Help me (20s male) be fashionable for summer!
May 19, 2013 6:17 PM   Subscribe

I am an early 20s male, straight if it's relevant, and I need some help getting good clothes for summer.

I like:
-- shorts
-- not wearing socks
-- the beach
-- pastel colors
-- tropical weather

I don't like:
-- synthetic 80s neon colors
-- looking ultra preppy (a little preppy is okay, but i draw the line at shorts with little lobsters on them. also, if there is something like boat shoes that isn't boat shoes, i would love to hear about it)
-- hats

Right now, my uniform is a mix of jeans, flannel, dressier button-downs, and solid color t-shirts. I want to get some shorts, shirts, and shoes for summer. I have basically no understanding of fashion or what is currently trendy. But: I think/hope I can at least detect when an outfit clashes or looks stupid on me.

so: recommendations for where to shop? specific brands? articles of clothing that are particularly good? even whole outfits? i'm basically just looking for any suggestions you can give.

Thanks, everyone.
posted by vogon_poet to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I think J Crew does a good job of being preppy-influenced but modern -- not costume preppy.

Here, for example, are some sneakers you'd definitely wear without socks:

If this is a style you like, you could probably copy some outfits directly from their catalog/website.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 6:32 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

J Crew. If you're really rich, Black Fleece at Brooks Brothers, no little lobsters, great cuts.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:32 PM on May 19, 2013

I had this very same issue, and same requirements. Basically, I went to Bennetton around July when all of their summer/spring clothes were on sale and stocked up-- they have a lot of what you want. I realize that you may want to be prepared with a summer wardrobe by Memorial Day, but if you're willing to wait about 8 weeks, you can save a lot of money.
posted by deanc at 6:32 PM on May 19, 2013

I am also an early 20s male. I've been told I have "good" style by numerous people. I could probably have "great" style but I don't like shopping enough and I don't have tons of money.

I think your best bet is to just go out and find a couple stores that you like. Almost all of my clothing comes from either Target (for t-shirts, mostly), PacSun (I find their jeans fit me well and are cheap), Urban Outfitters, or a couple local shops. There are some really horrible things at all of these places but, in general, I always manage to find stuff that catches my eye. A lot of having a good style entails just being willing to go out and visit the stores and spend the money. I've found that it's harder as a guy to find good deals on clothes like females can. My girlfriend always marvels at how I have to pay $30-$40 for a button down shirt unless I want some hideous reject on the clearance rack.

For shorts, read this thread. I pretty much exclusively wear sandals with shorts, but I know some people don't love this. I live in Southern California only a few miles from the beach so I think that helps me pull it off. I think that thread has some good suggestions for styles of shoes to wear with shorts. Do not ever wear regular tennis shoes with shorts.

Buy a nice watch. It's small but it can do a lot for you.
posted by Defenestrator at 6:33 PM on May 19, 2013

Sandals or boat shoes, yes, flip flops, never.

No cargo shorts or shorts that hang to or past your knees.

Shorts should fit right, no drooping.

Buy the softest t-shirts that you can find. You can layer them with quirky, short sleeve, button down shirts.

Find a good pair of sunglasses. No baseball caps. Ever. Unless you are playing baseball.
posted by myselfasme at 6:41 PM on May 19, 2013

Also, my summer wear basically consists of shorts and either plain or patterned v-neck t-shirts.
posted by Defenestrator at 6:42 PM on May 19, 2013

myselfasme: "Sandals or boat shoes, yes, flip flops, never."

I feel like sandals (flip flops) similar to these work well with shorts, and that's what I meant by sandals. But yeah, some people don't like this.
posted by Defenestrator at 6:46 PM on May 19, 2013

Seersucker. Nice watch that isn't chunky. Leather belt, leather shoes, NATO watch band. Comfy sandals like chacos or berks will make you happier and subsequently exude good vibes.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:52 PM on May 19, 2013

Take shirts to a tailor - often shirts fit poorly off-the-shelf until the wearer understands what a proper fit should look and feel like. Same goes for pants and jackets. Often pants need to be slimmed in the legs.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:54 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Top Shop/Top Man.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 7:04 PM on May 19, 2013

I agree that a nice watch makes a huge difference, for some reason. (I think it's better to spend good money on watches and shoes, and less on things like t-shirts). Something classic, solid, simple, in metal. Buy the best you can afford.
posted by Salamander at 8:07 PM on May 19, 2013

Best answer: also, if there is something like boat shoes that isn't boat shoes, i would love to hear about it

posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 8:30 PM on May 19, 2013

Uniqlo's guy stuff is awesome. I would probably get at least one pair of ironic lobster shorts myself but 01) i am not a 20something dude and 02) i am kind of a schmuck about clothes.
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 PM on May 19, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, I already have ironic shorts with little sailboats on them, but -- as someone said above -- they're a costume.

