Not many men know about footwear fashion beyond general categories of casual shoes, dress shoes, and flip-flops. They may have heard of loafers but may not be too familiar with them. But different shoe styles matter: some go with certain outfits and occasions better than others. When you pair certain pieces together, including shoes, everything should contribute to a cohesive whole—or at least it shouldn't jar the senses.
It's hard to beat a good, durable flip-flop. The beach sandal of the times, flip-flops are made to slip on and off easily. That way, if you feel like burying your feet in the warm sand or kicking water at your friends, you can. Flip-flops pass for business casual on islands and in warm coastal areas in California, but for the rest of the world, they seem to fit best when at events by the water, be they oceanside, lakeside, or poolside.
Almost anything with men's shorts is a good match for flip-flops, though occasionally you can pull off a combination with jeans, a t-shirt, and a blazer. Match casual with casual by pairing your flip-flops with t-shirts, tank tops, swim trunks, and Hawaiian shirts. If you are looking to dress up flip-flops, try shorts with a polo, or wear an unbuttoned collared long-sleeve rolled to the elbow over a white t-shirt to step things up a little.
Sneakers are generally the shoe of choice for graphic tees and hoodie mixes. Sneakers with shorts or sneakers with men's jeans also make for good casual combinations. If you have a denim jacket, the best shoes to wear with that jacket are probably sneakers. Canvas sneakers are the most common and most casual. But interestingly enough, leather sneakers—which are more expensive but more durable—are starting to make appearances in some business casual outfits.
Espadrilles are almost like slippers: they are casual while still being unique enough to make your style seem just a little more sophisticated than that of the next guy. Espadrilles are also flexible enough to be worn with men's loungewear and shorts and a collared shirt. Chinos go well with espadrilles along with either a t-shirt or button-up on top. While men can't go wrong with neutrals for espadrilles, don't be afraid to introduce a subtle bit of color into your wardrobe via a nice versatile pair.
Both of these shoes look like casual loafers with a little bit of lacing on top and, sometimes, even lace threading along the outside of the shoe. They tend to be brown or navy, and both have great tread on the bottoms since boats can be slippery, and when driving, you want to make sure your feet don't slip off the pedals. The difference between these shoes is that boat shoes have a small heel, and driving mocs have a single bottom piece with tread.
Both shoes carry a sense of the historic and, while technically casual, make you look and feel very refined. A collared shirt with chinos and driving mocs are a great combination. If you have a light cardigan, pairing it with shorts and boat shoes gets you ready for that yacht party. Business casual men's blazer combos with both of these shoes make for excellent outfits.
This is the most informal of the dress shoes. Sometimes known as the gentleman's casual shoe, loafers are almost always brown or black. They can be worn to the office or out and about. They go very well with both chinos and dress pants. Long and short-sleeve collared shirts, tucked and belted or untucked, work with loafers. Under almost any circumstances, blazers are great loafer matches. If you are going for a dark or light academia-type look with a cardigan and collared shirt, a pair of loafers could also fit right in there.
Oxfords are probably the most famous men's dress shoes and are at the top of "formal." Most men's dress shoes are some variation on this basic design. Even dress boots can look somewhat similar. But since we are talking summertime, oxfords will do for most dressy. Any and all business wear you can think of goes with this shoe, from business casual like a white collared shirt and khaki chinos to the most formal men's suit. Oxfords are even tux appropriate, though hopefully, you don't find yourself in many tuxedo-requiring situations in summer. Oxfords can be dressed down somewhat for an academic style similar to that mentioned for loafers with a light sweater or cardigan over a collared shirt. Oxfords could be paired with jeans, too, but a good fit and clean look are key here.
Now that you know how to style these summer footwear staples, it's time to step confidently into summer, footloose and fancy-free!