Spring Style Essentials, Part 2: Shirts

A short-sleeve shirt (or a polo) can be the perfect style pick for spring and summer. Shirt by Express. Jeans by J. Crew.  Sunglasses by Ralph Lauren.
A short-sleeve shirt (or a polo) can be the perfect style pick for spring and summer. Shirt by Express. Jeans by J. Crew. Sunglasses by Ralph Lauren.

When the weather warms up, some key style moves can make the transition from fall or winter to spring decidedly easier. In the shirting department, we’ve seen some critical trends pop up in recent months, especially the resurgence of the short-sleeved collared shirt. While that’s certainly a style move worth exploring, the first (and perhaps easiest) way to make the transition is with a simple polo shirt. That’s not to say that long-sleeve collared shirts should take a break permanently from your wardobe; rather, think of the polo as a worthy substitute on more days. It might bring to mind a bland uniform look, but even James Bond wears polos now. Although it’s an item most of us have had in our closet and worn for years, the biggest way to upgrade the look now revolves around some main keys, starting with fit and moving on to color.

With spring officially here, reach for a polo and matching shorts. Navy polo and shorts by J. Crew Stanton. Belt by Target Merona. Glasses by Burberry.
With spring officially here, reach for a polo and matching shorts. Navy polo and shorts by J. Crew Stanton. Belt by Target Merona. Glasses by Burberry.

Think of the polo as a the warm-weather version of an Oxford cloth button-down.The polo is virtually fool-proof as a casual (or sharp) item when it comes to your top layer in terms of versatility — it can be worn to class, to work in a fairly casual environment, and out to dinner or drinks on a  patio. But, what helps with versatility is fit. Retailers now are stocking slim-fit polo options at great prices by the dozen, and that’s exactly how the ideal polo should fit, even if you have some more bulk. The sleeves should hit about mid-bicep, and the fit through the torso should be clean — think minimal extra fabric bunching around the sides or waist.

Once you’ve nailed the fit, it’s a wise bet to experiment with color. The lighter, warmer weather of spring is the ideal time to work some more vibrant colors into your wardrobe — something like a crisp, clean white is a nice place to start, but unique shades of red and light blue are also fairly versatile additional colors to start with. And if the fit of the polo is right, experimenting with some pattern can be more easily done — take a look at the rest of the Michael Bastian X Uniqlo collaboration for some extremely competitively-priced patterned polos.

A slightly more unique take on light denim paired with the short-sleeve shirt. Canvas sneakers by Urban Outfitters.
A slightly more unique take on light denim paired with the short-sleeve shirt. Canvas sneakers by Urban Outfitters.

Short-sleeved shirts also are another easy way to mix things up in your closet. The short-sleeved shirt has gained a bad reputation in recent years (think Dwight Schrute) but recent updates on the style are a far cry from that. Like the ideal polo, the short-sleeved collared shirt incorporates a slimmer fit through the sleeves and body. Picking a shirt with a bit of a pattern or stripe to it mixes up the bad stigma of the short-sleeve dress shirt even further (ASOS offers a wide variety of short sleeve shirts with patterns and prints  at nice prices, to start). And with both the polo and the short-sleeve shirt, the possibilities for what you do with the rest of your outfit are pretty limitless also (as long as your bottom half matches nicely in terms of color with the top half). Dark denim is a nice anchor to any outfit, and in the spring and summer, lightwash denim (as pictured above) works well with various neutral shades. Shorts in neutral colors (think a dark or light khaki) downplay the loudness of a printed shirt or polo, too.

So the next time you reach for a long-sleeve shirt in the hot weather, turn instead to a short-sleeved variety, or a polo, with some color and pattern. In the right cut and style, it’ll keep you on trend and also sharp — just about all you can ask for from a piece of clothing.

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