Without a little careful planning and consideration, attempting to stock a new-season wardrobe entirely from scratch is about as much fun as going to the doctor for a prostate exam. Especially when parting with significant amounts of cash.
Fortunately, we’ve done it for you (the careful planning bit, not the prostate exam) by compiling 31 of the best budget buys no man should be without this summer. (Assuming you’re stocked up on the essentials recommended in spring, that is.) Limber up those fingers and get ready to click ‘add to basket’.
Printed Swim Shorts
It goes without saying that swim shorts are an essential part of resort wear, but just because they’re only cracked out a few times a year doesn’t mean they deserve any less attention. This season, the best examples go after just that.
Of course, there will always be a place in the male wardrobe for tailored swimmers, but if ever there’s a time for a playful print, it’s on the beach.
Retro Running Sneakers
If your style is more Rick Ross than Mr Ripley, we’ve got good news for your feet this season.
While minimalist sneakers aren’t about to fall out of favour any time soon, old-school kicks inspired by running shoes have been picking up pace, offering a low-commitment way to tap into the retro trend.
Originally designed as a tribute to Napoleon (with 21 stripes to mark each of his victories), today the Breton stripe top is a triumph all of its own in the style world.
Perfect for channelling the alluring swag of the French Riviera, whether worn with long sleeves or short, as a T-shirt or as a sweatshirt, it’s a piece that never fails to look good with dark denim.
Monogrammed leather holdalls are great and everything, but they’re also expensive. Opt for a sporty duffle bag instead and save yourself some cash for the beach club.
Simple block colours can flit from the nine-to-five to a weekend away, all without looking like a Kardashian abroad.
Owing to their cotton twill construction, a reliable pair of chinos makes for a lighter option than jeans in summer, but one that will be no less of a workhorse when it comes to getting dressed.
Opt for a pair in a neutral colourway for a classic way to ground almost any smart-casual outfit.
- Zara Skinny Chino Trousers
- H&m Cotton Chinos Slim Fit
- Burton Stone Carter Tapered Fit Stretch Chinos
Forget everything you thought you knew, because if recent seasons have proved anything, it’s that linen isn’t solely worn by OAPs on a cruise.
By utilising the breathable fabric within a classic piece – such as an Oxford shirt – you’ll score a summer-friendly option far from the Costa del Geriatric.
Blue collar threads, from trucker jackets to work boots, have long been a wardrobe influence.
But while they seem better suited to winter looks, iterations in lighter fabrics like chambray add a versatile, rugged appeal that’ll work year-round.
With necks unencumbered by multiple thick layers and arms free from the shackles of long sleeves, summer is a perfect time for stocking up on a few choice pieces of jewellery.
That’s not to say it’s time to put pedal to the metal, as it were. Instead, stick to restrained pieces in silver or gold in the case of necklaces, and leather or rope when it comes to bracelets for a subtle accent.
Printed T-shirts are a summer tradition older than warm cans of beer and a poorly-advised hot dog. Yet many guys still get it wrong.
This season, ditch the floral get-up for a statement of a different kind. A logo tee is a failsafe way to level-up your basics and tap into the ubiquitous streetwear trend.
- Topman Champion Black Large Chest Logo Corporate T-shirt
- Adidas Adidas Outline Tee
- Topman Nicce Orange Centre Logo T-shirt
Just as a wardrobe should be switched up with the seasons, so too should a grooming cabinet: lighter moisturisers, UV protection and anti-frizz hair products.
When it comes to your daily scent, the sweet (smelling) spot is something that swaps woods and spices for citrus and florals.
Navy Chino Shorts
Temperatures north of 28 degrees celsius render most trousers impractical, but looking smart with your legs bared is not easy.
That’s where a pair of chino shorts come in. Cool, versatile and lightweight, the Oxbridge cut-offs retain a tailored sizzle without the scorch.
While flip-flops and pool sliders should be reserved solely for your holiday; a pair of sleek leather sandals is a solid choice for the city or the beach.
Seek out pared-back options in dark leather (preferably black, navy or brown), which will help add some luxury to any summer ensemble, no matter the price tag.
