Whether you live the fashionisto life or you just graduated college and need your first work wardrobe, style matters. Style also changes year-to-year.
The look for spring and summer of 2021 varies from last year’s looks. While you should not purchase an entirely new wardrobe each year, you should update a few key pieces of clothing to round out your style.
Perhaps isolation contributed to the bright colors of summer 2021. Designers displaying their resort wear collections expressed their hope for the future, optimism, and verve through pops of bright color. If this summer bears any resemblance to last summer, you need the brightness to help you stand out in Zoom calls.
For the bold man, neon a la the 1980s makes a comeback. You will definitely stand out wearing neon yellow or pink. If those hues seem a little too feminine for you try the bright green populating the runways. This year’s resort collections carry forward the colors of spring into the hottest months to evoke the cool of spring showers and flowers.
The colors typically associated with Easter and Eostre carry forth into the summer months. Lavenders, pinks, and yellows prevail. In the case of the latter, designers favor shades like buttercream that fit into both the pastel and the neutral category.
Designers use creams, willow brown, white, gray, navy blue, moss green, and black as bases for colorful elements or a solid contrast. Cream and white typically stripe a sweater or jacket. Gray and black work as the solid color element in suits or jackets.
Designers by Their Favorite Color of the Season
Do you have a go-to designer you just love? They probably created a bevy of choices this summer and you must wade through them all to determine which look best on you. Whether you adore Hugo Boss or Calvin Klein, Balenciaga or you stick to shopping at J. Crew, you have some choices to make this summer.
You might stick with the tried and true safe zone that the pastels provide, but you might also desire a foray into the wild neons of the season. Did your favorite designer favor jungle prints or zebra stripes?
Gucci: went totally wild with huge prints like stars surrounded by smaller stars in clusters across matching shorts and shirts. Another of Gucci’s featured looks features rusty golden corduroys paired with a nautical sweater of red, white, and blue with white anchors marching in orderly rows. By contrast, the venerable design house created pajamas in a bold, over-sized floral design on a buttercream background.
Etro: Combines jungle prints with military uniform design in shorts sets that feature numerous cargo pockets. You could slip your wallet into your pocket, but this couture house also favors the wearable wallet, similar to a wristlet-sized purse, but worn lanyard-style around the neck.
Ermenegildo Zegna: chooses to use some of the most muted colors of any designer of the season. The chino pants come in khaki paired with tie-dyed yellow-gold bursts of color on their shirts. Top it all off with a brown leather driving jacket with wide lapels and massive cargo pockets on the front.
The design house’s summer suits do not depart from their neutral color scheme, favoring chocolate and khaki. Their styles provide some of the baggiest of looks and can appear messy if not worn with care.
Source: Rick Owens
Rick Owens: focused on athletic wear for the summer. The near-tissue thickness of its shirts lends itself toward layering. On the runway, they do not look as if they could provide the average man a summer look, but their weight of fabric perfectly suits summer and camping. Top their low-cut t-shirt, with another of its brethren. Toss on its track jacket to complement the drawstring sweatpants.
MSGM: has a lot going on in its designs. While the design house put together some fine pieces for summer, avoid the temptation to wear them as they were styled on the runway. The green and cream checked jacket can keep the chill off during sudden temperature drops, but you should avoid pairing it with the bold graphic print button-down shirt in purples, reds, golds, and greens.
Their khakis include a bit of kitsch populated with periodic patches of moss green. If the patches turn you off, try their staid buttercream slacks. Choose their jungle leaf print shirt in black with large leaf prints decorating its face.
Tod’s: almost put together conservative looks for its summer looks. Its chocolate button-down shirt over a cocoa pullover provides a tasty look that you can easily wear in any casual situation. Paired with a pair of medium blue denim and finished with a black leather belt, the signature look from Tod’s summer line could work in many situations just as the model wore it on the runway.
Dior: favors thigh-high shorts in black for men this summer. Paired with a gray plaid pullover and a black driving jacket with roomy cargo pockets, the designer favors a more European flavor to their fashions not surprisingly. The couture house tops off its look with a jaunty black and white beret.
Moschino: pairs muted cream piping over a medium gray summer suit. To liven up an otherwise staid for the design house look, it scatters quarter-sized red stars across its front just beneath the lapels.
Balmain: throws no punches nor surprises anyone with its head-to-toe khaki safari look. Your cargo pocket fetish, if you have one, will get fulfilled. You will see these oversized, roomy pockets on the front of its pants and jackets. You should slip on a pullover with a print or solid under the jacket, something Balmain skips in some of its runway looks.
Etudes: addresses the need for summer office wear for men. Their summer suit provides a send-up of the cargo pocket infused military look in winter wheat and cropped tapered suit pants. The design house pairs its suits with pullover print shirts and accessorizes them with floral print scarves.
Source: JW Anderson
JW Anderson: combines looks inspired by preppy traditions and the funky colorways used on British sneakers for its tops and bottoms. Men’s Capri-length baggy shorts in khaki with wheat patches pair with bright rain slickers in royal blue with yellow gold cargo pockets and dark green piping.
