Madras Shirt-053

Living in a tropical country like the Philippines means being able to dress in summer clothing all year round. Polo shirts are great but sometimes what one needs is plenty of colour to go with all of that sunshine. And when one thinks of colour and summer there is one fabric that comes to mind: madras.

The fabric is named after the town of Madras (now known as the city of Chennai) in India from where it originally came from. When Scottish regiments visited India in the 1800’s the Indians reinterpreted the tartans the Scots wore in their local colour palettes. The resulting cloth became popular among the British as a stylish way to stay cool in the heat and eventually found its way to London and spread all over the world.

Madras Shirt-005

As a result of being loosely woven, madras feels airy and lightweight with a linen-like texture. And like the Scottish tartans, madras is very colorful and looks great under the sun with its soft colours. They are best worn with cotton trousers like chinos and jeans. As a rule of thumb only wear a single piece of madras clothing in order to break the monotony and not overwhelm an outfit.

American clothing brands are the best places to buy madras shirts but they don’t make them like they used to i.e. bleeding and fading easily. I got mine from Polo Ralph Lauren but you can also get them from Brooks Brothers and Gant. I wear the slim fit from Polo Ralph Lauren and fits great without any alteration. Brooks Brothers fits large while Gant Rugger is usually very slim and designed to be worn untucked.


Sport coat by L.B.M. 1911. Madras shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren. Belt by Anderson’s. Chinos by Brooks Brothers.