Review Battle Royale: Sunshirt Edition

It was between breeches and sunshirts for this week’s battle royale, and the Patreon group voted for sunshirts, so… sunshirts it is!

And, to be fair, I only own sunshirts that I actually like. If I didn’t like them very much, I got rid of them either a long time ago or before I moved (for instance: the San Soleil and the Piper ones, among many others, did not make the cut). How much I like the ones I have now varies, but they wouldn’t still be in my collection if I hated them. That said, they certainly do not all rank equally in my eyes, and if we’re gonna do a battle royale then it’s time to get brutally honest and perhaps maybe overly critical. Fun! Also yes, these shirts were all paid for with my own money, none were given to me, I’m not receiving anything for these reviews, blah blah blah etc etc standard disclaimer.

Some of the collection, representing al of today’s contending brands. Top row L to R: It’s a Haggerty’s, Dada Sport, Dover, Ariat, Urban Strides. Bottom row L to R: 70 Degrees (performance), Free Ride, 70 Degrees (laser cut), Kastel, Esprit.

It’s a Haggerty’s

This brand made their name by doing custom sunshirts, and that’s exactly why I have one too – we got them made for the sBs inspection way back when Presto was a baby. We did them in sBs colors, which… is a big part of why I don’t wear it much. For as much as I love navy blue, it’s cousin bright-ass-royal-blue is not so much my jam. That’s not the shirt’s fault though. The fabric on these is decent… it feels really nice and silky to the touch but for some reason I don’t find it as cool or breathable as a lot of my others. I also think it runs long in both the arms and the body. They are definitely slim-fitting though, which I like (I wear a medium), and it’s fun that you can order basically anything you want.

Dada Sport

Look, this thing is French and it looks like it. It’s a gorgeous dark navy, it has it’s quirky-yet-simple little logo on the body, a heavy duty gold metal zipper, and fun metal buttons at the cuff that let you know it’s high end. It fits like a glove, because FRENCH (I wear a Small). It’s bougie and it’s high end and you have to love it for those reasons alone. That said, the weight of the fabric is also scaled to what I have to assume is a French summer, and Florida… ain’t that. This one lives in my fall/winter collection instead.

Urban Strides

I got these when they were on clearance for a smokin deal (I have two – blue and burgundy) and they’re quite nice. Not as ULTRA lightweight as some other brands, but definitely still light enough to wear here. The white collar does get dirty (or maybe I just have a particularly disgusting face) but I like the contrasting color stripe at the bust and down the side. Well, I do until I have to figure out what breeches to pair the shirts with and then I get a little stuck thinking there’s too much color going on or things don’t match, because I am the blandest person in the world when it comes to colors. The fit and fabric on these is nice though, and their new styles look equally interesting. I also love that Urban Strides puts little sayings on the arm (the ones I have say “do what you love”), I think it’s a cute little touch. I wear a medium in this brand.

Dover Coolblast

My French blue Dover Coolblast shirt decorated with some after-market Spanish moss

Dover, Dover, Dover. You got these like 80% right. Let’s start with the positives. First, the fabric. It’s really similar to the old school Kastels that I liked so much. It’s light, it’s soft, it’s UPF 100, and it’s great for summer. They come in tons of colors (many admittedly ugly in my color-hating opinion) and patterns (if you’re into that sort of thing). When Dover does their BOGO sales, which they do on a fairly regular basis, the price is very right (the USEF discount stacks, too – last time I got two for $27 each). Let’s talk about the one thing I hate about these: the fit. First of all, their sizing scale… it’s very generous even for American sizing. I wear an XS, and could even go down to XXS – it’s STILL very roomy and boxy in the body. For reference, I am not an actually small woman, I’m 5’6″ with fairly broad shoulders – very average. With these shirts I always have a lot of fabric to tuck in and it doesn’t lay nicely like my better-fitting shirts do. Even the arms are baggy – I always find myself pushing the sleeves up on these (see above photo) when I usually can refrain from doing that with other sunshirts. If you like your shirts baggy and boxy then these are probably your jam, but for me they juuuust miss the mark with that fit.

