An Alternative Take On Summer Attire

You always know when summer’s arrived: long days, longer nights and people actually taking their lunch breaks at work. Yet perhaps the biggest indication that summer is finally here after a long winter of wearing dark colours is that the streets and parks are suddenly filled with bright hues and vibrant prints.

However, it’s fair to say that not all of us will be jumping for joy at this wardrobe transition. Unless you’re the confident type who likes to stand out from the crowd and make a statement, you might want to go against the grain by keeping it simple. Today we look at ways you can take a more muted and minimal approach to your warm-weather attire this year, while still remaining cool and stylish.

And with over-the-top menswear now the norm, it comes as no surprise that many men are rejecting what’s on offer in favour of a more traditional approach. So much so, that it’s become unique to be normal…

Normcore: It’s Hip To Be Square

Just because you decide to take a pared-down approach to summer dressing, it doesn’t mean you’re out of fashion. In fact, if the new buzzword ‘normcore’ is anything to go by, you’ll actually be quite the opposite. Coined by trend-forecasting group K-Hole, normcore is a unisex trend characterised by “unpretentious, average-looking clothing”.

In stark contrast to the current bearded hipster look, where the more bells and whistles the better when it comes to style, normcore wearers choose to distinguish themselves from others through their decidedly plain clothing. The movement is a reaction to “fashion oversaturation” (particularly in menswear in recent years), resulting from ever-changing trends that can be difficult to keep up with.

In many ways the normcore aesthetic picks up where the recent 1990s resurgence left off, although this time focusing on comfy, “untrendy” clothes such as oversized tees and boxy jeans instead of in-your-face neon and acid wash denim.

The look typically consists of basic everyday casual wear such as t-shirts, hoodies, Oxford shirts, jeans and chinos – all the pieces you need to create your very own simple yet stylish capsule summer wardrobe.

Prominent Male Designers Embracing A More Relaxed and Simple StyleEven High Profile Male Designers Such As (R To L) Alexander Wang, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Marc Jacobs & Dries van Noten Have Been Embracing A More Relaxed and Simple Form Of Dress

Reinventing The Summer Spectrum

The best way to execute this pared-back approach to dressing in warmer weather is by throwing the handbook out and forgetting what you know when it comes to the summer colour palette. We’re often told the brighter the better when the sun is shining, but this simply isn’t the case for all of us.

We’re not saying leave the house roasting in black separates. Instead, try swapping vivid primary colours with pale pastels or neutrals. For instance, a sherbet lemon t-shirt will be far less eye-popping than a bright citric yellow, making it the ideal choice for a toned-down take on summer dressing.

Neutral hues in particular are perfect when temperatures rise, for both style and practical reasons. Reflecting light to help keep you cool, the best thing about shades such as cream, grey marl or beige is that they will go with pretty much anything. Team a short-sleeved shirt in white cotton with a taupe pair of shorts for a simple yet stylish neutral-on-neutral take this season.

Traditional Tailoring

Although the normcore trend centres on casual staples, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a more minimal approach to your summer formal wear, too. Tailoring in muted colours is timeless, classic and flatters nearly all body types and skin tones, despite the increase in colourful and patterned suits in recent seasons. Although these contemporary versions are often fun and stylish, they’re just not suitable for the majority of workplaces.

Instead, invest in a classic tailored suit in a lightweight fabric and neutral hue for the summer months – you’ll thank yourself later when you’re sweat free and feeling confident in the boardroom. There’s something about a suit in beige, petrol blue, light brown or khaki that is elegant and subtle, yet impactful and sartorially on-point.

White-on-white is another emerging trend, so get ahead by factoring the look into your tailoring. Perhaps for the more confident among us, white suiting is without doubt a statement, but it’s still subtler than the bright block-colours and quirky prints we’ve seen across tailoring in recent years.

Lookbook: Simple Summer-Appropriate Tailoring

Men's Simple and Summer-Appropriate Tailoring and Suiting - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

suitsupply ss15suitsupply ss15jaeger ss13reiss ss14he by mango summer 2013tommy hilfiger tailored ss14de fursac ss14nordstrom 2014he by mango summer 2014
Lookbook: Simple Summer-Appropriate Separates

Men's Simple and Summer-Appropriate Tailoring Separates - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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Key Pieces
  • Thomas Pink Whitacre Jacket BrownThomas Pink Whitacre Jacket Brown
  • Topman Stone Oxford Skinny Fit TrousersTopman Stone Oxford Skinny Fit Trousers
  • Reiss Woodland B Lightweight Blend Blazer Light BlueReiss Woodland B Lightweight Blend Blazer Light Blue
  • He By Mango Unstructured Linen BlazerHe By Mango Unstructured Linen Blazer
  • River Island Light Blue BlazerRiver Island Light Blue Blazer
  • Reiss Miami B Patterned Two Button Blazer StoneReiss Miami B Patterned Two Button Blazer Stone
  • River Island Grey Wool And Linen-blend BlazerRiver Island Grey Wool And Linen-blend Blazer
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Premium Cotton ChinosHe By Mango Slim-fit Premium Cotton Chinos
  • Reiss Garth T Tailored Formal Trousers Airforce BlueReiss Garth T Tailored Formal Trousers Airforce Blue
Basic Basics

It might sound strange, but basics often become anything other than basic in the summer months. From t-shirts covered in slogans to shorts in an array of prints and hues, it’s easy to overcomplicate everyday casual wear when temperatures rise.

