The Patterned Short Sleeve Shirt: 3 Outfits + 16 Affordable Style Picks

A stylish summer essential.

men summer style outfits   short sleeve button up shirt   floral shirt

One of the most commonly repeated style axioms is to never wear a short sleeve button up shirt. You'll look like a middle-aged man. You'll look like a big box store employee. You'll look like the sartorially-challenged guy from your company's IT department.

A man wearing a blue shirt

My ugly shirt says, “I'm professional, but hey, man, I'm casual too.”

Well that style rule isn't completely wrong. You definitely should avoid short sleeve shirts that look and fit like the photo above.

But if you're applying that rule across the entire spectrum of “shirts that have buttons on the front that also have short sleeves,” you're not only limiting your summer shirting options to t-shirts and polos – you're missing out on a super easy way to add some color and visual texture to your hot weather outfits. Which is especially important since as guys our summer Getups almost always comprise of: shirt, shorts, watch, footwear. If you're one of the million guys who invariably leaves the comment, “Not in the south,” on any mid-year Getup that I post that has either long pants, long sleeves, or a light jacket, then you know exactly the frustrating limitation I'm speaking of.

Over the last few years, men have been given a new trove of almost limitless options. Not only have clothing brands rethought the fit on their short sleeve shirts, the “patterned” short sleeve shirt has become a summer essential. These patterns aren't limited simple to dots, stripes, and plaids (though these are great too) modern takes on florals have become the go-to stylish option spanning streetwear to conservative prep.

However, it can be hard to determine which will make you the best dressed guy in a casual room or make you look like:

ugly floral shirts

How to Wear A Patterned Short Sleeve Shirt

In general, you'll want to remember three things:

  • The shirt should be fitted – avoid the baggy bowling shirt look
  • If the shirt has a flat hem it's almost certainly not a younger man's shirt
  • The pattern should balance intricacy, size, and color vibrance. A more intricate design should be of a smaller pattern. A larger pattern should be more sparse, and so on. If you're nervous, start with a pattern that is muted, such as this subtle blue-on-blue option from CottonOn.

To Make It Easy, Here are 3 Outfits plus 16 More Affordable Picks to Get You Started

short sleeve floral shirt men summer style outfit idea gray jeans white sneakers

Shirt: Amazon Prime, $22 / Jeans: Gap, $49 / Sneakers: Nike, $35 / Watch: The Fifth, $150

modern floral shirt black watch gray jeans   men summer outfit

men summer style   short sleeve floral shirt green shorts white sneakers flat lay

Shirt: Amazon Prime, $22 / Shorts: Gap, $35 / Sneakers: Nike, $35 / Watch: MVMT, $95 / Sunglasses: Classic Specs, $95 / Cologne: Hugo Boss, $95

men's summer outfit patterned short sleeve shirt chinos vans

Shirt: Amazon, $30 / Chinos: Levi's, $40 / Sneakers (similar): Vans, $60 – This whole outfit is available on Amazon Prime, check it out in our Amazon Outfit series.

men summer outfit   short sleeve button up henley joggers boat shoes

Shirt (similar): H&M, $13 / Henley: H&M, $9 / Joggers: CottonOn, $40 / Boat Shoes: Sperry, $95 / Sunglasses: Amazon, $12

16 Best Patterned Short Sleeve Button Up Shirts

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Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.