10 summertime basics for men under $30

Shopping online means more time outside—and more time wearing these pieces.

Men's summer essentials Credit: Lands End/Sperry

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Your summer is only as good as the clothes you wear throughout it. Think about how many times your outfit determined your mood: that time you were far too overheated in a hoodie during a backyard hang; that other time you put on pants during a breezy summer morning only for your entire lower body to be drenched in sweat come mid-afternoon. No stress, though. All you need are a few summer essentials to handle the heat and look good doing it. And the best part? You don’t need to spend more than $30.

Below are 10 of the must-have pieces to add to your rotation this season (based on customer reviews and ratings), including Sperry sneakers, timeless Levi's denim, and a wildly popular Carhartt tee.


1. A wear-everywhere T-shirt with over 12,000 reviews

Carhartt tshirt
Credit: Carhartt

Everyone needs a go-to t-shirt.

Carhartt is one of those brands you wear to let people know you are a good, down-to-earth person with a strong work ethic. With a cult following the size of a large town, this simple T-shirt (available in 19 colors) is a summer staple you’ll find yourself wearing everywhere from the beach to bed. The brand notes the shirt runs on the larger side, so stick to your normal size if you’re looking for a roomier fit, or size down for a tapered look. Folks who own the shirt appreciate the front logo-stitched pocket to stash their cell phone, and that it’s made with 100 percent cotton that holds up nicely to heavy activity.

Get the Carhartt Men's K87 Workwear Pocket Short Sleeve T-Shirt on Amazon starting at $9.99

2. A festive Hawaiian shirt

28 Palms t-shirt
Credit: 28 Palms

Not bad for an Amazon brand. Not bad at all.

When’s the last time you deviated from your all-black-everything wardrobe? This top-rated button-down shirt is the perfect opportunity to stand out from the (socially-distanced) pack. It comes in 37 (!!) floral and nature-themed styles, and boasts a more form-fitting silhouette than your typical baggy Hawaiian shirt, so it works whether you need to throw on something quick to run an errand or upgrade your usual look for a backyard gathering. With over 2,300 reviews, many people say the shirt doesn’t shrink in the dryer and the colors look richer in person, but that it’s worth it to order a size up if you’re not used to a more snug fit.

Get the 28 Palms Men's Standard-Fit Tropical Hawaiian Shirt on Amazon for $20

3. A durable T-shirt

Lands End t-shirt
Credit: Land's End

Durable enough to keep up with your lifestyle, soft enough to make you never want to take it off.

It’s not hard to see why this reliable T-shirt earned 1,300 five-star reviews and counting: It features a pillow-soft jersey material that’s resistant to pilling, shrinking, stains, fading and wrinkles. Reviewers call it a “top drawer T-shirt” because it’s a piece you’ll want to be able to access quickly and frequently. “I've ordered these before because of the fit, color, length and quality… great for just about any setting. OK.. maybe not for a wedding. But, then again ... who knows these days. I highly recommend these for T-shirt lovers.”

Get the Land's End Men's Short Sleeve Super Tee on Amazon for $18.99


4. Khaki shorts that are actually cool

American Eagle shorts
Credit: American Eagle

American Eagle made khakis great again.

When we think of khaki shorts, things like socks with sandals come to mind (and not in the trendy way). These preppy, top-rated shorts put a cool twist on khakis by featuring a modest-yet-breathable 10-inch inseam that hits right above the knee, whimsical patterns, and stretch “beyond anything you’ve felt,” according to the brand. Customers agree: they’ve worn them to practice their golf swing, go on walks, and work comfortably around the yard. “By far the best bang-for-your-buck shorts out there,” says one reviewer.

Get the Classic 10” Khaki Short at American Eagle for $22.47

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5. These slick compression shorts for swimming or exercising

Swim outlet shorts
Credit: Swim Outlet

These fit swimmingly.

