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When it comes to the warmer months, it’s really more about fabrics rather than styles. You still want to stick with your typical business casual staples such as polos, button down collar shirts and dress shirts. For pants, chinos and khakis are still the best options. But the key is getting these items in more breathable and lighter weight fabrics. So here is a guide to business casual for men summer attire.
Business Casual for Men Summer Guide
Polos, button down collar shirts and dress shirts are still fair game during the summer months. The key is to get these in lighter weight and breathable materials. The best materials for polo shirts are going to be cotton or cotton blends.
A popular choice is a cotton/silk blend which makes these polo shirts incredibly soft and breathable. Another versatile option are polos made from pima or supima cotton with a smooth and silky fabric. These are different from pique cotton polos and are dressier and perfect for business casual attire.
We discuss these polos in more detail in ‘The Business Casual Polo Shirt’.
For button down collar and dress shirts look for cotton and cotton/linen blends. I would stay away from 100% linen shirts since most of them are designed with an unstructured collar which can look sloppy for business casual attire.
100% linen shirts also wrinkle a lot, so the best option is either a lightweight cotton or cotton/linen blend. Amazon Buttoned Down selection has great cotton/linen blend shirts that are also budget friendly.
These shirts will have the structure of a traditional collared shirt but with the added benefit of being more breathable and comfortable in the hotter climate. Plus, they come in a multitude of different fits, colors and even patterns.
As for pants, look for khakis and chinos in lighter weight cotton or cotton linen blends which will help you stay cooler.
Neutral lighter colors are a good option since they don’t absorb as much light (heat) and help you stay cooler. Beige, cream, light browns, and light greys are all great choices.
Avoid loud colors such as red, yellow or purple since these come across as too casual and trendy.
Another important consideration for summer dress pants is the fit. You don’t want your pants fitting tightly because firstly, it won’t look professional and secondly, it will cause you to overheat.
In the warmer months, it’s perfectly fine to go for a slightly looser fit for your trousers. The keyword here is slightly looser, so we’re not talking about baggy trousers. Having your pants a bit loose will help with breathability and therefore make you more comfortable.
For shoes, you want to go for those made from breathable materials such as leather and suede.
Loafers, desert boots (aka chukka boots) and derbies are all great options since they are more comfortable than oxfords or lace up boots yet retain a sense of formality.
Check out our list of the ‘Best Summer Shoes for Men’.
Remember: Sneakers, driving moccasins and athletic shoes are not appropriate for business casual attire unless your workplace explicitly allows them. Also, boat shoes are not appropriate for most business casual settings. Boat shoes are inherently casual so they look best paired with shorts, jeans and casual pants. They don’t pair well with business casual attire.
As far as jackets are concerned, the focus should be on lighter weight breathable materials such as cotton and linen.
Trench coats and rain coats are a great option especially if you get a lot of rain in the warmer months. They pair well with business casual attire such as collared shirts and chinos/khakis.
Lightweight field jackets and Harrington Jackets are also a versatile option especially if it gets a bit cold during the summer where you live/work. These pair well as part of business casual attire with collared shirts and dress pants.
Check out our list of the ‘Best Summer Jackets for Men’.
In case you need to wear more formal outfits consider lightweight blazers and sport coats. Blazers and sport coats made from linen or cotton will help you dress up but stay cool at the same time. Avoid blazers made from 100% linen since these wrinkle a lot and although it is part of the look, it might not be appropriate for office wear.
Cotton/linen blends are the best options since they are lightweight and breathable yet don’t wrinkle as much.
The best colors for summer blazers are light blue, beige and light grey. Patterns such as plaids and ginghams also work well during the summer months.
Business casual for men in the summer can get tricky but if you follow this guide hopefully things will get cooler and more comfortable from 9 to 5. Let me know what you like to wear during the summer months and if you have any tips or tricks to stay cool!
Confused about Business Casual? Check out Easy Guide to Business Casual for Men (2021).