5 Essential Shirts That Every Man Needs
The shirt is a quintessential piece in any man’s wardrobe. Here, we present the five basic styles every man needs (plus what to look for when purchasing them and where to wear them) in order to construct a solid rotation of pieces, all dedicated to covering your top half.
You can’t complete a black tie affair without the tuxedo shirt. Stick to white and tinker with the details—collar, shirt front, cuffs, and buttons. Play it safe with a point or spread collar or be debonair with a cutaway option. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a plain front, but we think formal events are a terrific excuse to pull out a pleated bib front. Pearl buttons are great, though black stud buttons work just as well and provide a touch of contrast. As for cuffs? French, always. Wear only with a tuxedo. In other words, this is not appropriate for anything below the formality of a black tie event.
A little less rigid than the tuxedo shirt, the dress shirt is a garment that can take you from the office to dressier occasions, which aren’t necessarily black tie. Point, spread, and buttondown collars are the standard options for dress shirts, so one of each is enough. It’s hard to go wrong with white, but you also have more leeway in terms of color and print. Keep it appropriate with conservative pastels and classic prints like stripes and gingham. French cuffs work fine, as well. You can also tone things down with one to three button cuffs.
That’s Oxford cloth button down, a preppy favorite that’s evolved from private school uniforms of decades past to one of the best casual shirts for the everyday man. Its versatility means it can be dressed up (buttoned all the way to the top and worn with a tie and a sport coat) or down (with its sleeves rolled up a paired with shorts for the weekend). Keep an eye on a good collar roll as this is the main feature of the OCBD. Pastels and neutrals are good places to start, but feel free to choose bolder hues.
Chambray or Denim Shirt
The classic worker’s fabric makes its way to the realm of shirting. Keep the heritage of chambray or denim in mind and use it more for casual wear. Pair it with khakis, shorts, or even do double with a pair of jeans, though it’d be probably best to keep the jeans and shirt in different shades unless you don’t mind wearing a Canadian tuxedo. The point collar is the purist way to go, but options featuring a buttondown collar add a slight refinement to this otherwise rugged piece.
Depending on the type of checks, the plaid shirt can either go dressy enough for work or just for a leisurely weekend. The rule is the smaller the checks, the dressier it is. If you plan to wear one to the office, an interview, or a date, keep the checks small to medium and opt for traditional varieties like tartan or tattersall. If you want to go for more laidback options, go with larger checks that have more relaxed connotations like buffalo and Madras.