Esprit Equestrian

To be fair they call this a base layer, not a sun shirt, but it does have SPF 50 and mesh under the arms so it could probably be seen as either. I like the color block design, although wish the white wasn’t in the dirtiest spots on my body. Ok I wish there wasn’t white at all really. It does look nice though with the contrast. For me (I swear the Small) I think it runs quite long in the body so there’s a lot to tuck in (I would hem it a good 3″ shorter), and fabric-wise: believe them when they call this a base layer. It’s definitely too thick for a summer sunshirt. That said it’s pretty cheap at $55 regular price and it looks really good with black pants especially. It lives in my fall-winter shirt collection.

70 Degrees

70 Degrees French Stripe Performance shirt

So I have two different shirts from this brand, the French Stripe Performance Shirt in navy/white and the Laser Cut in gray. Both have really light and silky fabric (it’s right up there among my favorite fabrics) but they’re slightly different. The French Stripe is like your typical sunshirt design with the mesh under the arms. I love the design details of this one, it’s got a nice solid metal zipper, navy at the edge of the collar so it doesn’t show all your face dirt, it’s tagless, has 50+ SPF sun protection… great shirt, super comfortable. I do wish it was cut just sliiiiiightly slimmer in the body but it’s certainly not nearly as baggy as some. I accidentally washed this shirt with something that bled a lot of pink and it was one of the saddest laundry experiences of my life, but I’ve managed to get most of that out and it looks white again. Gold star for that.

The Laser Cut one does not have mesh under the arms but it has little triangle cutouts up the arms, shoulders, neck, and along the back for lots of ventilation. I love this shirt, love the unique styling, and love that the neck doesn’t have seams. It’s slightly less sun protection at 30 SPF. My only complaint about the gray color in particular is that when you sweat and then it dries, it leaves slight sweat marks. They come out when you wash it, but if you plan on running errands or something after the barn and you get particularly sweaty, I’d get it in a different color. Still though, love these shirts and absolutely will buy more (the laser cut comes in a light blue now and I wannit). I wear a small in this brand.

70 Degrees Laser Cut shirt

Free Ride

I can’t find the particular sunshirt I have on their website now, but it was just your basic black sunshirt with glitter mesh under the arms. Black plus glitter… y’all know how I feel about that combination. Looks-wise it’s absolutely stunning. The fit is pretty good, nicely form-fitted, and it’s a good length, not too long or too short. The fabric though is just too heavy for a true southern summer. This one also lives in my “fall/winter” sunshirt section – best when highs are under 80 degrees. Their newer shirts have mesh on the sides too so I’m kind of interested to try those for comparison, since I do like this brand’s fit (I wear a medium).

Ariat Sunstopper

I have that navy and white polka dot one that literally everyone in America has by now I think. The price is right, it’s a cute enough shirt, its UPF 45… hard to go that wrong. I don’t LOVE the fabric, but it’s also cooler than I expected. It feels a little bit scratchy to the touch almost (compared to some of my super silky sunshirts anyway), but air flows through it well. It’s almost… slightly meshy? It feels about how you would expect for the price point, but it does the job, so. How’s that for a review? In reality I don’t wear this one a lot but I couldn’t tell you exactly why… I think because my brain sees polka dots and goes “LOUD PATTERN” even though it’s really not. I do wish it was a little more form fitted so it tucked in without having as much extra fabric around the middle, but it’s not bad. I wear a Small in Ariat.

Kastel Denmark

Heavy Sigh. Look, Kastel was my absolute hands down favorite for YEARS. They had the best fabric for really hot summers – super lightweight and cooling when it got wet. Even with that stupid little blob of fabric under the zipper that never quite sits right (I cut it out of mine), I still dearly love my older Kastel shirts. I know some people didn’t like them because the cuff didn’t allow you to push the sleeves up (I try not to push mine up anyway lest I get more weird tan lines) and yeah the mesh was a little delicate, but… they felt so nice. The problem is that the newer ones just aren’t the same. The fabric is different, the colors and prints are… very much NOT my aesthetic… it’s just been a real disappointment from them lately. I haven’t bought any new ones in years and probably won’t. That said, my old ones are still some of my favorites, even if my Mediums are a little big on me now.


