There’s something undeniably cool about a camp collar shirt. The notch lapel-like collar, cropped sleeves and boxy silhouette generate a sense of nonchalance, whilst the tailored cut and tapering at the cuffs present a refined sensibility.
The camp collar shirt became a stalwart in menswear in the 1950s, with Hollywood icons such as Marlon Brando, James Dean, Elvis Presley and Gregory Peck sporting the style both on and off screen and stage, encouraging men across the USA to add the shirting style to their wardrobe. It’s now perceived as a signifier of retro Americana, however, the camp collar shirt’s origins lie in South America.
Also known as the ‘Cuban collar’, the style dates as far back as the 18th century, with South American field-tilling farmers wearing the shirt purposefully rather than stylistically. The camp collar shirt migrated to the Caribbean islands and became particularly prevalent in Cuba (hence the title ‘Cuban collar’), before eventually integrating into North American popular culture.
The camp collar shirt became a stalwart in menswear in the 1950s, with Hollywood icons such as Marlon Brando, James Dean, Elvis Presley and Gregory Peck sporting the style.
Contemporary interpretations of the camp collar shirt have somewhat come full circle, with its irreverent charm calling to mind the terrains of which it was conceived, Latin America, the tropics, and of course, Brazil for many. Walk through the streets of Rio and you’re bound to spot at least one or two Cariocas donning a camp collar shirt to the beach, the office, afternoon drinks, any occasion really. That’s one of the finest traits of the camp collar shirt, it’s duality – it’s urbane enough to wear to evening events or more casual affairs. However, if you’re struggling with manners of which to style the camp collar shirt, here are a few tips.
Embrace its retro idiosyncrasy. You can’t escape the nostalgic undertones of a shirt that was introduced to the masses by some of Hollywoods most influential figures. Try styling it with a pair of tailored chinos and rivieras, for an authoritative look.
This is not to say that the camp collar cannot be enlivened with modernism. Layer a T-shirt underneath and team with relaxed linen sport chinos for an outfit that’s both timely and timeless.
Play with print. The irreverent appeal of the camp collar shirt allows for one to experiment with print be it humble or bold. If you’re not very confident wearing prints keep your outfit uncomplicated with neutral trousers or shorts. However, for the more undaunted teaming a printed camp collar shirt with a trouser or short in the same print is both current and progressive.
Let your jacket dictate its implication. The camp collar shirt sits somewhere between the realms of smart and casual dressing, and that’s where a jacket comes into play. If you throw a bomber or biker jacket over the top, you’ll have a look that’s both offhand and spruce, if you slip into a tailored linen blazer, you’ll look sharp enough for a refined al fresco dinner.