With the summer season in full swing, many guys are looking for ways to stay stylish while also keeping cool. For many of us, this means practically living in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. While this may be perfectly acceptable for most casual situations, it definitely won’t cut in the workplace – where the majority of us still need to look polished even as the mercury rises. The traditional answer to this problem has always been a transition to short sleeve shirts in the workplace – specifically short sleeve button up shirts and polo shirts. Unfortunately, these two garments don’t get nearly enough respect in the style world, as evidenced by the legion of poorly dressed men who attempt to wear them. It’s no surprise that these two garments have become synonymous with your run of the mill IT Herb or Office Dweeb. While I still maintain that a man can wear these two garments with a sense of style and panache, I also understand why some men want to distance themselves from them (and the men who wear them) altogether. So if short sleeve button up shirts and polos are out, what’s in? In my opinion, a good alternative to the short sleeve button up shirt or polo is the popover shirt. A popover is a woven, collared shirt with a placket that only goes about half way down the chest. In essence, it is the stylish offspring of a short sleeve button up shirt and a polo shirt if they were to somehow mate. Ironically, what makes a popover shirt so great isn’t so much about what it is, but rather what it isn’t (namely a short sleeve button up or polo). As such, it will definitely make you stand out in the workplace (I have yet to see anyone wear one at my workplace). While the novelty factor of the popover shirt will likely win you some style points, there are some other valid reasons why you should consider wearing one:
- They can look great when paired with a summer suit
- They can easily be dressed up or down with a pair of chinos, shorts, or jeans
- They look just as good tucked in or untucked
- They will keep you cool (duh, they’re short sleeved!)
- They have been trending well in men’s style over the past few years and are considered somewhat “fashionable” right now.
Of course, in the event that you do decide to wear a popover there is one thing you have to absolutely make sure you to take into account. Make sure that damn thing fits! For those of you who have already begun to take the steps to improve your style, or have been working on your style game for a
while now, this almost goes without saying. However, I still think it’s important to go over the key areas you should pay special attention to if you want to ensure that you have a popover that fits well. The Sleeves Like all other short sleeve shirts, a popover’s sleeves should hit you right around mid bicep. This is the ideal length to maintain proper proportions for the majority of us. Additionally, it will give you some extra incentive to hit those arms hard in the gym. The Body For guys with more athletic builds, it is imperative that you ensure the body of the popover is not too billowy. This usually means you will have to have the shirt darted (taken in at the back). I can almost guarantee that the majority of guys who are in shape will have to do this as shirts in general these days tend to be on the boxier side (blame the obesity epidemic). The Length If you plan on wearing your popover untucked, make sure the length of the shirt is somewhere around the mid-point of your fly. Anything longer and you run the risk of looking like your stole your girlfriend’s nightie, while going too short might make you look like you’re wearing a crop top. Where to Buy There are plenty of retailers selling popover shirts right now at various price points. While I don’t have any affiliation with the company, I find that JCrew makes some pretty decent ones (in a variety of interesting colours and patterns I might add). My only recommendation would be to wait for a sale, as I don’t think they are worth the $80 to $100 price tag. Final Word Let’s face it, as much as we love the summer season the heat can often make it a challenge for many of us to stay both cool and stylish at the same time – especially when we are at work. While I don’t think short sleeve shorts and polos are necessarily “played out”, I can certainly understand why some men want to avoid them. In my opinion, a viable alternative would be the popover shirt. It’s neither a short sleeve shirt nor a polo shirt, but will keep you looking cool and stylish nonetheless. Just remember to ensure that you have the proper fit so you can truly take advantage of this all too often forgotten short sleeve shirt option. Here’s to looking sharp!