Ok that was maybe a little brutal. Bonus points if you made it this far. Drum roll please for the winner…

70 Degrees!

This one wasn’t easy. Price-point-wise, at least when they’re on sale, Dover is very appealing, but if we take that out of the equation then would I buy them? Probably not. Therefore they certainly can’t be the winner. Their fit just makes me annoyed every single time I put them on and they lack some of the nicer details. I do love my old Kastels, but I also can’t hand them the title when I don’t actually like the newer ones. 70 Degrees, though… they get so many of the pieces right: lovely fabric, good fit, unique styles, attention to detail, small (woman-owned, in the USA) business, etc etc. I’m really looking forward to seeing their brand grow and expand. The price point is very fair, I think, they’re certainly nicer than others in the same price category. I do always find myself reaching for those shirts the most, they just feel so nice to wear and they look good too. When I went through my phone looking for pics for this post, I was wearing a 70 Degrees shirt in most of them. I think that says it all. Deserving win!

18 thoughts on “Review Battle Royale: Sunshirt Edition

  1. I really want to try one of the 70 degrees life shirts. The Ariat ones are cooler than they’d seem, but still not great for super hot/humid summer weather.

    Like

  2. I’ve come to love my Kerrit’s Ice Fil tops. The fabric is SUPER light – Like the lightest I’ve ever felt. I never thought they would take over from my Kastel’s, but they are by far the most comfortable…so light you forget you have a shirt on. No mesh, but you don’t need it (at least not in my weather that ranges in summer from low 60s to 110 depending on where in the county I am)

    Like

  3. I do not need a 70 Degrees Blue Morpho Laser Cut Shirt or a Classic Safari Shirt. I do need a chalkboard so that I can keep writing this statement over and over – maybe then I will not hit Check Out on my shopping cart.

    Like

  4. Have you tried EIS? They aren’t cheap, but it’s bc they aren’t made in sweat shops overseas. They are nicely fitted, super light and have nice basic color options which really seems to hit your preferences.
    I’ve also tried TS sunshirts (which are similar to EIS, but made in sweat shops) and Anique. I love the fit of Anique (also a US made shirt) but they are for sure a spring/fall shirt in North Texas. Most of my EIS shirts are 5+ years old and other than fading from line drying none have any rips or tears.

    Like

    1. I had an EIS at one point and liked it but didn’t love it. I don’t even remember exactly why now. Same with Bette and Court and Kerrits. I think I’ve had most of them at this point (except TS because I REFUSE to give that company a dime of my money). I love the Anique shirts but yeah those are fall/winter shirts for me. 😂

      Like

  5. I live in sunshirts and haven’t tried many of these – I have the Dover and the old school Kastels (and the patterns now are just… ick… elderly lady couch vibes). I also have the Kerrits Icefil but I’m definitely going to check out the 70 degrees – the laser cut shirts look fantastic!

    Like

  6. I think I’m in the minority. I didn’t even like the old kastel sunshirts. I had 2 and both died quick deaths (stitching of one came out the second ride). The treadstep ones fit me the best, I like my ariats, and dover are my favorite for price. Mostly I buy things on super sale or just get cheap UV shirts from random brands on Amazon.

    Like

    1. Ibkul is SO nice! It’s better than the Dover, Ariat, and Kastel. It keeps me cool in Aiken summers. And they run periodic sales on their website.

      Like

  7. I tried Kastel, and I just don’t love the fit. I have a longish torso and they seem to just ride up on me. I wear mostly Horze (for some reason that brand in general fits me really well!) on cooler days (they’d fall into your fall/winter category, meanwhile I wear wool in the winter because it’s Montana) and Lettia or Kerrits on the hot days. The Lettias are wonderful, though they do run a little large, I love the fabric. Kerrits, I hate the colors usually but the “aire ice” fabric is basically mesh and it’s the best I’ve found for a really hot day (which, Montana, so not hot like Florida or Texas….but also I’m a cold tolerant creature and I start melting around 85 degrees…)

    I really want to try one of those 70-degrees ones now! They do look nice.

    Like

  8. I have the blue morpho 70 degrees shirt on its way to my house right now!🤣
    Hoping that I guessed right on size, though. We’ll see when I get home on Sunday, I guess.
    I love my Free Rides – I have the black glitter and the navy and black, which fits like the glitter one. (The Devon show shirt runs smaller, though.) And Free Ride has fabulous customer service, too!
    I’m also really happy with Chestnut Bay – I have a couple of theirs and they’re super flattering, comfortable and have some nice details, like a D-ring zipper pull, piping and a nifty little pocket on the upper arm. The green from last year is my favorite.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s