The classic white dress shirt – that button-down synonymous with formal wear and a key part of corporate offices, official outings, and dinner-dates for decades – is a staple in men’s wardrobes yet most face a hard time picking the right piece for themselves. Is this too tight? Are the sleeves too long? Is this collar right for this suit? These are just some common struggles faced. 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 choose a dress shirt that’s both comfortable and chic.
The way your dress fits defines the structure of your look. Your chest, shoulder-cuts, sleeve length, and shirt length are the most basic aspects of your shirts. 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 – there’s a size that cuts off perfectly. The perfect length for any dress shirt is mid-crotch – it’s just enough to tuck in tidily without gathering. These are just the basic blueprints, a skeleton of sorts to begin your search for the perfect shirt.
Different social gatherings require one to sport different collars. Here’s a crash-course – the ‘Forward Point’ and ‘Spread’ collars are meant for suits. The ‘Buttoned-down’ collar works best with blazers – it can do well without one too. The ‘Club’ and ‘Cutaway’ collars stand-out for unique reasons – the Club brings out a mildly casual undertone, which is brilliant for events where sartorial creativity and playfulness is admired, while the Cutaway is an office neckline, period.
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 basically the vertical strip of fabric at the edge of the left front panel where the button holes line up. This requires 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 utilised 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, a staple in tuxedo dress shirts. The cuffs come with options like the Barrel cuff (with simple button closers), the French cuff (where you need cuff links), and the Turnback cuff (as the name suggests, it is turned back) it’s really subject to one’s preference. For a more personalised touch, indulge in a monogrammed cuff treatment at bespoke tailors.
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