I often have guys ask me, “What should I wear to x?” With “x” being things like first dates, dinner parties, networking events, etc.
In the summer season “x” usually means BBQs.
What should you wear to a summer BBQ?
Well, the following are some examples of outfits I recommend. As always, these are just ideas and suggestions. Just some principles to think about when putting your look together.
Yeah, terrible I know. This is good news for you as the bar isn’t set very high.
Let’s dive into some examples on how to do it better.
Casual Summer BBQ
This first look is the most casual of the three. It’s a basic t-shirt and shorts outfit. Seems utterly boring and pedestrian but hear me out for a second. What will make an outfit like this work really well are two things: being in great shape and having the right fit.
You take care of these two things and I can guarantee you will be the best dressed at any BBQ 90% of the time.
In this outfit I’ve combined a simple v-neck t-shirt from Uniqlo with a pair of 7″ Chambray shorts from J.Crew, a brown leather and rose gold watch from MVMT, a canvas/leather belt from Brooks Brothers, and a pair of Stan Smiths from Addidas.
I specifically chose a v-neck t-shirt in this example because it tends to frame the face better than a crew neck t-shirt. It’s also a good way to show a little male cleavage.
Remember that the key to a well fitting t-shirt is ensuring the sleeves hit you around the mid bicep area and that there isn’t an excessive amount of fabric around the waist. Lastly, the length of the t-shirt should just cover your waist/top of your fly.
The fit of the shorts should be slim and not baggy. The length should hit you somewhere above the knee.
Finally, I highly recommend you go sockless with your fashion sneakers. It’s a legit style move during the summer season. If you tend to have sweaty feet then I recommend grabbing a pair of loafer (aka “no show”) socks.
Polished Summer BBQ
This second outfit is a little more “put together” than the first look but still very simple.
In this outfit I’ve combined one of my favourite slim fitting polo shirts – Lacoste by J.Crew – with my favourite pair of stretch chinos by J.Crew (770 fit). I’ve got the same watch and belt from the first look but swapped out the sneakers for a classy pair of Grant Canoe Penny Drivers by Cole Haan. I’ve also rounded out the look with a pair of aviators by Ray Ban.
If you don’t know how a polo shirt should fit you be sure to read this article. I’ll leave it up to you whether or not to tuck in the polo. Both ways work.
I recommend rolling the cuffs of your chinos for a more “relaxed” and carefree aesthetic.
With the drivers you absolutely want to go sockless or with a pair of no show socks.
Lastly, notice my choice in sunglasses. Aviators are a classic and tend to look good on most men’s faces. For some reason if you find they don’t work for you then I recommend looking into a pair of wayfarers instead. At the end of the day, whichever style you choose, just make sure they are not a pair of sporty shades.
“Formal” Summer BBQ
I put formal in quotations because backyard BBQs are hardly suit and tie type affairs. Nevertheless, if you find you need to bring out the “big guns” stylistically speaking then this final outfit will definitely do the trick.
In this outfit I’ve combined a beautiful Havana Brown Check sports jacket by Suit Supply with a Heritage Blue Royal Oxford Shirt by Batch, the same stretch chinos from the second look, a braided leather belt from L.L. Bean, a pair of Ray Ban aviators, and a pair of Strand lace ups from Allen Edmonds.
The blazer or sports jacket I choose for this look is only half lined and is made from a blend of wool, silk, and linen. This is key if you want to wear a jacket in the summer season. Also remember that you can easily take the jacket off and roll up the sleeves of your shirt. No need to be wearing the jacket 24/7.
Also, when wearing the jacket don’t forget to wear a pocket square. I recommend going with a simple white square like this one: However, if you want to be a little more rakish then I recommend this red/navy silk polka dot square:
Once again I recommend going sockless with the leather dress shoes. Also, feel free to roll up the cuffs on the chinos to show a bit of ankle. It’s the summer season after all.
This is the type of look that will absolutely “shut shit down” and something I only recommend wearing if you know the BBQ will be more upscale.
Putting together a solid look for a summer BBQ isn’t really all that difficult. It’s the same fundamentals as always: finding the right fit, combining appropriate pieces, and doing it all with a sense of confidence.
Use these outfit examples to inspire you to improve your summer style game.
Here’s to looking sharp!