More polite than a polo shirt and grown up than a T-shirt, the short-sleeved shirt allows you to bare your arms in the heat without appearing underdressed or dorky. Here’s how to cool off in style.
1| Ditch those dodgy checks and plaids
Leave this to kids on their first legal night out or newbies at work on casual Fridays. If you’re keen on prints, choose something interesting like Leslie Cheung’s vintage-style shirt in Days of Being Wild.
2| Don’t wear a tie
Are you a dorky high school principal, a bumbling Homer Simpson, or a psychotic Michael Douglas in Falling Down? Unless it’s part of a uniform, which you have no choice but to comply with, just don’t. Wearing a necktie doesn’t make the short-sleeved shirt look any more professional. It also defeats its purpose of comfort.
3| Try a new collar
Leo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet
Al Pacino in Scarface
If keeping cool is your priority, consider the camp-collared (lapel-like folds) Cuban shirt. This is a statement piece with maximum potential.
You can wear it to work like the dapper men of the ’50s by picking dense fabrics like merino wool or pique cotton. These will hang better on your torso and look more polished. Remember to keep the color neutral (the fabric is luxurious enough) and the fit slim, and wear only wear with trousers in a tonal shade.
You can also wear it on your days off by choosing softly washed materials like poplin, cotton, or linen with whimsical microprints. Layer it over a plain T-shirt or wear under a jacket. Wear it loose with jeans or just about anything with a good fit. This is a shirt that’s all about the attitude.
4| On sleeves
Things to remember: The shoulder seam must hit squarely on the edge of your actual shoulder. The sleeves shouldn’t pitch out of your arms like a tent nor choke your biceps. The right length is mid-arm. When you get these right, you’ll look sharp and more fit. And if your arms don’t fill up the sleeves, consider getting your shirt tailored (and also lifting).
5| On length
The length of the shirt should hit around midpoint between your waist and crotch (you should be able to see about half of your fly). This is a non-negotiable. The right length keeps the short-sleeved shirt smooth when tucked in. This is even more important with untucked shirts.
6| To roll or unroll
Richard Gere in American Gigolo
For a solid shirt, execute up to two rolls, and that’s it. Don’t be too neat about it. For printed shirts, we suggest not rolling as you’ll break up the print. But that’s up to you.
7| To button or unbutton
Alain Delon in Purple Noon
This is also a matter of personal style. Leaving the top two buttons unfastened gives off the laidback vibe you want. Anything more crosses the line from cool to tool. As for buttoning all the way up, there’s a danger of looking like a schoolboy that mom dressed up or a beardless hipster mixing craft cocktails. Pull this off by keeping the shirt plain, but in a textured fabric like chambray. If you nail the fit (see items 4 and 5), you can get away with almost anything.
8| To tuck or not to tuck
Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley
Tucking comes down to necessity or preference. If your shirt is more tailored at the bottom, let it fly. If it is too boxy, fix it with a quick tuck (bonus: tucking in gives you a V-shaped torso). Remember to only tuck in your shirt when wearing slim-cut chinos or high-waist trousers. Doing this with jeans will make you look like a ’90s show extra, and that’s never cool.