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How to make short sleeves work for business

13 May, 2015 | Savile Row
Summer is around the corner and you care about your professional image. A lot. The question is: can you wear short sleeve shirts to work on hot days? And if so, how? The short answer to the first question is yes. Yes, in all smart-casual working environments. But if you work somewhere with a rigid, super-formal dress code, where suits are de rigeur, it’s almost certainly no. (More about that in a minute!)

In smart-casual working environments

The short-sleeve shirt is now your ideal weapon for fighting the heat while looking perfectly ‘put together’ in the office. Much smarter than a polo shirt, much more comfortable than rolling up your sleeves – and, you’ve got it, bang on trend.

‘Twas not ever thus!

For many years, all the smartest, most style-conscious dressers steered clear of short sleeve dress shirts. They were fine for 1960s NASA engineers. And short sleeves were fine for the casual shirts you relaxed in at the weekend. But they weren’t for professionals. Whatever the weather. But the pendulum has swung. And now the fashion pundits are singing the praises of this ‘cool’ and practical garment. To quote esteemed Esquire, for example: ‘the short-sleeve button-up shirt … is indeed a menswear staple that's crucial to many looks, as well as an item that should be in every man's wardrobe.’

Looking professional in short sleeves is all down to…

Well, as all fans of the beloved TV series, ‘The Office’ know, it’s about achieving the antithesis of the Dwight Schrute look! Which is all about fit, colour, collar … and never, ever pairing your short-sleeve shirt with a tie. OK, there is one small exception to that rule, but we’ll come to that later. Fit Shirt fit is always important. The temptation for many men is to err on the loose side. Don’t! Especially with short sleeve shirts. You want to create a sleek profile. The ideal is for the fit of the shirt to match the fit of your trousers. It should be close-fitting, but not tight, so that nothing creases or pulls – even if you move your arms around more than you usually would in the course of a working day! A good fit on the shoulders is essential so that the sleeves sit well. The sleeves themselves should be neatly shaped. Nothing too wide, as they’ll interfere with that sleek profile. And they should stop just short of your elbow. Last but not least, short-sleeve shirts must be long enough to tuck into your trousers. Casual short sleeved shirts can be worn untucked. Business ones must be tucked in. Always. inthext_blue Colour If you’re choosing your first short-sleeve shirts for work, you might like to start with the colours and weaves you usually choose for your business shirts – the ones which you know suit you best. Maybe whites, blues and pinks in plain poplin and herringbone weaves or subtle checks and stripes. How to make short sleeves work for business Fine checks in stronger colours like red, purple, green and navy make for stylish pairing with dark chinos.And brighter, bolder, more casual checks and stripes are brilliant for the most dressed-down of work days. How to make short sleeves work for business Collar As you won’t be wearing a tie, the style of collar you choose has a big impact on the effect you create. You can’t beat button-downs for a neat, preppy look. Cutaway collars make for a clean, unfussy look. The choice is yours. inthext_collars Ties

There’s something incongruous about the formality of the tie and the informality of the short sleeve. Sticking with the open-neck button-down collar is the way to go. 


Strictly speaking, short sleeve shirts don’t pair with formal suits because of that tiny little flash of shirt cuff that you want to show at your wrists. And that’s why we said at the outset that short-sleeved shirts don’t have a place in more formal work environments. It’s one of those little details that just makes your outfit work. But it is a detail. And once in a while you may feel that your comfort is more important. If you do, this may be the exception to the no-tie-with-a-short-sleeve-shirt rule. Just remember to take the tie off if you remove your jacket!

And there you have it…

Interestingly, the short-sleeve shirt debate has never been anything to do with how much flesh is on view … It’s a very far cry from shorts versus long trousers! And rolling up one’s sleeves, and thereby revealing your forearms, has positively positive connotations of getting down to work. It’s a matter of style. Get the fit, colour, collar right and you’ll have your hot-weather smart-casual work shirts nailed in style! You can check out the full range of our short-sleeve work shirts here. Wishing you a cool summer! *Not all of these items are now in stock*
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