10 of The Best Summer Shoes & How to Wear Them – March, 2023

by Jamie Wilson
Best Summer Shoes

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

With summer just around the corner, it’s important for you to have a range of light and comfortable shoes to choose from. 

The best thing about most of the summer shoes for men is that they are pretty versatile and you can wear them all year round, even in the height of winter. This is good news if you don’t want to buy too many new pairs of shoes. Summer shoes can also be worn with many different outfits – you can even get away with wearing them with formal attire. There are a whole range of summer shoes for men: driving shoes, boat shoes, trainers, loafers, sandals, espadrilles, and brogues. The important thing, especially with lighter shoes, is in careful maintenance.

Men’s Summer Shoes

What makes them summer shoes? Now, there isn’t much difference in men’s summer shoes than there are with men’s shoes at any other time of the year. The styles are the same, however, the material will sometimes differ. Let’s be honest, there is nothing worse than a pair of sweaty feet in the summer, so opt for shoes that are more ventilated and are of a lighter material. Now that we have told you what summer shoes are and how they differ from your average bit of footwear, we’ll give you the rundown of the best summer shoes on the market and how to wear them.

Boat Shoes

Boat shoes are classic summer footwear choice and every man should own at least one pair. Designed by Paul A. Sperry in 1935 to prevent sailors from slipping in boats, boat shoes have an ageless appeal and are great for coastal areas, especially if you want a change from your traditional trainers.

Boat shoes have rubber soles and give you a preppy look. They come in a range of colors so you can choose the style that most suits you or your outfit. Like drivers, boat shoes look and feel better without socks. Boat shoes are ideal for first dates – you don’t want to look like you’ve tried to hard.

To support your feet, boat shoes need to be broken in. One way to do this is to soak them in a little water and wear them until they dry. You can find boat shoes at G.H. Bass & Co. and Timberland. They have a great grip and extra padding. If they don’t tickle your fancy, why not try some contemporary boat shoes from Sperry?

What to Wear Them With?

Team a neutral pair of boat shoes with a white Oxford shirt and navy chinos. Throw on a blazer or light jumper if it gets a bit chilly. You could also wear your shoes with tailored shorts, khaki shorts, or turned up jeans and a white tee.

Top Tip: Try not to spill alcohol or silicone on your boat shoes. If they do happen to get wet, dry them at room temperature. You should also polish your shoes before wearing them to maintain that fresh look.

Trainers & Canvas Shoes

Trainers will undoubtedly become your go-to shoes for this summer. They are airy with plenty of room to breathe in and are ideal for sports as well as hitting the park or club. It is recommended that you wear socks with trainers as you don’t want to get any blisters. You can buy them for a range of prices too, so it doesn’t matter if you’re strapped for cash.

What to Wear Them With?

A pair of white trainers from Novesta are ideal for summer. Wear with jeans and a baseball jacket. Blue trainers look great with white jeans, making the perfect summer outfit. It can get a little steamy in summer so don’t be afraid to swap your jeans for denim shorts.

You can even wear trainers with suits (though check with your boss before turning up at work in trainers). Mixing smart with casual is the latest trend, Converse and Vans are two alternative types of trainers that go well with most casual outfits. They are the ultimate casual shoes. Try wearing Converses with jeans and a light sweater. If you’re planning to wear your trainers on a regular basis, it might be useful to invest in a pack of Crep Protect Wipes. These are great for getting rid of any dirt or stains and don’t cost much either.


Plimsolls are your next best option if you don’t fancy wearing trainers or espadrilles. While these shoes may make you reminisce about your P.E. lessons back in primary school, they can still be worn by adults and give off a chilled out vibe – men’s canvas shoes are perfect for summer.

Plimsolls make a highly practical addition to your summer wardrobe. Think of them as a laid-back alternative to brogues and other smart shoes. Plimsolls are great for holidays, especially if you’re going to a city and will be walking around all day. They won’t take up much room in your luggage either. And if you’re lucky enough to be jetting off to a tropical destination the other side of the world, a pair of white plimsolls will come in handy.