- Topman Slydes Black Watson Sandals
- Zara Cross Strap Sandals
- River Island Brown Leather Cross Strap Sandals
Cuban Collar Shirt
Bring a touch of Cuba to Cardiff, Cambridge or even Cockermouth with the shirt of the season. An ode to 1950s Americana, the open-necked Cuban collar is an effortlessly cool option for balmy summer nights.
Channel Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet with a floral version or follow the lead of Ryan Gosling in La La Land with a subtle design in a neutral colourway.
- Topman Piped Seersucker Revere Shirt
- H&m Resort Shirt Relaxed Fit
- Burton Pink Floral Print Revere Jersey Shirt
The only thing that should be rising when going sockless is your style stock, not a stench from a pair of sweat-sodden loafers.
Of course, going ‘sockless’ doesn’t really mean that – it means investing in a pair of invisible socks to give the illusion. As an added tip, always look out for a rubber grip on the heel to stop them from slipping off.
- M&s Collection 4 Pack Cool & Freshfeet Invisible Shoe Liners
- H&m 5-pack Shaftless Socks
- Next Metallic Invisible Socks Five Pack
A far less sweaty alternative to lugging a backpack around on your back, a sleek tote bag is ideal for weekend breaks or days in the city.
A durable body offers rugged workwear vibes while additional zipped compartments and optional shoulder straps ensure it provides all the practicality of a messenger.
NATO Stocking Number straps – more commonly shortened to NATO straps – are the perfect summer choice for your watch: lighter than steel, more breathable than rubber and quick-drying in the sun.
All of which means you can still clock a stylish timepiece without the irritation of a sweaty wrist.
- Kahuna Black And Grey Nato Strap Watch
- Infantry Mens Analogue Quartz Wrist Watch
- H&m Daniel Wellington Classic Cambridge Mens Watch
Before you reach for the hat and mittens, remember that a summer scarf is a different beast to its winter counterpart.
Visibility, not insulation, is the point here. Whether it’s full length or a neckerchief, use them to add a spot of wearable colour to even the simplest of outfits.
Last seen on your grandfather circa 1957, pleated trousers are finally back. And in a big way.
Despite designer’s best efforts, you’ll still need to work to keep the look modern. Opt for a pair with a single pleat and tapered ankle, and style with a Cuban collar shirt or mid-weight knitwear.
- He By Mango Regular Fit Pleated Trousers
- M&s Collection Regular Fit Single Pleated Trousers
- Zara Pleated Chino Trousers
There’s never a bad time to think about adding an impeccably-cut suit to your rotation. However, double-digit temperatures and summer wedding season make the purchase all the more pertinent.
The key to staying sharp and cool is choosing the right fabric. Look for words like cotton, linen, seersucker or a combination of these. It also pays to side with lighter colours such as stone or even on-trend pastels, as these won’t absorb the heat as much.
Lighter Weight Denim Jeans
When it comes to jeans for summer, we have one thing to say: lighten up. And that doesn’t just refer to the wash. Consider the weight and thickness of this workwear staple, too, as anything too heavy will result in a look that’s producing more sweat than style.
Most high street retailers keep their cuts below 12oz, which is perfect. But if all else fails, rip yourself some ventilation holes, a look that’s been doing the rounds of late.
- River Island Light Blue Ronnie Relaxed Straight Jeans
- Weekday Pine Week Blue Jeans
- He By Mango Slim-fit Light Vintage Wash Tim Jeans
Once the pariah of the poolside, now a bona fide trend both at home and abroad — there’s no getting away from sliderssliders.
Of course, fashion is a fickle mistress, so rather than shelling out for a designer name, look for a simple pair that comes in at less than the cost of a pina colada.
An effortless way to transition from the office to the after hours, a neatly cut blouson jacket sets a high watermark when it comes to off-duty staples.
Essentially any jacket with a cropped fit, classic collar, and generally fastened by a zip (but can also be buttoned), this outerwear style offers a slightly more tailored look than a bomber.
