Summer in the northern hemisphere can at best be described as fickle, but there are a few certainties. One you can bank on is that there will be at least one week during which you call the supermarket freezer aisle your second home while lamenting the lack of quality T-shirts in your wardrobe, having soaked through your entire stock by Thursday.
Perhaps, then, you’d like to take a moment to familiarise yourself with our round-up of the seven modern men’s T-shirt styles all well-dressed man should consider this season.
From linen types for blokes conscious of sweating their bits off, to all-over printed versions for the braver, more intrepid dressers out there. Here’s to a long, hot summer.
The Linen T-shirt
Good news: you don’t have to own a yacht and some boat shoes to pull off linen – though it wouldn’t do any harm. The key with this fabric is not to get too bogged down by associations with affluent dads who wear trousers made of the stuff to kick back on deck. Instead, focus on the fact that T-shirts crafted from linen (or cotton-linen blends) will keep you looking and feeling cool throughout the hotter months.
Lightweight, breathable and quick-drying, linen is a lifesaver for men prone to overheating and excessive sweating. Both designers and the high street offer strong options, all of which can be styled up relatively effortlessly, seeing as they typically come in low-key, neutral shades.
Opt for a style in white, stone or beige to maximise versatility. These colours can be slotted beneath lightweight blazers in navy, grey or khaki for a sharp smart-casual look.
Equally, linen T-shirts team just as easily on their own with jeans or chinos at the weekend. Or you can pair with some charcoal tailored shorts for an on-point holiday outfit that shows you’ve put a little more thought into your look than the rest of your mates.
The Bold Colour Crew Neck
From James Dean to David Beckham, Marlon Brando to Ryan Gosling, the ubiquitous white T-shirt has long prevailed as the go-to style for men. Nowadays, however, there are so many more options available that slinging on a simple crew neck with a pair of selvedge jeans and a leather biker jacket needn’t make you appear the same as every other guy replicating the look.
A block-colour T-shirt, in either a striking primary shade or pared-back pastel, is the easiest way to experiment with different hues, add a point of difference to a look and tie an outfit together.
Unless you play fast and loose with your cash or you have a dry cleaner on speed dial, there’s little point in investing in big ticket names for any shade that might show up a stain. Instead, head to the high street where the likes of Uniqlo, H&M and Marks & Spencer are all turning out examples packing technology that helps the tees retain their shape and colour all summer long.
At the other end of the scale, labels such as Sunspel and James Perse have redefined the premium T-shirt, producing it in luxurious, super-soft pima and sea island cottons that are worthy of their higher price tag.
The Longline T-Shirt
T-shirt hemlines have been heading south in recent years, as oversized skate-inspired fits jostled for rail space with the classic crew neck. While exploded proportions of near dress-length are more than a little ridiculous, alternative cuts are a good way to get involved with trends such as Kanye-approved reverse layering.
It didn’t take long after designers such as Craig Green and Jonathan Saunders began experimenting with sportier, streetwear tees in thigh-skimming lengths for the high street to follow suit. Now, Topman, River Island, ASOS, H&M and co. are home to some of the best drop-waisted examples on the market.
If looking to get in on this style, just make sure you buy a T-shirt designed to be worn as such rather than simply buying up a standard cut in a size or three too big which will make you look like, well, you bought a T-shirt a size or three too big.
For the best effect, team yours with slim-fit jeans to capitalise on the elongated silhouette it creates. (Avoid skinny cuts, which create a ‘lampshading’ effect akin to a Weeble Wobble.) Equally, throw one on under a cropped T-shirt or bomber in a contrasting colour for a fresh riff on lightweight layering.
The Short-Sleeved Henley T-shirt
Chances are, you probably already own a grandad collar shirt or a long-sleeved Henley top, both of which are sound investments, but their short-sleeved brethren is a damn sight more summer-appropriate. Stock your wardrobe with this style and you’ll nail casualwear in an instant.
Granted, the only men who can really get away with wearing a Henley in white or cream are those with a gym membership (and pecs to prove they use it), but there are plenty of black and navy versions for those carrying a little extra poundage, which look equally flattering when styled correctly.
Try wearing yours with slim-fit denim and desert boots for a masculine off-duty look, or with flat-fronted smart trousers and a lightweight blazer for a more upscale feel.
US brands James Perse and Club Monaco both produce some of the best Henleys on the market, but you can also find some decent, lower-priced options at Gap and Marks & Spencer if the thought of splurging on a shirt that will almost certainly make a date want to rip it off leaves you oddly cold.
The Knitted T-Shirt
One of the defining features of the T-shirt is its fuss-free construction – cut with the same fundamental design elements from a simple, breathable material like cotton or a cotton-jersey blend. But that’s not to say there isn’t room for a few upgrades.
The knitted T-shirt is a little more dressed up than your average cotton crew neck which, to be fair, has its roots in underwear. A knit offers a more premium take on the wardrobe workhorse.
Designed to offer added insulation without feeling bulky, most are made from weightier yet breathable loose-weave fabrics. This added heft makes the knitted T-shirt an ideal option for wearing tucked into tailored trousers or smartening up a pair of neatly cut shorts.
Elsewhere, sports brands knit their workout gear from performance-enhancing fabrics because the seamless construction prevents chafing and offers a greater range of movement.
The Printed T-Shirt
World-renowned Parisian label Givenchy carved itself a niche in recent seasons as a purveyor of powerful printed T-shirts. But if you’re not the kind of man who can afford to blow the average week’s wages on something you’ll spill ketchup on, then there are plenty of other digital prints on offer.
Hype, Ted Baker, Scotch & Soda, Zara and Stussy are just a few of the labels producing high-quality, soft cotton jersey T-shirts featuring summer-appropriate motifs each season, at much more affordable price points.
Although at first glance a printed T-shirt might seem like a headache to integrate into your existing wardrobe, doing so is actually surprisingly easy. Keep it cool by teaming with a pair of denim shorts or distressed jeans for a Cali slacker vibe, or smarten it up for the city by layering it under a dark, unstructured blazer.
When it comes to picking a design, all-over is the way to go this year – florals, geometrics, leopard and camouflage and all fair game, and each will help you stand apart from the guys who can’t bring themselves to leave the safety of Breton stripes.
The Logo T-Shirt
Before you call this out as the worst U-turn in style history, there is a marked difference between grown-up graphic T-shirts and the cringeworthy slogan types you’d expect to find on a lad’s holiday.
Partly as a result of the rising influence of skate culture and partly as an antidote to classic (read: occasionally boring) plain versions, low-key logos and motifs have begun to appear at every price point.
While tees featuring sleek photography and images of pop culture heroes can both get a pass if done right, to ensure maximum wearability, go for simple takes featuring brand names.
If you’re gunning to up your style credentials, seek out streetwear brands like Volcom, Stüssy, Supreme, Huf or Undefeated. Or for something that riffs on skatewear with a premium edge, look to Givenchy, Kenzo and A.P.C., which have all tried their hand at kickflip cool this season.