A bespoke suit is arguably the best way to make a great first impression. So good in fact, that a bespoke suit will even stand out in a crowd of lesser suits. Once in the office however, the need to sit arises and with this need comes the requirement that you remove your jacket to prevent creasing. At this point the focus is left to your shirt and tie, so, how does the quality of your shirts stack up against the quality of your suits?
With a suit, one has the option to customise so much, so it’s easy to get all the bells and whistles and forget everything else – but we know the keys to style are: consistency, detail and style. A beautiful suit with scuffed shabby shoes will detract from the suit and the same stands for shirts. Notepads at the ready gentlemen!
The fit of your shirt should follow the same guidelines as a suit fit. The aim of the game is to have a shirt that follows your body contour smoothly, without excess cloth and without restricting your movement. If you already have a bespoke suit, have the shirt sleeve made half an inch longer than the jacket sleeve. If you are buying the shirt first, the cuff should fall at the point that your wrist meets your hand. The collar should have enough room in it to allow a finger worth of space.
- Kent collar: A Kent collar is a very basic style. The two sides of the collar will have a small spread (distance from one point to the other) in comparison to other collar styles. This kind of collar will work on both casual and formal shirts. If used for the latter, a four in hand tie knot works perfectly, though other styles will not look out of place.
- Cutaway collar: These collars can come with a variety of collar spreads, from semi-cutaway to wide cutaway. The wider space between the collar points means a chunky Windsor knot will sit beautifully. This type of collar is great for formal wear, especial when paired with a well-executed tie knot.
- Tab collar: A tab collar is named so because there is a small tab that runs between the two sides of the collar. This pulls the collar together and raises the tie knot to add a little more detail. Because of the tab, the two sides of the collar are a little closer together than on a Kent and so small tie knots (like the four in hand) will work best. This kind of collar looks messy when left open, so is best reserved for formal wear and a tie.
- Pin collar: A pin collar works much like a tab collar, in that the two sides of the collar are made slightly closer to one another and then pulled together – in this case – by a collar pin. This pin will also push the tie knot upwards from underneath, which gives two added details, the collar pin and the raised tie. This collar is great for formal occasions that allow for a little more power dressing but, because of the holes in the collar, will look messy undone and without a tie.
- Oxford collar: An oxford collar is cut much like a Kent collar, but at the point of both collar sides there is a button which fastens the collar to the shirt. Although this holds the collar neatly in place, the exposed button creates a slightly messy detail that reduces the formality of the shirt. Some older gents choose to wear an oxford collar with a suit and tie, but we would recommend reserving them for casual wear with no tie.
- Wing-tip collar: This type of collar is the most formal style available and should only be reserved for events that mirror this formality. This means white tie events and/or when wearing morning wear. NOT black tie! this is a very common faux pas. When at a white tie event, one should wear this collar type with a bow tie. If worn with morning wear, a cravat is also acceptable.
- Button cuff: A button cuff is essentially exactly what it says on the tin: a cuff that fastens via one or more buttons. The most common varieties of button cuffs are one or two buttons. The two button styles can have either the buttons going vertically or horizontally on the cuff. There are also a variety of cuts into the cuff that are available as a detail, such as a rounded edge or a V shaped notch cut into the edge of the cuff. Button cuffs are suitable for formal wear or casual wear but never for black tie.
- Double cuff: The double cuff is the most formal of the cuff styles due to the requirement of cufflinks. The cuff is made double the necessary length so that it can be folded back onto itself. There is no button fastening on this style, but instead there are buttonholes for cufflinks of your choosing. This style works brilliantly for formal wear – including dinner and morning events – but will look out of place on a casual shirt.
- Cocktail cuff: A great middle ground between a button and single cuff, the cocktail cuff provides the folded back style of the double cuff but with a button fastening instead – great for those who like a formal cuff without the hassle of choosing cufflinks for the day. The cocktail cuff is great for formal and casual wear and – though not a traditional choice – is worn with a dinner suit by James Bond in several of his films.
SHIRT BACK STYLES
- Darts: As with any clothing, darts pull the garment closer to your body to provide a slimmer fit and silhouette. This is a great way of fitting your shirt if you are a slimmer or more athletically build gentleman.
- Pleats: As with your trouser, the addition of pleats to a shirt will add extra cloth and in turn, extra room. The pleats can either be seen as a pair on the centre, or one on either shoulder blade.
As well as the details above, many people also opt for a monogram of their initials – commonly on (but not limited to) the cuff or on the pocket of their shirt. Button holes and button stitch (the thread fastening the button to the shirt) can also be coloured for those desiring even further personalisation.