Flip-flops: I wear them all the time. I think they're great, and I have a pretty nice pair. This is a cultural thing, I think: some people think you shouldn't wear them unless you're at the beach. But then, in many cultures, you shouldn't wear shorts unless you're at the beach.

The Uniqlo suggestion is great, as are Vans.

Watches generally don't work for me for a variety of reasons (skinny wrists, I'm left-handed and they often aren't built for the right hand). However, I'm wondering whether anybody has any good suggestions for sunglasses? I'm looking for something relatively nice, but cheaper than name brand Ray-Bans.

Also, I guess a point that didn't really come out in my original question: what specifically is trendy or fashionable right now? And, a corollary: is there anything that's quickly going to become dated that I should avoid buying? I am curious about these things and don't really understand how people keep up with them.
posted by vogon_poet at 9:20 PM on May 19, 2013

Style is about finding out about yourself. Flip through websites of sellers and of etsy to see what looks you like. Take notes.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:20 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Where do you live? I don't understand this flip flop hate, but I also live in California and between April and October if I am not at work I am wearing flip flops. I have "working" flip flops for gardening and "dressy" flip flops for wearing with skirts and many others in between. If you love them then you wear them, my friend.

So yeah, knowing what general area you're in might help. It seems like men's summer wear is pretty consistent where I live. Shorts and a t-shirt or button down and flip flops or sandals. It's too hot to try much harder. Other places might require something more fashionable. Or warmer.

Anything trendy is generally going to become dated pretty quickly.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:27 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, I guess a point that didn't really come out in my original question: what specifically is trendy or fashionable right now?

Maybe go to a website like and browse the latest menswear? They keep bang up-to-date on all the current trends, I assume, since they have very rapid turnover. And you're right in the demographic they're aimed at.

I find it helpful to look at how they've actually styled it on the model, too - i.e. which top and bottom halves go together, which footwear works, etc.
posted by Salamander at 11:11 PM on May 19, 2013

I don't have specific advice but check out the r/malefashionadvice subreddit. I have found it amazingly helpful in becoming just a little less fashionably challenged.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 12:28 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

what specifically is trendy or fashionable right now?

Websites that sell clothing are in the business of showing you what is in fashion at the moment: J Crew men's summer; Gap men's summer; Target.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:55 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I guess a point that didn't really come out in my original question: what specifically is trendy or fashionable right now? And, a corollary: is there anything that's quickly going to become dated that I should avoid buying?

I think the whole "nice" flipflops thing has played itself out. Like it's gone from fashion-forward move to widely-embraced norm to mockworthy punch line. I'd place popping your collar of your polo shirt in the same category, along with khaki cargo shorts. Madras jackets and shorts had a revival 3-4 years ago but I think is also no longer trendy.

There was a claim recently that one of the "trends for summer" was stripes. DarlingBri's links to retailers seems to confirm this.

You can also filter fashion blogs by their trends tags and see what you come up with.
posted by deanc at 5:39 AM on May 20, 2013

I read Style Girlfriend's Blog and she had a recent post on Spring Essentials for guys that I think you'll find helpful.
posted by firetruckred at 6:50 AM on May 20, 2013

Best answer: Short sleeve madras shirts are always in fashion.

Linen shirts and shorts are great for hot weather. Uniqlo has a lot of linen shirt options (including madras patterns),

Seavees has a great selection of California style summer footwear. Go sockless or get some low profile socks (like Mocc Socks).

Aviator sunglasses scream summer.

No cargo shorts, no "mandals" (man sandals).
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:56 AM on May 20, 2013

Response by poster: I cannot comprehend the dislike for sandals and flip-flops. Maybe it's my warm-weather upbringing, but it sounds as crazy as if someone said "T-shirts are pretty played out, you shouldn't wear t-shirts anymore". They're completely normal clothing. was a great recommendation, thanks. So was the idea to just look at catalogues and websites to see good outfits: for example, I noticed that pretty much every model is wearing Vans-lookalikes (Seavees is another great recommendation).
posted by vogon_poet at 10:43 AM on May 20, 2013

also, to be properly trendy, wear what everyone else is wearing, but different.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2013

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