man wearing short sleeve button down - three quarters view

Summer is bullshit.

Let’s keep it one-hundred. If you’re not in 7th grade, living a block away from the beach, or ballin’ so hard that you can actually afford to chill on a Spanish beach for a couple of weeks, there’s really no good reason to look forward to the three months of hell that precede fall. For those of us on the other side of puberty or whose money isn’t quite that long yet, the only liquid we’ll be bathing in this summer is our own sweat.

The worst thing about summer, probably, is that the heat and humidity dictate the kinds of clothes of you can wear. Face it — if you could, you’d walk around in boxers and a tank all day long if you could swing it. Alas, you’d probably lose your job and girlfriend and all manner of social cred if you started rocking the unemployed-dad look. And sometimes, no matter how easy they are to throw on and how comfortable they feel, t-shirts and shorts don’t cut it. Not at work, not on dates, and not anywhere you’re expected to look like an adult.

But you can still channel that casual vibe, come across sharp, and keep your important man-parts cool and aerated without dressing like you’re on your way to a black-tie gala. The answer lies in the short-sleeve button-down and the similarly-proportioned popover shirt.

Now, there are people in the world of men’s fashions who would say that short-sleeve shirts are decidedly casual and would firmly group them with tanks and t-shirts when it comes to dressiness, but we’re here to tell them that they’re sadly living in the past. Paired with the right blazer or sport coat, a short-sleeve button-down or popover can look classy as f*ck.

ss_button_03_640The important thing to remember is that proper fit is the single most important factor that decides what looks “casual” and what looks “dressy.” Take a look at this guy. By the looks of his surroundings, he’s somewhere hot right now. Maybe he’s on the way to a meeting in the desert or something, so he smartly opts for a short-sleeve button-down. That’s where he quits being smart and starts f*cking up, though. First, his sleeves are way too big. There’s too much fabric, so it looks like his arms are drowning in an ocean, and the sleeves themselves are too long, nearly coming down to his elbows. Second, the shirt is oversized — you can tell by how loose the fabric looks around his torso is, how the shirt’s shoulders don’t seem to match up with the man’s actual shoulders, and how far the tail of the shirt extends down the front of his pants. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t take this guy too seriously if he showed up to a meeting in this kind of shirt. Hell, I wouldn’t take him seriously if he showed up to a BBQ wearing something like this. It just doesn’t do any favors for his look, and makes him look bigger than he actually is — but not in a good way.

657-Just-A-Cheap-Shirt-men-s-indigo-and-white-anchor-print-Budapest-short-sleeve-button-down-shirt-1What he needed to be doing — and what you need to be doing too, if you want to wear a short-sleeve button-down the way it’s meant to be worn — is take a page from this guy’s book. This guy’s shirt fits him perfectly, especially in the sleeves. All that extra fabric is gone, so it accentuates the muscle tone he has and gives the illusion that he’s bursting out of his seams. The sleeves also only come down halfway down his bicep, again helping draw focus to his arms and shoulders in a positive way. (Even if a pair of chopsticks have more muscle tone than you do, a fitted sleeve will help hide that.) Likewise, the slimmer fit in the torso makes him look compact without looking like he had to lube himself up to get the damn shirt on. The length of the shirt is also spot-on, since it looks like it comes just to the middle of the zipper. That’s the sweet spot; any higher looks too casual and will ride up during your normal range of motion, and anything below the zipper will give it that oversized, ill-fitting look. All you need to do is button the collar and grab a decent coat, and this baby’s ready for business or pleasure.

A1770_WT0002_mThe same kind of styling goes for the popover shirt, which is like a polo shirt that wanted to go the entire way and be a button-down shirt, but pussied out halfway through. Fitted, shorter sleeves, slim torso, and a length that falls halfway down the zipper on the pants are what you need to be aiming for. Personally, I think that popover shirts are more comfortable (they usually come in softer fabrics), but they lack the structure that a button-down shirt provides all the way down the torso. So they can cling to problem areas in your torso, if you’re not careful. But, then again, it’s doubtful that people will even be paying attention to them anyways. They’ll be be too busy wiping the blood from their faces as you murder the fashion game right in front of their eyes.

If you have any questions, or want to share some of your own style tips, let me know in the comments below!

By: Dar Azimi