Vintage Americana

Americana is a trend that belies fashion’s inherently fickle nature. Much like those items with military or nautical heritage, all-American pieces have long been revered within the industry, with everything from preppy button-downs and letterman jackets to classic blue jeans and penny loafers having cemented their place in the modern gent’s wardrobe over the years.

Yet this season has given rise to one of our favourite new summer garments of recent times: the Cuban collar shirt, also known as an open or Cabana collar shirt.

The Cuban Collar

Taken straight out of the 1950s, the Cuban collar shirt oozes old-school charm and class. The perfect alternative to your trusty Oxford button-down or short-sleeved shirt, this is a style that will have you standing out from the crowd in a subtle and chic way this high summer.

So, what exactly defines a Cuban collar shirt? Well, they have an open, almost notch lapel-like collar, are more often than not short-sleeved and feature a straight cut hem – think classic Hawaiian or retro bowling styles and you’re about there.

Men's Cuban CollarImage: Austin Reed SS14

It’s actually possible to create a similar effect with a shirt that has a top button tab fastening; the flexibility of the design allows you to flatten the collar and upper placket, giving the appearance of a Cuban style.

On The SS14 Runways

This type of shirt proved popular across spring/summer 2014 collections, with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Missoni and Canali sending them down the runway in every colour and pattern imaginable.

Elsewhere, high street favourite Reiss has incorporated them prominently into their SS14 ad campaigns (see lookbook inspiration section below), making them a cornerstone of their warm-weather offering this year:

Men's Cuban Collar Shirts on The SS14 Menswear Runways

MissoniCanaliLouis Vuitton
SS15 And Beyond

Although the Cuban collar is a new trend for 2014, Latino and Hispanic influences were also prominent at the recent London Collections: Men SS15 showcase, which means this type of shirt is set to stay relevant for at least the next twelve months.

In fact, with style-conscious men continuing to value items that will help subtly individualise their look, we here at FashionBeans believe this design has the potential to develop into a genuine spring/summer staple moving forward, particularly as they are so easy to wear.

With the likes of Topman Design, Versace and Hentsch Man giving the style their support for 2015, this is definitely one trend where it will pay to be an early adopter:

Cuban Collar Shirts On The SS15 Runways

Topman Design SS15Versace SS15Hentsch Man SS15Topman Design SS15Versace SS15Hentsch Man SS15
Outfit Inspiration

When it comes to styling the Cuban collar, it’s important that we maintain a contemporary approach. Banish all thoughts of the huge oversized collars worn by Tony Montana in Scarface and take your sartorial lead from classic 1950s summer styling.

High Summer Off-Duty

To ensure a modern aesthetic, opt for slim-fitting versions rather than traditional boxy cuts. The same applies to the rest of your look – although wide legs and relaxed fits are currently making their mark on the runways, streamlined silhouettes appear sharper and help bring this vintage style bang up to date.

Don’t shy away from print, it’s a menswear mainstay these days and will have you effortlessly standing out from the crowd. Tropical florals are the motif of choice for SS14/15, so take the plunge with a Cuban collared Hawaiian shirt, ideal off-duty wear for high summer and a genuine holidaying essential.

Consider rolling the sleeves, like you would your trouser hems, for an additional touch of detailing that shows you pay attention to the subtle nuances of your style.

Take a pared-back approach to the rest of the look and let your shirt do all the talking. Light stone coloured shorts and a pair of driving shoes help finish off an outfit that is the epitome of old-school cool yet sits in line with current tastes and influences:

  • Topman Makahiki Hawaiian Short Sleeve Shirt Topman Makahiki Hawaiian Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts StoneReiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts Stone
  • Tods Gommino Suede Driving Shoes 216561Tods Gommino Suede Driving Shoes 216561
Smartening Up

An open collar isn’t just the reserve of the casual half of your wardrobe, you can use one to individualise your smarter attire too. Combining a Cuban collar with a suit may evoke the ghost of Tony Montana, but taking your nod from Alex Turner at the GQ Men of the Year Awards as opposed to Al Pacino brings about a very different end result.

An ultra-modern skinny suit sets the foundation of this risky sartorial move. Here we’ve opted for structured tailoring, yet a lightweight, soft-shouldered summer version would also be more than appropriate.

