Summer Men’s Fashion: The Ultimate Style Guide

Summer calls for its own brand of fashion and style that has rules and guidelines just like Winter or Spring. That’s where we come in: we’re writing this guide now so that by the time Summer has officially begun, you will be ready to rock perfect Summer looks.

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The Art of Layering: Adding Additional Elements in Style

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The Art of Layering: Adding Additional Elements in Style

Layering is an art, but it doesn’t have to be complex. While we here at H|M specialize in suits and more formal wear, we want to be a resource for you no matter what you’re wearing, so today we’re going to discuss the art of layering and how to achieve a comfortable, versatile look – one that looks as great as it feels. Layering is most commonly used in Spring and Fall, when different parts of the day can vary in temperature, allowing you to stay comfortable all day long, while still looking great. 

There are three main rules you want to follow, which we will discuss below, but there are also some tips and tricks to keep in mind to make sure that all the individual pieces of your outfit work for you, and work together. Before we get into that, though, let’s talk about the different layers that make up a put-together layered look.

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The Different Layers

The absolute innermost layer – your undershirt or tank – should not be showing at all. It lies against the skin and is a protective layer. Because it is never visible, we’re not going to worry about what you wear for it. That’s completely up to you.

The next layer is the shirt layer. It is mostly hidden, but is usually, unless you’re wearing a sweater or vest, partially visible at the center of your torso, and sometimes at your neck in the form of a collar. The shirt layer can act as a solid visual anchor – contrasting with the layers above if you so choose. More on this is discussed in rule #1. For your shirt layer, a dress shirt is always a good bet. It’s definitely the most commonly used shirt layer, especially in more formal settings, but it is also not your only option. Polos and henleys are frequently used as well, depending on if you want to go more sporty or more casual. If you’re heading out to hang with the guys or going to a casual party and want a bit more edge to your look, you can even wear a tee, but be very careful when picking the tee you are going to wear. The goal of layering is to look polished, so a raggedy old sports team tee is not the way you want to go. A well-kept solid color, or a more neutral graphic tee can work if you do it right.

Above the shirt layer you have the middle/jacket layer. This is most often a blazer or a sport-coat, but can also be a sweater or vest. This will be your outermost layer when you are inside. You can wear a sports jacket or a blazer, which is more traditional, but there are other options, too, like a sweater or a waistcoat. There are even more options within the sweater category: thin sweaters, thick woolen sweaters, and the sweater-vest. Sweaters are also versatile: depending on the style, they can be a middle layer or an outer layer. A thin cotton sweater can be worn under a jacket, but a thick woolen sweater can be worn as an outer layer in lieu of a jacket. 

The outermost layer is known as the coat layer, or simply the outer layer. This can be a peacoat, trenchcoat, long woolen overcoat… whatever type of coat you feel best in. Your coat layer should be long enough to cover all the other layers, and loose enough to fit over them yet still appear fitted. There are so many options for coat styles, and they can be one of the hardest parts of a layered look to figure out, so take some time, try things out, and when you find a style you like, invest in it and stick with it. 

Depending on the weather where you are, you can use an optional shell layer, which serves more as a function piece. A thin, weather-proof raincoat is a good example of a shell layer.

Accent Layers

If you’ve gone quite simple with your look and avoided any bright colors or complex patterns, but still want to add another layer of style, consider accent pieces like hats, scarves, gloves, or jewelry. While not clothing layers, these pieces can add a lot of style if done correctly. If you already have some very bright colors or complex patterns, avoid any extraneous pieces, or if you do add some, make sure they are on the more subtle side. As a general rule, you want your clothing to do most of the work for you, and let your accent pieces be small touches that give just a bit more panache to your look.

Layering doesn’t have to be a pain. You can look great in a layered outfit by keeping these tips in mind and being careful about what you put together. A well-done layered outfit looks amazing and serves you well in rapidly changing weather. These tips should help you be on your way to putting together amazing ensembles in no time.

Rule #1: Patterns should be scaled by intensity

In order to have a cohesive look, avoid having patterns or fabrics of different intensities on randomly placed layers. You want to have your patterns be progressive: lightest to strongest. There is no hard set rule on whether light goes on the inside or the outside – you can wear it either way, but make sure that no matter which layer your light pattern goes, the farthest layer from it has the strongest pattern, with medium intensity patterns going in the middle. 

