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 30 of the best budget buys no man should be without this summer. Limber up those fingers and get ready to click ‘add to basket’.
Tailored Swim Shorts
It goes without saying that swim shorts are essential holiday gear, but just because they’re only cracked out a few times a year doesn’t mean they deserve any less attention.
Aim for a pair that resembles the cut and fit of traditional trousers, which will make them smart enough to hit the beach bar in post-swim. Burton’s wallet-friendly options are finished with side adjusters for an exact fit.
Available at Burton, priced £12.
If more Mr Ripley than Rick Ross, switch out the sports brands for a more minimal sneaker. Blank canvas kicks can underpin every look from beer garden sessions to dressed-down weddings. Plus, they’ll clinch the cost-per-wear ratio far better than any fluoro limited editions.
Available at Matalan, priced £18.
Lightweight, Unstructured Blazer
Blazers aren’t solely reserved for special occasions. Mixing them up with chinos and tees will refresh even the most tired of wardrobes, while a lightweight design will ensure your armpits follow suit.
Available at M&S, priced £79.
Originally designed as a tribute to the victories of Napoleon, 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 sleeves or without, as a T-shirt or as a sweatshirt, it’s a piece that never fails to look good with dark denim.
Available at The Idle Man, priced £16.
- Kin By John Lewis Breton Stripe Long Sleeve T-shirt
- Topman Navy And White Stripe T-shirt
- Navy Breton Stripe Crew Tee
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.
The debut range from H&M’s new Scandinavian-inspired fascia Weekday has got all shapes and styles needed for the months ahead, all for less than a round of drinks.
Available at Weekday, priced £23.
- M&s Collection Keyhole Round Frame Sunglasses
- River Island Black Round Sunglasses
- John Lewis Clubmaster Sunglasses
Cotton Pique Polo Shirt
For Wimbledon-worthy gear without going full-on Federer, opt for a polo shirt this summer. The button-down style sits happily on centre court, serving sharper looks just as well as off-duty wins. Game, set and match.
Available at Uniqlo, priced £9.90.
Since monogrammed leather holdalls are as gauche as they are expensive, opt for a sporty alternative instead.
Simple block colours can flit from nine-to-five to weekend away, all without looking like a Kardashian abroad.
Available at Jack Wills, priced £49.95.
A solid 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 every day.
Opt for a pair in a neutral colourway – like The Idle Man’s stone example, which are cut in a relaxed regular fit – for a classic way to ground almost any smart-casual outfit.
Available at The Idle Man, priced £20.
- Aeo Extreme Flex Slim Straight Chino
- Gap Classic Stretch Skinny Fit Khakis
- Skinny Fit Flex Stretch Light Brown Chino Pant
Linen isn’t solely worn by OAPs on a Saga holiday. By utilising the breathable fabric within a classic piece – such as an Oxford shirt, like Uniqlo has here – you’ll score a summer-friendly option far from the Costa del Geriatric.
Available at Uniqlo, priced £29.90.
- He By Mango Slim-fit Linen Shirt
- M&s Collection New Pure Linen Easy Care Slim Fit Shirt
- Next Linen Blend Short Sleeve Shirt
Smart-casual can be a headache to decode, and that’s before you’ve factored in the soaring mercury.
A pair of tasselled loafers, paired with lightweight chinos, are the ultimate in-between, letting ankles breathe but still sitting pretty on the smarter end of the spectrum. At just £40 for real suede, these examples from ASOS are a steal.
Available at ASOS, priced £40.
Blue collar threads 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.
Available at GAP, priced £39.95.
- Uniqlo Men Chambray Stand Collar Long Sleeve Shirt
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Chambray Shirt
- Moss London Premium Extra Slim Fit Grey Single Cuff Chambray Shirt
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 with restrained pieces in silver or gold in the case of necklaces and leather or rope when it comes to bracelets for a subtle accent.
Available at Asos, priced £15.
- Seven London Metal Bangle Bracelet In Silver Exclusive To Asos
- Miansai Silver Hook Rope Bracelet
- A.p.c. Serge Necklace
Espadrilles, while the perfect shoe for relaxed strolls in the sun, lack practicality without a few modern updates. Fortunately, with their rise in popularity predicted for the months ahead, that’s exactly what has happened this season.
In the case of H&M’s lightweight offering, elastic gores have been fitted in the sides for easy slip-on-and-go style, while the traditional jute rope sole features a non-slip rubber base.
Available at H&M, priced £12.99.
Don’t scar your hard-won waistline with a sub-par belt. A woven option is not only more suited to warmer weather, but also a subtle way to introduce texture to any summer look.
Available at Next, priced £20.
Printed Floral T-shirt
Florals are a summer tradition older than warm cans of beer and a poorly-advised hot dog. Yet many guys still get it wrong. Sporadic prints on a neutral base add colour without heading to Hawaii, ensuring a wearable look that sits on the right side of statement.
Available at Zara, priced £15.99.
