Wednesday, 18 July 2012

4. Shirt buying guide - Part 1: Casual Shirt


Being men we either wear button up shirts or t shirts. There's not much room for variation. This is why it's so important to get it right. Today's post will be the first of a three part series, the other two being on the business shirt and smart casual shirt.

The casual shirt is the kind you'd wear for non-formal functions (birthday of a relative, BBQ etc), lunch date, house parties, movies, bars with easy-going dress policies. You have to make sure that the shirt matches the occasion. If done properly, you can stand out from the crowd in a subtle and tasteful way.

The fit should be relaxed but relatively fitted to your body. Here's some tips related to fit:

- Back: stick your arms in front of you. There should be a bit of resistance, if there is none, the shirt is probably too big.
- Chest: stand straight, pull the shirt all the way down. If the shirt is gaping while you're relaxed, it's too tight.
- Sleeves: with your hands by your sides, the sleeve should end neatly at your wrist. No shit.
- Shoulder: the top of the sleeve should start where your collarbone meets your shoulder

The fabric should be soft and durable. Get a feel for it. If it feels a bit thick, smooth and soft you're headed in the right direction. Yes, this is still about fabric. Opt for 100% cotton and try to avoid anything with polyester.

The colour is up to you, as different skin tones match different colours. Since it is casual, colour is welcome, if not essential. Too many people wear black/grey and blend in. Try to go for colours that are a little 'dull'. Avoid bright pinks/aqua/any other travesty from YD. Also, avoid heavily branded shirts. Let the shirt do the talking for you, not the brand.

In my days as a TAFE student, my typical outfit would be a black t-shirt with some graphic on it, blue jeans and checkered Vans. After a while, I noticed that all my tops were black. I made a rule for myself that I would wear more colour. It forced me a bit out of my comfort zone, but I got used to it. Remember: WEAR MORE COLOUR!

Granted, I didn't learn very much at TAFE.

As far as patterns go, avoid stripes. Vertical stripes create a more formal/business look. I'm partial to tartan and checks. See below for some examples.

Once you have your shirt, there'll be two ways you can your shirt, open and closed. If the shirt is closed, leave the top two buttons undone. While closed, don't wear an undershirt that is visible, it will look horribleThis would leave the other option of having the shirt open, with a t shirt underneath.

If you're going to do this, make sure that the t-shirt is plain. The shirt will already have a pattern, so if there is a graphic or a design on the t-shirt it will make your outfit look too busy. See below:

Doing my best C3PO impersonation*

You can play it safe and wear a white tee, which will work most of the time. If possible, try and compliment the tee with the shirt, like below.

Fundamentally, you're wearing a t shirt, button up and trousers. But with some consideration for fit and simple colour matching, all of a sudden you stand out from the crowd.

If you're going to roll up your sleeves, make sure you actually roll them up nice and neatly - don't just push them up. It's ideal that your sleeves should end at the top of your elbows. Anything past your elbow is the equivalent of three-quarter pants. Unless you're in a Limp Bizkit film clip, this is a bad thing. On the other hand, if you roll up your sleeves too far up, you look like a try-hard trying to accommodate for your small arms.

Try these brands/stores for casual shirts:

- Marcs
- Ben Sherman (their fits are a little funny though)
- Country Road
- French Connection
- Mooks (if you can find anything)
- Freshjive, reluctantly. Though Freshjive is big on branding, their shirts have nice slimming cuts.

Check back next Wednesday for Part 2 - The Business Shirt.


* Also, did you see the bulge? It's an air freshener can - promise.

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