The inherent simplicity of summer style can in many ways make the season that little bit harder to dress for. With a dearth of options in comparison to the autumn/winter half of our wardrobes, a shirt or tee matched with a pair of shorts is about as exciting as it gets for many of us when the mercury soars.
This means it’s even more important that you get your colour combinations right. But which hues work best together? Should green really not be seen with blue? These are questions that continue to stump even the most stylish of men.
To make things easier, here are four classic and versatile warm-weather pairings that all guys can pull off:
Brown & Navy
This combination forms a core part of menswear’s proverbial DNA – who hasn’t at least once teamed a pair of brown shoes with a navy suit?
Despite being a pretty timeless pairing, it’s currently enjoying extra attention under the spotlight due to some of the industry’s top designers utilising it in their spring/summer 2015 collections, from Fendi and Prada to E. Tautz and J.Crew:
When styling their outfits, several designers went for the same approach: brown up top, and navy on the bottom.
Splitting the colours like this creates a striking contrast, and offers an effortless way to pack some punch into an otherwise straightforward summer look:
- The Kooples Striped Crew Neck Cotton T-shirt
- J.crew 9 Stanton Cotton-twill Shorts
- Asos Loafers In Suede
Brown is often limited to footwear when it comes to buttoned-up style, but with a slew of designers and brands channelling the 1970s this season and next, there’s something to be said for brown tailoring.
Just as versatile as navy, a brown suit is appropriate for the majority of formal events, as well as business use provided you style it correctly – we recommend teaming with a sky blue shirt and navy tie.
However, if a full brown suit is a step too far for your taste, then mix and match. A brown blazer complements navy formal trousers or indigo jeans wonderfully, especially when broken up with a white short- or long-sleeved shirt. You could even add a textured navy tie, to tie the top and bottom half together, if the occasion calls for it:
- Reiss Ascot Button-down Oxford Shirt White
- Boglioli Dover Slim-fit Unstructured Linen And Silk-blend Blazer
- Reiss Andre Checked Tailored Trousers Navy
Conversely, there’s nothing stopping you from switching things up and trying your hand at some brown legwear – controversial, we know. A navy polo shirt worn with some tan linen trousers makes for a winning smart-casual combination.
Add a pair of leather sandals in a darker shade of brown to top it all off expertly:
- Uniqlo Men Dry Shirt Collar Short Sleeve Polo Shirt
- Burberry Prorsum Tailored Linen Trousers
- Topman Saxon Strap Brown Leather Sandals
If none of the above looks take your fancy, consider mixing in one colour via subtle accessories or accents. For example, a brown knitted tie with a navy double-breasted suit, or some tan loafers alongside your staple navy chinos.
Blue & Green
We clocked this particular combination much earlier in the year. Blue and green – despite that tired old adage – is a colour coupling at the forefront of menswear minds this spring/summer, as proven by London tailoring labels Gieves & Hawkes, Hackett, and Baartmans and Siegel.
Savile Row brand Gieves & Hawkes took a step back from suiting and showed us how potent blue and green can be when applied to casual attire, often layering striking sea green outerwear over head-to-toe navy looks.
Hackett, on the other hand, took the tailored route, teaming a shimmer green long-sleeved shirt with cobalt tailored shorts, and jungle green trousers with a navy double-breasted blazer.
Baartmans and Siegel, meanwhile, opted for darker, more muted tones for a moodier effect. A standout outfit came in the form of an olive green bomber jacket and trousers combination, which was broken up by a simple navy T-shirt and finished with coordinating green Derby shoes.
What we learned from these key runway examples was that blue and green are best left to themselves; both packing a considerable punch, introducing another darker hue such as black, brown or burgundy is too much.
Instead, if you’re looking for ways of framing a blue and green pairing, try incorporating lighter colours like white or grey – both of which will complement, rather than clash with, the principal focus:
Give your summer tailoring a kick by mixing a pair of soft green trousers with a fitted navy double-breasted blazer (as seen at Hackett), using a simple light blue Oxford shirt to pull the two halves together.
When it comes to footwear, stick to brown and if you’re planning to finish it off with a tie, go with navy – adding another colour into the mix at this point wouldn’t do your efforts any justice:
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Oxford Shirt
- Reiss Asher B Double Breasted Linen Blazer Navy
- Topman Green Melange Ultra Skinny Fit Suit Trousers
Take a nod from Gieves & Hawkes and layer a light green piece of outerwear over an all-navy ensemble.
