The Shirt - An Essential For Every Man's Wardrobe*

*This is a collaborative post*

A couple of considerations when buying a nice shirt for yourself! There are so many styles, patterns and fits out there, that for many of us it can be difficult to know where to start, so here are a couple of factors to consider when shopping.

The majority of us will know that shirts are a classic timeless garment which look just as 'at home' as part of a casual outfit as they do a smart one. (Some would say à la James Bond.) Speaking of Bond, notice how he always chooses to wear a fine black suit with a crisp plain white shirt? Good, please take note. Every male should have at least one classic plain white shirt, it is an absolute staple of any man's wardrobe or at least it ought to be in my humblest of humble opinions.

Often when it comes to men's tailoring, or to the purchasing of suits and shirts and other 'dress' garments, there is the assumption that quality is always associated with the price that one pays. We've all no doubt heard that saying, 'you get what you pay for!' However, I would say that there is no need to spend a fortune, it's more than possible to get high quality and well made, nicely fitting shirts for a price which wont break the bank. 

Esprit have a varied selection of shirts ranging from the more casual to the dress shirt and there are some excellent quality, crisp looking white shirts which would definitely look the part. In my opinion a shirt should be well fitted enough that there is little excess material, but not so tight fitting that when worn you can see creases all over your body.

Some Basic Rules

If you're considering wearing a shirt with a suit jacket or blazer, try to avoid clashing slim or narrow lapels and collars. For instance, a shirt with a very slim collar will look unbalanced when worn with a suit jacket with a wider lapel. This rule also goes for ties too, try and match the width of your tie to the width of the lapel. For a truly classic look I would advise you to always opt for the wider lapel option combined with a collar to match. Bear in mind also that the larger the collar the easier it is to wear a neck tie. On which note, the larger collar will allow the tie wearer to utilize whichever kind of knot one prefers without marring the overall effect of the outfit. However, shirts with smaller narrow collars are increasingly being worn with ties. This can be at great detriment to the impact of the attire as one needs a thinner tie with a thinner material in order to tie it in a small knot otherwise it ends up looking oversized and cumbersome. 

Due to the fact a smaller knot is required in order to compliment the outfit, I would recommend a 'Half-Windsor' or basic '4 in hand tie knot.' The 'Full-Windsor' and other larger knots should be reserved for larger collars in order to attain the classier finish and to maintain the flow of the garments.

A good classic shirt leaning slightly more towards the casual end of the dress code spectrum is the white 'Oxford' cotton shirt by Ralph Lauren Polo which can be found online for £45-£90 depending on which site they are being retailed. The regular fit of this allows a little more room for manoeuvre and looks equally great with a pair of jeans or chinos, loose or tucked in and the collars are great for wearing with a suit jacket. The cotton is relatively thick and therefore is more insulating during the colder months compared to some shirts which are really quite thin. However due to being made from 100% cotton fabric, it also still affords some breathability in the summer months.

Charles Tyrwhitt are specialist shirt-makers based at Jermyn St, London. Of course to have a shirt specifically tailored for yourself here would cost a small fortune, but 'off the rack” shirts made by Charles Tyrwhitt offer a good alternative for a fraction of the price. N.B. Keep an eye out at outlet stores for some great finds. 

*Written by Michael David (Photos courtesy of Esprit)

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