The Best Men’s Summer Shirts: Key Styles & Hottest Brands For 2023
Say goodbye to sweat patches with some stylish, seasonally-appropriate shirting.
Fewer things sap sartorial mojo faster than a big ol’ set of sweat patches making their presence known. It’s one of summer’s most embarrassing downsides, and even if you don’t notice it, chances are whoever you’re talking to will.
Thankfully, stopping sweat patches dead in their salty tracks is as simple as selecting the right button-up for the weather. The best men’s summer shirts are built for boiling temperatures. They’re light, they’re breathable, they’re comfortable, they’re quick drying, and they’re often cut from colourful fabrics or adorned with tropical prints.
If you want to tackle summer in style, it’s imperative to have at least a small selection of them to fall back on. But picking a good summer shirt isn’t necessarily as simple as it might seem. There are countless fabric options, designs to choose from and brands vying for your cash, which can make things quite confusing.
This in-depth guide aims to streamline the process of picking a men’s summer shirt. If you’re unsure about materials, cautious about experimenting with colours and patterns, or simply overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options, you’ve come to the right place.
Keep scrolling for a comprehensive overview of the whats, whys and hows, as well as a no-filler list of the best summer-shirt brands to shop in 2023.
What makes a good summer shirt?
Fabric is arguably the most important thing about any shirt, summer or otherwise. A shirt’s material dictates everything about the garment, from how breathable it is to how it drapes on the body.
Broadly speaking, summer shirt fabrics need to be light, breathable and quick drying. This combination of qualities will keep you comfortable, cool and sweat-free even in hot weather.
If it’s thick and heavy, it’s no good. Instead, look to materials like linen, seersucker, Tencel and fine-weave cotton fabrics like twill and poplin.
Fit is somewhat subjective. Everyone likes their shirts to hang a little differently, but there are some rules that apply across the board.
Regardless of season, a shirt should sit nicely on the shoulders. That means the seams where the arms join the torso should line up with the curve where your arm joins your body. The only exception to this is if the shirt is deliberately oversized.
Most of the time, it’s good to buy shirts that are relatively fitted and form hugging, but in warmer weather it’s wise to opt for something a little looser. This will leave more room for air to circulate, which in theory should keep you sweat free and cooler.
The warmer months offer the perfect time to introduce some colour to your wardrobe, and a shirt is the ideal vehicle for this. Lighter shades are great at reflecting the heat to keep you cool, which makes white a popular choice that every man looks good in.
Powdery pastel shades can do a similar job, or you could go all out and experiment with a bold block colour instead.
If you decide to do the latter, opt for bright, summery tones and keep the rest of your outfit’s palette muted. And, no matter which way you go, be sure to always keep your skin tone in mind.
If there’s any one garment that’s born to be patterned, it’s a summer shirt. If you’re the type of guy who usually avoids anything overly eye-catching, now’s the time to broaden your sartorial horizons and bring some pattern into your life.
Floral and tropical prints are what most people first think of when they hear ‘summer shirts’, but there are all sorts of weird and wonderful options to experiment with.
You could go for something simple and easy to pull off like a wide vertical stripe, or look to turn some heads with a full-scale, all-over image.
Key men’s summer shirt styles
You can spot a Cuban collar shirt by looking at – you guessed it – the collar. On a regular shirt, the collar stands up from the neckline and folds over on itself. A Cuban collar is different in that it lies flat against the body.
It’s sometimes referred to as an ‘open’ collar or a ‘spread’ collar due to the fact that it leaves more of the chest exposed than a classic collar. This is also the reason why it’s such a popular choice for summer.
A Hawaiian shirt can be identified by its loose fit and intricate print. These prints are often floral or tropical in their design, but they can depict almost anything so long as it’s bright and colourful. They’re usually short-sleeved and can have either a classic collar or a Cuban collar.
