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The classic white dress shirt is synonymous with formal wear, business meetings, and dinner-dates. It’s a staple in men’s wardrobes yet most men have a hard time picking out the right piece. Is this too tight? Are the sleeves too long? Is this collar right for this suit? Tom Ford says, “Style and fashion should enhance your life, not cause you more stress,” so we’d like to eliminate the guesswork and give you a heads-up on how to pick the right dress shirt that’s both comfortable and stylish.

Ground rules

The way your dress fits defines the entire structure of your look. Chest, shoulder-cuts, sleeve length, and shirt length are the basics. When picking a shirt, first measure your chest with tape and look for a size that corresponds closest to it, preferably an inch bigger. When it comes to shoulder cuts, ensure that they aren’t drooping off the edge or cutting off too high. The perfect length for any dress shirt is mid-crotch, it’s just enough to tuck in tidily without gathering.

Collars 
The Forward Point Collar
The Cutaway collar

This is the most crucial point on our ‘How to pick the right shirt’ guide. Different social gatherings require one to sport different collars. Here’s a crash-course: the forward point and spread collars are for suits, buttoned-down collar works best with blazers,  and club (mildly casual undertone) and cutaway (office neckline) collars are ideal for a mildly casual undertone.

Fabrics 

For dress shirts, fabrics are chosen as per occasion and weather. Premium cotton shirts for formal wear and breathable linen for casual summer indulgences have always been style staples in India. There is also poplin, royal Oxford, satin, chambray and occasionally, jacquard for the evenings. While poplin and royal Oxford fall under formal wear, satin brings out a slice of fun for partying as well as formal layering, leaving chambray and jacquard strictly for casual wear. 

Placket, buttons and cuffs 

This is exclusively for bespoke treatments. The placket is a vertical strip of fabric at the edge of the left front panel where the button holes line up. This lets you to indulge in a slightly thicker fabric as it lays the foundation for your collar. A thick and crisp placket ensures an upright collar.

Buttons could actually be utilized as a contrasting element in your dress shirt. It could be as simple as replacing the white buttons with black, on a white shirt. Bespoke houses often offer a unique set of premium buttons that can be used to craft a better shirt.

The cuffs are essentially the finish or shape at the end of your sleeve and are fastened with cuff links, which in themselves are understated menswear elements, but a staple in tuxedo dress shirts. The cuffs come with options like the Barrel cuffs (simple button fasteners), French cuffs (cuff links), and Turnback or Cocktail cuffs. For a more personalized touch, get monogrammed cuffs at bespoke tailors. 

 All images: Courtesy Shutterstock

Mikhail Gomes
Senior Features Writer
A watch aficionado, Gomes also enjoys learning about fine whiskies, and one day hopes to establish his own menswear label. At Lifestyle Asia India, he writes on watches, menswear, auto and tech.