The island brother to the Oxford, the Cuban collar shirt (sometimes known as the revere or camp collar) is an old-school staple – think Elvis meets Tony Montana – and it’s made a major comeback in recent seasons.
Akin to a condensed notch lapel, it’s defined by a pointed, two-tiered collar, and usually comes short-sleeved (though not always). You’ve probably seen the Cuban collar on a Hawaiian shirt, but the two are not synonymous. And this season, there are a host of rather more flattering ways to wear it.
“Cuban collar shirts can quickly tip into kitsch territory, where you look like you just stepped off a bowling lane or cruise ship,” says Tom Banham, from men’s online personal shopping service Thread. As a rule of thumb, if the shirt comes in a fabric your oddball uncle would wear to a family barbeque, pass.
That usually means aiming for poplin cotton or viscose, which are equal parts floaty and breathable. “If you still want to play up the vintage Americana look, do it with colours and prints that evoke the 1950s, like a rust-coloured windowpane check.”
There are a lot of ways to wear this type of shirt, but it takes careful styling. “Stick to lighter materials to keep that warm-weather outlook as a unifying thread,” says Banham. Even if your day job doesn’t involve strutting along runways, this isn’t just an off-duty look. As well as wearing it solo, either tucked in to tailored trousers or over chinos, try slotting it under an unstructured blazer for a louche summer wedding outfit.
If heading to Havana – or at least anywhere the temperature gets above 20 degrees C – team yours with a pair of cuffed cotton shorts and suede loafers. “If you’re more into the rebellious youth culture of the 1950s, opt for Cuban collar shirt with skinny jeans and cuff the shirt sleeves instead,” adds Banham.
While you’ll find Cuban collars for beginners in the Reiss collection, by looking past the trusty basics you’ll find there are lots of more forward-thinking designs to get excited about.
From bold new takes on classic prints (such as florals print and Hawaiian styles) to graphic inflected designs, the shirts on offer here are ideal for those looking to add interest to their wardrobe.
Few companies design simple, well-made clothing quite as well as Scandinavian brand A Day’s March. With a minimal eye for design, each garment is meticulously thought out, and its Cuban collar shirts are no exception. Expect premium fabrics, mother of pearl buttons and boxy cuts, perfect for warm summer evenings.
For beautifully finished wardrobe staples with a twist, turn to Percival. The brand has infused its Cuban collar shirts with colourful patterns, stripes and buttoned chest pockets which are perfect for storing your sunglasses. Plain colour options are available too, and all are made to a high standard befitting of their price tags.
AllSaints has developed a rep as the rockstar of the British high street thanks to a suitably grungy aesthetic and a knock-out line in leather jackets.
Its take on the Cuban collar is a lot more punchy than its counterparts with audacious prints taking centre stage while a light, flouncy viscose fabric and slim fit keep the rhythm.
Best known for its nightwear and underwear, British loungewear brand Hamilton and Hare is well versed in creating easy, relaxed pieces which feel every bit as good to wear as they do to look at.
Cuban collar shirts from the brand take that same focus on comfort and fit but apply it to something more appropriate for the great outdoors. Think tasteful neutrals, pared-back patterns and subtle textural interest, all rendered in that signature super soft cotton and linen.
Japanese style is all about quality fabrics and easy to wear fits, something Uniqlo, the countries biggest high street export is a master at.
It’s Cuban collar shirts come out quite wide for western tastes so you may want to temper the width with some slim fitting trousers. Designs and colours are kept quite simple apart from a wavy series of shirts printed with artwork from iconic 19th-century Japanese artist Hokusai.