They get their name from the fact that they allegedly originate in Hawaii, where they were first made by local Japanese seamstresses using offcuts of kimono fabric.
Towelling is somewhat thick and fuzzy, which doesn’t make it an obvious choice when you’re looking to keep your cool, but it’s also extremely absorbent.
This key detail means it’s been picked up by luxury resortwear brands looking to make clothes that can be thrown on right after a day at the beach or round the pool.
These types of shirts are almost always short sleeved and tend to feature open collars to make them extra summery.
Classic short sleeve
Cuban collar shirts have reigned supreme for several years now, but classic collars are on the rise. These are the types of collars commonly found on regular casual and dress shirts, so a classic short-sleeve shirt is basically one of those with the sleeves cut just above the elbows.
If you don’t fancy dabbling in strange materials or unconventional designs, something like a simple short-sleeved Oxford will probably be just the sort of thing you’re after.
A knitted shirt offers a quirky throwback alternative to a classic short-sleeve shirt. It’s stretchy, comfortable, textured and can even be more breathable than standard cotton.
For bonus points, look for one with a retro 70s pattern or colour scheme.
Wearing a shirt in hot weather can be uncomfortable, but not if it’s made from linen. This lightweight, highly breathable fabric is airy and cooling, and it has a natural ability to wick moisture away from the skin.
For these reasons, it’s been the go-to material for clothing in hot countries for thousands of years, and in that sense things are no different today.
Seersucker is another lightweight breathable fabric that’s made for warm weather.
It has a unique weave that gives it a distinctive ‘puckered’ appearance, which not only aids airflow by keeping it away from the skin, but makes it great for adding a touch of texture to summer outfits too.
Madras is a lightweight cotton fabric that often features colourful plaid motifs in summery pastel shades.
These patterns are usually much lighter, brighter and more vibrant than traditional tartans for example, often featuring pinks, yellows, greens and oranges… sometimes all at the same time.
Everybody loves denim, but it can be a bit too heavy and hot for summer wear. This is where chambray comes in.
Chambray is created with a plain weave as opposed to denim’s twill weave, but it still adheres to the same principle of using alternating blue and white yarns. This gives it the same textured appearance that denim is known for, but with a much lighter, softer feel and breathability that makes it better suited to warm weather.
The best men’s summer shirt brands
Refined basics is the name of the game over at ASKET. The Swedish brand has spent years taking those building-block garments that form the backbone of your wardrobe and getting the fit, quality and details dialled in to make them just right.
In terms of summer shirts, don’t expect any outrageous patterns or flamboyant designs. But if what you’re after are simple, versatile garments you’ll be reaching for for years to come then there are few better brands to shop.
Dressing well doesn’t have to stop at the boardwalk down to the beach or the entrance to the pool. That’s the thinking behind premium resortwear label Vilebrequin anyway.
The French luxury brand specialises in upscale swimwear, but the summer-ready range also includes a healthy selection of shirts, spanning everything from lightweight linen long-sleeves to patterned Cuban collars.
Oh, and they’re all made using beach-friendly fabrics like voile and linen.
The ‘NN’ in NN07 stands for ‘No Nationality’, but we’ll let you in on a secret: the brand is from Denmark.
It’s actually not that hard to work out given its minimalist approach to design, clean lines and lack of obnoxious detail or branding.
Shirts are one of the things this label does best, and the breezy summer options are a case in point.
British brand L’Estrange takes the essentials and refines them to the nth degree. These are elevated basics that do more and go further. Ultimately, what this means is that you get more wear for your money.
The label’s All-Day Linen Shirt is available in a small selection of versatile, muted colours that’ll go with everything and keep you looking sharp through summer and beyond.
If you want the best garments in the world, you don’t go to the big-name brands, you go to Italy’s local artisans – the makers who have been honing their skills and producing in small batches for decades… often even longer.
Luca Faloni is on a mission to bring this local Italian craftsmanship to a wider audience, making the country’s incredible garments accessible to a global audience.
