Though Cuban collar shirts found their niche in the US in the 1900s, the origin of this particular shirt style dates as far back as the 18th century in South America, where they served as a sort of uniform for working-class men. It is unclear how exactly this shirt style sailed over to American soil (though we’re sure tourism played a role prior to the 60s), but Cuban collars took the men’s fashion by storm in the 50s — quickly becoming one of the wardrobe staples of the decade.
Suburban working dads, trendy teens, even celebrities like Elvis Presley wore Cuban collared shirts. Here’s everything you need to know.
Though trends ebb and flow, the Cuban collar began resurging in 2014, when every designer from Luis Vuitton to Missoni began sending models down the runway in some modern variation of the 50s favorite. Today, these shirts seem to be available in every color and pattern imaginable. We’re excited to start adding this lightweight, open collar style into our warm weather rotation.
What Defines a Cuban Collar Shirt?
The classic Cuban collar shirt features an open, notch lapel-like collar, short sleeves, and a straight, boxy hem. It has a similar silhouette to retro bowling shirts and touristy Hawaiian shirts but with a bit more class. The modern variant features a more fitted cut in the body and tapered sleeves.
Cuban Collar Do’s and Don’ts
- Experiment with both traditional and modern, slim-fitting variations to see which one works best for your style. If you do go for the boxier shape, opt for a more tapered pair of pants to offset the fit and keep your outfit up-to-date.
- Consider rolling your shirtsleeves for an added touch of 50s nostalgia.
- Wear your Cuban collar shirts both with and without a blazer. The shirt is a great standalone piece but looks exceptionally cool (Don Draper-esque, even LINK) when paired with a blazer. Bonus points when you wear your shirt collar over your blazer lapels. Alternatively, you could even play around with wearing this shirt with a suit for an unexpected twist on a traditionally formal look.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with colors and loud prints–the shirt style lends itself to being reminiscent of hot summer days and bold beachy vibes. Pair your bold Cuban-inspired shirt with neutral or solid trousers/shorts to maintain a balance.
- Don’t wear it with a necktie. It defeats the point of the signature open collar.
There are certain iconic staples of vintage Americana that are eternal. The Cuban collar shirt is one of them.
Are you feeling this style? Let us know in the comments.