The Dos And Don’ts Of Short-Sleeved Shirts

Last week we covered the dos and don’ts of wearing shorts, which was designed to help avoid any unnecessary embarrassment when it comes to baring your legs this season.

Today, in the next edition of our warm-weather primer, we concentrate on another key high summer piece that men continue to get wrong and/or shy away from: the short-sleeved shirt.

It’s fair to say that if you polled a cross section of sartorially-inclined men and asked them to list their top three summer faux pas, short-sleeved shirts would be right up there. Obviously not ahead of socks with sandals or three-quarter lengths but, still, they would be pretty high.

You can understand why. When done wrong, this item can transform a well-executed warm-weather look into “Barry from I.T. repairs” instantly. Combine that with the awful colours, cuts and patterns that have saturated the market in recent years and the short-sleeved shirt deserved to be relegated to the summer sins category.

Thankfully, things are beginning to change. Following their recent resurgence on US street style blogs, coinciding with a few awesome pictures of Nick Wooster rocking them, popular opinion has started to shift from “if I want short sleeves, I’ll just roll them up” to “sun’s out, guns out”.

And as long as you bear in mind the dos and don’ts below, there’s no reason why the short-sleeved shirt can’t become a versatile weapon in your high summer arsenal…

Do: Nail The Fit

Surprise surprise. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this will always be the most important thing you can do for your personal style. No matter what your budget, making sure your clothes fit you perfectly is essential to pulling off ANY look, piece or trend.

When it comes to short-sleeved shirts, there are two main areas you need to focus on: the sleeves and shoulders. The shirt should fit well across your shoulders without being too tight around your chest or through the sides. If you start to see any pulling or creasing in material – chest buttons and the upper back are two hot spots – start to think about sizing up or trying a different cut.

As for the sleeves, they should finish around mid-bicep and allow a single finger between the fabric and your arm – we don’t want any of this baggy sleeve nonsense.

Everything else can be easily tailored to achieve your preferred fit.

  • Topman Burgandy Melange Short Sleeve Smart ShirtTopman Burgandy Melange Short Sleeve Smart Shirt
  • Asos Smart Shirt In Short Sleeve With Button Down CollarAsos Smart Shirt In Short Sleeve With Button Down Collar
  • Asos Oxford Shirt In Orange With Short SleevesAsos Oxford Shirt In Orange With Short Sleeves
  • Asos Smart Oxford Shirt In Short SleeveAsos Smart Oxford Shirt In Short Sleeve
  • Farah Vintage Short Sleeve Trent Shirt In Marine BlueFarah Vintage Short Sleeve Trent Shirt In Marine Blue
  • Asos Twill Shirt In Short Sleeve With Acid WashAsos Twill Shirt In Short Sleeve With Acid Wash
  • J.crew Regular-fit Cotton Short-sleeved ShirtJ.crew Regular-fit Cotton Short-sleeved Shirt
  • River Island Dark Red Short Sleeve ShirtRiver Island Dark Red Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Reiss Crossfire Short Sleeve Stretch Shirt NavyReiss Crossfire Short Sleeve Stretch Shirt Navy
Don’t: Forget That All Shirts Are Not Created Equal

Some shirts are meant to be tucked in and some aren’t. A short-sleeved shirt can be either but it’s important to know which one you want.

Tucked in versions are generally smarter and therefore lend themselves to slim-cut legwear and quality leather shoes. Untucked shirts, on the other hand, give off a more relaxed vibe and are best combined with jeans/shorts and casual footwear silhouettes.

You can tell the difference between an untucked and to-be-tucked shirt by its length and cut. Untucked styles will be shorter in length (usually ending just below your waist) with the bottom hem squared off, rather than pointed or curved like a formal shirt is.

Lookbook Inspiration: Tucked In Shirts

Men's Short-Sleeved Shirts - Tucked In Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

ted baker ss14jaeger ss13reiss 2013perry ellis ss13h&m summer 2013h&m summer 2012paul & joe ss14nordstrom 2014pepe jeans ss14
Do: Consider Using Them For Office Wear

Although short-sleeved shirts are not suitable for formal office dress codes, in smart-casual working environments they make an excellent and individual alternative to traditional long-sleeved versions.

Again, you have to nail the fit, stick to conservative colours (like white, blue and pink) and classic patterns for this aesthetic to work – but if you do, the short-sleeved shirt can be your secret weapon for fighting the heat while looking put together for the office this summer.

And yes, you can even wear a tie with them – just make sure its width is in proportion to the shirt, i.e slim.

Lookbook Inspiration: Smart-Casual Outfits

Men's Short-Sleeved Shirts - Smart-Casual Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

reiss ss14reiss ss14reiss ss12todd snyder ss14hartford ss13reiss ss13
Don’t: Forget About Patterns & Fabrics

This is what summer is all about: having a bit of fun and letting loose.

Block-colours and stripes are typically associated with business wear, so why not opt for a gingham or plaid short-sleeved shirt in contrasting hues such as red and blue?

Our recommendation for SS14 would be a dark coloured madras shirt, which will keep you cool and works just as well with chino shorts and boat shoes as it does with indigo selvedge jeans and suede loafers.