What to Wear Them With?

Superga and Converse do a great range of plimsolls. From classy black to ultra-stylish red, you’ll be spoiled for choice. To pull off a fashionable David Beckham look, wear a checked shirt on top with dark denim on the bottom.

Finish off with a pair of white plimsolls. Denim shorts look great with your plimsolls, no matter their style or color. Wear a bright color tee on top and you’re good to go.


Originally from Scandinavia, loafers are known for their traditional masculine style. Like drivers, loafers are a type of moccasin. While loafers maintain the practical moccasin slip-on design, they have a small heel, making them slightly elevated. Loafers are typically laceless and feel like slippers. Loafers are great if you are looking for summer work shoes, as they still look great but aren’t so formal (the perfect balance of smart casual shoes). They also come in a wide range of textiles, such as leather and suede. Men’s suede shoes are surprisingly apt for summer, and loafers are the best style for this material.

There are two main types of loafer:

The Penny Loafer – This is the smarter type of loafer. It was introduced by G. H. Bass and was initially called ‘Weejuns’ (short for ‘Norwegian’ – loafers were first made in Norway). According to Gilad Yogev of G. H. Bass & Co., the beauty of the penny loafer is its versatility; the shoe can be worn dressed up or down easily and works with most outfits.

The Tassel Loafer – Most commonly associated with lawyers but can be worn by anyone. The Tassel Loafer gained its popularity after it was worn by the American actor Paul Lukas, who starred in The Lady Vanishes (1938). Tassel loafers also go well with blazers – navy is probably your best option as it looks good with almost anything.

What to Wear Them With?

You can team your loafers with chinos and a blazer. A slim fit blazer would go perfectly with penny loafers. With loafers, it is important to not go over the top since this could ruin your outfit. Ensure the break of your trousers above your loafers so that the entirety of the shoes are visible. While they are considered feminine, it is advisable to wear invisible socks with loafers to prevent smelly feet.


Sandals are the ultimate men’s summer shoes. Though sandals do carry some stigma when worn by men, they date back to ancient times and have recently become more stylish. There are three main brands of sandals you should check out:

  • Birkenstock – These cool men’s sandals are ones that every guy can invest in.
  • Woodland – These are very durable and suitable if you’re an adventurous type.
  • Sperry – Sperry sandals have been around since 1935. They were first worn in America and are traditionally associated with surfers. Sperry sandals have a cushioned footbed for maximum comfort. Wear with a nautical outfit.

What to Wear Them With?

A pair of sandals is essential if you’re planning to spend summer lounging by the pool or sunbathing on the beach. Team your sandals with a pair of trunks – any color or pattern will do – and add a tank top on top. Opt for printed or polka dot trunks if you’re feeling brave.

Gladiator sandals are good if you’re walking around on a sunny day but need something a bit more sturdy and strong than flip-flops. Wear lightweight cotton or linen trousers. We’d recommend going for the navy. If you’re heading off to a festival, throw on a pair of short shorts. Just make sure that it’s unlikely to be raining first.

After something a little more formal but relaxed at the same time? Simply match a suit with a pair of sandals, ideally leather or suede. To clean your sandals, soak in warm water and scrub with antimicrobial soap. Remove any dirt with a soft-bristled brush.


As you can probably tell from the name, espadrilles are Spanish. They come from the Pyrenees, in the north of Spain. They began as peasant footwear in the Catalan and Basque regions of Spain, and have recently become a staple piece of summer footwear.

Espadrilles owe their popularity to the Miami Vice star Don Johnson and designer Yves Saint Laurent, who commissioned the Spanish company Castañer to create a pair of wedge espadrilles.

These comfy shoes are made from canvas or cotton fabric with a jute rope sole, making them one of the best summer shoes. Espadrilles can be flat or slightly heeled, can have open or closed toes and while espadrilles typically come in a single block of color. You can also find some patterned pairs too.

