Every discerning gent’s repertoire should include a healthy shirting contingent. Endlessly versatile and oh-so-reliable, the shirt has been the bread and butter of the male wardrobe for centuries (since 3000BC, to be more accurate) – and that’s not going to change any time soon.
Stock up on the key shirting styles and you'll have all the bases covered – whether you're at the office, meeting mates at the pub or soaking up the sun on holiday. Not quite sure where to start? Scroll on for seven classic men's shirt styles you should have on rotation.
The camp collar shirt, also known as the Cuban collar shirt, is a shirt made for summer. Men’s camp collar shirts feature a relaxed cut, straight hem and are usually crafted using breathable and lightweight materials like cotton, rayon or linen. As the name suggests, the characteristic feature of this style is the collar. The Cuban collar, so named because of its affinity with warmer climates, is a deep collar that is allowed to fall freely on the shoulders.
As the Cuban collar shirt is a summer shirt through-and-through, it goes without saying that the patterned camp collar shirt is a winning option. This style is all about embracing the brighter colours and bolder patterns that summer allows, so look no further than Percival, whose patterned Cuban collar shirts are bursting with confidence. For something that makes less of a statement, a classic white camp collar shirt, like this cotton one from SIRPLUS, is perfect for styling with smarter ensembles: try a pair of leather loafers and linen trousers or linen shorts for a refined take on summer style.
Ever versatile, ultra comfy and ideal for layering, the easy-to-wear flannel shirt is a menswear classic for a reason. Frequently confused with plaid, flannel actually refers to the fabric rather than the pattern of a shirt. Flannel is a woven fabric that's typically made from cotton or wool and often brushed for a soft, almost fuzzy texture, although flannel shirts can also be unbrushed or brushed on only one side. Flannel shirts usually have a thicker weave than most other cotton shirts, making them ideal for the colder months.
The flannel shirt originated as a warm and durable workwear garment in 16th century Wales, before eventually becoming adopted by the likes of Kurt Cobain as a 90s grunge staple. Today, it's an everyday wardrobe hero beloved for its relaxed aesthetic and super soft feel. For fuss-free style that you'll rely on time and again, look to Portuguese label ISTO., which offers a range of perfectly understated organic cotton flannel shirts, from lightweight styles to more winter-ready heavyweight versions. A Day's March is another great go-to: its relaxed flannel shirts are ideal for throwing on over a tee and teaming with jeans and boots in the cooler months.
Denim is one of the most durable materials at our disposal, even in 2021. What’s more, it looks great. This must have been what the stylish Italian sailors of the 19th century thought when they decided to wear early versions of the material. When the material reached France, in particular the city of Nîmes, local manufacturers tried to recreate the style and strength of the material they had seen foreign sailors wearing. What came out was not what they had seen, but what we now know as denim – de Nîmes. The vast popularity of denim can be credited most surely to a man we've all heard of – Levi Strauss. Importing this wonder material to America began a style revolution that birthed the jeans, denim shirts and denim jackets that went on to shape popular culture forever.
Nowadays, the focus of men’s denim shirts is less to do with durability as it is to do with style. While the material remains innately durable and functional, the style has evolved to encompass slim-fit denim shirts and denim shirts of different colours. At OPUMO, you’ll find a range of denim shirts for men, which can be worn year round as lightweight spring jackets or layered under a sweater come winter-time. We recommend an inspection of ASKET's classic stone bleach and stone wash denim shirts, which are designed to exacting standards. For a denim shirt that can easily be dressed up with smart tailoring, turn to Luca Faloni: the renowned menswear brand produces an elegantly streamlined style using a premium cloth from the renowned Albini mill in Northern Italy.
The Oxford button down shirt takes its name from the Oxford cloth from which it’s cut – a thick, slightly textured basketweave fabric that offers more of a casual feel than most other types of dress shirts. First created in Scottish fabric mills in the 19th century, the Oxford shirt was originally adopted by polo players, who required a shirt with buttons to hold their collar in place while riding. This precipitated the advent of the button-down collar as we now know it.
Today, the Oxford button down is a versatile menswear staple that you most likely already have a few versions of in your wardrobe. It traditionally comes in hues of pale blue and white, but feel free to experiment with other colours like navy, forest green or khaki. For classic styles that strike the perfect balance between smart and casual, look to sustainable menswear brands About Companions or Unrecorded – both labels take an eco-friendly approach, using organic cotton for all their shirting.
The short-sleeved button-up shirt is one of the trickiest men's shirt styles to pull off. Although the style has seen a strong resurgence in recent seasons, there are some faux pas when it comes to styling men's short-sleeve shirts. One, for example, is tucking it in: no matter how stylish the shirt may be, without serious consideration the tuck can be damning for an outfit, so consider this move only if you need to adhere to a certain standard of formality.
Short-sleeve shirts are ideal for spring and summer because they afford the sophistication of a formal shirt while providing the breathability of a T-shirt. To escape any associations with sunburnt holidaymakers, avoid garish prints and opt for more understated styles with minimal detailing. Oliver Spencer has nailed low-key everyday elegance with its relaxed organic cotton waffle knit shirt, while Norse Projects keeps things classic with its subtly striped short-sleeved Oxford shirt – perfect for teaming with chino shorts and white leather sneakers.
With its natural breathable and moisture-wicking properties, linen makes for an excellent summer shirting fabric. Made from the fibres of the flax plant, it also happens to be a planet-friendly alternative to cotton, as it requires a whole lot less water to produce and its durability means it will stand the test of time. Well cared for, linen should last you a lifetime. And it will only get better with age.
The beauty of the linen shirt is its inherent versatility: it will serve you just as well on a sun-drenched holiday – teamed with swim shorts and espadrilles – as it will in the office, as part of a more polished look with tailored trousers and loafers. Avoid overly baggy styles and opt for linen shirts with slimmer, more tailored fits, which will allow for the natural stretch of the fabric while flattering the wearer. Specialising in linen clothing, Flax London makes some of the best linen shirts we've seen, with an offering that spans everything from grandad shirts to overshirts. The brand's emphasis is on sustainability and timeless design, so you can be guaranteed top notch craftsmanship. Another great brand to consider is Ripa Ripa, which captures a relaxed Mediterranean aesthetic with its luxurious Italian linen shirts. Its '60s-style Ischia shirt will take you effortlessly from beach to bar.
Occupying the space between a regular shirt and a lightweight summer jacket, overshirts are usually cut from slightly heavier fabrics than regular shirts. They also feature boxier cuts to allow them to be worn over the top of other layers. Given their origins are rooted in military clothing and workwear, overshirts are often cut from sturdy cotton twills or moleskines. Today, the popularity of the style means a range of fabric options are available — from linen to hopsack and wool.
If you’re looking for simple and versatile wardrobe additions that you'll rely on year-round, Forét's meticulously constructed overshirts are the way to go. The high-quality materials and contemporary tailoring cement the label as one of the leading names in Scandinavian style. Wax London is another one of our favourite brands championing the overshirt. Its bestselling Whiting style has garnered cult status thanks to its utilitarian-inspired aesthetic and easy-to-wear checks. Choose from over 35 different fabrics, including recycled cotton, linen and corduroy.
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