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Your Summer Shirt: The Short Sleeve Button Down

A classy option with great ventilation.


Two truths: (1) I sweat a lot; (2) SoCal is hot. So, during my semi-awkward late-pubescent teen era in the inland area of Orange County, I looked to innovative solutions. I couldn’t rid myself of the braces — had those through senior year — but I could control the sweat. What I found, then and now, is the short-sleeve button-down shirt works. There are a few reasons why, but all can fit under the umbrella of “classy ventilation”.

Technical fabrics be damned — if you’ve got long sleeves on, you’re heating things up. The rolled sleeve works for implying some vestige of hard work, but it’s clunky, requires maintenance (re-rolling) and, if you’re slipping them up before noon, the whole thing reeks of an attempt to be intentionally informal. The better route — and the natural next step — is to chop ’em off.

Technical fabrics be damned — if you’ve got long sleeves on, you’re heating things up.

My first short-sleeve shirt was a blue button-down I dug off a Nordstrom Rack in Costa Mesa. It fit right, the sleeves reached mid-bicep, and there was a small pocket over the left breast. I wore it until the collar started to fray. The short-sleeve button down gives you the freedom to maintain a vestige of business-casual while being appropriate to the season. It’s shows more style maturity than the polo, and eschews a preppy past. For ventilation purposes, it’s the difference between pants and shorts, shoes and sandals — air is free to flow through the arm holes and the shirt’s usually best worn untucked, leaving more room for a breeze to pass through.

That first shirt was by Theory, and they still make a great short-sleeve button down. But right now, the shirt of summer is Steven Alan’s single-needle shirt ($117), which has a traditional Oxford collar, a slim fit, and a clean, straight hem at the base that’s perfect for leaving untucked. The solid colors inspire more formality, which works for the semi-business-casual environment of most of today’s workplaces. It can pair with shorts or pants, sandals or shoes. For seasonal flare, go wild with the prints; there’s plenty of those in the short-sleeve variety. But keeping a few solid staples in the closet means you stay classy, ventilated, and, during these warmer summer days, just a touch cooler.

Buy Now: $117

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