Business Casual – Men’s Clothing as a Young Professional Part 2 – Shirts
It’s been a month since my last post on men’s fashion which garnered a great response from readers. Google Analytics shows that men are very interested in tips on how to dress. While I’m not a total metrosexual, I do have a trendy girlfriend who makes sure I look moderately presentable. I ride the Tube with investment banker types everyday and while I don’t rock a suit, I do drink in the same pubs as these folks after work and don’t want to feel under-dressed in social situations… call me shallow! Continuing with fashion tips, let’s dive into one of the most important parts of men’s dress… shirts!
Shirts are probably the most visible part of the male wardrobe. I’ve heard from some women that they look at mens shoes the most and from some other women that a watch is the most important. Regardless of what women are checking out, a good shirt definitely enhances your presence. The following recommendations, while common sense, seem to elude a lot of folks, especially where I work in IT. Don’t even get me started on engineering!
Business Casual Dress Tips on Shirts
Buying good shirts
Most important of all – BUY A SHIRT THAT FITS! The seams on the shoulder’s should be resting on the edge of your shoulders when the top button of your collar is closed. Get measured for free at any department store. You’re an adult now, these measurements shouldn’t really change in your 20s. Polo shirts are barely acceptable, but aim for better and get a man’s shirt with more than three buttons. Avoid Seagull, Eagle and Moose logos. Ugh, this is so college, you’re a young professional now! Striped shirts are great, but be sure to have some solids too. Mix it up a bit! Be on the look-out for shirts with a nice texture/weave. Herringbone shirts are spiffy. Flat fabric is nice, but look at some of the more expensive shirts like Joseph Abboud and you will see the quality in the weave.
As a trendy fellow, you should really try to buy fitted shirts. Take a look at the mannequins in the store, notice how nice the shirt hugs the torso. You should also notice the number of pins holding the shirt back to make the shirt look like it would actually fit a man nicely. Be disappointed when you get home and unfold the shapeless potato sack you’ve just been sold. As nice way to avoid this is to actually purchase fitted shirts. The Gap and Banana Rep. have some decent fitted shirts, any higher end department store should have these as well. It’s proven that women like the tapered shape from men’s shoulder’s to waist and we don’t want to disappoint!
I’m not sure what an appropriate number of shirts is, but I’d say at least ten is a good number. Even if you spend $40 bucks a shirt, for only $400 you have pretty much half of your wardrobe. I went nuts at Century 21 in New York and for $350 I got about 12 shirts when I found a big selection of 14 1/2″ 32/33 which is pretty hard to find. They have Big and Tall stores, I think there is a business proposition in ‘Short and Small’.
Bonus points: cuff-links
Old Man points: monogrammed shirts. Seriously. Might as well monogram D. BAG on your forehead.
Cleaning and pressing
So you’ve got a bunch of nice shirts.. sooner or later they’re going to need some cleaning. You can be like most people and drop it off at the dry cleaner. Unless you specifically ask for dry cleaning (you will know by the fact that your bill is huge) you’re probably just laundering your shirts. This means they’re basically washing your threads in a common machine with other people’s shirts as well. Grody. Save yourself the money and wash your shirts on your own in the washer. Wash similar colors together on gentle cycle, remove the collar stays first and hang dry. Be sure to use stainstick or something else around the collar to keep shirts fresh. Don’t dry them in the dryer as it ages shirts quickly. I started doing this after my dry cleaner ruined about $250 worth of Express MX shirts when they pressed them and burned the edges. I’m sure I’ve saved a ton of cash over the years, maybe I should use this saved money to justify my purchase of GTA IV…
You could have a closet full of D&G shirts, but if they’re a wrinkled mess you’re not impressing anyone. Despite Abercrombie’s attempts, a wrinkled shirt is not acceptable! The easiest way to make sure you’re always wrinkle-free: learn how to iron, even if you dry clean. If you’re new to ironing be extra careful around the collars, only iron the backside to prevent singeing the edges, especially with dark collars. With light colored shirts, especially cotton, be sure to starch them to keep them nice looking. If you’re really bad at ironing, which apparently a lot of people are, invest in Brooke’s Brothers wrinkle free shirts. I know a ton of people (like my buddy Tad) who swear by these things.
Undershirt of no undershirt?
Personally, I prefer to wear a v-neck undershirt so you don’t see the trademark American undershirt sticking out. I like black tank tops as well as I feel like a bad ass when I take my button down off after work and leave my belt, pants and shoes on. Anyone else get this feeling? This is a gray area for me, I’d like to hear what other people have to say about this.
There you have it. A few suggestions on men’s shirts. Most seem pretty reasonable in my eyes, but then again, I’ve seen some real slobs in my job, at all levels. Of course, looking nice is no subsitiute for solid perfomance, but subconsciously I think you start from a position of strength when people realize you can actually dress yourself and look good in the process.
Holla back. Let me hear your thoughts. Especially you… Polo boy.