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T-shirts and polos

The five summer shirts every man needs

The five summer shirts every man needs

You don’t need us to sing the praises of a button-up shirt – chances are, you’re probably wearing one right now. They are the answer to most of life’s sartorial questions, and so it’s little wonder that we can fall into a rut of wearing Oxfords back to back.

But summer’s almost here and with it, the chance to push the boat out a little. It’s the only time of year when you can reliably get away without wearing a jumper or a coat, so let your top do more of the talking. In fact, make your top half the conversation starter.

To help us find the ‘top of the tops’, if you will, we asked Thread stylist Luke McDonald for his five favourite options. These shirts will see you through every summer occasion from a pool party to a cocktail event. Think of them as your building blocks, helping you to create a great outfit at a moment’s notice.

The camp collar shirt


What is it? A short-sleeved, button-front shirt with a collar that sits flat against the skin. Think of a bowling or Hawaiian shirt and you’re there.

Why we love it: “The biggest trend of recent years and a really good alternative to the polo shirt, a camp collar shirt in a plain colour or simple pattern gives you a sophisticated 1950s holiday style,” says Luke. “If you want to have more fun with it then there are countless heavily printed versions.”

The pique polo


Photographed: Lacoste Classic L12.12 Polo ($111)

What is it? A polo shirt with a textured, waffle weave look.

Why we love it: “The polo has been a classic ever since its invention by Henri Lacoste in the early 20th century,” says Luke. “It’s sporty, easy-to-wear and slightly smart. I would suggest sticking with solid colours and classic makers like Lacoste, Fred Perry, Sunspel, and Polo Ralph Lauren.

The linen shirt


What is it? A long-sleeved, button-front shirt made from the fibres of the flax plant.

Why we love it: “Linen shirts are a summer classic because of their breathability, but they have had something of an old-man reputation,” says Luke. “In fairness, the designs you usually see in white with loose cuts are a bit ‘Richard Branson on holiday’. Get around this by trying something in a more daring colour or style, like this grandad-collar model from English brand Wax. After all, it’s the fabric you are after for its loose weave and cooling properties.”

The Breton


What is it? A casual striped top, usually white with narrow horizontal blue stripes.

Why we love it: “A Breton is a year-round top and a great basic to have, but it really comes into its own in the summer,” says Luke. “The boatneck and bold stripes scream ‘seaside’. Pair it with a pair of chinos and white canvas trainers for a super classic but elegant summer look.”

The tee


Photographed: Reiss Heath Garment Dyed T-Shirt ($24)

What is it? A short-sleeved casual top with the shape of the letter T when laid out.

Why we love it: “A t-shirt is probably the workhorse for most people’s summer wardrobe,” says Luke. “It’s by far the easiest to wear, but I would especially recommend garment-dyed styles like this tee from Reiss. Garment dyeing means that they’ve dyed the finished garment as opposed to the cloth, which gives it a slightly uneven, worn finish and muted colouring. It also means it won’t shrink, making it the perfect ‘broken-in’ summer t-shirt option.”

Words: Theresa Harold
Illustration: Kelly Satchell