One of its specialities is linen, so be sure to check out the breezy selection of lightweight summer shirts.
If you like that effortlessly stylish Mediterranean aesthetic then you should check out Aurélien for your summer shirting needs.
This direct-to-consumer brand works with the best European makers to bring you high-end garments at what it calls ‘elegant prices’. What does that mean exactly? Your guess is as good as ours. It certainly doesn’t mean they’re cheap, but what we will say is that they’re still a lot more affordable than the majority of ‘quiet luxury’ brands.
If you’re into labels like Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli but don’t fancy bankrupting yourself in the name of fashion, a nice linen shirt from Aurelien is an excellent alternative.
In case you didn’t know, linen comes from the flax plant. That’s why this london-based label named itself in its honour.
Flax London uses Belgian and Irish linen to make a range of stylish garments, including some rather lovely shirts.
The linen smocks are a particular highlight. They’re pullover alternatives to more traditional summer button-ups, making them perfect for those seeking something a little bit different.
You don’t have to empty your bank account in order to get a great-looking summer shirt that fits like a glove and will last you many seasons. You could just go to Uniqlo instead.
The Japanese retailer has some great linen options available, with a choice of muted pastel colours and prices that allow you to stock up.
Portugal is arguably the European capital of textiles, crafting some of the best garments on the continent for many leading brands. It’s also home to Portuguese Flannel: a shirting brand first and foremost that specialises in quality, comfort and casual style.
Don’t be fooled by the name though, while they are Portuguese these shirts are actually made from all sorts of materials, including summer-appropriate fabrics like linen and seersucker.
Gitman Bros. has been active in the USA shirting market since 1978, and the Gitman Vintage line draws inspiration from the brand’s archives.
There are some great summer patterns on offer, ranging from tasteful two-tone florals to outrageous all-over prints in every colour of the rainbow.
Design aside, they’re all united by their quality and the fact that each one is proudly made in the company’s Tennessee factory.
With its perpetual greyness and frequent rain, the UK may not seem like an obvious place for a luxury swimwear brand to spring up, but that’s where Orlebar Brown is from and it’s one of the best in the business.
The label built its reputation on the back of its (superb) tailored swim shorts, but it has since evolved into a full-fledged resortwear label that produces an entire range of beach-ready garments, including summer shirts.
Expect high quality, tasteful designs and precision fits across the board.
Another high-end resortwear label well worth a look for summer shirts is Frescobol Carioca. This Brazilian brand makes some of the nicest swimwear and warm-weather button-ups on the market, and we’re particularly fond of the silk short-sleeve designs.
OK, these are luxury shirts, so they’re not the cheapest, but if you’re prepared to spend the extra cash then you will not be disappointed.
British label Sunspel makes some of the finest wardrobe staples in the game. So good, in fact, that they’ve been worn by James Bond himself, as well as countless other celebs and stylish public figures.
There are plenty of fuss-free short-sleeve shirts to pick from, spanning patterned, plain, Cuban collars, linen and everything in between.
Onia creates clothing almost exclusively for warm weather, which is evident in its selection of shirts.
Here you’ll find everything from retro knitted button-ups to breezy viscose Cuban collars and everything in between.
There’s plenty of patterned options too, if you’re that way inclined.
A Hawaiian shirt is arguably the ultimate summer shirt. It’s bright, playful, breezy and loose fitting, and Go Barefoot is one of the last remaining OG Hawaiian labels still making them today.
If you’re looking for muted and understated, this isn’t the brand for you. But if you want to turn some heads at your next BBQ then there are few better equipped to deliver the goods.
Endless Joy makes premium short-sleeve shirts printed with intricate and often dark imagery inspired by Balinese mythology.
These aren’t your typical patterned summer shirts, but they’re perfect for anyone who wants to dabble in prints and stand out among the sea of stripes, spots and florals.