Men’s Fashion: Seven Deadly Summer Style Sins and Their Seasonal Solutions

Guys, listen up. You may think you’re too cool to read this column, but the ladies you want to want you do read it. If you do want to impress them, then you better dress the part. Summer’s heat is no excuse for not looking cool. And girls, if your guy commits any of these sins, it’s time to confess — and re-dress him!

What is it about a season requiring the least amount of clothing that leaves the most amount room for men to flub it up? Perhaps it’s too much fun in the sun that causes this abandonment of common fashion sense, but there’s no excuse for taking a vacation from style. By now, we hope you all know that speedos, popped collars and jean shorts are absolutely forbidden — unless of course you’re at a costume party looking to get a good laugh. But, there are still some areas that we feel a reminder is needed. Below are 7 deadly style sins guys still occasionally commit, and our suggestions for what they can do to redeem themselves.

1. Socks and shoes
Any other time of year, we seek to keep our feet bundled up in warm socks: argyle ones for work, a low-cut athletic pair for the gym and, on occasion, the heavy-duty wool variety during the cold months. But summer calls for no socks at all, especially with the footwear of the season — namely, men’s sandals, drivers and boat shoes. Suffocating your feet in any of these with a bright white pair of socks should also require a camera bag and return ticket to Bratislava. Still insisting on coverage of some sort? Invest in knot socks, the no-show alternative to the tourist-favored tube.

2. Cargo shorts
Hey, 1997 called and they want their cargo shorts back! If you’re trying to carry everything from lunch leftovers to a small child everywhere you go, then this oh-so-last-decade item is perfect for you. The huge pockets bow out at the sides and force the shorts to sag. But we gently suggest that it’s time to try a silhouette from this century. Cuts are slimmer (like your favorite pair of jeans) and patterns range from bold plaids to seersucker; even everyday khaki is a fine choice. The secret to a great pair of men’s shorts is finding ones that don’t stray away from a straight line running from hip to hem. And speaking of hems, yours should always end no less than an inch or two above the knee.

3. Strong fragrances
Summer may be hot and heavy, but that heavy cologne from last winter is just too much musk for summer’s sweat-inducing temperatures. The combination of a weighty, woodsy scent and your natural eau can be nauseating this time of year. Summer is the signal to switch to something light and lean. Anything with citrus notes or hints of grass like vetiver is exactly what you want when the sun kick-starts the water works. Or, opt for no cologne at all, and just keep it clean with a daily dose of soap and water.

4. Flip-flops and “Mandals”
Summer’s official footwear is without a doubt the flip-flop, which leads us into our next men’s summer fashion mistake. It’s the barely there cover for your feet, ideal for a backyard barbecue or a beachside stroll. And that’s about as far as a flip-flop should go. Same goes for the “Mandal”, which no matter how thick the leather or tough the velcro, is better left at home and replaced with The Classic Jack (Converse by Jack Purcell) sneaker, a light breathable fabric shoe that’s totally cool and totally “cool”. Or, classic Sperry Topsider boat shoes, or the Van’s canvas combo of both sneaker and boat shoe in one. Whatever you do, please permanently delete mandals from your closet and erase them from our immediate memory. Thank you.

5. Tank tops
The tank is meant to be worn as an undershirt. And unless you’re a bronzed weight lifter or sick spousal abuser bearing this shirt’s nickname, the tank top is one garment that should be left under wraps, or better yet, quarantined on the Jersey Shore. So, what’s a guy to do in the harsh heat of summer? Try a light colored V-neck T-shirt or polo shirt instead. Both of those should provide at least some of the breeze you’re looking for without looking like you just left the gym.

6. Board shorts
Perhaps the season’s most prevalent men’s summer fashion mistake of all comes in the form of a billowy board short. It dips below the knee, and in the worst cases is so shapeless the lines merge into a mono-legged swimming skirt. More grown-up and flattering options exist for even the most body-conscious men among us. Men’s swimwear should look and fit like a great pair of everyday slim shorts that sit just under the waist (not unlike a lower-rise jean) and finish somewhere between mid-thigh and an inch or two above the knee work best for every beach-going guy.

7. Wraparound shades
Blocking the sun’s blinding rays is critical for surviving the season. But that doesn’t mean you have to reach for Terminator-type wraparounds to protect your eyes. Sure, sport-inspired sunglasses are perfect for a round of golf or a game of tennis — everything in context. But, outside of an athletic activity, everything else requires an aviator, Wayfarer or other such style-savvy shape. And while you may be thinking that fashion-friendly frames don’t look good on you, remember this piece of lifelong advice: Finding the right pair of sunglasses takes time. Try on a hundred pairs if necessary. Then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Here’s to a stylish summer for everyone!

[Aaron: Include this in teeny tiny type at bottom]
Based on an article by Adam Fox. Adam Fox is a luxury fashion buyer based in New York City specializing in men’s tailored clothing and outerwear, and a contributing editor at

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