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. 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, deputy editor of Jocks & Nerds magazine. 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 hugely on-trend piece, 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 Celsius – 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.
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 right 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.
Available at Topman, priced £25.
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 are stunning.
Available at Amazon, priced £120.
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.
Available at ASOS, priced £20.
For a dizzying array of options at unbeatably low 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.
Available at Boohoo Man, priced £16.
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.
Available at Orlebar Brown, priced £145.
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.
Available at Mango, priced £35.99.
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.
Available at River Island, priced £25.
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.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £85.
Marks & Spencer
If you thought that Marks and Spencer was your nan’s turf, think again. This colossal British retailer’s clothing collection is so sprawling that whatever your tastes, you’re guaranteed find something to suit. With a great selection of Cuban collar shirts to pick from, M&S’s offering straddles the line between quality, affordability and style to magnificent effect. There’s a reason it’s so popular, and probably always will be.
Available at Marks & Spencer, priced £19.50.
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.
Available at J.Crew, priced £145.
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.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £395.
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 – the perfect timeless take on this retro throwback summer piece.
Available at H&M, priced £17.99.
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 1. 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.
Available at Burton, priced £20.
Gucci is a name synonymous with high-end Italian craftsmanship, intricate attention to detail and a design aesthetic that is almost unbeatable. Now under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, the Florence-based fashion house is bringing timeless luxury goods into the 21st century and giving them a contemporary twist. For bold, vibrant Cuban collar shirts, you need look no further.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £530.