10 Madras Shirts to Get You Through the Summer

It's the fabric of the season, baby

Updated June 1, 2021 11:47 am
10 Madras Shirts to Get You Through the Summer
UO, Todd Snyder, Huckberry

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Let’s talk about madras, the plaid cloth long favored by preps. The history of madras does not begin on the clipped green lawns of the Ivy Leagues but rather in Madras, India, some time around the early 1600s. It was largely relegated to the peasant class, at least until the English East India Company and colonialism arrived and colonialism. Naturally, the weavers were exploited for their labor and talents, and it wasn’t long before the fabric made its way to the States, where it accrued a certain social capital. This isn’t to say that you should refrain from wearing madras, but you should certainly take a moment to acknowledge that this quintessentially American fabric is … not exactly that.

There’s no denying that madras lends itself well to the warmer summer months — it’s lightweight, airy and festive. It’s even capable of turning the oft-looked-down-upon short sleeve button up into an enviable, cool item of clothing. Then comes the fun of lording your now vast knowledge of madras over others.

If all this talk of the fabric has piqued your interest in acquiring some for the summer, your options are ample and varied. You might think that if you’ve seen one madras plaid then you’ve seen them all, but you’d be mistaken. Below are ten madras shirts for keeping you cool, both literally and figuratively, in the warm months ahead.

Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder Ikat Madras Camp-Collar

Todd Snyder rendered the popular silhouette in not just madras but an iteration of the pattern that sees an ikat print subtly placed throughout, lending it a well-worn look. If you’re really feeling bold, spring for the matching 7″ Weekend Shorts.

East Dane

Barbour Summer Madras Short Sleeve Shirt

While you’re likely most familiar with Barbour’s waxed jackets, you’d be wise not to neglect the brand’s other clothing styles, especially this madras shirt, which arrives in bright, seasonally appropriate hues.

Urban Outfitters

UO Madras Grid Seersucker Button-Down Shirt

Madras+seersucker = the ultimate summertime shirt.


J.Crew Short-Sleeve Indian Madras Popover

Switch things up a bit with popover silhouette instead of the standard button-down, which, when rendered in vibrant madras further encapsulates the easygoing, carefree spirit of the season.


Original Madras Trading Company Lax Short Sleeve Shirt

If you really want to go the authentic route, then you should opt for this number from the Original Madras Trading Company, established in New York in the 1970s by an immigrant from Madras. Made from yarn-dyed, hand-loomed fabric sourced from the Chennai region of India, it’s the real deal.


Corridor Waffle Madras

Instead of toting around some burdensome jacket on those cool summer nights, consider this long-sleeve madras button-down from Corridor. Crafted from 100% Cotton Waffle Madras made in India at the brand’s partner workshop, the shirt will look handsome thrown over a t-shirt as you hit the beach or town for a nighttime stroll.


Orvis Madras Overprint Short-Sleeved Shirt

Madras shirts tend to err on the brighter side in terms of colors, but for those who prefer darker hues, consider Orvis’ take on the shirt. The brand made the classic plaid a little more interesting by layering a block print over it, meticulously applied by hand so every shirt is different.


Polo Ralph Lauren Madras Check Shirt

It should come as no shock that the brand considered the pinnacle of prep by many should have their own iteration of the madras shirt, and Polo Ralph Lauren’s does not disappoint. Featuring a check pattern of red, blue, yellow and green, it’s colorful but not ycartoonishl so, primed to become your go-to shirt this summer.

Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers Camp Collar Short-Sleeve Madras

If you’re still unsure about the bolder madras patterns, settle instead for this shirt from Brooks Brothers. It’s still madras but not as demanding of attention.


Howlin’ Cocktail Shirt

Obviously you should wear this the next time you go out for drinks.

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