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The Perfect Short Sleeve Shirt

Henry A. Davidsen is proud to continue its partnership with Career Wardrobe as the COVID-19 pandemic has such a profound impact on employment in our region. Please read about Career Wardrobe’s OutFIT for Work campaign and how Henry A. Davidsen is supporting it.

Men’s Summer Shirts

custom short sleeve shirt with american flag trimThough on average it’s been a bit chillier overall than recent years, the warm weather is, thankfully, finally approaching. Even if COVID-19 has you stuck inside, it’s still a great opportunity to switch over your wardrobe to lighter colors and cloths. You might as well edit your closet simultaneously if you haven’t yet.

Our clients make hundreds of custom dress shirts every year, but not every shirt needs to – nor should be – be a dress shirt. Northeastern summers can be notoriously hot and humid, and a man’s wardrobe is incomplete without a few short sleeve options. Short sleeve dress shirts are also more casual than their long sleeve cousins, which fits right in with lazy summer days.

We’d like to introduce you to some of the styling choices we offer at the shop. As is the case with our two series on suits and custom shirts, you can implement any design detail you see here into your own orders. Contact us if you’d like to discuss remote orders or virtual consultations.

Custom Short Sleeve Shirt Styling

Custom clothing affords you the opportunity to decide every last detail if you so choose, and short sleeve shirts are no different. Some of the options unique to short sleeve shirts are:

Collar Styles

Though you can wear a regular spread collar on a short sleeve shirt, certain collar styles are more casual than others. These two styles, in particular, lend themselves well to short sleeve shirts:

custom mens button down collar shirtsButton-down collars are a more casual alternative to standard spread collars, so they work quite well on short sleeve shirts. They become even more laid back when made with a soft interlining, unlike a stiffer one used in a dress shirt.

Camp collars only really make sense with short sleeve shirts. Made without a collar band, you often see them on Hawaiian shirts and guayabera shirts. When you put a camp collar on a more versatile shirt cloth, it makes for a classic, gentlemanly summer look.


Fit is always king – it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a $5000 full custom suit or a $19.99 t-shirt. Short sleeve shirts should fit you well, but it’s advisable to give yourself a bit more room through the waist and hips. This further emphasizes its casual nature and makes it look more natural when you wear it untucked.

Body Length

Speaking of tucked versus untucked, short sleeve shirts are typically made to be worn untucked. This affects not just where it hits in the front (a bit higher than most long sleeve shirts), but also the length of the side seams, which we’ll make lower than the default “scoop” pattern.

Sleeve Length

black man in philadelphia wears custom dress shirtThe length of a short sleeve is crucial to ensuring a smart look. One could argue that when you get rid of half a sleeve, its length matters twice as much.

We typically shoot for the mid-to-lower-third of the bicep for short sleeve lengths. This flatters most men – it makes thin guys look a bit more muscular, and it shows off muscular guys’ work to great effect. If you like to show off a bit, a sleeve that ends higher on the bicep, just past the deltoid will do the trick.

No matter what, we make the final sleeve length decision by taking into account the length of a client’s arms, his general frame, and his personal preference.

What we don’t want to see are sleeves that are too long, which looks sloppy. If it’s hitting the crook of your elbow, you’ve gone too far.

How To Wear Short Sleeve Shirts

In the summertime, short sleeve shirts are extremely versatile. You can wear them tucked or untucked. They get along well with casual trousers, custom jeans, or chinos. Shorts look great with them too.

If you have tattoos on your arms, just be aware that short sleeve shirts will make them instantly visible. This may or may not be an issue, but it’s something to consider for business and other instances where you want a bit more sartorial conservatism.

Parting Thoughts

We hope you’re as excited about the official start of summer as we are. We’re always available for questions, so reach out to chat about some sartorial splendor with us at 215-310-0219 or at info@henrydavidsen.com.

Please consider supporting those that have been displaced due to COVID-19 to get back on their feet with a donation to Career Wardrobe’s OutFIT for Work campaign.  $50 provides a full interview outfit for an individual seeking employment.

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