Our advice for an alternative approach this year is to keep your look clean and minimal. In other words, keep basics basic! For instance, don’t underestimate the power of a plain white cotton tee; it can be paired with everything else in your wardrobe and will always keep you cool on those hotter days. If you want to subtly separate yours from the crowd, why not try a slightly oversized version or pick a slub/flecked cotton design?

Similarly, a plain navy polo is a summer essential that every man should have in his wardrobe. Whether teamed with shorts or chinos in a neutral shade, a polo shirt is a simple sporty staple that will remain in your collection for a lifetime and can be dressed up or down effortlessly. Again, look for subtle detailing that will add personality to your choice; consider knitted versions, Cuban/button-down collars, tailored cuts, unusual fabrics and the like.

As reported on FashionBeans last month, printed legwear is one of menswear’s most daring trends for SS14. Don’t get us wrong, we love the look – but not every man will want or be able to pull it off. Once again, this is where we can rely on our trusty staples. Whether you opt for a slim-fit pair of denim shorts or timeless tan chinos, keep your legwear classic and stylish this season.

Lookbook Inspiration: Classic Summer Looks

Men's Simple Classic Summer Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

zara man 2012jigsaw ss14he by mango ss14massimo dutti Equestrian ss14j crew style guide 2014club monaco ss14sarar ss14reiss 2012calibre ss14jaeger ss14reiss ss14j crew style guide 2013massimo dutti june 2013ben sherman ss12perry ellis ss14
Key Pieces
  • Gant Rugger T-shirt With PocketGant Rugger T-shirt With Pocket
  • Reiss Kingsley Open Collar T-shirtReiss Kingsley Open Collar T-shirt
  • Reiss Cotton Shorts In Regular FitReiss Cotton Shorts In Regular Fit
  • He By Mango Straight-fit Cotton ChinosHe By Mango Straight-fit Cotton Chinos
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton ChinosHe By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Chinos
  • Topman Selected Homme Logan TrousersTopman Selected Homme Logan Trousers
  • Shore Leave Moulinex Nepped Tee In RedShore Leave Moulinex Nepped Tee In Red
  • Uniqlo Men Chambray Long Sleeve ShirtUniqlo Men Chambray Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Linen Cotton Short Sleeve ShirtUniqlo Men Linen Cotton Short Sleeve Shirt
  • He By Mango Striped Henley T-shirtHe By Mango Striped Henley T-shirt
  • River Island Grey Marl Low Scoop Neck T-shirtRiver Island Grey Marl Low Scoop Neck T-shirt
  • River Island Ecru Cable Knitted Polo ShirtRiver Island Ecru Cable Knitted Polo Shirt
  • Doriani Long-sleeved Suede-trimmed Cashmere Polo ShirtDoriani Long-sleeved Suede-trimmed Cashmere Polo Shirt
  • He By Mango Cotton Oxford Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Cotton Oxford Bermuda Shorts
  • Reiss Miami S Tailored Shorts StoneReiss Miami S Tailored Shorts Stone
Finishing Touches

Last but not least, it’s important to keep accessories in mind if you’re taking a simple approach to your summer style. After all, we don’t want to lose all sense of individuality.

That said, accessories like metal-rim aviators and black frame wayfarers are called classics for a reason: they never fall out of style and look great on any man. Perfect for pairing with a plain cotton tee and chino shorts.

Your choice of footwear can also result in a more ‘normcore’ way of dressing during summer, despite the shoe department of most retailers currently displaying every colour under the rainbow. Shoe staples for work include slip-on black penny loafers and tan brogues, while classic white canvas/leather trainers are ideal for the weekend.

  • Cutler And Gross Aviator-style Sunglasses 144766Cutler And Gross Aviator-style Sunglasses 144766
  • Ray-ban Folding Aviator SunglassesRay-ban Folding Aviator Sunglasses
  • Ray-ban Wayfarer Sunglasses With Polarized LensesRay-ban Wayfarer Sunglasses With Polarized Lenses
  • Gh Bass Larson Penny LoafersGh Bass Larson Penny Loafers
  • Grenson Stanley BroguesGrenson Stanley Brogues
  • Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top SneakersCommon Projects Original Achilles Leather Low Top Sneakers
Final Word

With designers continuing to push boundaries and menswear becoming more extravagant by the season, it was only a matter of time before ‘anti-fashion’ trends came to the fore.

Yet far more than just a revolt against the industry, classic, timeless pieces have long set the foundation of any versatile capsule wardrobe and a pared-back approach to your personal style offers many advantages, not just in summer.

Plus, it’s important to remember that sometimes we seem to be at our most stylish when we’re not trying so hard.

So what do you think? Will you be opting for a vibrant approach this summer or trying out the normcore look and keeping it simple?

Let us know in the comments section below…