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How To Wear A Short Sleeve Shirt With A Blazer

There is a lot of stigma around short sleeve shirts. Some say they’re formal, while others say they absolutely aren’t. So, can you wear a short sleeve shirt with a blazer?

Wearing a short sleeve with a blazer can work. Leave your blazer unbuttoned and consider the formality of the situation. Remember that darker blazers work best, such as navy and charcoal ones. Leaving your top button undone adds to the smart-casual aesthetic.

While that’s the short answer, there’s much more to it.

Let’s get to it.

short sleeve with blazer
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1. Dress Shirt Vs. Casual Shirt

There are many different short sleeve shirt styles on the market. Most of these shirt styles can be put under one of two umbrella terms: dress shirts or casual shirts.

Casual shirts are – as the name suggests – considerably more casual than dress shirts.

They are more appropriate for casual or smart-casual situations than anything else.

Casual shirts are typically designed to fit without being tucked in, meaning they often aren’t as long as dress shirts.

This doesn’t, however, mean that they can’t be tucked in – it just might be more difficult to do so.

Furthermore, casual shirts sometimes have extra detailing that often wouldn’t be found on dress shirts.

Such detailing could include a chest pocket and different collar styles. 

Similarly, casual shirts can be found in brighter colors and patterns more commonly than dress shirts.

On the other hand, dress shirts are generally longer than casual shirts – as they’re designed to be tucked in.

business casual short sleeve shirt
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They are less frequently found in patterns and bright colors and rarely have extra, unnecessary detailing.

All of these factors contribute to the formality of the dress shirt.

When wearing a short sleeve shirt with a blazer, the best shirt style to go for is a dress shirt.

Because the blazers are associated with formality, they will automatically dress up your outfit. Therefore, it’s best to wear garments that suit this formality.

On top of this, tucking in your shirt is highly recommended, and it’s more difficult to do this with a casual short sleeve shirt.

2. Think About Shirt Color

Carefully choosing the color of your shirt is crucial for this outfit.

Short sleeve shirts are pretty controversial, and wearing them semi-formally or formally can be risky.

Therefore, to ensure you achieve the necessary formality levels while wearing a short sleeve shirt, it’s best to pick a more formal shirt color.

The best shirt color to wear with this outfit is – without a doubt – white. 

short sleeve shirt and bow tie
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White shirts are associated with formal wear, and even on the most formal of occasions, such as white and black tie dress codes, white shirts are the norm.

However, while white is the best shirt color to wear, it’s not the only acceptable one.

There are other formal shirt colors on the market, but these must be worn with more caution.

Lighter colors, such as sky blue, are solid choices too. Although when wearing colors other than white, it’s important to coordinate the shirt with your blazer.

light blue short sleeve shirt
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As a general rule, your shirt should be lighter than your blazer. It’s best to go for analogous colors rather than contrasting colors (with the exception of white).

Analogous colors are those that are next to each other on the color wheel.

Wearing a sky blue short sleeve shirt with a dark blue or navy blazer is a fantastic example of this.

3. Leave Your Blazer And Top Button Undone

It’s important to remember that a short sleeve shirt can only get you so far in terms of formality. 

The same goes for blazers because, after a certain formality level, a suit would be expected rather than a blazer.

That being said, blazers are typically more formal than short sleeve shirts.

Because of this limited level of formality, you must do some things to ensure you’re keeping the outfit more relaxed. 

There are a couple of ways to do this – the main two are leaving your blazer and top button undone.

dark blue blazer with jeans
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Top buttons should only really be done up when you’re wearing a tie. A tie isn’t necessary with this outfit, so you’ll likely not be wearing one.

Furthermore, leaving your top button undone exerts a more relaxed vibe.

The top one or two buttons of your short sleeve shirt can be undone, but it’s best not to do any more than that.

Similarly, leaving the buttons of your blazer undone dresses down the outfit to a certain extent.

Ideally, you’ll leave all of the buttons of your blazer undone, as this will ensure you achieve the right formality.

4. Darker Blazers Work Best

As mentioned, matching your shirt with your blazer is crucial to looking good with this outfit.

Something to keep in mind that will help make this color-matching process easier is that darker blazers work best.

Colors such as charcoal, navy, black, and dark grey are the best options as they are incredibly versatile and maintain the dark color that works so well.

As well as this, shirts should generally be lighter than the blazer with this outfit, and by going for a dark-colored blazer, you’re allowing more possible shirt options.

It’s worth mentioning that colors that aren’t incredibly dark can work, such as admiral blue and cobalt blue.

However, if you go for a blazer in one of these colors, you must wear a shirt that’s particularly light. White shirts work best for this.

If you’re ever unsure what blazer color would be most appropriate for the situation, go for charcoal.

Charcoal is a fantastically versatile blazer color and, therefore, looks great with most shirt colors – just make sure you avoid black or similar dark shirts.

As well as this, if you attend an event and you’re overdressed with a charcoal blazer, you can simply take it off.

5. Consider The Formality of The Situation

The formality of the situation is always a crucial factor to consider, regardless of your outfit.

Having said this, it’s particularly important when wearing a short sleeve shirt with a blazer due to the controversy surrounding short sleeve shirts and their relationship with formal attire.

Keep in mind that while blazers are typically used to dress up an outfit, short sleeve shirts are often used to dress them down.

Because of this, there’s a proverbial sweet spot where wearing a short sleeve shirt with a blazer shines: the smart-casual dress code.

The smart casual dress code is one that’s often misunderstood. In short, a smart casual dress code is one that combines the polished look of formal apparel with some elements of casual wear.

It shouldn’t be overly formal, nor should it be overly casual – smart-casual should be a balance of the two.

Because of this, wearing a short sleeve shirt with a blazer is perfect for smart-casual situations.

While it may be appropriate for some more formal scenarios, overall, it’s best to steer clear of anything of a strictly formal dress code and stick to smart-casual.

6. Tuck In Your Shirt

It’s recommended that you wear a short sleeve dress shirt with a blazer, as opposed to a casual one.

The main reason for this is that dress shirts are designed to be tucked in – regardless of whether they are long-sleeved or short-sleeved.

As mentioned, the ideal formality for this outfit is the smart-casual dress code – one which combines elements of both formal and casual wear.

Tucking in your shirt allows you to take a somewhat casual garment (the short sleeve shirt) and subtly enhance its formality.

There are two main tuck styles: the French tuck and the full tuck. The French tuck is only really appropriate for casual situations.

This means that the full tuck is the best one to use with a short sleeve shirt and blazer.

As the name suggests, the full tuck is when your shirt is “fully” tucked in. That is to say, tucked in around the entirety of your waistline.

Because your blazer will be unbuttoned, your shirt is more visible than usual, making it especially important to tuck it in.