Wooyoungmi: remains traditional with its colors and styles this summer. The designer pairs slouchy khaki chinos with a gray trench coat. The chunky work boot-styled athletic shoes with which they paired the look on the runway provides an exact color match to the chinos.
Source: Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana: pairs heavily geometric shapes on cropped pants with short-sleeved nautical striped shirts. The design house continues the geometric trend on its matching tops and bottoms. D & G also turned out baggy, white athletic pants highlighted with a black stripe down the outside.
Casablanca: romanticizes the nautical look with baby blue dress pants replete with pleats and crease paired with a striped royal blue and white sweater with sweatshirt-inspired cuffs in white. Enjoy the comfort provided by the ultra-wide trousers nearly every designer trucked out for summer. Casablanca produced it in buttercream and khaki hues.
Hermes: offers classic style in muted neutrals such as light gray slacks and rust and slate blue summer sweaters with cream-colored piping. Leather belts match the shoes.
Lanvin: intertwines feminine details into its men’s summer suits. Its marigold suit features a boxy, breezy cut that will keep you cool in the summer heat. Lanvin accessorizes its summer looks with tote bags and satchels.
The diversity of styles and colors this summer leave a fashion space for every person. Regardless of your favorite look, you can find it among these fashions. Read our FAQ to learn how to choose the best colors for your skin tone and event.
Frequently Asked Questions
The summer season’s radical departure from the normal fashions can certainly spawn a few questions. We hit the highlights and the details in our FAQ on summer fashion colors for men.
What differs about this year’s collections?
The 2021 summer fashion collections are the first designed in isolation. This means they carry none of the streetwear influences prevalent for the last three to four decades of designs. This means the menswear focused only on what the designer experienced. Most collections focus on comfort and vibrancy.
What key garment pieces will a man need for Summer 2021?
Informal suits and couture-accented athletic leisurewear exert the greatest influence. Pajama pants and over-sized pants finally transitioned from young women’s fashion to appropriate for the guys, too. Men get to enjoy the same comfort as every sorority girl, but in more manly patterns and solid colors.
For chilly evenings, choose a bomber jacket in cream or camel. To update weekend casual looks, choose a shirt or pants using the new workwear/uniform look. This utilitarian look boasts multiple roomy pockets and ultra-comfortable silhouettes. When you must wear a suit, turn to the season’s unstructured suits crafted of linen.
Even your after-shower look needs updating this summer. Designers forgo traditional terry cloth robes and instead turn to men’s kimonos. Dunhill leads the way with this Japanese-influenced look made for comfort at home. The Bermuda short and chino short continue to rule the resort wear look, but in an ultra-wide cut meant for comfortable wear.
Should a gentleman choose solids or patterns this season?
The bold man wears both. Designers used a range of prints, symbolic patterns, plus both pastels and brights. Designers move the lavender and salmon of Oxford shirts to other clothing with a bit of cotton candy pink thrown in for good measure. If you recall the neon pink and tangerine orange of the 1980s, they returned.
Versace and Fendi bring the brightness with lemon yellow, cherry red, and electric green, too. Work these colors into your wardrobe in small doses. Choose a tie or a shirt in these hues worn with a gray or black suit such as the Hermès neon yellow shirt.
Casablanca and Boss bring back the nautical striped sweater in traditional hues of cream or white striped with navy blue or cherry red. Pair this with white Bermuda shorts for the ideal sailing look. Forget the heavy sweater weight of winter.
These summer pieces use a light knit ideal for summer heat and the chilly breeze that sometimes comes off of the water. Tie-dye comes back and jungle prints do, too, but blissfully not together. You will see much less leopard print, but more snakeskin dyed in bright colors and classic zebra stripes.
What look should a man avoid this season?
Skip the socks with sandals look even though Fendi and Versace featured it on runways. It has never worked. Instead, choose a high-quality pair of flip-flops and enjoy a leisurely look around your house. Unless you can genuinely manage a non-grandpa look, maybe you want to skip wearing the sweater vest, too. If it looks goofy on a teenaged fashion model, it probably does not belong in the boardroom or in your weekend wear.
How should a man wear this summer’s fashions?
The focus on comfort should not make you think sloppy. Instead, whether you wear shorts, khakis, or suit pants tuck in your shirt or T-shirt. While the designs provide over-sized comfort space, the look is pin neat. Etro, Balenciaga, and Hermès concur. Despite the super bright colors, minimalism ruled the runways as the overall aesthetic on the T of Valentino, Prada, and Jil Sander. Avoid the fraternity look by mixing the pastel shades with black or navy blue pants.
What materials do designers use for the 2021 summer men’s lines?
Cotton and mesh prevail on athletic wear. Linen provides the go-to fabric for suits. Shorts’ lengths remain just above the knee for men in cotton or denim. Leather bomber jackets have come back. No “Top Gun” jokes, please. Polo shirts continue to use traditional fabrics.
Are jungle prints also called Hawaiian shirts?
No, the two terms do not refer to the same thing. A Hawaiian shirt uses a flowing, loose, button-down shirt design populated by a large flowered print typically of multiple, bright colors. A jungle print shirt can use any design, but the print features a vine or rain forest or banana leaf in two to three colors. Both typically feature short sleeves.
