Is there anything more tedious than shopping for a dress shirt? They're often so elaborately clipped and pinned, that asking to try one on feels like an implied commitment. And the overwhelming variety of cuts, collars, and patterns can leave the average shopper feeling a bit bewildered, to say the least. Thankfully, there's a remedy. Bypass the headache of shopping for a dress shirt on your next go-round, by keeping these five features in mind:
Collar: Welcome to action central. Your collar can send a discreet message about your personality. For instance, a button-down version gives off a casual, sporty vibe, especially when you rock it with the rolled sleeves. On the other hand, a spread collar conveys a more serious, no-nonsense attitude since its wide opening is the optimum landing zone for a fancy, formally knotted tie. And somewhere resting comfortably in between the two, lies the ultra-versatile point collar. It's such a breeze to dress up, like the spread collar, or dress down, like the button-down. When in doubt, choose a point collar; there's no wrong way to wear it.
Pattern: Similar to the collar, this is another opportunity to mix it up and get expressive. However, keep in mind: Intricate plaids are least versatile and subtle patterns or solids are most versatile. If you're unsure which is best for you, strike a fashionable balance and consider a pattern like gingham. It'll seamlessly transition you from the office to the nearest happy hour in style.
Arms: This is a key feature many of us guys overlook. And it's a shame because a fitted sleeve, with a high cut armhole, can make you look straight up boss. Eliminating the excess fabric from under your arm, visually slims and elongates your torso making you appear a little taller. On the other hand, saggy, billowy sleeves, make you appear stout and heavier than you actually are. Ditch the flying squirrel look and put this tip to the test. Head over to J. Crew and try on a dress shirts in Ludlow Fit.
Length: Whenever I witness a would-be stylish gentleman, fall victim to a bad case of the "Should've Tucked it In's", I am instantly crestfallen. Vaccinate your style by following this simple rule: If the shirt falls below the middle of your zipper, tuck that baby in! You do your image no favors by leaving it un-tucked past this length. However, break this rule and you'll not only appear shorter, but the shirt will likely drape over your hips unflattering making them appear much wider than they actually are. Yikes!
Fabric: Cotton has always been the fabric we all know and love, but now, thanks to recent innovation, it's gotten even better. Retailers, like Express, now add a touch of spandex to their cotton dress shirts. The result is a stretchier fabric that drapes smoothly across the chest and back while gently hugging love handles. Best of all, men of virtually all body types can reap the benefits of this stretchy magic.
If you're like me and struggle to find the perfect fit, consider going the custom route. Nowadays, there are a plethora of online custom shops that will cut a dress shirt to your exact measurements. The best part? Most of them offer these custom shirts at off-the-rack price points. Two words: go wild.
About the Author: Brandon Bernard Jones is a New York City-based Personal Stylist and Founder of Don Bernard.