A stylish man knows some fashion rules to be true. Things like never button the last button on a suit jacket or blazer. Or dry clean only does not mean that you should attempt to machine wash. And never underestimate a white shirt. The possibilities are truly endless with a white shirt. A white shirt should in fact be looked at like the blank slate that it is. But, unlike other solid or neutral options, should also be revered for the fact that no one can deny how striking a white shirt looks when both layered and worn by itself. Every tie looks great against a white shirt. Every sweater pops when layered with a white shirt. What do you wear for pants? Literally anything. I’ll put it this way: I was once told by a very important woman that no one can deny a man in a white shirt—that it makes every man stand out and whilst wearing it, will always looks irresistible. That woman’s now my wife so clearly a white shirt truly is the key to all happiness and definitely worth taking note of.
Since a white shirt is a classic piece that’s sure to get some mileage, there are a few things to keep in mind when picking the perfect white shirt, the most important of which being fit and style.
We’ve all been there. You spend an insane amount of money on a classic white dress shirt for that special occasion, job interview, or other reason (I don’t know, because you spilled red wine all over your old one), and then the shirt doesn’t even fit right. It fits in most places but not in all of them. Either the sleeves are too short, the mid-section is too tight causing the buttons pull, or, my personal dilemma, you can’t button the top button dashing any hope you had of wearing it with a tie. It’s a problem all guys face—finding a shirt that fits “off the rack” so to speak is near impossible.
Look for retailers that offer bespoke elements to get a shirt that’s essentially made to measure without the exorbitant cost often associated. Standard Shirt has the traditional whole and half shirt sizes and extends it to quarters to ensure that you receive a shirt that will fit you like a shirt that cost ten time as much.
I have quite a collection of white shirts because of how often they can be worn so you name the style and I’ve got it. But for those of you who’ve been oblivious the pure majesty that a white shirt offers I’ll break down some of the basics. First off, for formal affairs you’ll want to invest in a quality white shirt that will look nice under a suit or tuxedo. You could go with either a point collar or a spread collar, but I tend to think a point collar offers elegance without being too trendy and spread collars shine best in business settings. Your call but whichever you choose go with what you think looks best on you. Look for details like mother of pearl buttons and decide if you want to go with a French cuff so you have the option to add a cufflink. If you find yourself needing a quality formal white shirt without unloading a ton check out Thomas Mason for J.Crew. Thomas Mason has been weaving quality fabrics for shirting since the late 1700s so they definitely know what they’re doing.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, pick up a casual cotton white shirt. It should be one that’s been “pre-washed” so it’s got a worn in, somewhat wrinkled texture and something you’d wear to picnics or layer under a denim jacket for a night out. You can find great options at most menswear retailers. My favorite style is a button down collar and I’ll tell you why. Casual shirts, especially in white, need to be able to be thrown into the washing machine and sometimes collars on shirts come out with a mind of their own. A button down collar can always be wrangled back to its original shape. Trust me.
The most important category is the one in between these two. A business shirt you can dress up or dress down depending on the occasion. Quality is still key but since you’ll be getting a ton of wear out of it, you also want it to be affordable. Again, I’d recommend Standard Shirt. Their $59 price tag lends itself well to pulling a Don Draper and loading up office drawers with extras just in case you need them.