How To Wear A Short-Sleeved Shirt

Done right, it's a slick summer style move. Done wrong, you'll look like a 12-year-old at a wedding.
IMAGE Getty Images

I’ve had an absolute shocker. Like the smuggest, most materialistic man in Pompeii, I’ve been walking around all layered up in selvedge denim and shearling and chunky knits, blissfully unaware that a fireball was lying in wait, biding its time before engulfing the city in molten lava. But engulf the city it now has, and I’m a bit buggered for hot weather gear.

Last year, whenever the mercury went above about 24 degrees, I’d reach for a few faithful companions: slim trousers (ideally something mixed with linen, but cotton chino works too), Tenenbaums-y running shoes (Adidas Originals every time), a vest (Sunspel make the best), and a slightly oversized short sleeve shirt, ideally in a relatively garish print.

But I wore the trousers to death and now they’re all baggy, and the shirts have all been dashed with cigarettes and splashed with burger sauce, and the vests have lost their once pearly whiteness. I’ve taken my eye of the ball this year and have yet to get my summery short sleeve ducks in a row, but it’s an easy fix. 

That fail-safe look isn’t setting any trends—it’s been a go-to for decades. But some of you lot are still scared of the short sleeve. Why? Are you scared of T-shirts? Are you scared of shirts? Are you scared of arms? No, you are not. And if you are, style is probably the least of your worries. So get on the bandwagon.  

Here are some basic rules.

1| Color and print 

You want irreverence, but avoid novelty, unless it’s expensive novelty. Balenciaga makes that shirt with a big green dragon it—the kind of the thing the hard lad at school wore to the nightclub on the trading estate—and for those that know what it is, you’ll be the coolest man in the room. But most people won’t. These, from Levi’s Vintage, Albam, and Sandro (see below) all fit the bill. 


Albam panama fleck shirt,

Sandro camp-collar printed satin shirt, Mr. Porter

2| Collar 

The one you want has numerous names (camp, revere, Cuban), but you just want to make sure it has a little mini lapel at the neck. It’s more flattering, and can be worn on its own or with a T-shirt or vest. Or as a mid-layer under a nice coach jacket. Marvelous. Officine Generale and Gucci know how to do the collars, and Ami is ace for the jacket (all below). 

Gucci camp-collar piped logo-print silk-twill shirt, Mr. Porter

Officine Generale dario camp-collar cotton and linen-blend shirt, Mr. Porter    

Ami snap button jacket, Mr. Porter 

3| Fabric and Fit 

For the former, avoid anything too stiff like poplin (the fabric used commonly for business shirts). You want the shirt to be all floaty, so look for linen and silk mixes, which will be more breathable too. Viscose, is not a nice word and doesn’t have a great feel, but it floats like nothing else. In terms of fit, you want the shirt to be boxy, so that it hangs straight down from your shoulders, and the hem at the bottom should be square. I would avoid slim fits, unless you’re going to tuck it in a la Gozzles. 

If you’re not an international heartthrob, I’d go with the boxy, untucked method. 

There you go. Easy.

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Charlie Teasdale
Esquire Deputy Style Editor
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