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. 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 arrive 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.
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."
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.
Neighborhood's 100-percent rayon rendition references bowling shirts, mixing cream colors and a mirrored script logo on the chest.
Four pockets cover the front of Universal Works' made-in-Portugal, 100-percent Poplin shirt.
The shirt itself is simple, but two button closure pockets add interest.
Todd Snyder constructs this shirt from fabric made by Ireland's Baird McNutt, a company that's been in the linen business for over 100 years.
Edwin's... Autonomous Lightning Fist shirt features embroidered Japanese text, a tiny fist and bolts of lightning atop soft blue and white Chambray.
Another day, another linen shirt. All kidding aside, you can't go wrong with this combination: camp collars and comfortable linen fabric.
The ultimate getaway garb. Dandy Del Mar's Tonga Linen shirt in the Alhambra Check comes with Pearl buttons and pre-distressed texture.
Camp-Collar shirts are leisure-leaning as is. Adding a tropical pattern — like these palm trees — emphasizes the aura.
Although the Gitman family has been manufacturing shirts since the early 20th century, the Gitman Vintage sub-label launched in 2009. And they've been cranking out hits — like this option here — since.
A-ha! Got ya. There are in fact long-sleeve camp-collar shirts. Buck Mason's is made from a cotton-linen blend in a color way they call Taupe/Prairie Stripe.
Don't stare at it for too long. Stüssy's shirt isn't an optical illusion but it feels like one. Wear it on your next trip. (Get it?)
Just because there are crazy patterned iterations out there doesn't mean you need one, too. Get something simple if that's what you're into. Try Abercrombie's linen-blend option. It comes in several colors and at a fraction of the cost of others on this list.
Portugese Flannel's Rainbow Vacation shirt features a dozen rainbows in varying shades of yellow, orange and red. It's the sunset reimagined as ready-to-wear.
Here's the Guayabera. I told you there'd be one on this list. There are four button closure pockets, a collar with two tiny lapels and price that won't wound your wallet.
India-born label Harago blends ancient craftsmanship with new silhouettes. This one's certainly more '50s-leaning than others, but dropped shoulders, flap pockets and oversized stripes center it in today's style landscape.
Again, I told you it's OK to seek out simpler, patternless tops. Albam's fits the bill, but goes beyond, too. It's made from certified organic cotton that uses significantly less resources during the course of its production.
There are lots of luxury labels making a killing off repurposing old quilts and other patchwork. Universal Works' version might be the "value brand" attempt at the look, but it's still a damn good garment nonetheless. Cut from 100-percent cotton, it's green, brown, tan, sand and pink.
Here's an over-the-top option from a brand other than YSL or AllSaints, who also make animal print camp-collar shirts. Other's choice of pattern is more pronounced, making it less animal skin and more graphic.
Slub yarn fabric gives this Marine Layer shirt a vintage look, and a locker loop and front pocket give it a casual feel.
Stan Ray — the same company making those popular painter pants — turned out this Tour Shirt, a black cuban collar top with a pattern that fuses peace signs and cartoon flowers.
Sure, the Paisley bandana print on this Flagstuff shirt is cool, but look closer. At the bottom, the words "UP TO NO GOOD" are screen-printed on.
Stüssy seems keen on tricking your eyes with every one of its shirts. This one makes it seem like the flowers are fleeting, growing smaller as they creep up toward the neck. (Upon further inspection, they are.)
Allbirds, the same company responsible for the simple wool running shoes you see everywhere, also makes apparel. Their Camp Shirt is cut from a blend of hemp, tencel and spandex, rendering it breathable and soft to the touch.
Here's a shirt with not just one pattern but two! Mr P. mixes flowers and stripes for its camp-collar shirt, which was silk-screen printed by Ratti in the Italian province of Como.
Hand-cut and -sewn in Houston, Texas, Hamilton Shirt Co.'s simple striped Chambray shirt comes cropped with a straight hem.