The sun is blazing and the mercury’s soaring. Winter is all but a distant memory and the concept of layering clothes is on hold until the leaves begin to fall.
In such conditions it can be tempting to banish anything with a collar to the back of the wardrobe in favour of a T-shirt. In reality, however, having a core selection of summer shirts at your disposal is warm-weather rule 101.
Wearing shirting in the sunshine needn’t mean getting hot under the collar. Opt for seasonally-appropriate designs in breezy fabrics and vibrant prints to tackle everything from heatwaves to vacations like a pro.
Here are the summer shirt styles you need to know about and why they’re worthy of a place in your rotation.
Plain Cuban Collar
Many mistook the resurgence of the Cuban collar for a fleeting fashion trend when it first made its way back into the public consciousness a few years back. Nevertheless, this chilled-out shirt has cemented its summer staple reputation thanks to a laid-back appearance and casual versatility.
The perfect option for holidays, afternoons in the park or evenings in the beer garden, this retro-tinged short-sleeved wonder has all bases covered. Wear it with straight-leg trousers and minimalist sneakers, or chino shorts and sandals when the temperature commands it.
Menswear’s appetite for texture can be tricky to satisfy during the warmer half of the year, but not if you embrace linen. This misunderstood material often gets a bad reputation for creasing and for its unfortunate ageing hippy connotations. However, style it right and it’ll make a valuable ally all through the summer months and beyond.
For the most part, linen shirts work best worn casually. Try teaming one with chino shorts and loafers, with the sleeves loosely cuffed. That’s not to say they can’t be worn with tailoring. Combine with suit separates, tortoiseshell shades and desert boots for a relaxed take on summer wedding attire.
Sometimes a simple T-shirt just isn’t enough but a shirt is too much. For these occasions, a well-fitting polo shirt should be your first port of call. Of course, there are plenty of colours to choose from, and while neutrals will always be a safe bet, if you really want to boost your summer style credentials then pastels are the only way to go.
Ice cream shades epitomise Riviera dressing and the polo shirt offers the perfect vessel for introducing a touch of Mediterranean sophistication to your wardrobe. For optimal results, use it as a statement piece, set against a backdrop of subtle, earthy colours – a lemon polo with dark green shorts, for example, or a dusty pink design with navy shorts. Tie it together with some white canvas sneakers and you’re good to go.
Printed Cuban Collar
Plain Cuban-collar shirts make excellent, versatile additions to any summer shirting selection. However, if you want to make a statement while channelling your inner Magnum P.I., an eye-catching printed version is the only way to go.
A vibrant shirt offers a great way of spicing up even the most pedestrian of summer outfits. Just ensure everything else is stripped back so as not to be competing for attention. Beach prints, botanicals and vertical stripes are particularly big this season – try teaming one with cuffed navy chinos and suede espadrilles for holiday evenings at beachside bars.
Denim is thick, heavy and generally not the most practical fabric when it comes to summer shirts. Chambray, on the other hand, is light, comfortable and still retains its weightier counterpart’s good looks and versatility.
One thing that puts a lot of men off experimenting with chambray is that it can be tricky to style, especially with jeans – but it can be done. When wearing with denim down below make sure the washes (i.e. shades) are different enough to contrast as anything too similar will look jarring. For a fail-safe approach, switch your jeans for chinos in a lighter shade such as beige, off-white or stone.
With its bright colours and busy, checked design, the madras shirt certainly isn’t for everyone. Named after the lightweight, Indian cloth that gives it its trademark breathability, this vibrant shirt style can be hard work to pull off, but the results are worth it. It’s a summer piece through and through, and oozes refined East Coast prep.
Knowing how to nail statement pieces is half the battle when it comes to upping your summer style game. The key is to let the shirt do the talking. Pair it with minimal wardrobe staples in a restrained colour palette, allowing the madras shirt to take centre stage.
Oxford Button Down
There’s no wrong time of year for a classic Oxford button-down, and summer is no exception. This timeless menswear essential it great for layering up in the winter, but it can also hold its own with shorts and sneakers when the sun reappears.
One thing to bear in mind for summer is colour. In the heat, lighter shades tend to work better – think white to reflect the sun or pale blue or pink. Fit is crucial, too: ensure the seams line up on your shoulders, the body is cut slim but not restricting and the hem falls a couple of inches below the waist.
Wear it on its own or open over a T-shirt for cooler evenings around town.
It’d be nice if we could rely on the summer months being balmy from beginning to end. Sadly, it just doesn’t work that way. Chances are there’ll be the occasional cold stint, and when that happens it pays to be equipped.
The overshirt is a true wonder garment. One of the few pieces of outerwear that can be enjoyed year-round, it makes a trusty companion for summer days that haven’t turned out quite the way you’d hoped. Look for cotton or nylon versions for ultimate versatility – both materials are lightweight, easy to wear and can be layered over during the colder months for added ballast.
For bonus style points, opt for one in a vivid block colour to add a splash of personality to even the most basic of outfits.