Dress Shirts – A Gentleman’s Choice

Cary Grant knew a thing about presentation. Mr. Grant calculated his clothing choices to create an unbroken line, an arrow, which pointed straight to his face. Mr. Grant knew about the magic of proportion in dressing well. And nowhere is it more important to practice that magic than in your choice of collars and the width of the shoulders on your jacket.

Dress shirts are one of the most important wardrobe investments men can make. Despite the many variations and constructions, it has remained relatively consistent since its conception. Who knew the dress shirt would evolve from a design that was originally an item of men’s underwear until the turn of the twentieth century to a staple of every man’s wardrobe.

The Collar

Spread Collar: known as the Windsor or cutaway collar, the spread collar comes in various widths and angles. It reveals more of the upper shirt or tie than the point collar. The distance between the collar points, some almost horizontal, can vary, but it is almost never worn without a tie and is mostly used for business/formal dress only.

Point Collar: the most widespread collar style, the straight or forward point collar is cut using straight lines with a somewhat small spread. This is the collar on the classic men’s dress shirt.

Button-Down Collar: the button-down collar is attached to the shirt by two small buttons. It is best suited for more casual surroundings and was introduced by John E. Brooks of Brooks Brothers in or around 1896 based on the sports shirts worn by polo players. The buttons on the collar, however, are always fastened; to appear with undone collar buttons would be a faux pas.

Here are some things you should consider when picking out the all important dress shirt.

1. Understand your facial shape.

2. Determine the appropriate collar style.

A collar’s job is to properly frame the face, accentuating a man’s facial strengths while down playing any abnormalities. Collars act like a frame to the most important picture in the world, your face. For a collar, choose one that is opposite the shape of your face as explained in more detail below.

Study the size and dimensions of your head and face carefully, and put them in one of the following categories. Many different kind of faces exist, but for the purpose of choosing a shirt collar, let us classify them into two categories, they are:

Narrow and Long Faces: rectangular, heart and diamond shaped faces can also be classified under the long and narrow face. Look out for the jaw line and cheeks. A thin or sunken cheek or small jaw line will indicate you have a long and narrow facial shape. For such faces, use a spread collar. The horizontal lines of a spread collar will counterbalance the long vertical lines in your face created by the cheekbones and jaw line.

Round and Wide Faces: a face without sharp angles and tends to be wider at the cheeks, the jaw-line and forehead. Double chinned faces are usually categorized under the round and wide face. The job of a collar is to lengthen the round and wide face, helping it appear long and slender. For such faces, use a point collar on round faces. They will help to achieve the desired illusion.

For Those with Long Necks: you can hide this by increasing your collar height. For such individuals’ use a medium spread or wide spread collar. This will give your face balance.

Remember building the confidence you need, will take time, but with preparation and some clear ideas you can make the process easier. You will feel happier with your clothes and you will take pride in your appearance.

forbes. com


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