Dress Shirts Guide

Assuming the first suit is a handsome charcoal gray and the second is navy, we turn our locus to dress shirts. This is how you transform that suit into a wardrobe.

Even ifyou are iust starting your career, it is \vise to acquire your first live suits as quickly as possihle, so that you can avoid wearing any suit more than once each week.

When building a classic wardrobe, remember that fashion changes very slowly, so anything you buy today may he just as appropriate live years from now as well. Often those who can afford it build their wardrobes to be extensive enough to never wear the same combination (suit. shirt, and tie) twice in the same month.

Regardless of where you live, except in the tropics. you will be better served to have a separate wardrobe for summer and for winter.

Dress shirts are important. The color, fit. and fahric of your shirts need to be right, as do the ties that go with them.

You probably guessed your first important dress shirt would be a classic white. Congratulations. You're showing promise.

But before you break out the cigars, there are a few details about getting the right white shirt that you may not know. Yet.


Dress shirts should he 100 percent cotton. Buying a wash-and-wear blend may be tempting for the sake of budget and easy care, but it doesn't have the polish of pure cotton. Stick with the real thing and, unless you're very talented with an iron, send your shirts to the laundry. Professionally laundered shirts resist wrinkles better over the course of a day. Have them returned on hangers unless you need to pack them in a hag, in which ease have them folded. Better still, invest in a suit bag that carries shirts on hangers.

Like wools. there is an entire vocabulary of cottons. Some of the best designations for dress shirts are Pima, Egyptian, and Sea lsland. These have a satin-like texture and feel divine next to the skin. On the next tier are poplin and broadcloth, followed by oxford cloth. The more coarse the texture, the less fine the cotton.


How much starch should I use?

How much to starch a shirt is a matter of personal prelerence and comfort. You want it somewhere between limp and "stands upright by itself." Each laundry's designation for "light","medium" and "heavy" oifiers. so experiment. Even if you request "no starch," collar and oufts should still come back pristine and reinforced from
being pressed while wet. That‘s OK. Know that starch is hard on fabric and decreases the life oi the shirt. But a starched shirt looks crisp and professional. so the trade-oft in longevity is worthwhile.


If your dress shirts tend to be transparent—and many of the better cottons are—an undershirt is wise. Undershirts also absorb excessive perspiration, A plain, white, crew neck T-shirt works best. The rest may create unsightly lines that lurk beneath the dress shirt like an evil alter ego. A V-neck can be an alternative. but never the tank cut.

Pockets on Dress Shirts

The classic dress shirt doesn't have pockets, but one left breast pocket is acceptable. Two pockets are not acceptable. That is a sport shirt.


Dress Shirt Fit

Dress shirts come nicely folded and packaged for the most part, and you don’t want to make the store personnel angry by undoing all that to try one on. Instead, know your neck size and sleeve length, measurements easily determined with a tape measure. Measure around the neck just below the Adam's apple. For comfort, choose the collar size that‘s one-half inch larger up to size 16 1/2 and three-fourths inch to one inch over for sizes I7 and larger. The collar will not only he more comfortable, but it will also look better as your very busy day turns to evening activities.

Measure the sleeve from the beginning of the shoulder to one inch below the wrist bone.

Since the shirt he’s buying is 100 percent cotton, the wise man chooses a half size beyond his measurements in collar and sleeve length. This compensates for inevitable laundry shrinkage.

If, by chance, you are fortunate enough to buy a really fine cotton dress shirt at this stage, you may be told they are already made to shrink to the correct size. Nonetheless, buy an extra half size larger. These shirts even look best after a couple of launderings.

For best results, contact us for help with measurements and to help you select shirts.


Short-sleeved Dress Shirts

There is no place in a professional’s wardrobe for a short-sleeved dress shirt. Even in the warmest climates. they will not do. They make the wearer look blue-collar. It you find yourself in an untenably warm situation, you may unbutton your cuffs and roll your long sleeves up a turn or two‘ But never resort to short sleeves. You are not a gym teacher from the 1950s.


Stuffing your shirt pocket

The only things that should ever grace your shirt pocket are one pen and/or your reading glasses, if necessary. it's not for your Palm Pilot, cell phone.

or any other weighty distraction—literally and figuratively. Those inclined to load it might as well line it with a plastic pocket protector. it's the same image. And, while you're at it, throw in a safety pin to hold the earpiece on your glasses.