Popover shirts have long been treated as the bastard love child of polos and button downs, ignored and relegated to the sale rack. But these button-some-of-the-way-downs are actually a great-looking alternative to both shirt types ideal for cookouts or any other casual occasion. Because they're both coming into style and uniquely positioned to walk the line between casual and business casual, popovers are great for spring events.
"The pop has the added bonus of looking more dressed up and polished when worn with a cardigan, light summer windbreaker, or sports jacket," says David Hamilton, fourth generation co-owner of Hamilton Shirts. "A knit polo originally designed for tennis can be perceived as very sporty, whereas a popover style can provide a casual shirt that still has the sharper elements of a dress shirt. The crisper button placket and buttoned collar can provide a bit of structure to the shirt giving the appearance of a crisper look."
The folks at Proper Cloth have options that lean more heavily toward business attire, with several oxfords that could get you through a meeting. They also carry some plaid options for more rugged versatility. If you're looking for more of a knockaround vibe, heard to Gant by Michael Bastain, where the shirts have been given a bit of a nautical edge. The half-and-half shirt can move easily – if not seamlessly – between worlds.
Hamilton recommends wearing popovers "as you would any other type of polo, with the added benefit of being able to dress it up." One of the best ways to wear it now? Pairing it "with an unconstructed, unlined sports jacket for a great updated weekend look." As for the details, go comfortable, and don't treat your popover selection the way you buy polos. "A too slim cut can make a popover difficult to get on and off since the woven fabric doesn't have the ability to stretch like a knit," says Hamilton. [$225; hamilton.com]