The island brother to the Oxford, the Cuban collar shirt (sometimes known as the revere or camp collar) is an old-school staple – think Elvis meets Tony Montana – and it’s made a major comeback in recent seasons.
Akin to a condensed notch lapel, it’s defined by a pointed, two-tiered collar, and usually comes short-sleeved (though not always). 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 Tom Banham, from men’s online personal shopping service Thread. As a rule of thumb, if the shirt comes in a fabric your oddball uncle would wear to a family barbeque, pass.
That usually means aiming for poplin cotton or viscose, which are 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.”
There are a lot of ways to wear this type of shirt, but it takes careful styling. “Stick to lighter materials to keep that warm-weather outlook as a unifying thread,” says Banham. Even if your day job doesn’t involve strutting along runways, this isn’t just an off-duty look. As well as wearing it solo, either tucked in to tailored trousers or over chinos, try slotting it under an unstructured blazer for a louche summer wedding outfit.
If heading to Havana – or at least anywhere the temperature gets above 20 degrees C – team yours with a pair of cuffed cotton shorts and suede loafers. “If you’re more into the rebellious youth culture of the 1950s, opt for Cuban collar shirt with skinny jeans and cuff the shirt sleeves instead,” adds Banham.
The Best Brands For Cuban Collar Shirts
While you’ll find Cuban collars for beginners in the Reiss collection, by looking past the trusty basics you’ll find there are lots of more forward-thinking designs to get excited about.
From bold new takes on classic prints (such as florals print and Hawaiian styles) to graphic inflected designs, the shirts on offer here are ideal for those looking to add interest to their wardrobe.
A Day’s March
Few companies design simple, well-made clothing quite as well as Scandinavian brand A Day’s March. With a minimal eye for design, each garment is meticulously thought out, and its Cuban collar shirts are no exception. Expect premium fabrics, mother of pearl buttons and boxy cuts, perfect for warm summer evenings.
For beautifully finished wardrobe staples with a twist, turn to Percival. The brand has infused its Cuban collar shirts with colourful patterns, stripes and buttoned chest pockets which are perfect for storing your sunglasses. Plain colour options are available too, and all are made to a high standard befitting of their price tags.
AllSaints has developed a rep as the rockstar of the British high street thanks to a suitably grungy aesthetic and a knock-out line in leather jackets. I
ts take on the Cuban collar is a lot more punchy than its counterparts with audacious prints taking centre stage while a light, flouncy viscose fabric and slim fit keep the rhythm.
Hamilton And Hare
Best known for its nightwear and underwear, British loungewear brand Hamilton and Hare is well versed in creating easy, relaxed pieces which feel every bit as good to wear as they do to look at.
Cuban collar shirts from the brand take that same focus on comfort and fit but apply it to something more appropriate for the great outdoors. Think tasteful neutrals, pared-back patterns and subtle textural interest, all rendered in that signature super soft cotton and linen.
Japanese style is all about quality fabrics and easy to wear fits, something Uniqlo, the countries biggest high street export is a master at.
It’s Cuban collar shirts come out quite wide for western tastes so you may want to temper the width with some slim fitting trousers. Designs and colours are kept quite simple apart from a wavy series of shirts printed with artwork from iconic 19th-century Japanese artist Hokusai.
Come for the amazing T-shirts, stay for the Cuban collars. If you have the money, you could always dress your torso in Sunspel and you’d always look good. The British heritage brand is about keeping things simple and luxurious, so expect well-cut shirts in easy colours and simple patterns. As good for the British summertime as they are for five-star resorts.
This contemporary London brand designs clothes that are easy to wear but look and feel like you’ve made more of an effort than maybe you have. Folk offers interesting fits, premium fabrics and, when it does colour or pattern, the resulting designs always hit that sweet spot between boring and garish.
The Cuban collar shirts are no different. Look for nice touches like a rounded collar and prints designed by well-chosen local artists.
