Style Advice / August 20th, 2013

How to Buy a High Quality Dress Shirt | A Guide for Men

If I were to say the words, “well dressed man” what image would pop into your head?

I’m not really a betting man but feel I would fair pretty well here.

If I were to guess, one of the first images you conjure up in your mind, it would be of a man wearing a perfectly tailored blazer coupled with an equally well fitted dress shirt.

Am I right? 🙂

Regardless, saying that the dress shirt is a critical component to a man’s look wouldn’t be a shocking statement to make.

In fact, dress shirts have come to be universally recognized as a staple for men of style given it’s use throughout history, the way it can frame a man’s face and the versatility it offers.

The importance of the dress shirt has created an entire industry laser focused on creating cutting edge styles in a wealth of colors and patterns.

Yes, choice is a great thing…but not for the inexperienced man.

The huge selection of patterns alone can make a man cringe and become indecisive, leading to poor purchasing decisions.

So what should men focus on when making a dress shirt purchase?

There are a few areas men need to take into consideration to ensure the dress shirts up for sale are of high quality, durable and fit their personal style best.

So to take a step back:

a) We know the importance dress shirts have in men’s style and;

b) The shopping experience can turn into a disaster if you’re unsure what to look for.

Now that we’re armed with this new realization, I want you to focus on the 4 key areas of a man’s dress shirt presented below:

Dress Shirt Fabric

The fabric of your dress shirt may be one of the most important components when it comes to quality. Unfortunately, there are many different types of fabrics, along with combinations of fabrics that a man can choose from.

Your best bet would be to stick with 100% cotton, preferably of high quality (think Oxford cloth). 100% cotton shirts not only fit well, they are also generally more comfortable than fused fabrics.

Dress Shirt Fit

The dress shirts that you find at your local department or clothing store are made for the average male body type given recent statistics. The selection gets even bigger as you can also choose by type of fit such as classic, slim and a multitude of others. In other words, the majority of off-the-rack dress shirts are not an ideal fit for you.

The best remedy for this is to purchase either Bespoke or made-to-measure shirts from a trusted tailor. This option is quite pricey, but the combination of fit, comfort and quality is unmatched, especially for bespoke shirts.

If the budget does not allow for custom clothing, our advice is to try on as many brands you can find to ensure a great fit specific to you. Ensure that you can fit two fingers in your collar once buttoned up and the shoulder stitching on the shirt lines up where your shoulders end.

Lastly, ensure the shirt has enough length so it will stay tucked in your pants and trim enough to minimize additional fabric hanging at the waist.

Dress Shirt Color/Pattern

There is no end to the selection of colors and patterns you can now get as far as dress shirts are concerned.

My recommendation is to stick to white, blue, grey and pink as your foundation of solid colors. You can branch out from there once the fundamentals are covered to meet your own stylish needs.

As far as patterns are concerned, a few pinstriped and checkered shirts will add some variety to your wardrobe without going too over the top.

The key thing to consider is versatility. Can you chose a dress shirt at random and, for the most part, look well with the rest of your outfit?

The Details

A shirt made of high quality materials is never more apparent than in the little details.

For example, check the buttons on a shirt of your choice. What are they made of and how do they feel? To save costs, most manufactures and designers have buttons made of plastic, which tend to crack over time. However, if they are made of mother of pearl, they will pretty much be unbreakable and a great indicator that the rest of the shirt is made with careful attention to detail.

Also, if you have a keen eye, the stitching on the dress shirt can determine if it’s a high quality item or not. Does the stitching look clumsy? Is there double or single stitching?

Once you find a tailor or brand of shirt that fits you best, buy a bunch in various shades and patterns that closely match your personal style.

Having a good selection of proper fitted, high quality dress shirts will optimize your image unlike any other piece of clothing. With this in mind, you should now have a much better understanding of what it takes to pick out a dress shirt that is right for you.

Looking for more tailored advice? Click here for a selection of image consulting services offered by Timeless Gent.