Rarely has a genre of garment inspired such polarizing debate as the men’s short-sleeved button-up. They seem nearly impossible to wear correctly, leading some to assume cropped sleeves with a collar were never stylish to begin with. Not so. Savvy designers have raised the shirt from the depths of dorkiness and added on-trend fits, fabrics and fits, meaning you can breathe a sigh of relief and stop dealing with those sweaty shirtsleeves. Summer’s back, and so is the button-up tee.
The updated short-sleeved button-up
Hawaiian prints are fast overtaking more basic florals as this summer’s go-to print, meaning they’re an on-point way to elevate your average short-sleeve. Get with the times and pick up this island-inspired jungle print shirt ($130) from Club Monaco, whose versatile black base colour makes it equal parts non-contentious statement piece for first-timers and a way for expert dressers to assert their dominance. Lightweight Japanese linen construction will ensure that you don’t overheat, and the slim silhouette all the way through the sleeves is a must for anyone trying to pull one of these off the right way.
The rocker look that deserves a salute
Short-sleeves are avoided by rookies and veterans alike, and with good reason: they carry a lot of baggage, namely a Revenge of the Nerds vibe. A classic military look will take care of that. This rebellious embroidered tee ($60) from Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply won’t get you confused for the IT guy and will keep you cool, at that. Lightweight cotton twill is breathable but sturdy, so feel free to bang it up a bit. It adds character.
The one you can actually wear a tie with
Finding a short-sleeved shirt fit for a formal occasion like an outdoor wedding can be like looking for your car keys on a sandy beach—close to impossible. That’s because many short-sleeves are sized generously, making it hard to find a shirt that fits well around the chest and still buttons up to the collar. Enter the Slim Jim shirt ($84) from Mr. Turk, which fits snugly and even has a collar constructed wide enough to support a tie. The tail length is spot on, too, ensuring that your shirt always stays tucked. The ribbed cotton poplin material makes it less sheer than the typical white shirt, a bonus on a hot day.
The shirt that wins at layering
Nothing says west coast cool quite like a lightweight short-sleeve with a tank underneath, which is why we travel to Saturdays New York for the perfect layering shirt (makes sense, right?). The Esquina twin stripe shirt’s ($108) extra-wide nautical stripes leave you the option of wearing practically any shirt with a tighter design underneath, making mixing patterns less of a bold risk. We recommend a tank top in fine polka dots, florals, or a retro screen print, like this logo tank ($55) from Aviator Nation.
The convertible shirt for the everyman
If you need to be a style chameleon for a night, be prepared for anything with a fresh, check-printed roll-sleeve shirt ($63) from Scotch & Soda that matches well with your summer denim. Tabs on the inside of the sleeves attach to buttons at the shoulders, giving you the freedom to exercise your right to bare arms out on the patio without over- or under-rolling. Then when the sun sets, you’re just one snap away from continuing your night unabated when things cool down and its time to light the beach bonfire.