If only everything in life was as reliable as the Road Shirt. It’s been a Universal Works bestseller for over a decade, which isn’t surprising when you try and unpick the appeal. For starters, who doesn’t love a revere collar? There’s no top button or starchy stiffness here – just a single piece of cloth, cut to sit flat and wide open, without pomp or circumstance. Sometimes called a Cuban, this boxy number was designed for laid-back comfort.
Popularised in the 1950s, it’s got that all-American vibe. Roomy and charismatic with a shape that sticks two fingers up at the 9-to-5, this classic short sleeved shirt wins first prize every year in the wardrobe hero popularity contest. With a collar detail that draws the eyes outwards, it helps fill out the shoulders and broaden things up physique-wise, in all the right places.
The Road Shirt is versatile in the styling stakes as well – bang a box-fresh white t-shirt underneath for the full Christian Slater in True Romance look; or if you’re feeling extra confident, you can channel Patrick Swayze – just leave the under-layer at home and let your chest hair do the talking...
For Universal Works founder David Keyte, mid-century optimism was the real inspiration behind the shirt’s development. As a teenager, he was a big fan of the beat generation heavyweights, and explains, “I read and re-read the book, ‘On the Road’. I desperately wanted to be like Jack Kerouac or Neil Cassidy. If I’m honest, it wasn’t just the prose that excited me – I was just as interested in what they wore! I wished I could be that carefree, on a road trip around the United States having crazy existential thoughts about life and travel.
More importantly for me though, were those loose-fitting, short-sleeved, flat-collared garage mechanics shirts. I would have done anything to be wearing one of those under the red-hot Californian sun, but I had to make do with a week in Skegness instead. So, 30 years later I paid homage to the Road Shirt in our first Universal Works summer collection back in 2010 – and I’ve worn one ever since.”
The straight-hemmed structure and single chest pocket make it an easy vehicle for bold colour, patterns or prints. Fuss-free and cut to finish on the hip, it’s best worn untucked with your favourite chinos, shorts or jeans. Engineered to look equally at home in a greasy spoon or a jazz café, summer’s not summer without one.