The mercury’s rising and you’ve already ditched the parka, the jacket, the vest, the shacket and anything else that’s standing between you and ventilation, yet you still look like the melting nazi in Raiders. Mankind has long struggled to nail down staying cool while maintaining some semblance of presentability: we’ve dreamed up unstructured blazers, canvas shoes and this thing. Many think that lightweight shirting has reached its peak, but a crop of new companies is combining technical fabrics and quality cuts for easy breathing style. That isn’t to say we’re willing to ditch our madras and seersucker just yet, here are 10 of our favorite lightweight shirt options, new and old.
The New Kids
Technical fabrics, slim cuts and a hint of space travel
Outlier Blazed Button Down
Outlier’s taken the typical cotton shirt and added just enough technical advancement without taking away from a clean aesthetic. Their Nano-Tex coating keeps off dirt and sweat while a “Pivot Sleeve” that flows directly into the back of the shirt frees up your arms for Capoeira or jumping high fives on the beach.
Ministry of Supply Apollo
Ministry of Supply has gone full NASA and made a slim-cut shirt jam packed with materials that wouldn’t be out of place at Cape Canaveral. Specifically, MoS is using a special polyester fabric that wicks sweat away from your skin, keeping your temperature in check. Add in a cut figured out using using strain analysis plus a bit of stretch and you’ve got a shirt ready for any summer occasion that needs a dress shirt.
Mizzen and Main Kingscote
Mizzen and Main takes all that’s good about modern materials — wicking, quick-drying, breathability — and combines it with classic touches to make the Kingscote feel like the best of both worlds. Chuck in that it’s made in the U.S., trim-but-not-slim cut and named after a mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, and it’s an easy pick.
Rapha Long Sleeve Shirt
Rapha’s take on the technical classic is packed with details aimed at the cyclist, but it still manages to look like any other well-tailored shirt at first glance. The breathable cotton-mix fabric is cut to look good on and off the bike, the upper half of the placket is hidden to avoid snags on messenger bags, and the small pocket on the back is great for cash and cards if you’re traveling light.
Continuing the theme of updating the classics, Patagonia reinterpreted chambray in a cotton/poly blend that should breathe and wick better than its full cotton siblings.
The Old Guard
Moxie, brio and hint of colonialism
Engineered Garments SS Popover
EG’s latest is a full-on assault on summer discomfort. Short sleeves, lightweight cotton, an airy fit and a popover style make this shirt wear more like a polo than a traditional button down.
Gitman Vintage Solid Seersucker
Seersucker’s a magical summer fabric that is too often ruined by a hyper-prep reputation and barbershop quartet stripes. Really, seersucker’s just cotton that’s woven in such a way that it puckers up and hovers above your skin to keep things cool. Gitman Vintage has hit the nail on the head with this understated and airy indigo rendition.
Loro Piana Linen
Cannes for the weekend? Soaking up the Sun in Capri? Loro Piana’s perfected white linen is just the kind of light, exquisitely tailored shirt for blending in in the best way possible.
Sid Mashburn Madras
India is hot and Southern India is really hot, so it’s no wonder that fabric from the place is so well suited for summer. Lightweight Madras breathes easy, looks good and feels a lot more casual than some of its linen counterparts; Atlanta’s Sid Mashburn is doing the fabric damn well with a handful of good looking plaids.
RRL Short Sleeved Workshirt
If you’re not quite ready to embrace the popover but are looking for a casual, short-sleeved button down then this work shirt from RRL should do perfectly. Two thirds linen, one third cotton and striped all over, it’s the perfect beach shirt. Just don’t use a similarly striped towel.