CG History – Men’s Dress Shirt 101
Dress shirts are the corner stone of men’s fashion. The basic parts of a dress shirt are collar, full-length frontal opening (from the collar down to the hem), and cuffed sleeves. This article will provide an overview of dress shirts that may serve as a guide or reference for those who want to know more about dress shirts.
A Brief History of Dress Shirts
The dress shirts that we are seeing today had gone through several makeovers. In the 16th century, dress shirts are worn by men from all walks all life, from the emperors down to the commoners. Emperors and generals wore dress shirts as undergarments. These were usually made from silk and linen. There were also embroideries in specific places. Some dress shirts even have lace or frills at the neck part. However, the dress shirts before that these dignitaries have used have no collars and cuffs.
In the 17th century, the first makeover of dress shirts included the introduction of collars and cuffs. Dress shirts were hand-stitched, but were manufactured in large volume despite the process. Then came the industrial revolution. Hand-stitched dressed shirts were replaced by factory-made dress shirts.
During World War II, another makeover was introduced. This time it was the buttons in the front part of the shirt. More and more men were given access to wearing dress shirts. It was also during this time that dress shirts had took its own character.
In the 19th century, dress shirts were revolutionized into colored shirts compared to the traditional color, which is white. However, there had been a bias in using dress shirts. For instance, the color blue dress shirts were mainly used by lowly industrial workers hence the term ‘blue-collar’.
Today, we are seeing dress shirts made from various styles, designs, and colors. This brings us to our next discussion, which is the different category of dress shirts.
There are three basic categories of dress shirts namely bespoke, made-to-measure, and off-the-rack.
Three Categories of Dress Shirts
Of the three categories, off-the-rack dress shirts are perhaps the most accessible to men. These dress shirts have pre-established or standard sizes (XL, L, M, S, and XS). Inherently, the dress shirts have limitations when it comes to shirting fabrics since they are already pre-made.
If you want to obtain the best dress shirts for men, you might as well consider bespoke dress shirts. These dress shirts are highly customized to fit your body size perfectly. The dress shirt will be made using the fabric of your choice as well. That is, you will have total control of its made and material including when you want it to be available.
Nonetheless, there are also made-to-measure dress shirts. The dress shirts will only have to be modified based on your measurements. There might be a limitation when it comes to the choice of fabric although most stores create made-to-measure dress shirts using different fabrics to cater to the preferences of the client including the fit.
Fit Styles of Dress Shirts
Nowadays, aside from the standard sizes, dress shirts are categorized based on their fit styles. There are four basic fit styles namely slim fit, extra slim fit, regular fit, and traditional fit.
Traditional fit are dress shirts that are cut comparable to a box.
Regular fit are dress shirts that are similar to the traditional fit shirts although there is a slight difference. The sides of regular fit shirts are slightly tapered.
Slim fit are dress shirts that are tighter and sleeker than the regular fit shirts. These shirts are tailored on specific areas including waist, arms, and chest.
Extra slim fit are dress shirts that are considered as the extreme version of the slim fit shirts.
In lieu with the above discussions, wearing a dress shirt is no longer about the question of what is the best dress shirt for men. Instead, the argument should be what makes the dress shirt perfect.
What to look for
Here are some of the characteristics that can make the dress shirt perfect wherein the perfect dress shirt should have:
- Stiff and sharp collar – this is required specifically when using the dress shirt on more professional contexts
- Split yoke – this panel fabric at the back of the collar allows for more stretch providing the wearer greater range of motion and thus comfort
- Finest cotton fabric – the thread count must be considered wherein the higher the thread count, the more comfortable the dress shirt is when worn
- Small arm holes – this are important for better isolation of the arm movement with that of the rest of the body
- Slim sleeves – this are critical for a more polished appearance as it remove unnecessary fabric around the arms
- Tapered midsection – this also adds for a more polished appearance as unnecessary fabrics are removed
- Fused cuffs – the pointed corners and straight stitches add refinement to the overall appearance of the shirt
- First-rate buttons – the buttons, preferably made from pearl or trocha shell, add personality and elegance to the dress shirt itself
As such, if you want to know what is the best dress shirt for men, you should consider buying a dress shirt from the best dress shirt makers worldwide. While the price of the dress shirts may differ, the dress shirt makers are known to produce high quality dress shirts for men. Some of the best shirt makers in the world in alphabetical order are:
- Ascot Chang
- Brooks Brothers
- Budd Shirt Makers
- Charles Tyrwhitt
- CEGO Custom Shirtmaker
- Dege & Skinner
- Ede & Ravenscroft
- Emenegildo Zegna
- Geneva Custom Shirts
- Gieves & Hawkes
- Hamilton Shirts
- Harvie & Hudson
- Hilditch & Key
- Luigi Borrelli
- New & Lingwood
- Paul Stuart
- Ralph Lauren Purple Label
- Thomas Pink
- Turnbull & Asser
- Tom Ford