With the beginning of February a month that marks our third year of business, Calvin Butts Bespoke always offers a promotion on its dress shirts to celebrate. With this promotion I thought it would be nice to write a bit about dress shirts and what a man should be looking when he's purchasing.
The dress shirt originally was considered an under shirt, never worn without a vest or jacket. In todays work environment the dress shirt is often worn just by itself.
A man once said "You should be able to put on a piece of clothing and forget about it".
As a tailor I try to teach clients that good fitting clothing shouldn't be fussed with, you should not have to pull or tug at clothing to move it into a position where it feels good. The problem with RTW clothing and especially dress shirts is that they are extremely tight. Fit is the most important aspect of a shirt whether it is a 50$ shirt or a 700$ shirt.
The dress shirt is a very personal piece of clothing as it touches your skin directly. A well fitted dress shirt has the ability to make you feel superior to those around you, it is also a fairly straight forward piece of clothing. Always with a collar and cuffs the dress shirt does not have to be overly complicated. Men who have more particular tastes and an interest in clothing tend to have a more difficult time with custom shirts as a piece of cotton can either become very formal or very causal just by changing up the smallest detail.
When it comes to a dress shirt there are four things that I look out for:
First and foremost I look at the front of the shirt and the buttons. If your shirt is too tight and the buttons are screaming for help you need to go up a size. You can always alter a larger shirt to fit smaller in all the proper and proportionate places. If the shirt is too big and there are bags under your arms and around your chest perhaps you go down a size or have your tailor look at it.
Secondly your shirt should be comfortable in the arms. Too many companies these days are making clothing that is absurdly tight. There is enough grey area in sleeves sizes that a well fitted dress shirt should be slimming but have enough room to flex without losing circulation.
Thirdly, when buttoned the shirt collar should always lay close to your neck, or at least button-able at all times. Many men buy shirts that do not fit around the neck and justify their purchase by saying that they never do the top button up.
Here are my thoughts on the subject... you would not buy a new car knowing that only some of the functions on the inside are operational, so why would you spend your hard earned money on a shirt that doesn't really fit. You should be able to wear the shirt its was made and intended to be worn.
Finally, shirt length. Not many people think of this when they consider purchasing a new shirt but it really does make a huge difference in how you feel throughout the day. A longer dress shirt stays tucked into your pants properly and requires almost no re-adjustment. A lot of men fuss with tucking in their shirts throughout the day because the length isn't long enough, so if you can opt for a longer shirt I would suggest trying it.
Their are many small details in a shirt besides fit that will determine price and overall look, from the fabric that the shirt is made of, to the cut of the pattern, the technique used to stitch the shirt together, shape of collar and cuffs, monograms, and all of the notions (buttons and extras).
It is not very often that a man who has had a custom shirt made for him would buy off the rack shirts unless he was crunched for time.
Food for thought..
For questions or styling advise you can always email email@example.com or visit us in our shop, visit calvinbuttsbespoke.com to learn more.