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A Gentleman’s Guide

The Joy Of The Unbuttoned Shirt

Why the street-style set will be showing some skin this summer – and how far you should take the trend to bare all

  • Milan, September 2018. Photograph by Mr Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

Menswear is in a state of undress. While this season’s utility trend is all about technical fabrics, multi-pocketed outerwear and wearing as many clothes as possible, there’s another school of sartorial thought bubbling away in men’s fashion that is a little more, well, deshabille.

In the same way a good piece of music happens in the pauses rather than the notes, an outfit in high summer is best punctuated not by the presence of clothing, but by the absence of it. Don’t get it twisted, though – we’re not talking about anything vulgar here.

The fact is there’s a singular pleasure in unbuttoning your shirt. Not just the unbuttoning to loosen the tie, but a little lower when the sun is out.

In many ways, this is a method of shaking up the glut of tailoring around now. “Suiting’s great, but stick a shirt and tie with it and you look like… well, you look old,” says menswear stylist and serial sternum-bearer Mr Tom Stubbs. “[Showing skin] is about subverting or breaking or refreshing tailoring. A shirt and tie just say ‘conformist member of the board of the school governors’, whereas a satin shirt unbuttoned to the sternum is a lot more fun. I’m more interested in channelling David Johansen from the New York Dolls than I am Steve McQueen.”

So, the vogue for trussing yourself up to the chin with cufflinks, ties and buttons is dated, then, and cleavage is in. Below, we’ve compiled a posse of skin-heavy outfits that show you how it’s done.


  • Paris, June 2017. Photograph by Ms Marie-Paola Bertrand/Press Association Images

Mr Luka Sabbat was referred to in a recent Vogue article as a “millennial model/muse”. The 21-year-old’s own website states “I don’t believe in titles, I believe you do what you want and find the right people who share your vision”. Which… is fine. What Mr Sabbat is clearly good at, though, is wearing clothes. Above, he wears an undone Louis Vuitton shirt with a lapel-like collar, his bare chest covered by four, five, is that six necklaces? An excessive amount of bling under any other circumstance, but when there’s this much skin on show, it works.

  • Balenciaga Oversized Camp-Collar Printed Satin Shirt

  • AMBUSH® Silver-Tone Key Chain Necklace


  • Milan, September 2018. Photograph by Mr Adam Katz Sinding

As tattoos have become wholly mainstream over the past decade (you’d be hard pushed to find a celebrity under 40 who hasn’t been inked up at least once), there are now lots of fashion opportunities to showcase that you’ve been under the gun. Showing what’s on your skin can be as much about personal expression as the clothes you wear. The gent above channels a vintage Californian charm by wearing a blue bowling shirt with a vest underneath, but the look wouldn’t be complete without all that ink. It’s certainly not for everyone, but we reckon if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

  • Nudie Jeans Jack Camp-Collar Colour-Block Lyocell-Twill Shirt

  • Ray-Ban Wayfarer Folding Acetate Sunglasses


  • Paris, January 2019. Photograph by Mr Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

If menswear has found itself in a state of undress, Mr Ben Cobb, the moustachioed editor-in-chief of Another Man, should claim at least some of the responsibility. The man about town has turned getting his chest out into an art form and excels in wearing tailored Sir Mick Jagger-esque get-ups that are smart, sophisticated and delightfully sleazy. A lesson Mr Cobb can teach us all is that getting dressed to the nines is all well and good but making everything relaxed by undoing a few buttons is the key to looking truly at ease.

  • Dries Van Noten Brown Unstructured Prince of Wales Checked Linen Suit Jacket

  • Jacquemus Simon Button-Down Collar Striped Cotton Shirt


  • Milan, June 2018. Photograph by Mr Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

No, this man isn’t sleepwalking. It’s been happening among the braver few of the street-style set for a while now, but wearing pyjamas outside is a real – and more acceptable – thing. It makes sense, what with pyjamas often being silk or rendered in ornate prints, they make a nice (and surprisingly sophisticated) change from sweatpants. Plus, they’re perfect for summer. And if you are not quite brave enough for a full look, wear the shirt with a pair of tailored trousers instead.

  • You As Orion Camp-Collar Printed Woven Shirt

  • You As Orion Printed Woven Shorts


  • Florence, June 2018. Photograph by Mr Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

A trend we’ve increasingly noticed recently (on everyone from Jay-Z to the Dries Van Noten runway), is that men are wearing suits with nothing underneath. While we admit this has a charmingly louche feeling when done well, we also concede that it’s quite difficult to pull off without looking like you’ve forgotten half of your outfit. Instead, make like this man at Pitti Uomo and unbutton your shirt so far down that it’s almost like you’re not wearing one anyway. Plus, when it’s hot, baring your chest while wearing a suit is one way to keep cool while retaining some smarts.

  • Brunello Cucinelli Denim Western Shirt

  • Thom Sweeney Tapered Pleated Linen Trousers

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