Style Manual

The modern man’s guide to dressing well every day

When it comes to sharpening up for a #smartoccasion this season, a formal shirt is key. But what exactly defines a formal or dress shirt and how can you make the most of this super-sleek piece of inventory? Read on to find out how to wear a formal shirt.

Formal shirt

What is a formal shirt

Generally speaking a formal shirt or dress shirt is a button-up shirt with a collar, sleeves and cuffs. Made from a cotton mix or cotton woven fabric, they are normally plain and available in solid colours such as sky blue, white or navy but you can choose for classic stripes or checks to wear with a plain suit.

Finding your fit

This really depends on a number of criteria.

Firstly, your physique – slimmer men tend to suit a slimmer well-fitted cut while well-built men should go for a looser-fitting shirt.

Secondly, think about the suit you’re wearing. If you choose a skinny or slim fit suit, you may find that the excess fabric of say a regular fit shirt created unnecessary bulges. Keep it lean and streamlined by sticking with a skinny or slim fit shirt.

Thirdly, remember your shirt should allow for two fingers in the collar when buttoned up and the cuffs should not slip off your wrists without undoing the buttons.

Fourthly, you should also look out for the length of your sleeves. If you have more than an inch of material bulging around your cuffs, they’re too long. When you raise your arms, you don’t want your cuffs to raise up your forearms.

Finally, it should fit comfortably snug around your shoulders and have around one to three inches of fabric when you pinch the shirt at your chest.

How to wear a formal shirt

Formal shirt

First things first,  you want to look your best so make sure your shirt is spotlessly clean. Take it to the dry cleaners after every wear and make sure it’s freshly pressed. There’s nothing worse than a crumpled or dirty shirt underneath a pristine suit.

Next think about your collar and remember the main objective of a shirt collar is to frame and balance your face proportions. As a rule of thumb, a point collar suits someone with a rounder face as the long drop on the collar tends to elongate your visage. Go for a cutaway collar if you have a medium to long shaped face. You may or may not want to invest in collar stiffeners to ensure the shape is always true to form. Choose a bow tie or tie, depending on the occasion and make sure you fold your collar down.

Cuffs are also another consideration. If you are wearing a suit to a very #smartoccasion, s shirt with French cuffs (the style that calls for cufflinks) is worth investing in. Alternatively, a crisp white shirt with button cuffs is a safe bet.

There’s no hard and fast way to actually put on a suit but it’s worth bearing in mind how you tuck your shirt into your trousers.  Of course, if you choose the right fit shirt then you won’t have to compete with excess fabric and will be off to a good start.

Begin at the back and ensure your tail is tucked in correctly, then move around to the front of your shirt. Ensure the shirt is smooth and even all the way around. You may want a bit of give but keep it tidy by aligning your buttons with your flies and trouser fastening – crisp and vertical is the name of the game here. And add a belt to finish.

Now you’re ready to finish with a waistcoat (if appropriate) and suit jacket.




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