Everything the Discerning Gentleman Needs to Know About Shirts

The shirt: the everyday, commonplace and oft-ignored factor of men’s fashion. As we fuss over the cut of our trousers, hem and haw over the number of buttons on our jacket, tremor over matching our tie pattern with our socks, and trouble over finding a belt colour that complements our shoes, we often forget to think about the shirt.

Yet, whether it is the dominant top half of your outfit, or the foundation over which you will wrap the rest of your suit, the shirt you choose deserves every bit as much attention as the rest of your wardrobe.


The first thing to consider when picking your shirt is colour. For the vast majority of gentlemen, a nice, crisp, white shirt can never stray too far from the right path. Should you sport a particularly pale skin tone, however, a more colourful choice may be required to create adequate contrast. In this case, a nice, solid, light blue or pink may be more distinctive.

On the subject of pink, while this eye-catching tone is wonderfully versatile and can be worn smoothly as part of a suit, under knitwear or tucked into jeans, it should never be combined with a tie. Should you be going the full formal route, stick with blue or white.

Prices and quality

Shirts are one of the most buyer-friendly items in a gentleman’s wardrobe, as they are so inexpensive. Popping down to your tailor and getting a shirt handcrafted to your own precise measurements is the same price as a designer shirt from most shops.

Knowing your size

If you insist on buying pre-made shirts, you will want to be sure you are getting the right fit. The sleeve should always extend between ¼ and ½ inch from that of your jacket. The shoulder seam must sit exactly in line with the tip of your shoulder. Anything else is an ill-fitting shirt.

So when it comes to shirts, don’t just throw on the first vaguely white looking thing in your wardrobe and assume it is fit for purpose. Take the time to consider colour, fit and quality, and aim for a more complete look.