How to wear a short sleeved shirt

Look smart while keeping cool.
Image source: Short Sleeve Seersucker Shirt in Green Blue Check from Samuel Windsor

What’s the toughest sartorial challenge known to mankind? Simple – it’s how to keep cool while looking sharp. For those who dwell in smart-casual circles, warm weather can be a nightmare.

Luckily, there’s one look coming in from the cold, which helps you square the circle. Both smart and casual, it’s the short sleeved shirt. Here’s how to wear yours with confidence.

When should I wear a short sleeved shirt?


Short-sleeved shirts are ideal for smart and casual wear.
Image source: Shutterstock

Designed to keep you cool, this resurgent style is perfect for barbecues or the beach. The guys at Fashion Beans are all for working the short sleeve into your office ensemble too:

“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.”

While this is a look that favours those with toned biceps, a well chosen shirt with just the right fit can look really smart. So why not give it a go?

The collar and cut

cuban collar

The Cuban collar has a relaxed, laid-back feel.
Image source: Shutterstock

As with most fashion, fit is everything; when it comes to short sleeved shirts, the focus needs to be on sleeves and shoulders. The seams should sit just on the point of the shoulders, and the shirt should be well fitted without beginning to pull across the chest – tightness around the buttons is not a good look.

Sleeves should fit quite closely, although you should be able to fit a finger between the cuff and your arm – we’re not looking for circulation killing tightness. They should also follow the line of your arm and finish halfway up the bicep. Avoid sleeves that billow or pinch into your armpit.

For a relaxed, retro vibe that stops short of the garishness of a Hawaiian shirt, it’s worth giving a Cuban shirt a try. Notable for its flat collar, Cuban-collared shirts are perfect for bringing a cool Caribbean feel to your casual summer wardrobe.

Play with patterns

Short sleeves can be great for patterns or prints.
Image source: Short Sleeve Perranporth Shirt in Pastel Stripe from Samuel Windsor

As the long sleeved shirt’s hipper, less starchy little brother, short sleeves give you an opportunity to play with your look a little more.

If you’re wearing short sleeves to the office, you’ll probably want to stick with block colours like a vibrant blue or a perhaps a rich red. What’s key, is knowing what works for you – choose a colour to suit your skin tone and you won’t go far wrong.

Out of the office, it’s play time: checks push a look towards the more casual end of things, while if you want to go really wild, ditch the patterns and go for print – plaid or polka dots are a great choice.

Whatever you choose, it’s best to balance it with more neutral trousers – jeans or chinos work well. Never wear print on print.

To tuck or not to tuck


A side notch and squared off hem hint at how to wear your shirt.
Image source: Short sleeve linen-mix Shirt in blue from Samuel Windsor

Some short sleeved shirts are designed to be left untucked. These usually have a squared-off hem and a small notch in the sides, and make for a great casual weekend look. These shirts go perfectly with a pair of jeans, moleskin trousers or shorts.

If you favour a slimmer silhouette or a smarter look, you want a tuckable shirt. These are longer, with the tapered or rounded hems you usually see on formal shirts. Given the dressier vibe, these are best paired with chinos, and are ideal for an office setting.

If you’re going for the tucked look, be sure to have a good quality leather belt to match.

What to wear it with this summer

Linen-mix shirt in navy ship print from Samuel Windsor

A hat and pair of deck shoes are the perfect match for short sleeves
Image source: Linen-mix shirt in navy ship print from Samuel Windsor

Short sleeved shirts work best as a casual look, so there’s no need to over-accessorise – a set of timeless sunglasses should do the trick, along with a good pair of shoes.

Loafers or deck shoes should be a staple in every gentleman’s summer wardrobe, and are the perfect match for your chinos (or chino shorts) and short sleeved shirt.

Oh, and if you’re attending an event that calls for a tie, it’s a good indication that you should also be wearing long sleeves. Save your short sleeves for more casual occasions.

Posted in How To - Style.