Double Take: How 2 Pairs of Sneakers Transform 7 Summer Outfits – A Style Experiment

3 mens summer outfits with text that reads Summer Lookbook

A Summer Style Lookbook

Special thanks to Thursday Boots and Nothing New for supporting Primer’s mission and partnering with us on this post.

When it comes to summer style, the right shoes can make all the difference. And the good news is, you don't need a closet full of options. With just two carefully chosen pairs of sneakers, you can elevate your summer outfits and stay comfortable in the heat.

The classic white minimalist sneaker is a decades-long enduring style and the perfect way to anchor any summer look in the smart casual territory. Smart casual is my home base – it bridges the gap between formal wear and casual streetwear, blending comfort with a more polished aesthetic. What does that mean? Think of it as the sweet spot between dressed up and dressed down – you're putting in effort, but you're not too dressed up in contrast to the people around you. A crisp white sneaker can take a simple shorts and t-shirt combo and make it look clean and put-together. The beauty of the white sneaker is its versatility – it can adapt to almost any outfit and occasion, instantly giving you that effortless style vibe.

But sometimes, you want a little more color and personality in your summer footwear. That's where a great pair of retro running shoes comes in. And we're not talking about the vibrant, overly sporty styles that make you look like you're headed to run club. We've specifically chosen a pair with a classic silhouette, a sophisticated dark green, blue, and white colorway, and minimal branding. These details bring a different kind of versatility to your summer fits – they allow the shoes to add visual interest to your outfit without overwhelming it.

There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to men’s summer footwear. Comfort. Let's face it, as much as I love the look of a sleek loafer or a leather sandal, they're not always the kindest to our feet. And in the summer heat, the last thing you want is to be hobbling around in pain. The retro running shoes are an opportunity to maintain don’t-have-to-think-about-it comfort in your summer footwear, something flat-soled sandals and flip flops are not known for until they're worn in.

But this specific pair, because of its colorway, retro design, and lack of ornate sporty logos, takes a timeless silhouette in a classy color palette, and combines them with the comfort of an athletic shoe, all while keeping your outfit looking sophisticated – not like a guy who wore his 5k runners to a summer baby shower.

The Sneakers

thursday boots encore white minimalist leather sneaker

Thursday Boots Encore in white

I’ve worn the white Premier Low Top from Thursday Boots for years, and now they’ve added the Encore to the lineup, which incorporates some requests from Thursday's customers. The Encore features blind eyelets for a sleeker look compared to the Premier's metal eyelets, a minimalist heel tab, and Strobel construction which results in a lighter weight and flexible wear. Both styles use Italian Nappa leather for the uppers and soft leather for the linings, ensuring a premium look and durability. You'll also appreciate the shock-absorbent footbeds and padded tongues that provide all-day comfort in contrast to stiffer, more cheaply made white sneaker options.

Nothing New Verge Running Sneaker in Green and Blue

Nothing New Verge in Ocean Pine

For the retro runner, I'm excited about the Verge from Nothing New. This brand was conceived to create stylish and comfortable sneakers that also use the most sustainable materials available. The Verge embodies this ethos, combining a classic running shoe silhouette with eco-friendly materials.

One standout feature is the chrome-free suede used in the Verge's construction. By tanning the leather without chromium, Nothing New ensures that the suede is both better for the environment (and the folks making the shoes) and biodegradable. The Verge also incorporates recycled mesh in the uppers for breathability and a plush feel, while the lightweight EVA midsoles and Ortholite insoles provide cushioning and support for long days on your feet. And with recycled rubber used in the outsoles, you can feel good about the smaller footprint of your footwear.

With a Sweater and 5.5″ Pull-on Shorts

men's summer outfit idea with a red sweater, light blue shorts, and white minimalist sneakers

men's summer outfit idea with a red sweater, light blue shorts, and green and blue running sneakers

I love the color palette of this outfit – it's both colorful and subdued at the same time. The loose knit sweater really is an unsung hero of summer, something you know very well if you live near a coast or body of water, but gets overlooked elsewhere.

I've tried my darnedest to make 5″ shorts work for me but with my leg shape they always look just too short. These rare 5.5″ shorts offer a nice shorter option to the common 7″ inseam without making me self-conscious.

Both versions would look right at home on a dock or bustling urban summer hangout.

Sleek Slub Black Pocket Tee with White Levi's 501

summer outfit for men with black pocket t-shirt and white levi's 501 jeans with with sneakers

easy mens summer outfit with black tshirt, white straight fit jeans, and running sneakers

White jeans are such a great summer option for guys but many are intimidated by them. A super easy way to make them more approachable is to pick a looser fit like these Levi's 501s and create a minimalist, high contrast look with just a faded black pocket t-shirt. The slub cotton offers texture, and the white Encores double-down on the minimalism, while the Verges break up the contrast.

With a Loose Blue OCBD, Black Cap, and Black Tech Shorts

blue oxford shirt with black shorts and white sneakers mens outfit

green running sneakers with blue oxford shirt and black tech shorts with black cap summer outfit inspiration

This Getup is equal parts Portofino, Italy, and Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The oxford shirt is classic prep but offers a rakish drape thanks to the looser fit. Tech shorts in a black color makes the fabric's visual attributes less obvious. And one of the best style pulls a guy can make when he wants to wear a hat is to just choose a dark, low profile option without a logo or design.

With a Hoodie and Teal Dock Shorts

knit hoodie with teal pull-ons shorts with white sneakers

knit hoodie with teal shorts, crew socks, and green running shoes

Not every hoodie and sneakers outfit has to look lazy. When ease and comfort are a top priority, we can still choose to do it in a way that feels purposeful and cohesive – and not like our one-time high school uniform.

With an Open Denim Shirt, Black T-shirt, and Stone 5 Pocket Shorts

summer outfit with denim shirt and shorts with white sneakers

outfit with denim shirt, shorts, and running sneakers

I recently wrote about my seven year old denim shirt that has gotten a second life and its utility isn't limited only to seasons that require pants. It's the perfect weight for a summer layer because it can protect you from excess sun without overheating you. Plus, if you need to take it off, this look becomes similar to the white jeans outfit but with grayish-off white twill shorts.

With a Retro Button Up Polo & Dress Shorts

vintage knit polo with blue shorts and white sneakers - mens summer outfit inspiration

running sneakers with orange knit polo and navy shorts

In my summer style tricks guide I explained how I like to lean on retro details when looking to add more interest, and this outfit is the perfect example. Paired with these dress shorts, the throwback knit polo looks perfectly modern with both the white sneakers and runners.

With a Knit Hoodie & Shorts

timeless mens summer outfit with gray sweatshirt, khaki shorts, and white sneakers

man wearing green running sneakers with gray sweatshirt and tan shorts outfit

Few combos are more enduring and decade-less than a simple gray crewneck sweatshirt and khakis. With the white sneakers, I could be a guy from 1965, 2025 and everywhere in between. Like the 5.5″ shorts in the first look, these Nautica shorts are an unusual (and perfect) 6″ inseam for me.

Which is your favorite? Let's chat in the comments below!

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Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.