Little be known to some, that yesterday was in fact National White Shirt Day. A day that commemorates the men and women that participated in a strike at General Motors way back in 1937. To mark the occasion we decided to put the most common staple of every man’s wardrobe under the microscope.
Whether it’s a wedding, funeral, interview or even a date, the men’s white shirt is the old faithful you can always rely on. It goes with anything, looks smart when dressed up and has even been known to finish off a casual look rather well. It’s fair to say that we here at T.M. Lewin are fond of the staple white shirt; so let us impart our sartorial know-how upon your fashion conscious mind.
Generally speaking, shirts come in four main categories with regards to the fit of the shirt.
- Regular – This is the shirt you wore to school and most likely the very first of your formal shirts. It is the loosest fit in men’s shirts (we’ll disregard MC Hammer shirts for now) and, for this reason, is often chosen for comfort.
- Slim Fit – Don’t be fooled into thinking that slim fit shirts are not for those of us with a penchant for bacon breakfasts. The name refers to the style and fit only and not to the man wearing it. It’s a slightly closer fit than the regular, tapering in at the waist to give the wearer a trimmer look.
- Fitted – The fitted shirt is a closer fit all round. The sleeves, chest and body of the shirt, are all much closer to the wearer; a great choice if you want a more noticeable change to your regular style.
- Super Fitted – Skinny is the big trend in men’s suits lately which is why the super fitted shirt has become so popular. It is very closely fitted and leaves very little room between material and skin. Great for that modish skinny look.
Shirts for men can and have been made from a vast array of materials and while other materials have their advantages cotton is by far the most common fabric of choice. But what are Poplin, Oxford, Twill and Pinpoint? Well, they are simply some of the many different names for the various methods of weaving cotton. These methods result in different textures and sometimes appearance depending on the dyeing process involved. For example
- Oxford is considered a more casual fabric due to the weight and coarseness of the weave. If the shirt is coloured, only threads going in one direction are dyed while the others are not.
- Pinpoint is woven in the same way but using a finer yarn making it smoother in texture and appearance – perfect for men’s formal shirts.
Your choice of material generally relates to how you will wear the shirt and any good establishment (such as TM Lewin) should be able to recommend a fabric for you.
The collar is the most important choice you can make when buying men’s shirts – besides forgoing ruffles. A formal white shirt with a classic collar can be easily worn on any occasion but substitute the classic for a wing collar, and you have a shirt that’s for black tie affairs only. There have been many styles of collar throughout the ages but here are some of our favourites.
- Classic – The one you all know and trust. It can be worn on any occasion
- Button Down – Buttons fasten the points. It’s generally a casual collar
- Cutaway – A collar with a very wide spread. For any occasion
- Full Cutaway – For those who like a larger knot in their tie
- Small – Most often found on fitted shirts. Goes well with a skinny tie
- Tunic – For a buttoned up smart casual look
- Wing – The traditional black tie collar choice
- Pin –This collar features pinholes for a collar pin. A collar with bling
- Round – A collar that provides a slight change to the classic
- Point – The points on this collar are closer to the tie
Cuffs are simple; it’s either button cuff or double cuff. Button cuff consists of the standard cuff with buttons – no surprise there – and the double cuff is the more traditional cuff fastened with cufflinks. It’s a simple choice, but we have to say a nice pair of cufflinks can really complete a look
Our Tips for wearing a White Shirt
It has to be said that the white shirt is one of the easiest to wear items of men’s clothing. But simply wearing it with a suit is too easy, so why not try a few of our suggestions.
- Wear it with a blazer – An open collar white shirt paired with a blazer is a classic British look that is the best of smart casual.
- Wear it with jeans – Completely casual but fresh and clean. This is a perfect summer look.
- Pair it with a skinny tie – This is a great contemporary casual look when paired with the jeans look we mentioned above.
- Warm it up – A cardigan or sweater in a bold colour with a white shirt is another great casual look.
So now you have been schooled in the anatomy of the humble shirt perhaps it’s high time you invested in some new shirts of the finest quality. Check out our new shirts page and have a look at some of the great styles we have on offer.
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