Men’s dress shirts: 3 important factors

men's dress shirts
(© Sergey Ryzhov –

A good men’s dress shirt can really impress in an important meeting and be the one essential element that stands out when you make a first impression. The men’s dress shirts you will choose to wear can likely be the decisive factor whether your significant event goes one, or the other. The right dress shirt can make or break your suit jacket as well. In fact, having the right shirt for the right occasion is so vitally important for your professional life there’s really no substitute for being informed on this interesting subject. If this sounds like something you think you might find useful in your work life then read on.

So, what are some important details that make the selection of your shirt say what you are intending to say for each specific occasion? Let’s take a look at some of the finer points on what makes up your shirt, and the choices you will be making to tailor your experience to your needs. What is a dress shirt? A proper dress shirt is a button-up shirt with a collar, long sleeves, and wrist cuffs. It is usually made from a cotton fabric woven and dyed into various, non-obtrusive patterns and colors. By altering these characteristics, a dress shirt can either send the message its wearer is ready for a casual Friday meeting or ready to meet the company president.

One of the key elements you will be choosing when selecting your shirts is what kind of fabric will it be made of. The undisputed king of shirt fabrics, cotton has been the choice of those in the know for centuries. A finely woven cotton fabric exhibits all the properties a man could want from a garment worn close to the body, good heat & moisture conduction, durability, smoothness, and the ability to take shape when ironed. Although they do not exhibit the same desirable properties as cotton, manmade fibers have made a huge impact on the shirt scene due to their ability to do an acceptable job at a rock bottom price. Often wrinkle and stain resistant, these fibers have and will continue to play a major role in menswear. Although I recommend staying away from shirts with more than 50% manmade fiber, for the budget minded, they may be a viable alternative. And lastly, silk, for when you really want to make a statement. Although, in the opinion of this reviewer, silk is best left for only very rare and informal activities.

The next factor in choosing the correct shirt for your needs is color. Just what you say by your selection of dress shirt color can express important elements of what you are trying to convey for that particular occasion. White is the most common shirt color; historically it has dominated the scene and was initially the only choice for a gentleman. The lack of color on a man’s collar and cuffs signified he did not have to do dirty work; colored shirts were looked upon with suspicion as it was assumed they were colored to hide stains. To this day, white still reigns as the most formal color, and its popularity has safely placed it among the iconic garments a man can wear. Wherever you may be, a man can safely assume a white shirt will never be out of place. The Blue shirts dominance has more to do with its ability to compliment most men’s complexions rather than heritage. The popularity of blue exploded in the United States as more and more off-the-rack manufactures looked for colors and patterns that would sell. Today the color firmly holds a place as a safe alternative to white. And unfortunately, this is often the extent of the variety found in a man’s dress shirt collection. Other colors like pink, gold, lavender, off-white, forest green, and even red are just a few of the multitude of colors available to the man who is willing to walk a different path. Whether these colors dominate the dress shirt, or highlight the pattern woven into it, they can complement every complexion out there. And with less than 10% of the shirt wearing population even dabbling into these shades, the man who masters wearing them can easily set himself apart in a room of like dressed men.

And lastly, choosing which pattern, if any, for your shirts can really put the finishing touch on your look in a way that speaks volumes about your knowledge of work fashion. Generally, solid is the best choice in every work situation, but if you are walking into a casual day perhaps, striped or even checkered can be a winning choice. Take a look at your co-workers and try not to stand out by showing up any more casual than anyone else. Armed with this guide you can make the correct men’s dress shirts choices for any occasion, good luck out there!

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