer and tie to match. The blazer should feel light to wear, so try a linen/cotton or wool blend with a loose weave.
Choose lighter coloured trousers to complement the blazer. Dress pants will keep your outfit looking smart, whereas chinos will give you a slightly more casual look so the choice is yours. Finish the look with slip-on shoes that are comfortable, while still looking stylish. This is also the perfect occasion to wear those invisible socks.
Summer Casual Wear for Men
You may find it hard to go completely casual while wearing a dress shirt, but it is possible. At first glance they can seem stuffy and smart, but with some clever styling you can switch from your office look to that guy chilling in the pub in just a few easy steps. Just because you're wearing a shirt doesn’t mean you have to wear a blazer, smart shoes or even trousers. You can mismatch your suit when going smart/casual. So when choosing a casual outfit you have even more freedom.
A pair of chinos or jean shorts will contrast the crisp, clean look of the shirt, giving you a casual but stylish summer look. Rolled up sleeves and a few loose buttons will keep you looking cool and laid-back. The key with this style is that the smart aspects of the outfit must look neat compared to the casual. So if you’re wearing a white shirt, it should be white not greying. Likewise, your white shoes should be clean and not scuffed.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel like you can pull off the completely clean look, you can try a pastel blue or pink shirt. Then you can be more flexible with the shoes you’re wearing; choose trainers, slip-ons, or if you’re chilling at the beach - sandals will be fitting.
Buying Guide: Summer Dress Shirts for Men
You may be wondering how you can possibly contemplate wearing a shirt in the heat without getting all hot and flustered. The mistake you’re making is that you're wearing the same type of shirt all year round. If you buy the correct dress shirt for the right season you’ll stay smart, not sweaty.
This is probably the most important thing to think about when buying any hot weather appropriate clothing for men. Buying the right material is easy – stick with natural fabrics. Cotton is the best fabric for hot weather as it keeps you cool and dries quickly, but other natural fabrics like linen and wool will also keep you cool.
If you don’t mind sacrificing sleek for cool, and you’re good with the iron, you may want to try a linen dress shirt. It’s cool and breathable, easily one of the best fabrics for hot weather, but unfortunately doesn’t hold its shape well. Dress shirts are traditionally created using stiffer fabrics, so you may struggle to find one in linen, however a cotton/linen blend is a good fabric for hot weather clothing.
When you think of wool you may think of woolly hats and gloves. But with the right weave, it will create breathable clothing for hot weather. It works in a dry or humid heat because it soaks up moisture, keeping it away from the skin, and dries quickly.
When comes to fabric weaves most men couldn’t tell their twill from their herringbone. If you’re completely clueless, just hold your shirt up. If it feels light and translucent it has been created with a loose weave, this is perfect for hotter temperatures. If you’re looking for something more specific, here’s a quick guide to your best weave choices for summer:
- Poplin/Broadcloth: Due to its breathable quality, this is one of the more popular weaves for warmer days. It has a simple ‘criss-cross’ pattern that makes it lightweight with a silky smooth finish.
- Pinpoint: This is a slightly heavier weave than poplin, but it creates a stronger fabric that hangs better while still being breathable.
- End on End: A soft, lightweight weave, it is comfortable and cool for warmer days. It is created using two or more colours, giving a slight texture and two-tone look.
Size and Fit
Once you’ve figured out what kind of dress shirt you want, you need to look at size and fit. A lot of men automatically go for baggy shirts in the hotter weather. You may think they are cooler but you are adding unnecessary fabric which can actually make you hotter. Plus baggy shirts are not a good look.
Slim fit shirts worn with a blazer will look smarter tucked in, whereas a loose-fitting shirt will look better if you are going for a more casual look. You may want to get measured for the perfect fitting suit because a overly tight shirt will be hot and uncomfortable. A regular fit shirt works whether you’re going to the office in a full suit, or wearing it with shorts at a BBQ.
Summer is the time for light colours. Dress shirts were traditionally white but they don’t have to be. Try to be more adventurous with pale blues, pinks and greys, which will still look smart. Even an off white shirt will look chic in the sunshine. Pale colours reflect the light, while dark ones will absorb it, so avoid black and navy blue shirts. You may think you’re hiding the sweat patches, but you’re probably sweating more.
How to Wear Dress Shirts in Summer
- Stick to light colours such as beiges, blues, pinks and creams, it's sunny and you want to be reflecting heat not absorbing it.
- It’s not just about materials, but weaves too. Choose a light, loose weave to stay cool even if you go for a fitted shirt.
- Tucked in is perfect for the office. Untucked is acceptable in casual or smart/casual situations - just make sure you do one or the other.
- When unbuttoning your shirt don’t take it too far. One button is fine for a smart suit, and two or three are fine with a casual outfit
On That Note
Now that the thought of wearing a dress shirt in summer isn’t so daunting you can wear a one at any time of year and for any occasion. Once you’ve gone through the materials and colours, don’t forget about accessories and shoes - this will put you one step ahead of the crowd when it comes to men's summer dress.