Here, our silhouette of choice is the bomber, which we combine with a fitted T-shirt and tailored trousers, both in navy. The finishing touch? A pair of minimal white trainers for an on-point punctuation mark:
Alternatively, take Baartmans & Siegel’s darker, moodier approach by combining an olive longline T-shirt with a pair of on-trend distressed jeans. Layer a navy trench over the top if rain threatens to ruin the party:
- Topman Khaki Asymmetric Longline T-shirt
- Billy Reid Gavin Leather-trimmed Trench Coat
- Allsaints Keiko Cigarette Jeans
Khaki & White
With strong safari connotations, this classic colour combination is not unlike nautical blue and white – a perennial warm-weather pairing that’s a breeze to wear.
Whether it’s a suited and booted or slightly more dressed-down approach that you’re eager to take, designers offered up plenty of inspiration for spring/summer 2015.
Contemporary tailoring connoisseur Richard James showed a series of distinctly safari-inspired looks, accessorised with desert boots and bucket hats, while Gucci’s former head of menswear Frida Giannini went for a slightly more military feel, emphasised by the inclusion of naval shirts and double-breasted trench coats.
Elsewhere, at Calvin Klein, Italo Zucchelli gave the combination a characteristically minimal spin, teaming khaki bombers and sporty shorts with plain white tees and chunky hi-tops:
A white trousers and khaki blazer pairing is as synonymous with a summer wedding as watered-down Pimm’s and a heavily perspiring photographer (that’s very, for readers outside the UK).
Take this as your base and add a lightweight sky blue/mint green shirt and tan loafers into the mix to finish off with élan:
- Uniqlo Men Oxford Long Sleeve Shirt
- Steven Alan Oliver Cotton And Linen-blend Blazer
- Reiss Hampton Slim-fit Trousers White
For a more casual take on the previous outfit, swap the blazer for a white denim jacket and switch out the smart white trousers for slim-cut chinos in beige.
Complete the look with a grey marl T-shirt, and consider introducing some statement footwear for an eye-catching element:
- River Island White Denim Jacket
- He By Mango Slim-fit Tailored Cotton Chinos
- Ted Baker Torsdi 3 Desert Chukka Boots
Arguably the easiest way to work some khaki into your wardrobe is with a timeless camel-coloured mac.
Layer it over some slim-fit white trousers and a chambray or denim shirt for an on-trend look that’s still undeniably classic – ideal for those summer days when the weather isn’t exactly up to scratch:
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Chambray Shirt
- Only & Sons Mac
- Ralph Lauren Slim-fit Stretch-cotton Trousers
Black & White
These colours may be two of the cornerstones of a man’s wardrobe, but it’s only recently that we’ve started to put them together regularly. Owing to the sports luxe and athleisure trends, monochrome looks have quickly become a key fixture in men’s fashion, so it’s worth taking the time to master this striking pairing.
For spring/summer 2015, Parisian labels Balmain and Givenchy both championed full black and white outfits, using the starkly contrasting hues across street- and sportswear-inspired ensembles.
Emporio Armani, on the other hand, went for a slightly more upscale approach. All-black suiting dressed down with a white tee and loafers or slip-on trainers was a common combination, as was a boldly striped shirt or jacket worn over inky black legwear:
For many of us, the summer season doesn’t necessarily bring with it three solid months of breathtakingly good weather. So, consider shielding yourself from unseasonal showers with a sleek, lightweight hooded raincoat in black, while opting for an of the moment white-on-white T-shirt and trousers pairing underneath.
When it comes to shedding your outer layer once inside, you’ll be as on-trend as you were on the walk over, and drier for it too:
Graphic tees have begun to shrug off some of their negative connotations of late as menswear continues to move in a slightly more casual direction (though that’s not to say Ed Hardy and co. are making a comeback any time soon).
Give this dip-dye tee a shot and wear over some tailored sweatpants in black. To finish, a lightweight parka or bomber jacket in white will provide the contrasting jolt needed to pull off this bold colour scheme with aplomb:
- Vince Dip-dye Cotton-jersey T-shirt
- Raey Hooded Textured Parka
- Acne Studios Johna Cotton-blend Jersey Sweatpants
When it comes to tailored looks, you can of course stick to the classic (if a little boring) pairing of a black suit and white shirt, but why not switch it up this season and opt for a white blazer?
Anchored with well-cut trousers or chinos in black, a white suit jacket stays the stylish side of flashy – just avoid wearing a Saturday Night Fever-inspired black shirt underneath.
Instead, if the dress code permits, introduce a white cotton polo or granddad collar shirt and finish with black penny loafers (socks optional):
- Uniqlo Men Dry Ex Polo Shirt
- Burberry Prorsum White Cotton-twill Blazer
- Reiss Medway Classic Twill Chinos Black
Although on-trend for SS15, every man should have the four colour combinations above in his repertoire. Timeless, masculine and versatile, no matter what pieces you choose to combine, they will continue to serve you well for many more years to come, enabling you to put together stylish warm-weather ensembles with very little thought and effort.
Which colour pairings will be prominent in your wardrobe this season?
Comment below to let us know.