Throwing a classic Cuban collar shirt into the mix is a foolproof way to jazz up a summer look. When it comes to offerings that tick variety and value for money, high street mainstay Topman is up there with the best. A huge selection of prints and patterns make it the perfect choice for staying on top of the trends, season after season.
Having consistently been named one of the top menswear designers, as well as having performed in important roles at the likes of Polo Ralph Lauren, Gap, and J. Crew, suffice to say that Iowa-born Todd Snyder is a man who knows a thing or two about men’s fashion. Snyder’s collections meld Savile Row craftsmanship with a downtown NY aesthetic, and the results – shirts included – are stunning.
Since its inception in the early 1970s, UK-based label French Connection has been cementing its name as a purveyor of well-designed, fashionable clothing, not to mention tongue-in-cheek advertising campaigns. As far as its Cuban collar shirts go, look out for clean, understated designs for an instant touch of effortless cool.
For a dizzying array of options at unbeatable prices, Boohoo Man’s collection is an excellent shout. Think on-trend cuts and prints, at prices so affordable that you could completely rejuvenate your summer wardrobe without your wallet bursting into flames. Not something to be sniffed at, given the unpredictable financial climate.
Orlebar Brown Founder Adam Brown has built an entire brand around sophisticated swimwear and beach-ready apparel with a premium edge. The label’s luxury takes on the classic Cuban collar shirt blend style, quality and wearability to seamless effect. For timeless pool-side silhouettes, that wouldn’t look out of place at an al fresco evening meal, Orlebar Brown is the one.
Founded in Barcelona in 1984 by two brothers, Mango has since established itself as a leading name in fast fashion on high streets worldwide. A great selection of Cuban collar shirts, in a variety of prints, patterns and block colours make this the perfect place to stay on top of the ever-changing trends and keep your finger firmly on the pulse.
When you imagine high street menswear with variety, style and value at the forefront, it’s hard not to think of River Island. The London-headquartered retailer has been kitting out the nation’s best dressed men in on-trend styles and wardrobe essentials for well over 60 years and offers men’s Cuban collar shirts in a range of colours, cuts, patterns and fabrics.
Beams Plus is the physical embodiment of Japanese fashion’s ongoing obsession with vintage Americana, workwear and utilitarian style. Founded in 1999, as part of the sprawling Beams franchise, men’s line Beams Plus is the perfect choice for a rugged, heritage-inspired Cuban collar shirt. For timeless pieces, constructed with high-quality materials, this is your one-stop-shop.
Heritage is a big buzzword in menswear, making it a hot commodity for brands, and it’s something that Gitman Vintage has by the truckload. Since the 1930s the Gitman brothers have been kitting men out with some of the best shirts the States has to offer, all put together in the label’s Pennsylvania factory. Well-known for its wide range of styles and materials, the brand is a seriously smart choice for Cuban collar shirts.
Originally founded as a leather goods shop in Milan, Prada quickly became known for its second-to-none craftsmanship and forward-thinking approach to design. Today the luxury Italian house bridges the gap between high-end fashion and wearability. With recent collections featuring striking patterns and eye-catching designs, the Cuban collar shirt is fast becoming a brand staple. Buying from Prada’s range is the ideal luxury way to spice up your summer wardrobe.
Swedish fast-fashion powerhouse H&M can be credited with bringing simple Scandi design to the mass market. The high street giant is well known the world over for its ever rotating seasonal collections, versatile wardrobe staples and fantastic value. For Cuban collar shirts, keep your eyes peeled for floaty, block colour linen styles or busy designs in suitably restrained colour palettes.
In 1903, 18-year-old Montague Burton borrowed £100 from a relative with the idea of setting up a men’s clothing company, and that’s exactly what he did. In the firm’s infancy, it supplied uniforms to almost a quarter of the British armed forces during World War I. Now one of the biggest names in menswear on the high street, Burton is the place to go for on-trend fashion staples – like the Cuban collar shirt, funnily enough – made easy.