What to Wear Them With?

Espadrilles are better for shopping or chilling in the local park than sandals as they are less likely to slip off. Throw on a pair of skinny jeans or shorts and they’ll pair up perfectly with some simple espadrilles.

Stick to darker shades if you’re going to walk on grass, but if your shoes do happen to get a bit muddy, don’t panic. Wait for the dirt to dry and then put a tablespoon of detergent into a bowl, add some water and stir. Dip a toothbrush in the liquid and use that to scrub off the dirt.


Brogues are one of the more formal types of shoes on this list and make the perfect summer dress shoes. They originated from Ireland and Scotland and were first intended for walking around the countryside. However, brogues have since soared in popularity and can be worn on all types of occasions. If you want to look like Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper or Cary Grant, invest in a pair of brogues. Brogues are typically characterized by their low heels, toe caps, and heel caps. They also have lace panels.

Brogues have many types of lacing systems: Oxfords (closed), Derby (open), Monk straps (either double or single), and slip-on (with or without straps). You can also find brogue boots, but these might be a little too chunky for summer.

What to Wear Them With?

Black and brown brogues are your best option, but other colors such as navy and dark green are also available. Match your brogues with a smart blazer or tweed jacket. A lighter-colored men’s summer suit with black brogues keeps you cool while maintaining that formal look.

Suede brogues are the best men’s work shoes. They are ideal for sitting in an office and work well in informal environments. Avoid wearing brogues with baggy trousers as they will make you look like you have tiny feet.

Shoes to Wear With Shorts

So summer is here and you want to wear shorts, right? However, you might be a bit stuck for the right footwear to pair with your shorts. Don’t worry, we are here to help – the main thing to keep in mind when you are pairing your men’s summer shoes with shorts is not to cut off your feet at an awkward angle. Most of the shoes we have stated above are great to wear with shorts, however, the only pair I would be wary of are brogues. This is due to the fact that they can sit slightly higher up the leg than the other styles.

Loafers and Shorts

When it comes to wearing loafers and shorts (like most formal shoes) the easiest way to style them is to wear tailored shorts to complement them. Remember with this style you will in no doubt have to go sockless, so invest in some shoe liners or some trusty invisible socks to pull off this trend.

Boat Shoes with Shorts

Though boat shoes can be considered formal, they have slightly more versatility than your average loafer. Again when wearing these shorts sockless is the way forward! But, you can wear these with denim shorts, chino shorts, and twill shorts. I would just avoid cargo shorts, patterned shorts, and jersey shorts – these are just some odd combinations that never need to see the light of day.

Shorts and Oxfords

Oxford shoes, not to be confused with brogues. Like loafers, these are formal shoes and should be treated accordingly, so wear them with summer shorts and smart chino shorts.

Men’s Suede Shoes for Summer

Though you may not think so, suede is a breathable material and is great for summer. Practically all the styles stated above have suede counterparts – however, these tend to be a bit more costly. Suede is a great material, but you need to remember to keep it clean and tidy.

How to Wear Summer Shoes

  • When looking for summer shoes remember to consider breathability as you don’t want to get all hot and sweaty in the foot region.
  • Remember that formal shoes need formal trousers. Suit trousers, chinos, chino shorts, or suit shorts are ideal for this look.
  • If you are wearing sandals then avoid socks (unless you are confident in pulling off this look, which we still wouldn’t recommend).
  • You will need to invest in some shoe liners and invisible socks if you want to wear socks with your summer shoes.
  • Matching the right shorts with shoes is important in nailing a clean look.

On That Note

From formal work shoes to casual trainers, you’ll have a range of footwear for any occasion. Opt for trainers, plimsolls, sandals, espadrilles and boat shoes if you’re heading off to the beach or park, and drivers, loafers and brogues if you’re going to work or meetings. Experiment with different colors and styles to create your own unique look.

Feature image from Pinterest

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