Summer 2021 promises to be an absolute blowout as we pack all the energy we saved up from 2020 into one massive party. And who doesn’t want to show up for a party dressed to kill? Here are our picks to make sure that you look your absolute best, whether you’re dancing the night away, jamming on the jetway, or hitting the beach.
This summer’s palette remains somewhat muted and neutral, often taking cues from nature, with bright pops of color enlivening earth tones. White, taupe, black, and navy are our key foundation hues, but a “Fall for Spring” story means we’re seeing traditionally autumnal colors like olive, brown, and rust, working their way into our shorts, t-shirts, and swimsuits. Those are further bolstered with clear shots of green, aqua, and bold red, as well as bright yellow and orange. Pantone may have expressed it best with its color(s) of the year: Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating.
Roaring 20s? Meet the Edgy 80s
Style gurus were talking about the return of the “Roaring 20s” even before we were forced into hermit-like isolation. Now we have even more reason to party like it’s 1921. Beyond Gatsby-era chic, styles are also likely to be influenced by another party-hardy, Art Deco era, the early 1980s. Think cocaine-fueled dramas like Scarface, Miami Vice, or Bright Lights, Big City. We’re barely back to our cubicles but have already spotted a return to tailored clothing in retro-inspired looser, more comfortable, silhouettes.
Read more: 1920s Menswear Style Guide
Ralph Lauren Purple Label Kent Linen Sport Coat
Grab a blazer that would make F. Scott Fitzgerald proud. This classic navy double-breasted sport coat will dress up nicely with a pair of white trousers for summer weddings but would also make a pair of jeans or shorts look like the cat’s pajamas.
Huf Westlake Resort Shirt
The cabana-striped camp shirt gets a modern upgrade from Huf — casual, but with an elegant edge. Wear it for cigar-chomping BBQs with the neighbors or dinner out at your favorite clam hut.
Desigual Unisex Jeans
Literally capturing Miami Beach’s “Golden Years,” these unisex jeans also offer an updated, looser silhouette. Keep ‘em close — and your female friends closer — to make sure they don’t swipe them before the summer’s over.
Just take those old sunglasses off the shelf. There’s a reason you (or your dad or your big brother) held onto these all this time. They always look cool. Lost the last pair? It’s time to get back into some risky business.
Body Baring Vibe
We live in a visual, social media world, and from TikTok to Instagram, to dating apps to (enough already) Zoom, we’re more body-conscious than ever. The good news is that body acceptance means that even if we’re not in triathlete shape, it’s okay to bare a little more flesh: Skin is (once again) in. This is definitely the summer to get (almost) naked.
Standard Cloth Mesh Tank Top
Combine just a wee bit of roller disco attitude with open-weave cotton mesh for this updated take on the classic mesh tank top. Wear it anywhere to flout “no shirt no service” rules and look as cool as you feel.
Plums Underwear Briefs
Grab a three-pack of these super soft and comfortable viscose briefs that feel like you’re not wearing anything at all. With Plums’ great patterns, you may be tempted to just make this underwear your whole outfit on the very hottest summer days. (But, ummm, don’t.)
Speedo Caeleb Printed Brief
Hey, it’s an Olympic year (well, plus one, but who’s counting?), so it’s time to give in to the Speedo. This one celebrates the tattoos of champion sprinter and two-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel.
Do I even have to name-drop Milo Ventimiglia’s thighs (who should have a ‘gram account all their own)? Pay attention to proportions, but if you’ve got chicken legs or haven’t missed a leg day since the ‘90s, wear your shorts shorter than ever this season.
Read more: Short Shorts Menswear Trend
Chubbies Top Drawers
We like this pair for its comfy stretch cotton blend, and casual elastic waistband. They also come in a nice range of colors, so you can order several pairs and not get caught short on options.
ASOS Design Jersey Skinny Shorts
Made from a comfortable, stretchy, jersey cotton knit, these shorts stride that perfect line between active and relaxed, so they’re as great for a day out in the city, checking out farmer’s markets in the country, or for a quick workout between the two.
Modern architects have taken to incorporating plants, trees, and landscapes into office spaces, bringing the outdoors in to boost our moods and our well-being. Dubbed “biophilia,” the trend is reflected in our clothing by bringing clothes previously relegated to the trail or the campsite into the office and onto the street. Just as important as the style is the building interest in sustainably sourced materials that are good for the planet and the workers who create these garments.
Levi’s Cubano Shirt
This star fruit pattern puts nature front and center, but more importantly, this shirt is part of Levi’s sustainability program, featuring cottonized hemp which requires less water and fewer chemicals to grow than cotton, and it feels even softer.
United by Blue (R)evolution Convertible Carryall
Besides its utilitarian ability to swap between being a tote or backpack, United By Blue‘s bag also features recycled materials throughout the bag, from its DWR-coated exterior to webbing straps and paracord pulls.
Outerknown Ambassador Slim Fit Jeans
Look, the worse thing you can do for the environment is throw away those skinny jeans you’ve been wearing for the past few years, but, let’s face it: that trend has sailed. Grab a new pair of classic slim-fits from ethical and environmentally friendly company Outerknown, and save those slim-fits for when they come back into style again in twenty years. (They’ll still fit, right?)
