For many of us, summer 2020 means casual and comfortable. This laidback wardrobe is interchangeable and intentional.
Hey, you’re never going to believe this – we’re on the fast track to fall already. Wait, what? Yep, that’s 2020 for you.
This year, more so than ever before, even for the most dapper of men, our style has been re-prioritized to comfort and ease. When there’s nowhere to go, and only your family sees you, it’s easy to fall into the trap of pulling on the same t-shirt and joggers everyday.
The gears are slowly starting to get moving again for some, in some places. Or, at the very least, we’ve all started to understand and embrace this new reality and how to exist socially within it.
This lookbook was created with 3 things in mind:
- Mix and match minimalist versatility
- The day-to-day casual existence we’re all living in
- Summer heat comfort
Whether you’ve always had a thing for minimalist style, got turned onto it with our fall men’s minimalist style guide, or simply a world-halting international plague has encouraged you to pare back, minimalist style is a great way to have intentional personal style by simplifying.
Minimalist style, loosely defined, is based around pieces that can easily be worn with other items and can easily be worn in different kinds of scenarios. That usually means solids or subtle patterns, and muted colors for maximum versatility. If minimalist style was a kitchen gadget, it would be Alton Brown’s fav.
It’s not for everyone; without attention it can become uniform-y. If that’s a concern for you, you’ll definitely want to check out our feature later this week about jazzing up business casual while still satisfying office decorum.
The items are listed under the outfits where they’re first featured, so the top half is more word-heavy. Each has a few options to consider and the one shown in the photos is bolded.
Let me know which outfit number is your favorite in the comments!
Black Pocket T-Shirt
There’s a reason we proclaimed the pocket tee as the only shirt you need this summer, and this lookbook reinforces it. Six of the 13 combinations featured here show just how intentional a simple faded black pocket t-shirt can look.
Slim Olive Chinos
If you read chinos and think restrictive dress pants, then you should give a modern version a look-see. Cut with a modern, tapered fit with stretch, pants like this are only about one notch above sweatpants in terms on the comfort scale. A subdued olive green looks fantastic with almost everything – neutrals, blues, black, white.
Minimalist / Smart Casual Sneaker
There’s probably no other item that singularly captures the Primer style ethos than a classic and minimally adorned smart casual sneaker. It can be dressed up or down with ease, it has a clear contemporary intention, its minimalism requires a strong understanding of design to appreciate, and perhaps best of all, it doesn’t sacrifice comfort over fashion.
Tech / Hybrid Shorts
When you can find a good pair, hybrid shorts or tech shorts offer maximum stretch and comfort with quick-drying qualities making getting in and out of water comfortably a non-issue. They’re also ideal for summer days that include a lot of movement. Unfortunately, the cheaper options rarely drape right or wrinkle in wonky ways, or swish super loudly. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by these from Amazon’s house line Goodthreads.
For this lookbook, we opted for one pair of 7″ inseam shorts for a shorter, more modern style, and a 9″ inch inseam for the second pair.
Subtle Pattern Short Sleeve Shirt
Short sleeve shirts with subtle patterns on them are an easy way to move up the ladder after a t-shirt without adding bulk. In fact, most will be made of materials that are lighter than your typical cotton t-shirt. We dig the subtle patterns that add visual texture to the outfit with a retro vibe. See more in our pattered short sleeve shirt feature.
Dusty Blue-gray Chino Shorts
I’m a big fan of “dusty” colors: Any color that seems to be muted slightly by adding gray to it. These out of stock shorts from American Eagle are great because they’re kind of light blue, kind of gray at the same time.
Inseam length for shorts is dependent on leg length and personal preference for where you want the shorts to end. Our endorsement is above the knee with a 7″ inch on the shorter side for me (shown in the last section), to a 9″ inch on the longer side, shown here. Generally speaking, the 9″ shorts will be more stylishly conservative, which is all fine and good if that’s what you’re looking for, but they can also be too wide if you don’t find a fit that’s slim enough.
The one advantage to a longer short is you can roll up the cuff and make them shorter on command for one of the few rakish style moves guys have in the summer.
Review the other important fit and style considerations for shorts in Primer’s Complete Visual Guide to Shorts – Updated.
Probably the hardest part about dressing well in summer is finding a way to free your toes. Sandals are tough to get right, and there isn’t a universal answer for them like some of our advice. They either look too old man-y or like women’s sandals or like all the bros in the Abercrombie catalog from 1999.
The only pair I dig personally that I actually wear are the EVA rubber version of the classic Birkenstock in a dark green. They’re super comfortable and their color and design plus being rubber means they work great as both an outfit choice and poolside slides. For maximum versatility with the olive chinos, go for black.
Some summer days and some summer occasions require long sleeves, and for those a chambray shirt is a tough option to beat. For the uninitiated it isn’t denim, though it does have a great textured weave that is kind of reminiscent of it. The chambray shirt was originally a French work shirt, so it’s used to long, hot days. They’re lightweight and can be worn all year round, dressed casually or dressed up for work.
Earlier this summer, we endorsed the knit henley as a surprising summer essential as a lightweight layer for cool summer evenings, and that will only become more true for evenings in August and September. Generally the lightest of heavy layers in colder months, it also makes the heaviest of light layers in the hotter months.
Imagine the sun setting behind the mountain, crickets chirping, refusing to admit the days are starting to get shorter. The knit henley is the perfect thing to throw on to thwart closing up just yet.
Ah, pants. Remember them? If you’ve got somewhere to be and you need to be a little more dressed up, Chelsea boots are a lightweight pull that look polished. The uppers are usually made of only 2 large pieces of leather, making them super light to wear all day, even when it’s hot.
The trucker jacket goes with just about everything. Here, the light blue strikes a more casual tone than the dark rigid blue.
See the rest of the combinations:
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