- River Island Green Jack & Jones Floral Print T-shirt
- Gap Hibiscus Short Sleeve Tee
- Next Palm Print T-shirt
Light Wash Denim Jacket
Summer doesn’t guarantee sunshine – just ask any Brit. So prepare for the inevitable cold snap with a lightweight borg-collared denim jacket: thick enough to prevent a shiver, but muted enough to complement any seasonal staple.
Available at BoohooMAN, priced £35.
- Topman Blue Distressed Denim Jacket
- River Island Big And Tall Blue Distressed Denim Jacket
- H&m Denim Jacket
Summer and winter wardrobes aren’t mutually exclusive. For the cooler evenings, repurpose your December-friendly threads by combining a merino sweater with any pair of chinos or shorts in your arsenal.
Available at Uniqlo, priced £29.90.
Navy Chino Shorts
Temperatures north of 25 degrees render trousers impractical, but looking smart with your legs bared is not easy. Opt for chino shorts. Cool, versatile and lightweight, the Oxbridge cut-offs retain a tailored sizzle without the scorch.
Available at GAP, priced £29.95.
While flip-flops should be reserved solely for your holiday; a pair of sleek leather sandals is a solid choice for the city or the pool.
Seek out pared-back options in dark leather (preferably black, navy or brown), which will help effortlessly add some luxury to any summer ensemble, no matter the price tag.
Available at Zalando, priced £28.04.
The only thing that should be rising when showing a bit of mankle is your style stock, not a stench from a pair of sweat-sodden shoes. Of course, going ‘sockless’ doesn’t really mean that – it means investing in a pair of invisible socks to give the illusion.
High street stores like Primark, ASOS and Topman are the go-tos here, but always look out for a rubber grip on the heel to stop them slipping off.
Available at Primark, priced £4.
- Topman White No Show Socks With Gel Pads 6 Pack
- Asos Invisible Socks In Monochrome 5 Pack
- New Look 5 Pack White Invisible Liner Socks
An almost weightless way to top off weekend looks; in recent seasons the baseball cap has successfully made the transition from the bleachers to the barnets of stylish men everywhere.
Seek out soft, malleable materials like cotton for a fuss-free, contemporary accessory that will wear and lighten in the sun over time.
Available at Topman, priced £15.
A far less sweaty alternative to lugging a backpack around on your back, a sleek tote is the ideal bag for weekend breaks or days in the city.
A body cut from durable canvas offers rugged workwear vibes while additional zipped compartments and optional shoulder straps ensure it offers all the practicality of a messenger.
Available at ASOS, priced £24.99.
- Asos Tote Bag In Black With Strapping Detail
- Herschel Bamfield Mid-volume Tote Bag Grey
- Zara White Tote Bag
Lightweight Bomber Jacket
A stylish way to transition from the office to the after hours, a lightweight bomber jacket sets a high watermark when it comes to off-duty staples.
A khaki green colourway retains the original Air Force appeal of the military piece, while a wind-resistant shell and ribbed trims make it an investment that can still be worn layered up well into the winter months.
Available at River Island, priced £40.
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 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 – as wallet-friendly retailer Peacocks has here – with a subtle design in a neutral colourway.
Available at Peacocks, priced £14.
- Selected Homme Cuban Collar Shirt
- French Connection Kaha Viscose Cuban Collar Shirt
- Reiss Torino Cuban-collar Shirt White
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. Which means you can still clock a stylish timepiece without irritation to the wrist.
Available at Timex, priced £79.99.
- Daniel Wellington Mens Glasgow 40mm Watch
- MVMT Desert Watch
- Reclaimed Vintage Inspired Canvas Watch In Blue
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, adding a spot of wearable colour to even the simplest of outfits.
Available at Mango Man, priced £19.99.
Forget indie cindies of 2005 – white trousers are more Neapolitan chic than NME. A slimline cut, as opposed to a skinny fit, will flatter the body while riffing on a classic shape – essential if you’d rather forget ‘nu rave’ atrocities.
Available at Mango Man, priced £49.99.
- The Idle Man Straight Leg Chino White
- Asos Skinny Smart Chino Trousers In White
- John Lewis Lumsden Straight Leg Chinos
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.
Available at Topman, priced £160.
- H&m Linen Jacket Slim Fit
- River Island Blue Linen Slim Fit Suit Jacket
- M&s Collection Tailored Fit Suit
Just as a wardrobe should be switched up with the seasons, so too should a grooming cabinet: lighter moisturisers, UV protection and a scent that swaps woods and spices for citrus and florals.
As well as larger sizes, Muelhens’ iconic 4711 Cologne is available in a tiny 25ml measure that can be carried and reapplied anywhere.
Available at Fragrance Direct, priced £6.99.
- Davidoff Cool Water Eau De Toilette Spray
- Zara Zara Summer Collection Eau De Toilette Pour Homme
- Paul Smith Sunshine For Men Limited Edition Eau De Toilette
Lighter Weight Denim Jeans
When it comes to denim 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.
More high street retailers, such as River Island, keep their cuts below 12oz, which is perfect. But if all else fails, rip yourself some on-trend ventilation holes.
Available at River Island, priced £35.