How do jeans and denim pants figure into men’s summer fashion?
You can continue to wear blue jeans but avoid darker denim. Choose a light blue or black that complements your pastel or bright short-sleeved dress shirt or jungle print. Try Levi’s Slim Fit 511 jeans for your office’s casual Friday look.
What shoes should a man choose for summer?
Docksiders, Vans, boat shoes, or sneakers all work for everyday casual. This summer you can go beyond the white and black to enjoy nearly any imaginable colorway. Dress shoes for work remain black or brown though. Depending on the outfit, wear mid-calf or no-show socks. The former goes with pants, the latter goes with shorts.
The brighter colors of spring and summer are meant to bring us out of the doldrums. The fall and winter seasons used much more muted tones, but the resort look in 2021 tends toward a trip to the ice cream parlor. Expect colors like aqua, pops of neon pink, purple rose, and cerulean. They factor in with the florals that merge yellows and oranges with purples in the guise of marigold and orange ochre blended into an amethyst orchid.
Do you look better in bright or pale colors?
Stylists categorize skin tones into three categories: cool, neutral, and warm. You can quickly determine which skin tone you have. Those with olive skin or yellowish or greenish undertones to their skin fall into the warm category. You will look great in the summer of 2021 colors of amber, golden yellow, honey gold, orange, or red.
Those with pale skin who may or may not have freckles fall into the cool category. Your hues for the summer of 2021 include moss green, aqua/turquoise, olive, fern, and pesto. You can also wear the reddish purples of orchid and magenta.
The neutral colors complement both those with warm or cool skin tones. These include creams, winter wheat, taupe, chocolate, and latte. These colors work for either, but they will not light up your face like the perfect shade that complements your skin tone would. If you feel ill, but want to look healthy, choose a yellow or rosy color to add color to your face.
What shorts length should you choose this summer?
Your height and the length of your legs play a large part in which shorts length you should choose. Taller men can choose shorter shorts. A man of a height greater than 6’ 2” could wear 11-inch length shorts, but only men that tall should consider the longer shorts. Fashion traditionally says that shorts should not drop beneath the knee cap, but some surfer styles do just this.
Shorts typically come in lengths of 5, 7 9, and 11 inches. Shorter men should wear shorter shorts. A man of 5’ 6” or shorter can wear the five-inch length shorts, the gentlemen 5’7” to 6’ 1” have the greatest diversity of choice since they can wear either the seven or nine-inch lengths. You need toned thighs and confidence to wear the five-inch length. Go with a seven-inch length if you doubt your confidence in short shorts.
What color attracts the human eye the most?
Yellow attracts 94 percent of humans to it. If you want to get noticed, choose one of the bright yellows or buttercreams of the summer season. Cyan ranks second with 87 percent of individuals noticing it. Chartreuse and Spring green round out the top four noticeable colors with 83 and 82 percent of individuals reporting them as eye-catching, respectively.
How do you mix the various patterns and colors of the season?
Carefully, my friends, you mix them carefully. Choose one patterned piece as your accent. You can make this a jungle print or a plaid. There is not many madras on the scene this summer but checked plaids do make an appearance. You pair this single louder piece with a pair of solid pants and a solid over shirt or jacket.
Your pattern should not overwhelm the outfit. Although designers tended to pair geometric tops and shorts, you should not do this. The patterns overwhelm the viewer.
Pair the shirt with solid colored shorts in the same hue as the main accent color of the pattern. That means if you choose a shirt with red flowers and smaller green leaves on a buttercream solid background, you choose chino shorts that match the red flowers. They provide the largest accent on the statement piece.
Avoid mixing plaids and prints. This causes a clash that proves painful to look at for everyone. Designers do it for kitsch on the runway, but they own jeans, chinos, and t-shirts, too. The late Gianni Versace was often photographed in jeans and a white t-shirt. Even the most famed fashion minds actually dress pretty normally when no press lurks near to snap a pic.
Choose matching accessories. If you wear a brown leather belt, you wear brown leather shoes or white sneakers with matching brown accents.
Wear dress shoes with dress socks. Avoid white sweat socks with any dress shoes. Designers debuted colorful socks to match the bright and sunny hues of the season. You wear those.
With respect to jewelry, choose a wristwatch or a bracelet, but not both. Select a single chain in gold, silver, or platinum that complements the watch or bracelet. A tiny hint of metallic colors snuck into the summer collections for men. If you wear any of these, choose your jewelry to match it.
A very few designers showed monochromatic looks for the summer season. Those that did avoid black as a head-to-toe color. Chocolate and creams tended to rule the runways. These suit colors avoid an overbearing look and pair well with any of the bright yellows, golds, oranges, and reds.
Choose your ties and scarves carefully. The prints this season can overwhelm more conservative offices. If you have the luxury of still working from home this year, you can enjoy dressing as you like. Consider how your accessories may clash with your office’s dress code. While summer suits remained muted in creams and browns, the ties and scarves boast wild prints and funky florals. Choose wisely and keep your bosses happy.