Summer, summer, summertime. Time to sit back and unwind.
‘ His Royal Highness, The Fresh Prince
Heads up! We have officially descended into the heat and humidity of Summertime. Here in the Southern U.S., we regularly see the mercury surpass 100°F with the hygrometer showing 90%+ humidity in the mornings. Gross, I’m sweating just thinking about going outside. Trust me when I say, I understand why people reach for flip flops and sandals this time of year. However, since our focus here at Dappered is style, we think you will be better served with one of the seven summer shoe styles listed below. They’re certainly more stylish, more versatile, and probably more durable.
For our regular readers, the Dappered Dans (and Danielles) around these parts, I’d wager that you probably own at least one of these styles. For those that are new around here, or those who might need a bit of shopping guidance, pull up a stool and grab a complimentary warm weather cocktail as we dive into the seven different categories. For simplicity, we have broken up each style into three, roughly affordable budget tiers:
- Skimp – Under ~$100 USD
- Spend – Under ~$200 USD
- Splurge – Over ~$200 USD
Remember, this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of stylish summer shoes, but just a handful of options to peruse and see if anything piques your interest. As always, local price and availability will vary greatly and you should always hunt for discount codes.
#1. Minimalist White Leather Sneakers
- Skimp: Vans UA Authentic 44 DX Anaheim Factory – $75
- Skimp: adidas Stan Smith Primegreen – $80 ($100)
- Spend: Stan Smith Lux Sneakers – $145 shown above, review here
- Splurge: Svensson Classic Low White – $204 ($323)
I would be willing to wager that there have been at least a thousand and one articles, reviews, and YouTube videos created simply for minimalist white sneakers. While some might say this trend has passed (Google says it peaked in late 2019), I would contend that everyone should have a pair of understated, smart casual sneakers in their arsenal. I believe that they are as timeless as blue jeans, white t-shirts, and apple pie.
Unlike the bulky, all-white “dad shoe” monstrosities that you’ll typically find perched atop riding lawn mowers on any given Sunday, you should keep an eye out for models with minimal design elements. Keep it simple, clean, comfortable, and within your budget.
#2. Minimalist Suede Sneakers
- Skimp: SeaVees Hawthorne Slip-Ons – $98
- Spend: Beckett Simonon Reid Sneakers – $169
- Splurge: Rancourt Bennet – $298 shown above, review here, currently sold out in the Flint Kudu shown.
While suede sneakers are inherently a little softer and more casual than their full grain leather counterparts, their rich texture adds a bit of elegance to any smart casual outfit. Don’t be afraid to beat them up, either, as they look better with some character! Again, look for models within your price range that have minimal details and a comfortable footbed. I like to dress mine up a bit with dark denim and a slim fitting linen or chambray shirt, but feel free to swap in your favorite flat front chino shorts and slub cotton Henley.
#3. Retro Trainer/Running Sneakers
- Skimp: Nike Waffle Debut Sneakers – $75
- Skimp: Nike Killshot 2 – $90 shown above, review here
- Spend: Veja V-10 – $175
- Splurge: New Balance 990 v6 Made in USA – $200
Retro trainers have been among the most popular sneakers released over the past few years, including the often mentioned Nike Killshot 2 that probably kept J.Crew afloat longer than they should have been. Personally, my favorite retro sneakers have the vintage look and feel but with a modern twist of interesting fabrics and colorways. Best paired with your everyday casual outfits, look for retro sneakers to add a pop of color and style to an otherwise plain outfit. There’s some crossover between this style and the white-minimalist sneakers already mentioned. But these retro trainers are often more colorful and/or have stylistic details pulled from a brand’s 1970s or 1980s archives.
#4. Sandals / Clogs
- Skimp: Chaco x Huckberry Z/1 Sandals – $110
- Spend: Birkenstock Arizona (Soft Footbed) Sandals – $135 shown above
- Splurge: Easymoc Slippers Made in USA – $260
Yes. Sandals. On a #menswear blog. The classic (toe covering) alternative would be espadrilles, but I’ll be honest here – I have never been a fan of them. I fully recognize that those lightweight shoes made of natural jute are essentials for a ton of people around the world (my wife looks fantastic in them), but for me, I prefer sandals or slippers. You can catch me wearing my Birkenstock Arizonas to and from the pool. For the lazy days around the house, I have a pair of Easymoc-style slippers to lounge in. Regardless of your preference, look for uber comfortable and breathable styles.
#5. Boat Shoes
- Skimp: Sperry Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoes – $100
- Spend: J.Crew Camp shoes in leather – $188
- Splurge: Rancourt Gilman Traveler Boat Shoe – $268 Mocs shown above were a special order, and aren’t quite the Gilman. But they’re close.
When you think of boat shoes, you probably envision the classic mid-brown leather Sperry Top-Siders, or at least I do. While Sperry makes some great “entry level” mocs, there are TONS of other options out there! Whichever yacht captain style you choose, try to avoid pairing them with loose fitting polo shirts and Chubbies-style short shorts lest you be confused for just another WASPy fraternity broseph. Instead, pair them with a lightly tailored linen or seersucker shirt, flat front chino shorts, and a color coordinating woven leather or fabric belt. This will kick them up a notch or two, style wise.
- Spend: G.H. Bass Larson Weejuns Loafers – $175
- Spend: Astorflex Patnoflex Crepe Sole Loafers – $195 shown above
- Splurge: Grant Stone Traveler Penny – $312
*note: going cheap for this style isn’t really recommended, as materials and construction can be so poor at that level that the result is really uncomfortable shoes. Anyone who has ever worn a cheap loafer that tears their heels and toes to bits within 20 minutes knows that spending a little more goes a lonnnng way with this particular style.
For those of us who like to wear something more than athleisure every day, slip-on loafers are a Summer classic that look great for almost every occasion. It won’t matter if you are bar hopping with a buddy or attending your mom’s weekend book club potluck, slip into one of these loafers to elevate your style a bit above the usual palette of slip-ons. Whether you prefer the classic penny or the smarter tassel loafer, both pair very well with tapered jeans, flat front chinos, and non-denim shorts. If possible, try to have your Summer-weight pants hemmed with little to no break so that your ankles can breathe a bit. For some outfit inspiration, check out this very handy album!
#7. Suede Derbies/Plain Toe Bluchers
- Skimp: Thursday Boots Co. Renegade Bucks – $168
- Spend: J.Crew Ludlow Derbys – $248 check the reviews though, J. Crew continues to struggle with producing accurate studio photography
- Splurge: Grant Stone Dirty Buck – $328 shown above, review here
Life doesn’t stop moving during the dog days of Summer, so if your attendance has been requested at a wedding or upscale get-together, don’t be afraid to get down with some suede for the big day. I’m a big fan of unlined PTBs (plain toe bluchers) or suede bucks with summer-weight wool, linen, or seersucker suiting. If that’s something that interests you, look into light, earthy toned shades like milkshake, tan, and snuff suede for daytime events. Save the navy, chocolate, and black suede for nighttime events where a slightly more formal dress code is usually requested. You’ll want to keep these in somewhat nice condition, too, so brush the suede regularly and use a spray on suede protector to guard against spilled drinks when someone’s granny is doing the Wobble.
About the Author: Adam Terry is Dappered’s resident shoe and denim nerd. He’s a thirtysomething Technical Trainer in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and being a dad!