The Epic Western Shirt
There is something about an iconic Western shirt that makes every man look a little more handsome. Maybe it’s all that dusty cowboy bravado, or maybe it’s just that the classic silhouette — featuring a yoked shoulder and angled pockets — draws the eye up, making shoulders look broader and slimming the torso. If you don’t already have one, get one now: wear it forever.
G-Star 3301 Slim Shirt
The classic cowboy shirt gets a fresh update from G-Star. Its clean, modern styling will just keep looking better and better with age.
Wrangler Contrast Trim Western Shirt
Wrangler is still one of the trusted brands of real cowboys, and this shirt will be just as home at the rodeo as it will on the dance floor or your casual office.
Abercrombie & Fitch Linen Button-Up Shirt
If the cowboy shirt is too much of a costume for your taste, go for the same rugged feeling and grab shirts with texture in Western-inspired hues. This linen shirt will naturally keep you cool all summer, while the rusty red evokes romantic sunsets at the ranch (we also like the rest of Abercrombie’s neutral, washed-down linen palette).
Read more: Best Summer Shirts
Style That’s Built to Last
On a related trend, we’re being more careful about building wardrobes with style that transcends irresponsible fast fashion, carefully curating quality pieces that are made to last. The idea is also to cull our closets down to only the most key selections, making decision-making easier. We can be comfortable knowing we’ll wear them for years, if not decades to come. This minimalist approach got a boost from movies like Nomadland, making us think about how we can get by with the bare minimum of possessions. Classic style and comfort are key here.
Menlo House Five Four Luka Chore Jacket
The chore jacket is like the dressier version of your favorite denim jacket: its styling is a little cleaner and neater, making it perfect for the casual office, but it’ll be perfect to layer over tees, tank tops, and shorts on those first cooler summer evenings.
Uniqlo Supima Cotton Crew Neck T-Shirt
At first, you may think it’s too simple, but trust us on this. Build a wardrobe of basic white, black, and navy t-shirts, and you’ll look comfortable and casually elegant all summer long and beyond. Grab these Supima tees from Uniqlo for soft, long-wearing comfort and long-wearing style.
Wolverine 1000 Mile X Rawlings Boot
Wolverine has been making boots since before your grandfather was born and maintains a strict commitment to quality that lasts. We like this Rawlings collaboration, not only because they are an awesome tribute to the “Boys of Summer,” but also for the pale baseball glove leather. They’re great for summer nights, but you’ll wear them proudly year-round.
Clothes for Comfort
If there was any one good thing about quarantine, it was the ability to spend days at a time in our favorite sweats. Now that we can head out, we’d venture that a lot of us will be bringing that newfound comfort with us. Go for sophisticated colors and pair them with other wardrobe essentials for a laid-back (but not too casual) look.
Champion Reverse Weave Crew
We like this sweatshirt as our new sweater alternative. Pair it with khakis and pull it over a button-down shirt, and make sure that it’s in the beach bag for when the breeze starts coming in off the ocean.
Alo Repetition Short
These workout shorts incorporate all the performance features you want to wear for the gym, yoga class, or morning run; but the clean styling and faux fly means they’re great to wear every day, too. Take these on travels to be prepared for just about anything.
Lululemon ABC Jogger Ventlight
You weren’t really ready to give up sweats, yet, were you? Think of these joggers as your gateway to real pants. They’re made from a breathable, water-repellent stretch fabric, and the tapered fit makes them just right for almost any casual occasion.
Fashion Tech Support
We live in a brave new world of fiber and fabric technology where man-made materials mimic the best that nature has to offer, then ups the ante to keep us dry, comfortable, and at a perfect temperature.
UnTuckit Wrinkle-Free Performance Gironde Shirt
It’ll be the first shirt you grab on Mondays because you don’t have to iron it, but you’ll wear it the rest of the week, too, for its moisture-wicking and stretch comfort.
Bleusalt The Point Polo
We kept pulling this polo shirt off to check the tag because we were sure it was cashmere, it is so soft, but it’s actually made from sustainable Tencel Modal.
Awearness Kenneth Cole Awear-tech Modern Fit Shorts
These shorts feature trademarked 37.5 Technology that’s incorporated into a poly/spandex blend that will keep you cool and comfortable all day and moving through everything from a bicycle commute to a golf game to a night on the dance floor.
Shoes, Technically Speaking
The footwear industry has long been at the forefront of using new materials to offer increased comfort and longer wear, but this season the nerds have taken over the building. Look for improved performance features that make every step better.
Crocs Swiftwater Expedition Sandal
Classic Crocs have a love ‘em or hate ‘em following, and this editor is firmly on the “hated it” side of the fence. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised to see these updated sandals that Croslite foam for cushioned support in a water-friendly (they float!) design that’s made from antimicrobial foam to resist odors and bacteria.
Florsheim Crossover Sneaker
The classic skater shoe gets an adult makeover with this sophisticated knit upper and Florsheim’s Comfortech footbed, anti-odor treatment, and Flexsole technology. These sneakers may well be your all-summer shoe.
Nike Air Raid
The original 1992 Air Raid was designed specifically for outdoor courts, featuring abrasion resistance and a signature “X-cross” strap. Today the Air Raid gets a clean, contemporary upgrade that looks just as great off-court as on.