If the pockets of your swim trunks ever filled up with so much water that they compromised your speed doing laps, you’ll love these aerodynamic compression shorts that lie flat on your body. With over 800 reviews on Swim Outlet, they include a drawstring waist, and a performance-enhancing Lycra material the brand claims stands up to chlorine, sunscreen and body heat better than standard Spandex. One customer found a unique way to put these shorts to good use until public pools re-open: “ I find this suit perfect for its compression aspects during solo backyard workouts on my mound as a hardball will be part of my uniform when play resumes. If it puts 5 mph on my fastball what do you think it’ll do when I pound out laps? Bring it Phelps!”

Get the Sporti Solid Compression Jammer Swimsuit at Swim Outlet for $17.99

6. These baggy denim shorts

Levi's shorts
Credit: Levi's

Wear them with anything, anywhere. Besides a wedding.

Loose fit, durable denim, and plenty of useful pockets: What more could you ask for from a pair of shorts (other than for them to maybe do your taxes and make your bed)? This pair from beloved brand Levi's has over 2,100 rave reviews from Amazon shoppers. The shorts are made with a touch of elastane for extra stretch, are available in big and tall sizes, and come in a range of washes and textures that make them look far more expensive than they actually are.

Get Levi's Men's 569 Loose-Fit 12" Shorts on Amazon starting at $19.99


7. Preppy sneakers

Sperry sneakers
Credit: Sperry

Time to bust out the pastels.

Wear them with shorts while you run errands or swim trunks while you lounge on a yacht—either way, these light canvas Sperry sneakers will keep your feet looking—and feeling—cool. They come in 22 colors, so at this price, stock up on several options to keep your summer wardrobe looking fresh. They include a removable cushioned footbed for personalized comfort and soles that provide plenty of traction for afternoons spent languishing (and hopefully not slipping) on a damp boat deck. Unlike many sneakers that require a break-in period, reviewers say this pair is ready to go: “Right from the start, fit was perfect with no rubbing or break in required. Very cushioned all around. I wear them both without socks and with sock liners. This is my third pair of Sperry sneakers and will not be my last.”

Get the Men's Sperry Top-Sider Striper II CVO Washed Sneaker on Amazon starting at $24.95

8. Birkenstock look-alike slides

Credit: Target

Slide into something comfortable this summer.

Laces are great for feeling supported, but tying them eats up a large chunk of your day (30 precious seconds, to be exact). The faux suede leather double strap of these slides is refined enough to pair with a great pair of jeans, yet also laid-back enough to complement a pair of shorts. As the highest-rated men's slides at Target, the sandals look like the very trendy Birkenstocks everyone is wearing but at a fraction of the cost and many reviewers note they’re comfortable enough for walking around town.

Get the Men's Ashwin Footbed Sandals at Target for $24.99

9. Sandals for the beach and the outdoors

Teva sandals
Credit: Teva

Teva sandals are back with a vengeance.

Ten years ago, no one would be caught dead in Teva’s. Now? You’re lucky to find a pair without a waiting list or months-long shipping delay. Thanks to a hook-and-loop instep closure, your perfect fit is seconds away. Despite being made of foam, reviewers say your feet don’t get overheated, and they feel similar to Crocs. An interesting bonus? The brand says, “You don't have to worry about losing these at the lake or river. They are so light they will just float with you.”

Get Teva Men's M Hurricane Drift Sport Sandal on Amazon starting at $23.71

10. Timeless loafers

Bruno marc loafers
Credit: Bruno Marc

All that's missing from your outfit is a Cohiba.

The slip-on, slip-off nature of these loafers is a great call for lazy summer days when you don’t want to look as lazy as you feel (cue that Bruno Mars song about being unabashedly lazy). Because they sit low on the ankle, they’re a lot more breathable than your standard sneaker or (gasp!) high-top, and they pair perfectly with everything from dress pants to chino shorts. Though they’re slip-ons, reviewers noticed they don’t cause blisters if you get the right size. Says one customer: “This is one of two pair of shoes I own by Bruno Marc. Considering the style, comfort and price, these shoes are every bit as good as much more expensive brands.”

Get Bruno Marc Men's Bush Driving Loafers Moccasins Shoes on Amazon starting at $27.99

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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