The essential guide on what you should be looking for when shopping for men’s shirts.
There comes a time in any man’s life when he has to look good, and this means turning to to the classic shirt. But how do you know which shirt offers the best fit and style for you?
When it comes to shirts it isn’t always as simple as just throwing on any old one and calling it a day. There’s nothing worse than a poor shirt, and it’s one of the things that will stand out a mile if not done properly. You need to understand that the shirt is fundamental in men’s fashion, but you also need to know how to wear them. I’m here to help with some key tips.
Fit is everything
I’ve said this before, but I really can’t stress how important the fit is when you’re wanting to look sharp. You should really be looking at two fundamental measurements when looking to get that perfectly fitting shirt, and you’ll need to bear these in mind when you’re choosing what to buy.
Especially when it comes to formal shirting, knowing your collar size saves a lot of hassle. Most shirtmakers tend to use these measurements for their shirts rather than the S/M/L scale you might be used to. If you don’t know your collar size, take a tape measure and wrap it around your neck just above the collar bone. This will give a good indication of what you’ll actually be looking for. If you can’t get hold of a tape measure, an easy indicator is that you should be able to fit two fingers between your collar and neck without making it uncomfortably tight. Any more than that and the collar is probably too big, any less and you should consider going up half an inch or so.
Most modern shirts come in a variety of cuts; usually a regular (or classic), slim and extra slim fit. You need to find which one works for you. Take your time to try on the different cuts and determine which you’re most comfortable in, and which works for your body type best. You don’t want it pulling across the buttons, that means it’s too tight. But equally, you don’t want too much excess fabric hanging out of your trousers.
Nobody wants a shirt that gathers on the arms, but it can be equally infuriating when the sleeve is too short. To get this right, you need to know what your sleeve length is. Take a tape measure and measure starting at the back of your neck, just at the midpoint across your back, then take the tape measure over your shoulder and down towards where the cuff will fall to get the measurement. Your sleeve should end at your large wrist bone that lies behind your thumb, so that about 1/2 inch of fabric is showing out of a jacket sleeve. Also, note that sleeve cuffs shouldn’t be too tight, but loose enough to cover a watch, should you choose to wear one.
Once you’ve got the fit right, life will be a lot easier when you’re looking for shirts. Remember, though, that each brand offers a slightly different fit, so make sure that you try on a few.
Just as shirts come in different sizes, so too do their collars come in a range of designs. Each sits slightly differently and adds a new dynamic to your outfit. Below are a few of the common types you might find:
One of my personal favourites, and an all round go-to style. This keeps things classy and contemporary without going to the extremes of the full cutaway collar. The spike in popularity of this style of collar could be attributed to the rise of the Italian ‘sprezzatura’ look; the classy yet sophisticated European style.
It has a larger spread and gap between the collar points, giving your tie more room to show off a little.
These are similar to the semi-cutaway collar, but take things to the next level. Much like their less drastically spread cousin, they are great for showing off your ties. There is a caveat, however, as when worn without a tie they can have a tendency to spread a little too wide if you’re not careful.
Common amongst your classic oxford casual shirts, the button down collar is a great alternative that’s becoming more and more accepted as a formal look. It looks great with a knitted or gaberdine tie, or just left open at the collar for a dressed down look.
Not every shirt is made equal and there’s a swathe of different textures, prints and colours out there to try, but you need to prioritise the staples first. Aim for getting a range of pastel colours first–think whites, blues and pinks. These are the most versatile, and can be worn with a lot of suits and colour combinations. The majority of my wardrobe is made up of these types of shirt.
If you’re in the market for a patterned shirt, go for something that’s not too adventurous, unless you have the confidence to carry off a heavy pattern. Stripes or checks are good to start off with.
And finally, if you’re looking for a more casual shirt, go with a cotton oxford or a linen shirt for warmer weather. Choosing a textured shirt adds depth to an outfit, but the softer aesthetic of these shirts also gives a more casual edge to your ensemble.
Browse our full range of men’s shirts here