By now you've probably seen one of these shirts on someone else — stylish gents of yesteryear, celebrities walking red carpets and actors in TV series or movies. What we call them remains unclear, though.
What Is a Camp Collar Shirt?
Whether Cuban, camp, revere, lounge or spread, all of these mean the same thing: a short-sleeve button-up shirt with a collar that lays flat against your chest, creating an open "V" and mini lapels. They're a breezy, summer essential; perfect for trips to sunnier spots around the world. But they work well in other settings, too. In fact, from the time warm weather arrives until it fades into fall, there may not be a more versatile top. Available in a variety of materials, crops, and colors, and with or without graphics or patterning, there's surely one that catches your eye. And don't avoid them because you're shy about showing off your chest. These look vastly different than V-neck T-shirts do.
Camp vs. Cuban vs. Revere vs. Lounge
The style doesn't derive from V-neck T-shirts either. We lead with Cuban (instead of camp, revere, lounge or spread) as an homage to the style's origins — at least here in the US. Originally known as a Guayabera — there's one on this list, by the way — the shirt shifted names as Cuban immigrants moved stateside from the mid-1950s on. (James Bond donned a pink one in the 1965's Thunderball.) There's evidence of spread collar rayon shirts as early as the 1930s, but those were wider, most commonly long-sleeved and, at the time, deemed sportswear — a descriptor for most things men weren't supposed to wear to work.
Modern renditions, I'd argue, don't reference the spearpoint collar styles of the 1930's or 1940's but rather the short, more compact collars seen on Guayaberas. Some iterations have even smaller collars, a drastic departure from US-born "sport shirts."
How to Wear a Camp Collar Shirt
As far as fit goes, I'd lobby for buying true to your usual size. If Hedi Slimane — the enigmatic designer behind collections by Dior Homme, YSL, and Celine — were styling you, he'd probably size the shirt up and pair it with skinnier pants. Whether you trust me or him doesn't matter. How you wear it is truly up to you. The oversized look works — back then neither Guayaberas nor "sport shirts" were made-to-measure — and leaves a bit more room for air. But most are breathable as is, especially if they're constructed from linen, cotton or rayon.
My final word of advice? Don't go running for a shirt adorned with a loud Hawaiian print. Let retirees revel in their bliss, college students in their inexperience, and get an option from this list instead. Anywhere you'd wear your Hawaiian shirt, you can wear one of these.
This 100 percent linen shirt was in fact made in Portugal, and it features a convertible collar that can be left open (as seen here) or buttoned shut.
Seersucker is an excellent fabric for the summer months. That's why Alex Mill made its Camp Shirt from it. But it's also been garment-dyed for added softness and a vintage tinge.
This simple blue number by Bellerose is relaxed-fitting and cut from comfortable cotton poplin.
Made in Portugal but designed in Sweden, OAS' Squiggle Cuba Terry Shirt opts for the soft toweling fabric over stiffer cotton. It'll feel like your favorite beach blanket but look far more refined.
Everlane's ultra-casual Linen Camp Shirt features two front pockets and a fairly open collar. It'll wrinkle with wear, but don't worry — it'll look good still.
Fully linen shirts offer better breathability, but when the shirt is partially linen and the rest cotton, it proves more durable. Case in point? Banks Journal's Brighton Shirt.
Gitman Vintage's Seersucker Cuban Shirt is one of very few with two pockets at the hip. The feature's native to Cuban shirts, also known as Guayabera shirts, but looks good on a traditional camp collar, too.
Equal parts work and play, Seager's Striped Whippersnapper Shirt has clear Western influences, evident by the pearl snap buttons and the yoke across the back. It's made from a mix of cotton and recycled polyester for durability.
This shirt will get better with time. Dyed using real Indigo, this 100 percent cotton shirt has a dark blue hue now, but it'll fade over time.
Available in a bunch of colors, J.Crew's Harbor Shirt features two pockets on the front and a dropped hem at the rear.
Gitman VIntage's camp collar shirt features an oversized check pattern woven into its cotton-linen body.
Bowling shirts, depending on the collar, can pass for camp collar shirts. They have a similar shape, plus they're usually just as fun. Todd Snyder combines the sport shirt and its simpler sibling for this bowling shirt, which has a contrasting spread collar and bright white buttons.
This one's for cooling off in the cabana — hence the name. Tombolo specializes in island attire, making everything from these terry cloth cabana shirts to Hawaiian shirts, swim trunks and souvenir caps.
This linen shirt is part of a matching set. In my opinion, buying both is the easy route to a summer uniform you won't sweat to death in.
I'm all about bold prints and patterns, but few are truly flattering. Universal Works creates an interesting shirt with a traditional pattern, but redone in Indigo.
Todd Snyder's chief product officer, Alejandro Rhett, explains how to stay cool when it's sweltering outside.