10 things I learned about men’s dress shirts

The longer I’m married, the more I learn about men’s dress shirts and work attire in general. Before this time, I think I just assumed that guys wear suits and dress shirts. Some are in colors that I like and patterns that I like and some aren’t. It was hard for me to gauge the difference between the cut and fit of different shirts because every man’s body type is different.

Here’s what I have learned. My husband is very particular about the shirts, suits, ties, and dress shoes that he wears. And I’m assuming he’s not alone. So this post is for those women out there who want to know a little more about men’s work clothes and for the guys that might need a little more info too. I’ll tell you some of the random things I learned (quickly) and you can click to read more if you’d like!

[Thanks to the Shirt My Way Blog for all the great articles! Did you know you can order custom dress shirts from them?]

The Cut Away Collar – no tips! “cutaways were first popularized among the dandies of England back in the Edwardian days, and were meant to be worn at black tie events and very formal situations” Be careful about the thickness of the tie you wear with this. Best looking on guys with long faces and hardened features.

Learn more about thread count – 120 Thread Count means 60 horizontal, 60 vertical. Sometimes they might cheat you with high thread count numbers that are actually made from two-ply threads which weave into thicker, less breathable fabric. “Oxford weaves, for example, are designed to leave tiny holes between yarn strands of varying thickness to create a breezier, more textured fabric. ”

Black Tie vs White Tie – Black Tie affairs are cocktail parties, formal parties. “most black-tie shirts typically feature either a cutaway or high spread detachable collar, French cuffs, and a hidden button placket.” White Tie is for royal affairs!

About the buttons – most dress shirts have 7 buttons. Plastic is just as good as Mother of Pearl. Check the quality of the garment by looking at the way the buttons are sewn on. (i do this already!) If they are loose and have loose threads coming from the hole, bad quality.

Wrinkle-Free – be careful of the chemicals finishes they are putting on these shirts. Does wrinkle free even work anyways?

French Cuffs – They are twice the length of normal cuffs, usually extending past the fingertips. Don’t forget cuff links!

The Popped Collar – I’ve never considered that men would wear this to the office but I did notice the casual trend a few years ago. Here’s the history:

“During the 1850’s, it was very common to see fellows out in public wearing rigid upturned collars which reached almost to their ears. Usually such collars lacked buttons around the throat and so had to be secured by thick ties, scarves or cravats wrapped around the neck to make them look more formal. Of course, the collars of this time were quite different from those featured on shirts today, yet there are still plenty of portraits from this period which depict blue collar men and gentleman in casual situations with collars draped over their shoulders.

At the end of the Victorian era though the stiff upturned collar look faded with the advent of the modern dress shirt and the neck tie. Although high, stiff collared shirts which covered most of the neck were still fashionable throughout the Edwardian era, it wasn’t until the late 1920’s that the popped collar became popular once again, this time among tennis players, cricketers, golfers, croquet players and other upper-crust sports enthusiasts who used their upturned collars to block out the sun. Most likely it was this athletic/aspirational vibe people tried to tap into when the popped collar again resurfaced back in the 1980’s.”

I agree that they make you look a little snooty.

Collar Extender– if your collar is too tight, get an extender?? Haven’t heard of that before.

Sport Coats and Blazers– I thought they were the same. They’re not.

“The sport coat was invented as a less restrictive version of the suit jacket to be worn during such gentlemanly (and unathletic) sports as shooting and horseback riding; as such sport coats were usually made of thick, rugged wools and tweeds with textured or patterned surfaces. Blazers, on the other hand, debuted a while later and were meant to be a more fashion-forward alternative to the sport coat. In the olden days (your grandpa’s time and earlier), blazers generally featured brass or metal buttons, embroidered club crests and came only in solid colors.”

They are the perfect solution for dressy men’s outwear!

Shirts Shrink – this never looks good. Tight buttons holding on for dear life? Be careful you don’t shrink your shirts or buy them too small to begin with.

Anything else we should know about dress shirts? (obviously, a lot of this applies to women’s dress shirts too!)

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