For example, if you’re wearing a solid color shirt in a more neutral hue, you will want your outer layer to be either a brighter color or a pattern other than solid. In the middle, maybe use a slightly brighter hue of the shirt’s color, so that your look gets progressively more bold, from the inner to the outer layers.

Rule #2: Use one or two bright colors as accents

This rule is quite simple: part of the art of layering is learning how to balance. Having a bright color for every layer will look loud and obnoxious. You can absolutely use bright colors when layering, but keep it to one or two of these shades and keep everything else more neutral.

Rule #3: Each visible layer should be something you can wear on its own

The core purpose of layering is to allow the wearer to shed or don the layers throughout the day to maximize comfort. Because of this, you don’t want any of your layers to be something you wouldn’t wear on its own, because if you decide you don’t want that layer shown because you don’t like the way it looks by itself, it defeats the purpose. When putting on a layered outfit, stop in front of your mirror after you’ve put on each layer, analyze the look, and determine if you would feel comfortable going out in the look as it is just then. Once you’ve determined it works, add another layer, then stop again and survey the look. Do this until you have your last layer on, take one last look, make sure everything looks great all together, and then you are ready to go tackle the day.

Layering doesn’t have to be a pain. You can look great in a layered outfit by keeping these tips in mind and being careful about what you put together. A well-done layered outfit looks amazing and serves you well in rapidly changing weather. These tips should help you be on your way to putting together amazing ensembles in no time.

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ABOUT

Cait Lambert

Cait Lambert is a barber and freelance writer. In addition to her work in men’s grooming and lifestyle, she has also written numerous fiction pieces: two screenplays and a YA novel. She lives in San Diego, CA, with her dog, Toni. Follow her on Twitter - @caitwrites

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Footwear Styles for Men

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Footwear Styles for Men

You’ve got the suit, but to make your look really pop, you need to be sure your footwear matches the statement you’re trying to make. The shoes you wear can make or break a look; that’s why it’s so important to select the right footwear for it. We’re going to talk about different footwear styles for men, and what looks they most complement.

Loafers: Penny, Bit, and Tassel

Loafers are among the more casual shoes on this list. They do not have any sort of lacing or fastening system; instead, they are designed to be slipped on. Thus, they are not quite suited for evening wear. There are a wide variety of loafer styles, including the penny, the bit, and the tassel.

Penny loafers rose to prominence in the 1950s, and are named for the strap of leather that runs across the forefoot, leaving a small diamond cut-out that has just enough room for a penny. In the early days of their use, many men did in fact keep a penny in that slot. One theory as to why they might have done this is because one or two pennies was all that was required to make a call in a phone-booth.

Tassel loafers are a bit flashier; they have more decorative lacing across the top, as well as a pair of tassels. To leave room for the tassels, these loafers typically have lower vamps – the vamp is the piece of leather that covers the main body of your foot (the space between the toe and the ankle). A low vamp ends closer to the toe, a high vamp ends closer to the middle of the foot, back towards the ankle. Shoes with low vamps have typically been considered to be for those of us who are up there in years, but a man of any age can rock them; just promise to avoid wearing them with full business suits. You can get away with darker denim or mismatched suit combos.

Bit loafers, originally developed by Gucci – which is why they are sometimes called Gucci loafers – have a bar of metal that runs over the top of the shoe. They were put on the market to strike a balance between comfort and style, allowing for men to wear laid-back loafers to dressier events. If you tend to dress on the more conservative side, you may want to forgo bit loafers when wearing your finest suits, but you can wear them with dark denim or odd suit and trouser combos. If you want to make a statement, however, wear them to business meetings and the like. As a general rule, though, they are not suited for tuxedos or black-tie events.

Derby/Blucher

Derbies – or Bluchers, if you prefer – are lace-up shoes, typically lower-cut. They have an open-throat lacing system. The lacing system on a shoe depends on two elements: the vamp, which we mentioned above, and the quarters. Whereas the vamp is the piece of leather that sits over the middle portion of the top of the foot, the quarters are the two sides of leather that wrap around the heel and meet at the front of the ankle, where the eyelets are placed on either side.

