The Shirt

Image: Harvie and Hudson shirt. Photo by www.menswear-market.com via Robert Sheie
Image: Harvie and Hudson shirt. Photo by www.menswear-market.com via Robert Sheie

The cornerstone of any man’s wardrobe, and with good reason, is undoubtedly the shirt. This menswear staple provides designers with almost limitless creative inspiration; designing, redesigning and then redesigning again has given a plethora of options for the modern dandy, covering all occasions. You want casual? Try oversized plaids, tartans, denims and shirts made of woollen materials. The fit will undoubtedly be made for comfort. Just look at Givenchy Conversely, if you want formal, go for a more classic cotton poplin, but even there you can play with any combination of prints and colours.

The length of a formal shirt should, in my opinion, come to right below your belt line.This means that on the less formal of occasions, but where you still want to rock a bit of classic style, it won’t resemble a bird’s dress when untucked. Yet, when the event in question calls for a scrubbed up version of yourself, it will comfortably tuck itself into your trousers, without the embarrassment of having to pull your trousers up so high you’ve cut your genitals in half.

However the point of this article is to stress the importance of one item of clothing in particular; the white shirt.

The modern white shirt has a history entwined with the birth of the ‘white collar’worker, which is perhaps not the most glamorous of histories. It doesn’t exactly ooze flair and sex appeal, knowing that perhaps it was the garment of the choice for the office jockey. However over the years, it has, or should have, tiptoed into everyone’s wardrobes. There is almost of degree of fetishism how some men revere their white shirts. Made by their specific shirt maker, most likely in Mayfair, who will tweak the collar style or the fit, ever so slightly, to arrive at what he believes to be the perfect incarnation of the classic white. Think Budd Shirtmakers, Emma Willis and Sean O’Flynn. These are for the guys who treat shirts bloody seriously.

Speaking of collar styles, one would be shocked at the vast array of styles one can find. Do you go for a cut away, a button down, a pinned, a spread, a straight, a tab or what?

Furthermore, there is a further etiquette one should note when considering how you wear your white shirt. Do you button it all the way to the top, a trend that seems no real sign of ceasing, of go for an Alex Turner/Tony Montana and leave it buttoned as low down as possible, to give everyone a glint of that gold chain you’re proudly adorning around your neck? I abide by the rule that if it is a formal cotton shirt, without a button down collar, it should be buttoned up to the top. Otherwise it can give the effect of looking like a banker after a couple of beers, trying to party down straight from the office. However, anything shirt with a button down collar or a shirt that has been firmly placed in the informal category shouldn’t be buttoned up the top in absence of a tie. It just looks rather uncomfortable, and like you’re trying too hard to conform to whatever trend it is now currently labelled as– hipster/indie/London? Who knows, it’s an arbitrary label regardless.

Irrespective of how you wear your shirt, the fact of the matter is that all of you guys out there should be repping a white shirt. I think that if you’re a white shirt virgin, you should be looking at a white button down oxford, also known as the American classic.

It is formal enough to get away with wearing it in the office if you’re fortunate enough to scrape an internship, but casual enough to wear with literally anything. And I mean anything. Look at the shirts by Brooks Brothers, Uniqlo and I guess Topman have them now. If you’re ready to splash the student loan you’ve just received, I’d recommend what I believe to be the king of this genre of shirt; the classic Thom Browne white button down, with a grosgrain trim down the placket. To quote Vince Vaughn, you’ll look “so f*cking money”.

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