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We asked our friends at MR PORTER.COM, the men’s style destination with same-day delivery in Manhattan and London, for expert style advice. This week’s topic: the 6 short-sleeved shirts you need this spring.
Some of us seem to fear short-sleeved shirts. Perhaps the blame lies with men who wear them with boot-cut jeans as part of a mandatory uniform for a night on the tiles. Maybe it’s the fault of TV writers, whose signifier for “this character is socially inept, but good with computers” is often a plain, oversized version of the garment. And what about Mr Michael Douglas, playing the divorced and unemployed engineer Mr William “D-Fens” Foster in Falling Down? An iconic short-sleeved shirt wearer and a total psychopath.
You can see why this item has spent a few years in the sartorial penalty box. Once a classic piece of work attire dating back to an era before offices were air-conditioned, the short-sleeved dress shirt has done its penance and is back as a smart addition to every man’s casual wardrobe. Here are a few of our favourites.
The perfect pastel
The colour of this shirt reminds us of a hue you might find on an Amalfi-coast villa, or in a (mint) ice cream — both things that make for a particularly idyllic summer. It’s a timelessly sophisticated item from a brand that’s well known for its classic US-made pieces. We’re already planning a few summer garden parties to get some appropriate wear out of this.
The sun seeker
We can imagine sipping cocktails on a beach or by a pool in this shirt, given its deep navy hue and the laid-back, summery feel that most Saturdays Surf NYCpieces are infused with. A smart button-down collar is countered by a subtle dot pattern, created by a delicate horizontal stitching. Pair with some chinos that are on the slim side to up the sophistication, and keep a blazer in mind for when summer days cool to night. To finish, just addWayfarers.
The great white
There’s no more classic or versatile an item in a man’s wardrobe than a crisp white shirt, and it’s no different when the sleeves are short. Although obviously not a dress shirt, the trim tailoring and sharp collar of this Calvin Klein Collectionpiece lends itself perfectly to a smart sensibility. And if paired with a blue jacket and some dark leather shoes, it can be dressed up or down for just about any occasion.
The smart choice
A classic blue and white stripe brings a businesslike air to a short-sleeved shirt — and this one is suitable for any office that doesn’t require formal dressing. The button-down collar keeps everything neat and tidy, and the trim on the sleeves helps you show off those “guns” you’ve been working on all spring (right?). You want the fit slim, but not too tight — so no buttons tugging at fabric across the chest. Seersucker is perfect for the heat — whether you’re in the sun or the office — and Thom Browne‘s unique proportions mean you’ll stand out from the crowd.
The cool cat
Some designers have gone full-on
with the bowling shirt this spring, adding everything from thick stripes to contrast collars.Beams Plusutilises a spread collar, but keeps things subtle in navy chambray, so you wouldn’t stand out too much were you to wear this in a relaxed work environment with black jeans, for example. Alternatively, it’s perfect for the weekend when the weather calls for some cool cocktails. This is a piece we can imagine a mid-1950s Mr Miles Davis might have enjoyed.
The check mate
Most prints or patterns only enhance the inherently casual nature of a short-sleeved shirt. But a gingham or check can bring an authoritative air that, say, flamingos or palm trees never will. Simply up the smartness and steal some slick rockabilly vibes with a pair of light wool trousers or some blue chinos. Make sure the sleeves don’t come down near the elbow, or you’ll look less Mr Eddie Cochran, more sullen teenager.
To tie or not to tie?
Teaming a tie with a short-sleeved shirt can conjure up images of NASA control rooms or Homer Simpson. But there is a way to pull it off (if you’re brave enough).
Try these tips:
Keep it slim: Knitted ties are best (with a square base). Keeping your neckwear contemporary is key to avoiding geography-teacher territory.
Be daring: Being a little eccentric with your tie will help avoid the jumbo-jet pilot look. Subtle pattern and a bit of texture will work wonders, and your go-to brand should be Marwood.
Break things up: Adding more elements to your look will alleviate any of the stuffiness we’re trying to avoid. Try wearing a button-down shirt with its top button undone and a T-shirt visible underneath.
Turn up: Mr Nick Wooster can make a tie and short-sleeved shirt work effortlessly. You are not Mr Wooster, so turn up the sleeves of your shirt to avoid looking as if you’ve just stepped off the set of The Office.
Wear a jacket: If it’s warm and the occasion warrants a tie, you might want to go with a short-sleeved shirt to beat the heat. Wearing a jacket means you not only look smart, but you can choose whether you reveal the length of your sleeves or not.
Or try one of these:
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