Despite its breezy design, the short sleeve shirt has a longstanding reputation for being inherently uncool. If you ask us, it’s entirely unfounded. Sure, there are plenty of instances of this summer staple falling into the wrong hands, but we defy you to find a garment the same can’t be said for.

If you can look past the BBQ-dad stigma, you’ll find that the short-sleeved shirt is actually a highly valuable asset to your warm-weather wardrobe. Whether it winds up looking cool or uncool is all down to which one you buy and how you choose to wear it.

With that in mind, we’d like to arm you with the knowledge you need in order to pick out the right short sleeve shirt and style it right every time.

Linen

Why You Need One

If you haven’t already embraced linen as your summer shirting fabric of choice, now’s the time. This airy, breathable material is great for keeping cool in the hot weather and perfect for adding a touch of texture to your outfit. Use it to take the edge off dressier pieces or as a quick and easy way to smarten up your poolside attire.

How To Wear

Suitsupply

A short-sleeve linen shirt is your ticket to casual Riviera cool, so style it accordingly, A Cuban collar is always the best option when it comes to linen as it adds to the laid-back feel of the fabric. Add in some cool sunglasses, tuck into a pair of cropped dress pants or tailored shorts and top it off with some suitably summery footwear. Suede loafers or sneakers depending on the setting.

Statement

Why You Need One

At Ape, we’ve always been staunch advocates of simplicity, classic style and minimalism. However, that’s not to say we’re opposed to the odd eye-catching piece, and you shouldn’t be either. One of the biggest factors in the short sleeve shirt’s emergence as a hot-ticket fashion item has been brands’ and designers’ use of statement prints, bold graphics and striking patterns. Every man should own at least one.

How To Wear

Orlebar Brown

Whenever a statement piece is being deployed – whether it’s a jacket, T-shirt, short sleeve shirt or otherwise – it’s always advisable to keep the rest of the outfit toned down. There’s nothing worse than two or more loud garments fighting each other for attention, so focus on subtle colours, understated detailing and minimal branding elsewhere in the outfit. That way, your statement shirt can sing and be heard.

Stripes

Why You Need One

Every season, the fashion editors delight in telling us that stripes are ‘in’. Which begs the question, have they ever been ‘out’? The answer, in our humble opinion, is a resounding “no”. Stripes will always be a respectable option, and a safe way of jazzing things up a tad without breaking out the animal prints – something it’s always best to avoid doing.

How To Wear

Reiss

There are an infinite amount of ways to wear stripes, but when it comes to short sleeve shirts we like to use them as a device to introduce colour into tonal outfits. Keep your colour palette simple and cohesive and use stripes of an entirely different hue to create a focal point. This technique can work equally well when used against a light or dark backdrop.

Camp Collar

Why You Need One

Camp collar, Cuban collar, open collar; whatever you want to call it, the resurgence of this retro style reignited the menswear community’s interest in the short sleeve shirt. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s relaxed, yet sharp and offers something a little out of the ordinary in contrast to a classic-collar version. A must-have garment in the modern man’s summer shirting rotation.

How To Wear

Selected Homme

The laid-back look of that open collar is great for adding a touch of personality to a look, and also for making dressier pieces feel more summer-appropriate. A pair of dress pants that might otherwise seem out of place on a summer’s evening look considered when paired with a camp-collar shirt. There are countless styles to pick from within the category, but if in doubt, stick to simple, block colours and focus on finding one that fits like a glove.

Understated

Why You Need One

If in doubt, keep it simple. An understated short sleeve shirt in a clean block colour is one of the pillars of any respectable summer wardrobe. It’s timeless, versatile and something well worth having at your disposal when the sun is shining.

How To Wear

Taylor Stitch

There are two clearly defined routes to follow when it comes to styling an understated short sleeve shirt. Firstly, you can go minimal, opting for similarly stripped-back pieces to create a versatile and pared-back look that can take you anywhere. Alternatively, you can use it as a sort of blank canvas, upon which to introduce bolder textures, colours and patterns.

Checks

Why You Need One

Much like stripes, a check pattern on a short sleeve shirt provides a means of adding a focal point to an outfit without going overboard. Play it simple with a two-tone windowpane check, or go preppy with a summer-friendly madras check in a pastel colour palette.

How To Wear

Similar to the statement shirt, checks should be worn with understated pieces in order to avoid looking too busy. Pattern mixing is never a good idea when the end goal is classic, timeless style so avoid anything else with a print that might work against the checks on your shirt. Instead, keep the rest of your garments basic, focusing instead on creating cohesion through your use of colour. If the shirt is blue, for example, try pairing it with tonal legwear in a lighter or darker shade.