The summer shirt. Is there an item more timeless, more wearable, more versatile? I’ve lost count of the number of shirts I own because many have been part of my repertoire for well over a decade.
The beauty of a shirt lies in its ability to be both practical and polished, pulled together yet entirely effortless. It’s the ultimate staple. Suffice to say, every wardrobe needs several.
From the short-sleeved linen style – think Talented Mr Ripley – to the classic oversized silhouette, the slinky, silky shirt, to the ultimate statement style, the shirt can be worn myriad ways. Build your summer wardrobe with these five styles.
How to find the perfect oversized shirt
First up, the oversized shirt. The classic shirt, scaled up. Think roughly one clothes size of extra space – you’re aiming for lines that skim away from you, without being too big in the shoulder.
I love classic white but a stripe, blue or pastel are all great options here.
In terms of styling, wear it untucked over wide-leg jeans and espadrilles, or tuck the front into a midi skirt, back left billowing. I’d recommend also trying the ‘editors half-tuck’ – one side tucked, the other left loose – instant nonchalance.
COS and H&M both have perfect silhouettes that come in multiple colours. The cotton will soften over time and when it loses its work-day crispness it will morph into the perfect swimwear cover-up.
How to nail the short-sleeved shirt
Lopped-off sleeves and a lapel collar, the short-sleeved shirt is worth your time this summer (and next).
The key here is boxy – and a little cropped, if you’re feeling brave. Linen is a great pick as it’s so versatile and gets away without an iron (happy days) – see Uniqlo’s in multiple colours.
A short-sleeve silhouette is the ultimate summer style, so have fun with it – pick a bold colour, or hunt down a print – this Gucci-esque style from Arket comes with co-ord shorts – a dreamy summer duo.
I love a short-sleeved shirt paired with a midi skirt – add chunky sandals to toughen up the look. Or try it unbuttoned over a slip dress with oversized sunglasses and your favourite basket bag.
Why every wardrobe needs a denim shirt
The denim shirt really comes into its own in the summer. I have an oversized vintage Levi’s style I inherited from my mum – with double front pockets hinting at its wild west origins and chunky cuffs to roll back, it’s the dream.
Pair with cut-off shorts and Birkenstocks for park picnics and beach trips, swapping for a tailored pair and loafers for a summer meeting or after-work drinks.
And don’t be scared of double denim as the Canadian tuxedo is sliding back into style. The trick is to find a denim that’s weighty enough to wear as a shacket and the style will bring edge (and an often a much-needed layer, this being England) to strappy dresses. This Mango one ticks all my boxes.
How to style the silky shirt
Tucked into denim or slinking over wafty wide-leg trousers, the silky style is the cotton shirt’s sophisticated sibling. By night, it comes into its own – casual enough for the pub (buttoned to the top, with statement earrings), dressed up enough for that hot date (unbuttoned with layers of necklaces), you really can take this one anywhere.
Trust Zara to nail the silhouette – open collar, fluid satin, chunky cuff – and then deliver it in a selection of summer’s best shades. I’ll take the hot pink with denim, oyster white for work meetings, and the emerald green with white linen for my (currently imaginary) summer holiday.
Don’t be scared of a statement-collar shirt
Supersize the collar, add some frills, throw in a print – it is, of course, the statement collar shirt. On the scene since that Ganni shirt back in 2020, this vintage-inspired piece has fast become an icon, with the high street quickly spinning out numerous versions of the style. The beauty of the statement collar is it instantly luxes up your look.
On warmer days, pair it with understated separates – think crisply tailored shorts or a wrap skirt – the shirt, after all, makes its own statement.
And when the mercury drops? Add a sweater, keep the collar. ASOS and Very both have multiple printed versions with different collar details – from gathered ruffles to statement piping. I particularly love the V-neck detail of this Whistles shirt.