Have you ever bought a dress shirt only to find out later that it doesn’t go with almost anything or simply don’t have enough use for it? Maybe the colour doesn’t match well or it’s the pattern of the shirt that’s causing troubles. This can be very frustrating and costly in the long run, resulting in owning many items you won’t likely ever wear.
Fortunately, buying a dress shirt doesn’t have to be difficult. In this article, we will show you how to go about choosing your first five dress shirts and building a versatile and interchangeable wardrobe.
Dress shirts are worth fussing about. As a cornerstone of the man’s outfit, they take us through our daily lives, regardless of whether you are a busy salesperson or a social butterfly.
And unless you have unlimited funds and space in your wardrobe, you want to be conscious about what pieces you are adding to your collection. Select poorly and, as illustrated, you will end up with a cluttered wardrobe full of items you don’t have an opportunity to wear. On the other hand, select wisely, and you will only need a few shirts in your arsenal that will cover your bases, fit most occasions and match with other items (as long as you select the right colours and patterns).
A white shirt is the absolute must-have item in every man’s arsenal. Not only it matches every colour, but it’s also suitable to wear on almost any occasion. It creates a nice contrast if worn with darker trousers or jacket and accentuates the colours of your tie. For best versatility, make sure the collar doesn’t button down and looks substantial. Because white shirts can be easy to stain, you might want to even own two.
The light blue shirt deserves the second spot due to its strong colour versatility (almost everything goes with it). It’s slightly less formal less than the white shirt, but it gives its wearer a classic look. Just make sure to keep the colour pale, light blue, not royal or navy blue.It goes especially well with khakis, blue suits, and even brown suits.
Contrary to the previous two shirts, the striped shirt introduces a simple pattern that will optically make you look slimmer. It’s a classic shirt the stripes of which come in variety colours and width (from pencil through hairline to thick Bengal). As a general rule, the wider the stripe, the less formal the shirt becomes.
Because the overall shirt colour is leaning towards the colour of the stripe instead of the shirt’s base (at least when the base is white), you should opt for simple colours that will make it wearable with most outfits. We recommend starting with thin blue stripes on a white base.
Not all checks were created equal. There’s plenty of patterns to choose from (windowpane, gingham, Tattersall, tartan etc.). As a rule of thumb, the more colours are involved and the large the check, the less formal the shirt becomes. As you can see, patterns introduce complexity into mixing items with the rest of the outfit. Whereas plain colours easily go with everything, patterned shirts have certain pairing restrictions. If you are combing checks with stripes, make sure the stripes are similar in size. On the other hand, if you are mixing checks with checks, the size of the checks should be substantially different. For best versatility, we recommend starting with 1-2 colours and smaller checks.
The Oxford shirt crosses the line between being formal and casual. Its characteristic feature is the buttoned-down collar and slightly thicker fabric. As a shirt, it’s very versatile and can be worn with or without a suit. For best colour coordination, it’s best to start with white, light blue or a very light and small patterns.
When you are just starting out, your essential colour palette will revolve predominantly around different variations of light blues and whites. This is because they are the most versatile colours (and coincidentally, they are some of the highest converting colours in business).
When it comes to patterned shirts, stick to our recommendations and you will be safe. Patterns are a great way to spice up your look, but can be hard to match if selected incorrectly. Therefore, make sure you go for the versatile colours first.
Once you have successfully built your interchangeable wardrobe and mastered the foundations, now you can work on expanding it. For example, you can get the solid-coloured shirts in different colours, such as pink, yellow or more daring black or grey. Likewise different fabrics can also alter the look and feel of a shirt, even if it has the same colour.
How about you – do you have all five essential shirts in your wardrobe? Feel free to share your shirt collection with us in the comment section below.