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Not so long ago, in a universe once known as menswear, moving the button stance on a suit by a centimetre constituted fashion news. But then sportswear crept into office wear; streetwear and designer became one; and celebs like Harry Styles began dominating the news in gender-bending looks. With trends growing exponentially every season, option paralysis is real.

As summer heats up, we’ve come up with the definitive cheat sheet on staying cool in the new era of men’s fashion.

1. Start with the Essentials

The Tailored Jacket

Many guys no longer wear suits to work, so the investment staple now is an unlined, unstructured sports coat. This workhorse can be dressed up with a formal shirt, tie and brogues, or styled casually with a knit polo, T-shirt, chinos or denim, and trainers. Opt for deconstructed (read: unlined, no shoulder pads) in lightweight tropical wool or knit constructions. Or try a linen number in summer shades for seasonal novelty — some of our favourites come from Brunello Cucinelli, Canali and Zara

Tip: Going to a tailor is a must. He’ll tailor the jacket to complement any build and get the sleeve lengths just so, for a subtle, bespoke look. 

The White Shirt

Given its utility and ubiquity, the white shirt is often overlooked as a fashion item. Invest in styles with a point collar (not too big or too small, and that work with a tie or open-necked). Generations of men continue to swear by Brooks Brothers and buy them in multiples, while Prada, Theory and COS get the crisp minimalism thing down pat. Thom Browne’s Oxfords strike the perfect balance.

Tip: Avoid ultra-slim fits (you’ll see the tell-tale darts on the sides or on the back) or ‘comfort fits’ that leave too much fabric billowing at the sides. Opt for shorter lengths to wear it untucked, or longer if tucked.

The Knitted Polo

The ultimate perennial summer smart-casual wardrobe staple. We like them because they’re one of the easiest ways to inject colour, pattern and texture. Almost every designer has their own take this season. Our favourites? Bottega Veneta and Gucci for the classics, or try Zara’s in a crochet knit. 

Tip: Choose a fine-gauge option for a dressier look under a blazer, but check first that the collar fits a standard blazer.

2. Layer in Key Trend Pieces

The Camp Collar Shirt

The summer trend piece went from ironic (hello Hawaii Five-O!) to fashion must-have this season. Keep it classic in monotone shades, or make a statement with a bold print (bandana, floral or animal). Standouts this season include Saint Laurent and Sacai, while COS’s oversized version keeps it cool and minimal. 

Tip: If the neckline feels too risqué, style it with a crew-neck tee, buttoned or opened up all the way. Alternatively, pair it with Bermuda shorts for a casual, youthful look, a pleated slouchy trouser for 70s retro cool, or a simple pair of chinos to keep it clean and classic.

The Statement Trouser

For years, guys hid behind the standard uniform of flat-front chinos, slim or skinny jeans, or joggers. Now, what’s old is new again, with two key trends from yesteryear gaining ground: wide-leg and pleated trousers. Brands: Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Brunello Cucinelli

Tip: Keep it simple by pairing it with a slim fitting top and a classic sneaker. 

The Chore Coat

As the Japanese and hypebeasts can both attest, workwear styles are an essential part of a man’s wardrobe. Enter the Chore Coat. This humble lightweight outerwear piece has received an upgrade in luxe fabrics and fresh new colours. Style it as a denim jacket or a blazer alternative to dress it up or down. We like both the refined take from Zegna and the classic version from MUJI

Tip: Do as the Italians do, and pair it with a crisp collared shirt, chinos and loafers for a smart-casual statement.

3. Finally, Don’t Forget the Finishing Details

The Retro Shades

The 1970s brought about some ghastly colours and styles, but the decade got eyewear right. Oversized aviator frames in metal or acrylic give everyone that perfect, louche, jet-set vibe without trying too hard. Italians swear by their tortoiseshell Persols, but Gucci takes the prize for the of-the-moment update. 

The Summer Sandal

The jury’s still out on whether sandals are appropriate for the office, but here’s where fashion and comfort can happily coexist. Whether it’s a luxe swim slide, a classic leather mule or a designer take on the Birkenstock Arizona, a sandal works with almost every outfit (even a sports jacket). For the latest ironic footwear statement, opt for a clog like Birkenstock’s Boston model, or rubber mules from Prada and Bottega Veneta

Tip: Style with socks for an on-trend solution to the soot-filled Hong Kong streets.