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A Gentleman’s Guide to the Short-Sleeved Button-Down

  • Najib Benouar


First, the good news: it’s almost warm again.

And to aid the monumental wardrobe shift you’ll be undertaking over the next few weeks, we’d like to reintroduce you to an old acquaintance: the short-sleeved button down.

It’s the nerdy younger brother of the polo shirt, and a surprisingly difficult piece to pull off right. In theory, it’s your office-appropriate answer to summer’s unforgiving heat, but since too many gentlemen end up resembling Dwight Schrute, we thought we’d put together a modern guide to the S/S/B/D.

Go Patterned, and Go Big This is one time when it’s ok to pass over the classics in favor of a busier, more adventurous look. We’re thinking plaids, graphics, stripes—the larger the better. If you ever wanted to wear a shirt that looks like wallpaper, now’s the time. If you have to keep things solid, then go dark, but stay away from anything that you might wear under a suit. Patrik Ervell can get away with an unpatterned white model, but he might be the only one.

Mind Your Materials Naturally, you’ll want to keep it light. That means madras and linen, above all else, and favoring lighter blends like poplin over thicker oxford cloth. If it's that cold out, you'll stick with long sleeves, so don't buy anything you couldn't wear to the beach.

Keep It Close Fit’s always key, but for pulling off short sleeves in particular, you need to keep things snug. For shoulders, you want the seam hitting right where your arm begins. For sleeves, the cuff should fall right in the middle of your bicep. If it doesn’t fit, return it and find one that does. (Choosiness is next to godliness.) If you can get a tailor to dart the back for you, all the better.

And don't forget sunscreen.