- Smart Utility Zip Through Harrington
- Topman Black And White Monochrome Print Jacket
- River Island Selected Homme Navy Sweatshirt Jacket
In the fashion world, function has often come second to form. This season, however, get you a wardrobe that can do both.
A pair of drawstring trousers features all the smartness of suiting up with the comfort of sitting at home eating pizza in your joggers. That, dear friend, is called winning the sartorial lottery.
- He By Mango Regular Fit Cord Pleated Trousers
- H&m Linen Trousers Relaxed Fit
- Topman Black Pinstripe Joggers
Knitted Polo Shirt
For Wimbledon-worthy gear without going full-on Federer, opt for a breathable knitted polo instead of a cotton pique version this summer.
Button-down, zip and open-collar styles all sit happily on menswear’s centre court, capable of serving smarter looks just as well as off-duty wins. ‘Game, set and match.
- Topman Pink Short Sleeve Button Knitted Polo
- Next Knitted Polo
- Mid Blue Merino Wool Polo Collar Short Sleeve Jumper
Summer and winter wardrobes aren’t entirely mutually exclusive. Sure, down jackets and Speedos sit at two very opposite ends of the spectrum, but in the middle sits knitwear.
The key difference when things heat up is opting for styles in cotton, silk, or linen, and in loose weaves that promote air circulation. Ideal for cooler evenings when thrown on with tailored trousers.
- He By Mango Cotton Cashmere-blend Sweater
- Extra Fine Knit Cotton Silk Jumper
- M&s Collection Pure Fine Cotton Crew Neck Jumper
If the term ‘co-ord’ isn’t yet in your vocabulary, you’re going to want to learn it. Pronto. Fashion speak for a co-ordinated look, it refers to a matching two-piece made up of shorts and a T-shirt or shirt in the same fabric, colour or print.
Translated: it’s the easiest throw on-and-go outfit you’ll find all season. Choose a Cuban collar style and you’ll be covered for everything from barbecues to weekends lounging around a pool.
- River Island Purple Tie Dye Chest Pocket Shirt
- Topman Moroccan Geometric Print Shirt And Swim Shorts Co-ord Set
- Topman Selected Homme Yellow Tokyo Print Shirt And Shorts Co-ord
Summer doesn’t guarantee sunshine – just ask any Brit. But while it’s nice to be prepared for the inevitable cold snap, no man wants to carry around a five-pound clunker of a coat.
A utility jacket is the answer: laden with enough pockets to stow all the essentials, but classic and muted enough to complement any seasonal staple.
- He By Mango Zipped Cotton Field Jacket
- Topman Faux Suede Field Jacket
- New Look Green Camo Long Sleeve Shacket
Nothing else offers an instant upgrade quite like a pair of sunglasses. Better yet – high UV protection (and high style) doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. Which means that as well as the classics, you can afford to add a few trending styles to your rotation.
Providing they carry the CE mark (a European standard of UV protection), the examples found on the high street will do the same job as luxury names, and all for less than a round of drinks.
- River Island Green Lens Hex Sunglasses
- H&m Sunglasses
- Zara Sports Sunglasses
Smart-casual can be a headache to decode, and that’s before you’ve factored in the soaring mercury.
A pair of smart white sneakers is the ultimate in-between, allowing you to dress down summer tailoring while still being a failsafe option to throw on with easy weekend looks.
An almost weightless way to top off streetwear looks; in recent seasons the bucket hat has successfully made the transition from the menswear bin to the barnets of stylish men everywhere.
Unless you’re headed to a festival, stick to block colour designs. If, however, you’re checking out the Main Stage, channel The Haçienda with anything you can get your hands, or head, on.
- Topman Off White Dome Bucket Hat
- Fred Perry X Arktis Camo Bucket Hat
- Burton Navy Reversible Bucket Hat
Designed in 1935 by explorer Paul Sperry with a slip-proof rubber sole based on the paws of his canine pal, the boat shoes has spent the last few decades in and out of the sartorial dog house. These days, however, the yachting style is a ‘bone-a fide’ preppy staple.
Pick up a pair in classic brown or navy, which will pair with everything from jeans to tailoring, and sail through the season with ease.