Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Affordable Essentials: Dress Shirts

Time to dress down the dress shirt list. Whether you're picking up your first-ever shirts or you're going for something all-around more proper, these notes might help. 

The colors: white, light blue, white and blue small stripe/check.
  • White works anywhere, for anyone. Light blue and a white/blue pattern are quite acceptable.

The collar: semi-spread.
  • Most guys say the point collar works for everybody. This is true, but point collars on most cheaply constructed shirts are too long and severe, leaving the wearer's head looking out of proportion. The semi-spread is comparatively modern yet classic. The trick is wearing a tie with enough heft so as to keep your collar looking appropriate.

The fabric: 100% cotton poplin/broadcloth or pinpoint oxford.
  • This is simple. A cotton/polyester shirt is a cheap shirt. Pure cotton is soft and breathable. 
  • Also, stay away from non-iron shirts, even those that are all-cotton. The chemical treatments which prevent wrinkling may shorten the life of the shirt. 
The fit: if you don't know your size, get measured.
  • If you think you know your size, still get measured. Most guys wear the incorrect size without realizing it. Head to your local department store or menswear shop and ask for measurements. At least one salesperson should know how to do this properly. However, if the measurements seem way off, ask for someone else or get your measurements from another store. You'll look more foolish wearing an 18 when you're a 16.5 then you will for asking your sizes. 
  • Even if you don't plan to buy at the store you're receiving measurements, try on shirts from a few different brands. A 16 34/35 from Eagle Shirtmakers won't fit the same as another 16 34/35 from Lauren Ralph Lauren. When you're thrift shopping, you can't be so choosy. But if you're buying new, remember fit comes before brand. 

*More on fit/styling when I cover sport shirts.


  1. I'm really enjoying these new segments! If you can believe it though, I don't actually own any other collard shirts other than button downs... But I have button downs in so many colors!

    1. Thank you! Lands' End makes some decent semi-spread dress shirts for a good price, and of course Polo and Brooks are fantastic. I generally prefer button-down collars to semi-spread, except for special occasions in which that extra dressiness is needed.