Other key patterns to consider this season include nautical block-stripes, florals/Hawaiian, camo and polka dots.

Alternatively, add some texture to your high summer looks by opting for a lightweight, seasonally-appropriate fabric such as chambray or linen.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Patterned and Lightweight Short-Sleeved Shirts - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

reiss 1971 ss13sisley ss14h&m summer 2014scotch & soda ss14office shoes ss13sarar ss14jaeger ss14club monaco summer 2014asos ss14club monaco aw12perry ellis ss14river island holloway road ss14
Key Pieces
  • River Island Short Sleeved Denim Shirt With All Over Floral PrintRiver Island Short Sleeved Denim Shirt With All Over Floral Print
  • Allsaints Hibiscus Short Sleeve ShirtAllsaints Hibiscus Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Asos Shirt In Short Sleeve With Japanese FloralAsos Shirt In Short Sleeve With Japanese Floral
  • River Island Red Abstract Print Short Sleeve ShirtRiver Island Red Abstract Print Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Reiss Bailey Patterned Short Sleeve Shirt GreenReiss Bailey Patterned Short Sleeve Shirt Green
  • Nn.07 Derek Printed Cotton Short-sleeved ShirtNn.07 Derek Printed Cotton Short-sleeved Shirt
  • American Apparel Chambray Shirt In Short SleeveAmerican Apparel Chambray Shirt In Short Sleeve
  • Uniqlo Men Linen Cotton Short Sleeve ShirtUniqlo Men Linen Cotton Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Reiss Drone Linen Short Sleeve Shirt BlueReiss Drone Linen Short Sleeve Shirt Blue
  • Next Linen ShirtNext Linen Shirt
  • Billy Reid Linen-chambray Short-sleeve ShirtBilly Reid Linen-chambray Short-sleeve Shirt
  • Gant Rugger Button-down Collar Madras-check ShirtGant Rugger Button-down Collar Madras-check Shirt
Don’t: Restrict Your Styling

Wear whatever the hell you want with your short-sleeved shirt – and we really do mean that.

Think of them in the same way you would a t-shirt or polo; they will go with anything you already have in your wardrobe, from jeans and shorts to linen trousers and blazers.

Well, that’s assuming you have a wardrobe full of classic, simple and versatile basics

Men's Short Sleeve Shirts Summer Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

urban outfitterszara man may 2014calibre ss14calibre ss14zara man 2014sarar ss14selected ss14allsaints ss13reiss ss13jigsaw ss14perry ellis ss14ben sherman ss12
Do: Look For Unique Detailing

One easy way of making your short-sleeved shirt stand out from the crowd is with your choice of collar. Both band and Cuban collars are trending for SS14 and can help bring a modern, individual twist to a classic piece.

Alternatively, try a short-sleeved popover shirt. For those that don’t know, a popover style is simply a front fastening, button-up shirt, but the placket stops around halfway down (similar to a polo/Henley). This shortened placket gives the shirt a casual feel that works perfectly with shorts, light washed jeans or block-coloured chinos.

Lastly, patterned and contrast colour trims have become extremely popular in recent years and can add a subtle differential to your look once you give your shirt sleeves a couple of folds.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Short Sleeve Shirts - Band/Cuban/Granddad Collars, Popover Styles and Contrast Sleeves - Summer Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

mr porterh&mreiss ss14reiss ss14 cool in heataustin reed x nick hart ss14reissclub monaco summer 2014j crew style guide 2014ben sherman ss12ben sherman ss12ben sherman aw12
Key Pieces
  • Reiss Alder Cuban Collar Shirt NavyReiss Alder Cuban Collar Shirt Navy
  • Reiss Antonio Cuban Collar ShirtReiss Antonio Cuban Collar Shirt
  • Asos Space Dye Shirt In Short Sleeve With Resort SlubAsos Space Dye Shirt In Short Sleeve With Resort Slub
  • Topman White Short Sleeve Stand Collar Oxford ShirtTopman White Short Sleeve Stand Collar Oxford Shirt
  • Asos Denim Shirt In Short Sleeve With Contrast Stripe TrimAsos Denim Shirt In Short Sleeve With Contrast Stripe Trim
  • Topman Blue Twill Star Design Short Sleeve ShirtTopman Blue Twill Star Design Short Sleeve Shirt
  • River Island Purple Grandad Collar ShirtRiver Island Purple Grandad Collar Shirt
  • River Island Turquoise Grandad ShirtRiver Island Turquoise Grandad Shirt
  • River Island Teal Textured Short Sleeve ShirtRiver Island Teal Textured Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Kolor Printed Wool ShirtKolor Printed Wool Shirt
  • Beams Plus Printed Linen ShirtBeams Plus Printed Linen Shirt
  • Alexander Wang Oversized Printed Cotton ShirtAlexander Wang Oversized Printed Cotton Shirt
Final Word

So there you have it, a few dos and don’ts when it comes to buying and wearing short-sleeved shirts this summer.

But as always, we want to hear what you have to say, so leave your thoughts in the comments sections below…