Open-throat lacing means that the quarters are sewn on top of the vamp, leaving the edges of the quarters exposed. Closed-throat lacing, which is found on Oxfords (which we will explore next), means that the quarters are stitched under the vamp, so the edge is not exposed.
Because of the give and stretch provided by having the edge of the quarters exposed, Derbies are great for guys with feet that are on the larger side. As a result, however, they are a bit bulkier, not as streamlined, so the open-throat lacing is better suited to more casual looks.

Oxfords

Oxfords are widely-regarded as the quintessential business shoe. They are similar in construction to a Derby shoe, in that they are lower-cut and lace up, but the key difference is that Oxfords have a closed-throat lacing system. They tend to look a bit neater, more streamlined, which is why they are so well-suited to business looks. They go best with matching suits and evening wear. They do, however, have a less forgiving fit, due to the lack of give that comes with the closed-throat lacing. Despite that, the Oxfords are the most essential dress shoe to have in your wardrobe.

Monkstraps: Single and Double

Monkstraps, by definition, are any shoe that uses a buckle closure, rather than laces. They come in a variety of styles, but the core concept remains the same. They are definitely on the flashier side, and less formal than a closed-throat lacing system, but they can be dressed up if done properly. You could wear a pair of black patent leather Monkstraps with your suit, but any other color or material is better suited to a mismatched suit combo or darker denim. The Double-Monkstrap, then, is a Monkstrap shoe that has two buckles instead of one. It is a more contemporary look, and dare we say, more daring? Some of the more conservative among us say it’s too flashy, but if you’re all about edge and setting yourself apart, the double monkstrap may be the perfect fit for you. When considering their formality, the general consensus is that the more ornamentation a shoe has, the less formal it is. As such, most consider the single to be a touch more formal than the double. It’s typically not advised to wear them to a black-tie event, or with a tuxedo, but it all depends on your level of daring and the message you want to send with your look.
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Brogues

Any shoe that has decorative perforations in the leather is considered a Brogue. Despite the rule that more ornamentation means less formality, Brogues are generally considered to be more formal than Derbies, but are definitely less formal than an Oxford. They seem to occupy the sweet-spot between the two. There are a few different aesthetic elements of brogues: perforations, pinking, and medallions. Perforations are holes that have been punched in the shoe leather in a decorative pattern. Pinking is a decorative edge created by pinking shears, that results in the edge looking like a series of triangles. Medallions are similar to perforations, in that they are holes that have been punched in a decorative pattern, but medallions are limited to the toe of a shoe. Brogues, as a style, also include Wingtips, in which a perforation is cut into the vamp in a shape of birdwings. A variation on Wingtips is Longwings, where the ‘wings’ stretch all the way around the collar of the shoe. Brogues are some of the showiest styles of business footwear available to men. They identify you as someone who thinks outside the box, someone who has a flair for the flashy. They can be worn with simple suits, but there aren’t many circumstances in which it is appropriate to wear them with a tuxedo, as the ornamentation takes away from the streamlined and neat appearance of a tuxedo.

There’s a Shoe for Every Look

We’ve discussed a number of popular footwear styles for men in this article, but the honest truth is that there are so many more styles out there. The shoes we selected to highlight today were picked because they are typically the most commonly worn with suits, and are essential to have in your closet for all the different events you dress up for. One thing is certain: just like suits, there is no one style that is appropriate for every occasion you may find yourself at, so we’ve gone over these to allow you to build a basic footwear collection to complement a wide variety of suit styles and events. Check out what is available at Hartter | Manly’s Leather Shop. After all, a look isn’t complete when you put on a suit. It’s complete when you dress yourself up head-to-toe.

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ABOUT

Cait Lambert

Cait Lambert is a barber and freelance writer. In addition to her work in men’s grooming and lifestyle, she has also written numerous fiction pieces: two screenplays and a YA novel. She lives in San Diego, CA, with her dog, Toni. Follow her on Twitter - @caitwrites

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Features, tips, insights

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“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”
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