Summer’s Here: What Shoes to Wear With Shorts?

Summer shorts by zara

Summer’s here, men—time to pull those breezy polo shirts, linen shirts, and shorts out of the closet. Yep: in summer, you sure may show some leg. Shorts are a great addition to any men’s summer wardrobe. Whether for a holiday or a casual summer day in the city, they surely fit your summer wardrobe and form a stable backbone. 

Regardless of how easy it may seem to adapt shorts into your daily summer wardrobe, mistakes are made when pairing them up with shoes. Here’s how to not be that guy: a guide to the best summer footwear for men.

Before we start: shorts do not go well with lace-ups 

Let’s weed out a no-go first. For unclear reasons, classic lace-up dress shoes are often mentioned in one breath with shorts. While I understand the idea of and the need for more sophisticated footwear at particular occasions such as a summer-evening dinner or a casual wedding(?), no office nor wedding will accept or require you to show up in your slightly ripped denim shorts and Mangnanni lace-ups. 

If you wish to dress well for an event, a swap of footwear or trousers will work: think regular-length linen pants. They’re a safe bet. But you’re here for shorts, so let’s go.

What kind of shoes do we wear with shorts?

Luckily, plenty of warm-weather appropriate footwear is left to pair up with your favorite shorts, other than your beachy rubber flip-flops. From dressier, formal shoes to ultra-casual on holidays, I’ve listed my favorite picks for each occasion below. 

The ever-reliable Birkenstocks for men

Nothing beats a good pair of shorts coupled with a good pair of Birkenstocks. I have to admit I haven’t always been a fan. But ever since the Arizona model became a staple of the minimalist wardrobe and, over a decade ago, was seen a lot by Scandinavian influencers (yes, I, too, fall for it), I’ve come around. And don’t even get me started about the extremely high level of comfort.

Not only is the Birk Arizona an ideal addition to the wardrobe of any man of any age and with any style preference, the German brand also holds a range of other summer-proof styles for your wildest Birkenstock dreams. Think the Kyoto’s, a model I like to list as a “Birkenstock Plus.” And let’s not forget about the Boston model. Trend or no trend: they’re comfortable enough to hold on to them just a little longer.

Sandals for men, also called… Mandals.

Once you’ve outgrown your Birkenstock phase, or when you’re simply looking for a bit extra: sandals for men go great with a pair of shorts. While I hope you already went for that much-needed pedicure, please let this be your reminder to avoid the Mandal without first grooming your toes. 

Over the years, sandals have made a comeback in the world of menswear. And I get it: they’re easy to slip in and take off, they are available in a wide array of styles, and you can experience the same level of comfort and quality as you would with “regular” leather shoes. Men’s sandals in leather, but mostly suede, have my preference. The soft yet sturdy material ensures comfort and a hint of elegance, making them the perfect footwear for your summer holiday. 

They go great with tailored shorts, a linen variant, or even denim shorts. Once you’ve found a solid, high-quality pair, you can throw them in your suitcase to more than one sunny destination. If you prefer a sportier design, you should be eyeing a cool pair of sandals by the Japanese brand Suicoke, for instance. See the slide below.

Any-occasion loafers

Whether you’re searching for a pair of shoes to stand by you on formal occasions (I’d be interested to know what formal event calls for shorts and loafers) – or simply love the aesthetics of a dressier look: loafers are the answer. Opt for classic leather or suede, wear a cool two-tone pair in black and white, or add some character with chunky loafers. Add a pair of white socks to step up your style game (and comfort).

The canvas shoes

Is there another pair of shoes than canvas sneakers with such a good reputation? The canvas sneaker is comfortable, light, a bit boyish (but in a good way), and very airy for sun-soaked summer days. The upper material of these all-rounders is lightweight and keeps your feet breezy and cool. With shorts, they maybe even make the best match out of all mentioned styles. Wear them with sports socks or a sneaker sock variant, and you’re good to go.

Though many different types are available, I prefer the most basic Chuck 70s by Converse. And not to mention, if by fall you’re still not over your fresh pair of Chucks, you easily wear them throughout the season in your favorite fall outfits.

Pool-side and beach-side, opt for a slide

You might want to leave your canvas shoes, leather loafers, and Birkenstock Bostons aside when relaxing by the pool or on your walks to the beach. That’s where pool slides come in: they pair perfectly with your swim shorts. Now, I have to be honest – I have a hate/love relationship with pool slides, and few styles know the way to my heart. Two brands that do without a chance are H2o Sportswear and HiJack Sandals.

Sneakers, but not just any pair

In general, sneakers have a good reputation when it comes down to men’s fashion. It’s the type of footwear classified as ‘most attractive on a man when worn right.’ And with shorts, they work incredibly well. Sidenote: sneakers, or trainers, are a worthy addition to any man’s wardrobe as long as they aren’t meant for practicing sports (like Nike running shoes). The right sneakers should show some personality. And to me, a man in a good pair of sneakers is a man who knows how to combine comfort and style. All year round.

Need some help finding the right shorts?

Or just any other outfit, really. Elevate your personal style and build the interesting but functional wardrobe you’ve always dreamt of. Dress your best, effortlessly, in clothes that reflect the authentic you. Let’s elevate your personal brand today with Virtual Men’s Personal Styling.

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Start dressing better today.

Get my FREE E-guide: Define your Personal Style 101 to create a stable base for your ideal wardrobe.