Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to Buy a Sharp Looking Dress Shirt for Work.

I'm sure you've encountered this at the office. Some guy wearing a dress shirt that hangs off his shoulders like a parachute, blouses at the waist and has this crinkled collar that flaps in the wind. Oh the horror of it all. You don't have to spend a ton of money to buy quality dress shirt.

This is what you should pay attention to when buying a dress shirt:

There is nothing worse than a shirt that blouses at the waist. If it looks like a tent and has no shape that's how it will look on you. If you have a smaller waist then chest (think upside down triangle) buy athletic fit dress shirts. I PROMISE, you'll look great in them.

Know your Sleeve and Neck measurements and stay away from dress shirts that come in S-M-L-XL. They are made for mass market appeal and usually don't' fit anyone well. Ask to be measured by a sales person, if you don't know your measurements. A neck measurement is just what you think. Measure the circumference of your neck at your collar line. A true sleeve measurement is from between your shoulders with your elbow at 90 degrees.

Construction is Key:

  • Dress shirts with split yokes fit better across the shoulders.
  • The Front and Sleeve Plackets should be sewn on and not folded over fabric.
  • The majority of the seams should be top stitched, especially the side seams and seams that run along sleeves. The top stitching makes for a flatter fit.
  • The collar should be stiff , not flimsy. Spread collars should have collar staves.
  • The shirt's length should be slightly long, so it doesn't come untucked easily.
  • There should either be a box pleat or side pleats on the back.
I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

I prefer 100% cotton shirts, but I see nothing wrong with cotton/polyester blends. I would stay away from 100% polyester shirts. I'm also not a fan of spandex in my dress shirts. It makes them crunchy. No wrinkle make it easy to iron and launder at home.

I've seen designer dress shirts that have folded over plackets, single fabric yoke or no pleat in the back, and made out of exotic fabrics. They can be perfectly fine, but I wanted to focus this post on everyday dress shirts.

My short list:
JCPenney - The Stafford Executive is the perfect shirt. I love this shirt. The Regular Stafford shirt is borderline. Too many shortcuts are made and I have been disappointed a few times.
Lands' End - Nice shirt. I thought the length was a little short.
Target - Their Merona Dress shirt line fits me well and have a good level of quality, but be warned they run small (Slim Fit) and sizing is S-M-L-XL. The price can't be beat at $25 retails.

Shirts I don't like:
Gap - Usually flimsy collar construction. Tend to blouse at the waist. Cheap Fabric
Banana Republic - Same Problem with collar, Sizing is just off. They do (S-M-L-XL). Take shortcuts in construction details.
J. Crew - They do (S-M-L-XL) sizing. I can get a better fitting shirt for the same cost or less.

Shirts I've heard good things about, but have not bought.
Brooks Brothers - Have slim fit and regular fit styles.