The island brother to the Oxford, the Cuban collar shirt (sometimes known as the cabana or camp/open collar) is an old-school staple – think Elvis meets Scarface – and it’s making a major comeback.
Akin to a condensed notch lapel, it’s defined by a pointed, two-tiered collar, and usually comes short-sleeved. You’ve probably seen the Cuban collar on a Hawaiian shirt, but the two are not synonymous. And this season, there are a host of rather more flattering ways to wear it.
“Cuban collar shirts can quickly tip into kitsch territory, where you look like you just stepped off a bowling lane or cruise ship,” says men’s stylist Melodie Gagnon, from Frank & Oak. As a rule of thumb, if the shirt your considering comes in a fabric your tipsy uncle would wear to a family barbecue, pass.
That means swapping polyester for poplin cotton, which is equal parts floaty and breathable. “If you still want to play up the vintage Americana look, do it with colours and prints that evoke the 1950s, like a rust-coloured windowpane check.” And definitely no hula girls.
There are a lot of ways to wear this look, but it takes careful styling. “Stick to lighter materials to keep that warm-weather outlook as a unifying thread,” says Gagnon. Unless your day job involves strutting along runways, consider this an off-duty look. Leave the blazer to vacuum cleaner salesmen.
If you’re actually heading to Havana – or at least anywhere the temperature gets above 20 degrees Celsius – try teaming yours with a pair of cuffed cotton shorts and suede loafers. “If you’re more into the rebellious youth culture of the 1950s, pair your Cuban collar shirt with skinny jeans and cuff the shirt sleeves instead,” says Gagnon. Let Alex Turner guide your way.
Reiss Jersey Cuban Collar Shirt
A minimalist take in pure cotton. Casual Friday, island style.
Available at Reiss, priced £60.
Topman Black Firework Print Short Sleeve Shirt
A Katy Perry-approved shirt, without the twee.
Available at Topman, priced £30.
AMI Camp-Collar Printed Cotton Shirt
When life gives you lemons, make a badass print. Accesorise with a drink just as citrusy.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £145.
Wood Wood Brandon Shirt
The block of white up top does the physique-carving work of a month of shoulder presses, without the sweat.
Available at Urban Outfitters, priced £100.
American Apparel Printed Lawn Camp Collar Shirt
You’ll appreciate the sheer fabric when the mercury starts bubbling. Everyone else will appreciate you wearing an undershirt.
Available at American Apparel, priced £56.
Gitman Brothers Vintage Tora Tiger Camp Collar
Only for wild things. This muted tiger print is a party shirt, without the keg stand.
Available at Goodhood, priced £165.
The Kooples Printed Short Sleeve Shirt
Workplace appropriate with a bit of flair. The slim-fit and low-key graphic print keep things interesting, without going overboard.
Available at East Dane, priced £154.
Marc Jacobs Blue Trim Fit Bamboo-Print Crepe Shirt
A pyjama top that you can wear outside? Count us in. With a bold print and white piping, it’s anything but coy.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £330.
Dries Van Noten Camp-collar Lobster-print Cotton Shirt
A perfect summer holiday top, inspired by the work of Salvador Dali. In shades of burgundy, mustard and navy, it’s less surreal than it is sophisticated.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £195.
Levi’s Vintage Clothing Rockets Bowling Shirt
Even if you still bowl with the bumpers up, this Levi’s Vintage shirt – with its bowling pin buttons and team name on the reverse – will make people think you’ve got a 240 average.
Available at Triads, priced £75.