Don't Fear the Fun Shirt

Don't Fear the Fun Shirt

 

The so-called 'fun' shirt may look a little alarming at first glance, but fear not: Aleks Cvetkovic is here to guide you through the world of this strange and idiosyncratic garment. 

 

We’re living through some strange times, to be sure. But, resolved as we collectively are to get through these bizarre few months, there’s a case to be made for those simple pleasures that lift the spirits. Let me put it to you, then, that few garments are a more welcome distraction or more enjoyable to wear in our current malaise than the ‘fun shirt,’ a multi-coloured, multi-patterned shirt that presents a riot of different fabrics in one single button-down.

A mid-century invention, born of Ivy League prep, the fun shirt in its earliest form was a quirky take on a ‘sport shirt’ (read: ‘casual shirt’ today), but in my own wardrobe at least, it’s found a new and welcome place alongside tailoring. We all know that the role of the suit is changing; business dress is on the wane and relaxed, informal separates are taking centre stage in the wardrobes of most men. In other words, tailoring is moving from a uniform to a lifestyle choice; garments worn for pleasure in your free time, rather than to clock-in to your workstation in the mornings.

In this context, the fun shirt is the perfect companion to an easy jacket and chinos, or an unstructured Games Blazer worn with matching trousers. Why? The clue is in the name: it’s a quirky shirt that makes a statement. It’s suggestive of a man who’s made the conscious choice to wear something different, and who understands how to blend colours and patterns together.

I discovered fun shirts around a year ago, having at first thought them a little challenging (something I suspect a lot of men think when they first come across them). But, having been tempted to treat myself to a needlecord number cut in a chic combination of sky blue, buttery yellow, black and baby pink, I found it surprisingly easy to wear. With the right pieces around it, a fun shirt is expressive and lighthearted, but it doesn’t have to be overpowering.

Once you figure that out, pulling a fun shirt out of your wardrobe in the mornings feels like a naughty treat. It’s one of those rare garments a man can enjoy wearing that shouldn’t work, but absolutely does. And right now, while we’re all self-isolating and social-distancing, there’s a definite psychological benefit to getting dressed in the mornings; preserving those few moments of serenity at the start of your day, when you can enjoy your passion for clothes uninterrupted, before a slew of emails and your home study beckons.

In Collection Three, Drake’s has built on last season’s pair of poplin fun shirts with an absolute stunner of an oxford button-down, cut in a combination of pale green, lilac, pink, buttermilk yellow and sky blue. As anyone who shops with Drake’s knows only too well, the joy of an oxford shirt is two-fold. Firstly, it’ll soften up beautifully over time, and secondly an oxford cloth’s mixture of coloured and white yarns prevents any shirt from looking too shouty. There’s a lovely softness of tone in this design that’s hard to resist. 

With its palette of pale pastel colours the shirt will work with almost anything you care to put with it, but I love fun shirts under navy gold-buttoned blazers. There’s something about the mix of irreverent shirt and conservative jacket that just feels so satisfying to wear. So, I’d pair this with the navy Mk. III Irish Linen Games Blazer and a pair of well-washed jeans, but you could just as easily wear this button-down loose over a pair of printed swim shorts on Camber Sands or Brighton seafront (or the South of France, if you’re travelling this summer). If in doubt, just remember my golden rule; fun shirts should be enjoyable to wear and make no apologies for it. 

And, let’s face it, we can all do with a little bit of fun in our wardrobes right now.

 

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