A pristine, well-fitting, classic white shirt is an essential piece to every gentleman’s wardrobe. We are not talking about some off-brand, okay-fitting piece. We’ve grown up a bit, value our money and always buy for the long run. What we’re looking for is a shirt that appears to be tailored, fits like a glove, is made of a luxurious fabric that always looks good and feels amazing to wear. It gets you compliments - every time.
Every wardrobe needs this piece. It is the quintessential representation of elegance for a man with style. What sets an exceptional shirt apart from a run-of-the-mill (literally) button-down? The devil, as they say, is in the details.
A classic shirt is made of premium, 100% pure, long strand cotton. Some include materials like satin, silk, nylon, spandex and polyester that have a tendency to add sheen or stretch. Although many brands have begun adding synthetic components, we’re stubbornly traditional about the preference for pure cotton due to its natural characteristics, comfort, breathability, forgiving nature and longevity.
We also happen to be very particular about the little things. The shade of white, the feel of the fabric against the skin, opacity, weight, breathability, weave, stiffness of the collar and placket, authentic mother-of-pearl buttons… essentially, everything.
The neck should have enough space for two fingers to fit comfortably inside with the top button closed. The interfacing is a material added to the inside of the collar construction used to create rigidity. If too rigid, it becomes an irritant, especially when wearing a tie. A collar should be stiff enough to retain good form, but is restrictive or uncomfortable.
Shoulders and Chest
The chest of a shirt should rest neatly on your pecs. The shirt should appear to conform to your physique, but not be so tight that the buttons and placket become distorted when you stand with your arms at your side. A fitted shirt will feel a little snug, but not constrictive. Your chest should "fill out" the shirt in a way that your body shape is discernible under the fabric.
Although it may go unnoticed, some shirts include a vertical line running from the base of the collar splitting the back shoulder area in half. This is called a yoke. There is a long-running debate about the functionality of this feature, but it seems the consensus is that if one should need to have the shirt tailored to broaden the shoulders a touch, this added feature will help facilitate an adjustment. It is also considered a sign of luxury in a design.
The arms of a shirt determine much about the fit and appearance of the shirt as a whole. When you are dedicated to living a lifestyle of health and fitness, you want your appearance to reflect it. The arms of a shirt should give at least a hint of the powerful muscles beneath the surface without excess fabric hanging underneath.
The armholes should be slightly contoured in a way that creates a tapered feel under your arm, yet still allow for a full range of motion. Most American brands have a tendency to create slightly larger armholes to accommodate for a larger range in sizing, particularly if using a Small, Medium, Large size range versus a more precise European metric size range.
Body -- Circumference and Length
The body of a shirt is the most telling feature of whether a brand has an appreciation for their intended audience. The best dress shirts fit comfortably around the chest, under the armpits, and across the upper back, giving you a full range of motion. The torso should taper from the chest to the waist, following the natural contours of the body and creating a clean line (i.e., no excess fabric) between the shirt and pants when tucked in.
The length of the shirt also plays a role. Too short, and you’ll be constantly tucking and re-tucking. A shirt that is too long makes it impossible to wear untucked in more casual settings. The front bottom should land at approximately the halfway to two-thirds point of the pants zipper. This leaves just the right amount of fabric to stay put.
There is an additional feature that affects the fit of the shirt around the torso. Often, especially with a slim, athletic or Euro fit, there is an addition of two “darts” to the back of the shirt. These are vertical strips of fabric taken in on each side of the back to help create a more fitted, tapered look. The purpose of these darts are to create a more refined silhouette.
A solid wardrobe should be viewed as an investment. We’ve spent our adult lives seeking out the “bests”: cars, technology, gear, gyms, hotels, restaurants, including the best fabrics, fit, and designs. After all, we are stylish gentlemen. We have a desire to represent ourselves with class and sophistication. Join us in this growing community of gentlemen in love with the beautiful game.
Be a TENLEGEND.™