Autumn is a season that many of us are looking forward to. Not only are the skies clearer and the temperatures cooler, but it’s also easier to dress and look put-together when you have more options for layering and can wear materials such as leather and wool without getting heat stroke. It can be difficult to look well dressed during those hot months when you’re not comfortable wearing anything more than a thin cotton T-shirt with some shorts.
Even more difficult is dressing a few notches above casual. What do you wear when a polo shirt feels too preppy and a collared short-sleeve shirt is a bit too corporate? You have another option to help you remain cool in every sense of the word.
The Camp Collar Shirt
Camp shirts are also known as bowling shirts or Cuban shirts. They share some characteristics with Hawaiian / Aloha Shirts: vibrant colors and bold prints, sometimes both. And an unstructured open collar, which completely rejects something as restrictive as a tie. While a Hawaiian shirt has the unfortunate stigma of being “cheesy,” camp collar shirts are anything but. We listed camp shirts today as one of the Best Summer Shirts because they have an airflow-friendly, modern design.
We’ve asked Primer contributor Daniel Z. Baraka to help you get comfortable with this style. He is a camp shirt pioneer who wants more men to be satisfied. Style-wise, of course.
The versatility of the camp collar shirt adds to its appeal. Wear it with linen pants, shorts, or Daniel’s favorite: a pair of slim-fitting chinos. They contrast perfectly with the shirt’s vacation vibe.
Daniel says, “The entire outfit is put together without fuss.” It’s summery and modern, so that it would be perfect for a tropical getaway or a date.
This “sophisticated but simple” look will make you stand out from the crowd. You won’t be mistaken for every other guy at brunch. You won’t be out of place or look like you are wearing a disguise, but you will not look completely unattractive.
Daniel suggests that if you are unsure about a print or pattern and want to try something new, go for something modern. “Go with more contemporary designs-something playful but more interesting than a pattern or solid color.” The plant and arch motif in Daniel’s shirt reminded him of a villa in Italy, and the color blocking was very contemporary.
How to style a camp collar shirt
The shirt should be the focal point of the outfit. Keep the rest simple to make it look relaxed but still stylish. Daniel is wearing his J.Crew chinos (I have many pairs) because they match the olive green from the plants on his shirt. However, he also thinks that “a burnt-orange pair, like the arches, would look incredible, too.”
When you don’t want to wear your sunglasses, the open collar of your camp shirt is a great place to store them. Daniel’s Ray-Ban classic aviators complete the tropical look that he is going for. “When I think of aviators, my mind immediately goes to summer.” The wireframes make them more comfortable to wear in warm weather.
Try a necklace for a more beachy look. A slim metal chain can be eye-catching and timeless without being too heavy. Daniel received his Gucci necklace as a gift. He loves to choose accessories that have a personal touch.
Daniel chose to wear sandals over loafers, even though they would have worked well. The easy-on/easy-off style gives off a more vacation feel than a closed shoe. He suggests that you choose a pair of sandals with a chunkier bottom, which will make it look more like a high-end shoe rather than a flip-flop. It’s a good date idea, too. Treat yourself and your S.O.
Accessories will and should stand out with such a simple look. Accessorizing the look requires boldness but minimalism. Daniel recommends layering a bracelet with your watch if you are new to accessories. Summer is the season of casual wear, where colors are allowed to be worn freely, and anything goes. This is the best time to debut the belt, bracelet, or other accessory you’ve always wanted to wear. Daniel’s approach to finding the perfect addition: “Accessories are about finding pieces with a story.” Any piece that is personal or reminds you of something will be more comfortable to wear. His came from a New Orleans flea market, and a similar item is available on Etsy.
Daniel’s dive watch is a nautical staple for workwear that goes well with both suits and casual clothes. Daniel’s leather and sterling silver layered bracelets look great with the substantial bezel of this watch. You can add interest and contrast to your design by mixing materials.
Daniel prefers to travel with a weekender over a hard shell suitcase. The shape fits into tight spaces but can do a lot, especially small items like camp shirts! He followed the “Buy once, Cry Once” approach and chose Rawlings Weekender, saying, “What I love is the leather.” It feels like a baseball glove. “And the marks only make it better.”
You can wear a camp shirt anywhere, even if your summer itinerary doesn’t include a tropical destination. Keep the florals and graphics for dates and summer weddings when worn with a light suit. Try a minimalist pattern or solid color at work, networking events, and other semi-formal occasions.
A camp shirt is a versatile summer piece that can be dressed up or down. It will make you look and feel good, even if your body temperature is just a few minutes away from melting.