man wearing summer driving shoes

Summer is the ideal time to reflect on and expand your daily footwear choices. Winter and summer are at opposites of the sartorial scale when we consider what we need from our footwear. So, a new season creates an optimum time to reflect on the shoes we own and where we are missing core options. 

Summer Shoe Fundamentals

For shoes, in winter it is about braving the elements with robust materials and sturdy soles. That means chunky grip for icy pavements and thick leather to stop the cold. But as soon as summer comes our feet are crying out for more ventilation. Most footwear will not see you through both winter and summer. Typical leather dress shoes like brogues or oxfords will look nice, but your poor toes will be overheated and at worse, smelling. Different clothing fabrics like linen can keep us cooler on warmer days, but all that work can be undone with the wrong footwear.

This guide will cover the essential men’s footwear you need to be looking at and how to style them correctly.  

Read on to discover our favourite summer shoe styles for men.

White Trainers

Whether you refer to them as white trainers or sneakers, there is no doubting their place in the list of summer footwear essentials. Keep them clean and crisp and they will be the epitome of understated style. The versatile white trainer can blow away the formality of a suit or partner perfectly with jeans or chinos for casual weekend vibes.

Our top choice for brands would be Common Projects, but a cheaper alternative is Uniform Standard or Scarosso.

How to wear white trainers

The list is endless for men thinking of how to style their white trainers. They will literally go with anything. We prefer to keep an element of smart and wear a nice fitting pair of suit trousers and a polo shirt.

Penny Loafers

A leather penny loafer is a superb slip-on shoe for work that will offer better ventilation than a lace-up whilst retaining an air of formality. The classic penny loafer in a suede material can also provide a smart casual bridge between the office and the beer garden.

When styling any loafers, the biggest faux-pas is having your trousers sitting on the shoe. You want your trousers to have no break so the whole shoe is visible. 

Take note, suede shoes absorb more sweat than leather. Prevent yourself from stinking out every room by picking up a pair of invisible socks. 

Shopping for penny loafers? G H Bass’ signature leather penny loafers are a timeless classic, or you can find a nice suede option from Jones Bootmaker.

How to wear penny loafers

Penny loafers deserve to be worn as part of a smart attire. Feel free to loosen it up by removing the tie. Stick with the formal trousers though, as the fit aligns well with the ankle gracing length.

Suede Derby Shoes

We can’t all be blessed with spending our summer on the beach or in the beer garden. Sometimes we have to go to the office or have a wedding to attend. This is where the suede derby steps in. Like a relaxed version of the men’s oxford shoe, they will see you through any formal occasion this summer.

When looking at styles, focus on lighter colours like beige or tan. These colours can pair better with more of the warm-weather clothing you might already have.

As with all suede, we recommend sticking to a routine for keeping them in their best condition. Tools like a suede protector and suede brush should be in your shoe care kit if they aren’t already.

At the top end, a quality pair of suede derbies can be upwards of £1,000. If your budget is not at that level then Oliver Sweeney or ASOS have much cheaper options.

How to wear suede derbies

We are going to stick with our previously mentioned colour palette for how to style them. Using a lighter tone can mean you can partner with more summery colours like pastels or beiges to create a neutral, paired back summer wedding outfit.

Boat Shoes / Deck Shoes

We have grouped a collection of shoes here as they seem to be referenced differently from one brand to another, but are essentially the same. A boat shoe, deck shoe and even a yacht shoe is pretty much an iteration of the same piece of footwear. The sole purpose to be worn on a boat or vessel. Uppers made from leather or suede with or without laces, but the rubber sole remains the same. It is completely flat with no markings, made to be worn without marking the boat the wearer was on.

This preppy classic is an ideal piece of summer footwear that seems to never go out of style. Think more Riviera-chic than American college frat boy.

There are a host of boat shoes to choose from no matter how much you want to spend. We are big fans of Aurelian and their almond-shaped toe yacht shoes for a touch of Mediterranean luxury.

How to wear boat shoes

It would be sacrilegious to not wear this style they were intended. If you aren’t lucky to have your own boat then you’ll have to make do with partnering with shorts and a polo shirt for a summer weekend look.

Driving Shoe

Another twist on the smart-casual loafer is the men’s driving shoe. As you can expect from its name there is an automotive history, a studded sole was added to enable you to feel the pedals better. Now it is a firm favourite among the summer wardrobes of the most stylish man, whether they are driving the coastlines of southern France or not.

This moccasin-style shoe comes in a leather or suede construction and should never be worn with socks showing.

Ignore the name, focus on the quality. Hugs & Co is a great brand if you are looking to invest in a pair of driving shoes.

How to wear driving shoes

A flexible piece of footwear that can as easily be worn with a suit as it could with chinos. We like to take a nod from the Riviera style book and pair driving shoes with a flattering pair of shorts and a shirt.

Sam Brady

Sam Brady is a menswear and grooming specialist and the founder of A Gentleman's Row.

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