Summer is the minimalist’s nightmare. As the streets explode in pattern and shade – Hawaiian prints, pastels, sun-scorched necks – stripped-back options become, well, minimal.
In winter, length and layer makes even darker shades pop. When you’ve only got shorts and tee and to play with, how do you look like you’ve made an effort?
Vary The Palette
Minimalist does not mean boring. Colour play still reaps rewards – but when the sun’s out, swerve anything that’s as bright.
“Summer is a colour season,” says Nick Eley, head menswear designers at ASOS. “But think cool khakis, stones, beiges, rusts and even dusty pinks.” These earth tones appeared everywhere from Calvin Klein to Alexander Wang on the SS16 runways, where they also proved easy to mix and match.
Yet while the shades might play nice, you still need to be aware of your skin tone. Khaki and navy look great on pale skin, while coffee, pinks and dusty pastels stand out well against darker complexions.
“Although beige and stone are key colours for the season, they’re not for everyone,” says Eley. “If the colour is too close to your pre-holiday skin tone then go for something a shade or two darker until you’ve managed to top up your tan.”
Keep Your Daywear Simple
“The summer months are perfect for the minimalist look,” says Eley. “It doesn’t need to be complicated. All it takes is the right fit tee, a smarter short and a clean pair of white trainers set off with stylish sunglasses.”
A loose shirt layered over a vest adds movement without heat and boxy tees tweak your silhouette while encouraging air flow. Just look for breathable materials like cotton or linen to avoid accessorising with sweat patches.
Embrace Relaxed Tailoring
When patterns are out, embrace cut. Looser, unstructured tailoring was on every runway this season, which is good news for summer’s minimalists – the lack of padding means you don’t overheat, while the billowy silhouette catches eyes even without resorting to colour.
In a nod to the season, lighten up. Black absorbs shadows as well as sunshine, which flattens the fabric. Light greys, sands and this season’s trending shade, green, add depth but keep your look clean.
If you can, lose the shirt and wear with a loose, tucked-in tee.
Play With Fabrics
Learn a lesson from your winter wardrobe: when you ditch colour, texture keeps your look interesting. So contrast your fabrics. A knitted shirt paired with linen trousers, or vice versa, adds variation without weighing you down.
Sportswear is a fabric playground; try jersey joggers with a linen tee, or a nylon track jacket zipped over a knitted polo. When your materials clash, restore the link with tones. Echoing the same green top and bottom means your look seems cohesive, not all you had in the drawer on laundry day.
Use Accessories Sparingly
If your tonal tee and trousers feels a touch dull, ignore Coco Chanel and just add one thing. A glint of silver on your wrist, or the right pair of sunglasses, pops against plain backgrounds, adding heavyweight style for a featherweight addition.
Opt for simple shapes in contrasting colours: if your outfit’s predominantly white, try a gold, Milanese strap watch; if you’re in forest green, consider tortoiseshell wayfarers.