Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shirt Basics

Shirts that don't require cufflinks should have one button at the cuff and a small "chisel" where the heel of your hand cocks back. If you want a slightly more formal style-but still no links-wear a shirt with barrel cuffs, which have two buttons and no chisel.

Some unenlightened dressers think French cuffs are stuffy. They're not. You can wear a shirt with cuffs that fasten with links, not buttons, every day-even with jeans and a blazer. Just be sure to calibrate the formality of the hardware-silk knots are better for daytime than 14-karat gold- and never leave the cuffs unfolded and trailing out your sleeve, or you'll look like the fourth tenor.

A collar shape-whether it's spread, long point, or another style that flatters your face, your build, and your personal aesthetic is crucial. It can be the best argument for having your shirts custom-made.

The quality of the buttons will clue you in to the quality of the shirt. A well-made one should have thick, triple-stacked, mother-of-pearl buttons-not flimsy plastic disks that crack in half on the first trip to the dry cleaner. It should also have a gauntlet button- that's the one between the wrist and the elbow that allows you to roll your sleeves up neatly.

Like sheets, shirts come in thread counts from low to luxuriously high. Some companies make shirts with thread counts as high as 180. But the truth is, you're better off with good, serviceable cotton. Extremely high grades may b.e silkier, but they wear out faster and cost more. There are many weaves for shirts from the casual oxford and chambray to the smooth pima and Sea Island.


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