Summer style sounds easy: when the weather’s warm, almost any sartorial option is on the table. Short sleeves, light layers, fresh sneakers, and even sandals open up a world of opportunities for dressers of all kinds, from the modest to the most experimental.
But where some guys run into problems is when it comes to styling their bottom half. Shorts seem like the obvious option – right? But for some, they’re a tough look to get right. You might not feel confident getting your pins out. You might just not want to show off your legs. Or you might simply dislike the way shorts look. You don’t have to justify your reason to us, but we can sympathize: finding a summer alternative to shorts is no easy feat.
Jeans are too warm, sweatpants are too casual, and chinos can be too formal for everyday laid-back summer style. But that doesn’t mean they’re off the dressing table altogether. To help you pick the best bottom half for your warm-weather look, we’ve rounded up the 7 best pants for summer, if shorts aren’t your thing.
Linen trousers come in all shapes and styles, and though we get why the loose white variety have become the image of hippie summer style, you don’t have to bend your look to pull those off.
A tapered pair in a color that matches your wardrobe can easily become your summer go-to. Linen is a natural fabric that can hold 5x more liquid than synthetic fabrics without looking wet. That’s why it’s favored for summer shirts, but it holds the same light, comfy benefits for pants too.
We love this athletic fit linen-blend pair from Banana Republic Factory because it can easily be dressed up or worn super casually and is currently on sale. For a pair that is fully linen check out the mainline Banana Republic Milano suit pant.
If you love wearing chinos for smart or smart casual occasions but find them too stuffy for summer, try them in white. It’s likely to be a bolder color than you’d wear for work, and it makes a stylish statement when paired with floral or printed shirts.
They’re also a great way to ease into the white pants look without diving straight into wide or loose fits that might not feel natural in your wardrobe.
Typically thought of as a formal style, pleated pants have had something of a revival in the past few years: and we’re here for it. Defined by the folds or pleats along the waistband which give them a cool vintage edge, pleated pants can be a perfect pick for summer.
Since they’re not well suited to slim or skinny fits, pleated pants are a great way to pull off straight- and wide-leg pants with ease. We love them for warm weather because they don’t cling to the skin and allow plenty of room for comfortable movement.
We like this pair because Alex Mill gets all the details right, they’re a light tone and made from 98% cotton. For a budget alternative or if you don’t want to spend a lot to experiment with the look, Amazon Essentials offers frugal pairs in great shades.
When a drawstring waist looks too casual and button-ups are too stuffy in the heat, reach for the elastic waistband. Ideal for warm weather, the button front keeps the refined feel but the comfy stretch means you won’t have to worry about overheating and pulling at your waistband during occasions that call for a slightly smarter look.
For the best summer style, opt for a looser leg and a light tone that can be paired with any kind of top, from T-shirts to Oxfords. The versatility means you can pull off a pair of drawstring-waist pants at the beach just as easily as a summer wedding.
We love this linen-blend pair from Perry Ellis for a relaxed look.
Like a sporty look but not into sweatshorts? Enter: wide-leg sweatpants. Loose, light, and ideal for guys who are concerned about sweating in summer, this flattering fabric retains the casual look you love, without the thickness of jersey.
For extra summery points, pick a cargo-style pair for an extra loose and comfy fit. They still feel laid-back and perfect for lounging, but are easier to style up for days out with friends or neighborhood cookouts thanks to stylish features like pockets.
We love this pair from Uniqlo for their easy fit.
5-pocket tech pants
Love jeans but can bear to wriggle into your denim in the heat of midsummer? We feel you. The good news is, it’s not so hard to find a pair of slim- or straight-fitting pants that have the look of jeans without the heavy feel.
Cotton pants offer a wider range of movement, which isn’t just great for your everyday comfort, but makes them perfect for summer when you’re more likely to find slim pants restrictive. Look for pants made with elastane, which will keep them moving without rubbing.
The ABC pants from Lululemon are super popular thanks to their breathable stretch fabric.
One of our favorite things about summer dressing is that anything goes. It’s a season of laid-back self-expression. So if you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to dip your toe into a more exciting style of dressing, this is it.
Stripe prints are perfect for spring and summer – but we think they can work just as well in winter too. So seize the season to invest in a cool, loose-fitting pair of striped pants and you can integrate them into your wardrobe just in time to make them a year-round favorite.
These from Bonobos offer a slim taper fit and can be dressed up just as easily as worn casually and would work great as an addition for our “What to Wear to Work When It’s Really Hot” capsule wardrobe.
For a looser, more casual pair, we love this French linen pair from Alex Crane for its loose, easy fit and easy-to-wear colors.
→ Read more of our summer style series