Do you really need a mirror to tell you the fit is right? A shirt, when well fitted is one of the most important aspects to get your look right. Behold your go-to-guide for how to tell if something actually fits you.
Collar A gaping collar is the first giveaway that your shirt is not fitted correctly, likewise if you feel a little short of breath, then we you should go up a size. Pay attention to the neck of your shirt and check the fit with a finger-width of space when fully fastened for the correct size.
Sleeves Although oversize is on trend this season, when it comes to everyday wear it’s best to stick to standard arm length rules. For the best fit your sleeves should end where your wrist meets your hand but with enough excess fabric to prevent them from riding up every time you move your arms. Make sure you choose a shirt with a slim sleeve to show space between the sleeve and the body.
Shoulders We aren’t all built with broad chests but you can create this illusion by making the shoulders appear as wide as possible. The sleeve of the shirt should join on the widest point of the shoulder.
Chest There is no worse look than buttons about to burst. Make sure you aren’t too restricted and unsightly when the shirt pulls around the chest.
Length Lastly, length is one of the most important things to consider when finding the right fit – two styles in particular apply and should be considered when buying different styles of shirts. Casual shirts are designed to be left untucked and the fabric should reach roughly halfway down the backside. Formal shirts, on the other hand, should reach to the bottom of the backside to avoid coming untucked.
Styles of Shirts
Oxford Button-down Shirt
Sticking with the original and most classic style of the lot, the Oxford Button-down shirt should be the first shirt to be included into your kit. Taking its name from the oxford material it is cut from – slightly thicker than standard shirting material – it creates a slightly more casual feel and starts as the foundation for any good outfit.
“I like a button-down worn open collar with jeans, corduroys or chinos but not with a suit, as I think the casual style clashes with the formality of the tailoring,” says master shirtmaker Emma Willis. “A button-down collar shirt looks perfect in a mid blue Oxford cotton with a button cuff made famous by Brooks Brothers but now in more tailored fits.”
If you’re a regular member of society you’ll find yourself in need of a dress shirt on the odd occasion. A dress shirt is usually cut from pique (AKA Marcella) fabric due to its crispness as well as including a bib, where the fabric is reinforced, a wing, pointed or cutaway collar, and double cuffs, which require cufflinks to be worn. “I prefer simplicity for the evening,” says Willis. “A marcella bib front evening shirt with stud front and tiny jet or pearl studs and cufflinks, a cutaway collar – wing is only for white tie – and a black silk barathea bow tie.”
Cuban Collar Short Sleeve Shirt
A perfect summer staple, the cuban shirt is characterised by a boxy fit, straight hem and button-up front – the ‘Cuban’ part refers to the shirt’s open collar. Although this is a style for most guys, there are a few things to consider. “Approach with caution,” warns personal stylist Daniel Johnson. “This style is not for the thicker necked bloke. Make sure to get it right on the body too, or it’ll look like a pyjama top.“The golden rule, as ever with short sleeves is to make them fit to the arm – baggy sleeves make arms look skinnier and skinny arms make a chest look smaller – not great.”
Perfect for the transeasonal weather, the over shirt is the best layering tool for unpredictable weather. Due to its main purpose, it’s best to keep the style simple. “A dark blue over shirt with a white T-shirt works great,” adds Johnson. “But a shabby overshirt and a detailed shirt looks like a sloppy teenagers get up.” Team it up with some raw denim and a pair of lace-up work boots and you’re good to go.
Steering away from the old country style you are currently picturing, the flannel shirt is actually the perfect addition for winter. If you’re not into plaid there are great plain versions out there.
“A mid-weight or heavy flannel shirt is an absolute must for when the weather turns cooler,” says Alex Field, head of menswear at Reiss. “This classic piece is great for layering and can be worn open over a T-shirt or buttoned up so it mimics a light outerwear piece in the summer, or even in the winter under a parka when the cold needs to be kept at bay. Top it off with some dark denim jeans and a pair of sturdy boots and you’re all set to brave the elements in style.”
If you wear a tie to work, then the standard office shirt is a must-have – in several colours.
“There is nothing like the smooth, formal appearance of good quality two fold poplin cotton for an every day work shirt,” says Willis. “Textures such as twills, oxfords and herringbones are perfect for a more casual shirt giving interest without a tie, but for that immaculate, clean, no- nonsense business look a plain white or palest blue gleaming with quality poplin shirt and tie cannot be beaten.”
Not to be mistaken with its close cousin, denim, Chambray uses a plain weave resulting in a lighter fabric. Another staple, particularly for the changing seasons but is good to know that it shouldn’t match your jean colour.
“Just vary the shade a bit,” says Sarah Gilfillan, founder of men’s personal styling service SartoriaLab. “Otherwise, wear it with chinos. Or you could put one with a light suit to make it look a bit more casual.”
Classic Short Sleeve
In recent years, designers have claimed the short sleeve shirt as an essential for the warmer weather. Due to its seasonal fit, you can find short sleeve shirts in a huge range of hues and prints. Pair with pretty much every bottom – chinos, jeans, shorts, linen – but never wear with a suit – you’ve been warned.
Similar to its chambray friend, the denim shirt is much thicker and lends a certain masculine vibe to an outfit. Don’t be afraid of doubling up on good quality denim products. Styling-wise, wear a crisp denim shirt up top and a faded raw denim below.
As the mercury begins to rise each summer, it is best to swap out your staple oxford shirt for a lighter rendition – enter in the linen shirt. Airy, light and surprisingly formal the linen shirt is a kit essential. You can be braver with colour in a linen shirt too, though a white or pale blue is always a classic to have in your wardrobe.
Cover Image: @christopherbark Instagram