The Coolest Cuban Collar Shirts For Spring/Summer 2023
If you’re not already on the Cuban collar shirt bandwagon, where have you been? Having transitioned from a design you’d only find in thrift stores to a bonafide wardrobe staple, this simple shirt style might be the summer piece you’ve been missing.
Easy to wear, comfortable, and smart without being stuffy… it ticks all the boxes. But how should it fit, what fabrics should you go for and which brands are making the best Cuban collar shirt this season? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a Cuban collar shirt?
Unsurprisingly, a Cuban collar shirt is differentiated by the style of its collar. It boasts a unique open neck with a notch-lapel like collar that spreads open, unlike regular shirt collars that are designed to be buttoned up.
Its collar is often given different names, including ‘camp’ or ‘resort’, but the design remains the same. Thinking about it, ‘resort’ might make the most sense, as the style was originally intended for wearing in warm weather due to its open neck, relaxed cut and short sleeves. Don’t get it twisted though, this is a staple that can be worn year round, especially as many labels are producing long-sleeved versions these days.
Why you need a Cuban collar shirt
Cuban collar shirts often have a throwback feel as they were incredibly popular during the mid century. They were widely favoured, alongside polo shirts, as a relaxed alternative to the traditional collared shirt, often worn on holiday or on weekends where men required something more laid back than their regular 9-5 wardrobe could offer.
Today they remain a great option for spring and summer as they’re comfortable, easy to style and incredibly adaptable. They can be worn just as well with drawstring shorts as they can under an unstructured suit, making them a worthy investment for anyone looking to up their warm-weather wardrobe. They’re sort of the ideal in between shirt – smarter than a tee or polo, but more casual than a traditional collared shirt, so if you’re looking to bolster your smart casual attire, there could be no better option than the Cuban collar shirt.
Cuban collar shirt buying considerations
How a Cuban collar shirt should fit
Cuban collar shirts should fit on the more relaxed end of the spectrum. They’re look their best when worn untucked, so the waist of the shirt needs to be boxy enough to sit clean and straight, allowing some much needed air circulation.
However, if you intend to wear them tucked into trousers (a modern style move), then you should aim for a laid-back cut with plenty of room through the chest and shoulders. This is so when you tuck it into your waistband it doesn’t cling too tightly to your body, defeating the point of this hot-weather piece.
As a rule of thumb, the hem should generally finish at the waist, while the arms should end at the bicep for short sleeves, and just before the wrist for long sleeves.
Cuban collar shirt fabric options
Fabric choice can quickly change the look and feel of your Cuban collar shirt. And because they’re most suited for spring/summer wear, you’re likely to find them in suitably lightweight fabrics.
A textured cotton or pique fabric is arguably be the most versatile option and can easily be dressed up or down, but linen shouldn’t be discounted either. A linen Cuban collar shirt might be the ultimate vacation top, especially when finished with a chest pocket, which is perfect for storing your sunglasses when indoors. As always, it’s worth noting that linen creases incredibly easy, so if you’re not prepared to embrace the full rumpled charm of the fabric (which you should, btw), look to cotton-blends instead which offer the best of both worlds.
Alternatively, you might want to consider a tencel or lyocell fabric. Usually made from wood, lyocell has an almost silk-like quality that gives shirting a lightweight, floaty feel. Just as breathable and lightweight as linen, this fabric takes colour and print especially well, making it ideal if you’re looking for a statement summer shirt.
Cuban collar shirt colours & patterns
Its status as a modern-day warm-weather essential means the Cuban collar is often available in bright colours and patterns. It can be ideal then if you want to spice up your monotone looks, or if you’re already a fully-fledged adopter of brighter tones.
These days, your options are endless: you can find Cuban collars in stripes, checks, textured weaves and, of course, solid shades ranging from bright primary shades through subtle pastel hues.
Classic Hawaiian shirts have always featured Cuban collars, so for the ultimate in statement shirting, that’s a route you shouldn’t be afraid to go down. For something more understated, consider a seersucker stripe or panelled shirt, which channels some retro Jet Set charm without looking as though you’re playing dress up.
Recommended Cuban collar shirt brands
Below you’ll find the brands and designers we consider to be making the most stylish Cuban collar shirts for spring/summer 2023. Combining modern design with high-quality materials while offering great value for money, you won’t go wrong no matter who you choose.
While it does a fine line in muted pieces that’ll form the backbone of any modern minimalist wardrobe, London-based brand Percival is at its best when it pushes design boundaries.
Its Cuban collar shirts are available in a wide range of fabrics and colours, from sage linen through to embroidered tapestry styles, as well as its knitted designs which are favoured by everyone from Alex Turner to David Beckham.
For an unrivalled selection of easy-to-wear, affordable Cuban collar shirts, Uniqlo is hard to beat. Often featuring prominently in the brand’s seasonal collection, expect to find a range of fits – from relaxed to tailored – in solid, muted shades, from navy and white through to green and salmon pink. Stock up.
Acclaimed British brand Universal Works is always on our radar for its utilitarian-inspired designs, which are as practical as they are stylish. But its fabric choices are also second to none.
For its Cuban collar shirts line you can expect all manner of interesting materials, from classic Oxford cotton to beach-ready Terry towelling and seersucker.
When it comes to wardrobe essentials, Reiss is continues to get it right. The British retail stalwart is renowned for its well-made, directional takes on classic menswear pieces, and its Cuban collar shirts are no exception.
It was one of the first companies to push the style in the 2010s before the rest of the market cottoned on, and it continues to be a market leader today. It’s worth noting Reiss shirts often fit on the slim side, so size up if you want something more relaxed.
Folk’s minimal designs are well loved by those who value good quality, practical style. But, every now and then the brand throws in a stylish curveball, updating classic pieces in new fabrics or artist-designed prints.
Look out for the latter within its Cuban collar shirts collection, which often come in vibrant but surprisingly versatile prints that work particularly well with chinos and Derby shoes or shorts and loafers.
At the more minimal end of the market is COS, which has built a loyal following with men who value simple, understated style. Therefore, expect to find Cuban collar shirts in classic, versatile neutrals like black, navy and beige.
Where COS does tend experiment though is with its fit, so if you’re after something relaxed and oversized then look no further.
British heritage brand Sunspel has a long history of producing the finest T-shirts and boxer shorts known to man, but its shirt offering is equally impressive.
Look out for its Cuban collar shirts cut from its signature polo shirt cotton (the same polo shirt a certain 007 wears), which boasts a distinctive, tactile woven texture designed to stand out in a more refined way.
Portuguese brand ISTO prides itself on its sustainable production methods, and unlike many brands, is open about the manufacturing cost of each of its garments.
Its shirt offering is particularly impressive, with its Cuban collars coming in tailored fits and cut from premium breathable fabrics including lightweight seersucker cotton.
J.Crew is well known for its preppy-inspired designs, which borrow from America’s rich history of sportswear and collegiate style. Its Cuban collars will therefore slot effortlessly into any smart casual wardrobe and make for the perfect, slightly chicer alternative to casual polos or tees.
If you’re looking to overhaul your short-sleeved shirt rotation, Portuguese Flannel might be the only brand you need to visit. It stocks everything from classic button-downs to lightweight linen shirts, and of course Cuban collars.
Cut in flattering relaxed fits from a range of high-end fabrics including cotton twill and silky viscose, there’s a design for every type of dresser.