As always, the key to pulling off this aesthetic lies in the cut and silhouette – if your suit fits you perfectly and has been tailored to your body shape then you would be hard pushed to get this outfit wrong.

Go for a plain white shirt this time to keep the overall look chic and refined. The main decision you have to make is whether the collar goes under or over your lapels. Both can work, but the safer option is to let your suit lapels take the lead.

Finish with a smart pair of brown leather loafers (sockless, of course):

  • Next White Textured ShirtNext White Textured Shirt
  • Topman Navy Ultra Skinny SuitTopman Navy Ultra Skinny Suit
  • Asos Tassel Loafers In LeatherAsos Tassel Loafers In Leather
Tackling The Transition

It may be a summer-appropriate shirt style, but don’t let your Cuban collar get away with only doing a one season shift.

During autumn, as a bottom layer, the open collar offers a unique base to build a look from. Underneath a lightweight jacket or cardigan, this Americana classic works well as an understated focal point.

Wear yours under an open bomber jacket – printed or plain – the neckline of the shirt will frame your face in flattering manner. Alternatively, consider leaving the shirt unbuttoned and using a plain white vest or tee as a base layer, adding depth without the unnecessary bulk.

Finish this transitional look off with a pair of light jeans, both in weight and colour, and some luxe slip-on sneakers:

  • Asos Twist Yarn Shirt In Short SleeveAsos Twist Yarn Shirt In Short Sleeve
  • Allsaints Kato Bomber JacketAllsaints Kato Bomber Jacket
  • Allsaints Setsu Iggy JeansAllsaints Setsu Iggy Jeans
  • Saint Laurent Baby Cat-print Leather Slip-on SneakersSaint Laurent Baby Cat-print Leather Slip-on Sneakers
Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Cuban Collar Shirts Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

reiss ss14reiss ss14 cool in heat featureaustin reed ss14next ss14reiss ss14 cool in heat featureaustin reed x nick hart ss14reiss ss14ovadia & sons ss13jigsaw ss14bal ss13paul & joe ss13Boglioli ss15ben sherman ss12ben sherman ss12ben sherman aw12
Key Pieces
  • Reiss Williamsberg Reiss Tile Print Shirt NavyReiss Williamsberg Reiss Tile Print Shirt Navy
  • Next Navy Geo Print ShirtNext Navy Geo Print Shirt
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Tree-print ShirtMarc By Marc Jacobs Tree-print Shirt
  • Asos Space Dye Shirt In Short Sleeve With Resort SlubAsos Space Dye Shirt In Short Sleeve With Resort Slub
  • Asos Space Dye Shirt In Short Sleeve With Resort SlubAsos Space Dye Shirt In Short Sleeve With Resort Slub
  • Vans Friday Shirt In BlueVans Friday Shirt In Blue
  • Supremebeing Zig-zag Chambray ShirtSupremebeing Zig-zag Chambray Shirt
  • Lightning Bolt Paradise Flowers Aloha ShirtLightning Bolt Paradise Flowers Aloha Shirt
  • Next White Textured ShirtNext White Textured Shirt
  • Reiss Alder Cuban Collar Shirt NavyReiss Alder Cuban Collar Shirt Navy
  • Topman Makahiki Hawaiian Short Sleeve ShirtTopman Makahiki Hawaiian Short Sleeve Shirt
  • River Island Open Collar Polo ShirtRiver Island Open Collar Polo Shirt
  • Folk Printed Cotton Short-sleeved ShirtFolk Printed Cotton Short-sleeved Shirt
  • Folk Slim-fit Short-sleeved Textured Cotton ShirtFolk Slim-fit Short-sleeved Textured Cotton Shirt
  • Neighborhood Printed Short-sleeved Cotton ShirtNeighborhood Printed Short-sleeved Cotton Shirt
Final Word

Fashion’s cyclical nature is something we’re all well aware of, but the Cuban collar shirt is one trending piece that would slot seamlessly into today’s modern capsule wardrobe, adding a touch of vintage 1950s style to any warm-weather look.

Not only that, with short-sleeved shirts currently experiencing a renaissance within menswear circles, this type of collar also offers a great way to help separate your version from the crowd in a subtle and understated way.

But what do you think – is the Cuban collar shirt set to become a spring/summer staple? Or does it appear a little dated? Would you feel comfortable layering one underneath your tailoring collection?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…