Monday, August 9, 2010

Its all about the dress shirt | Everything you need to know about dress shirts

Whether you buy your dress shirts three at a time from a bargain bin or prefer the tailored civility of Savile Row, it is important to know just what makes these ever-present staples of a man’s wardrobe what they are. I will explain the anatomy of a dress shirt, which includes three important parts and the terminology you need to know next time you get fitted:

anatomy of a dress shirt: the collar

The collar of a man’s dress shirt is perhaps its most important part; it dictates the entire style of not only the garment, but of the man inside it. The angle of the point spread, the height of the point length, if there are buttons or not, completely change the style of the shirt. The collar also lays closely to your face, so expect thousands of eyes to be laid upon it each and every day. When giving presentations, ensure that your collar is neatly starched, and don’t underestimate how important a good collar stay is. The collar is where style is made.
Collar base: (or collar stand) The band of fabric sewn into the neckline of a dress shirt, which the collar attaches to.

Collar leaf: The outside fabric of the collar, located at the front sides, which is folded over the collar base.
Collar point length: The distance between the collar point and the top of the collar leaf.
Collar front band: The area on the base that sits between the collar points.
Collar point spread: The distance between the collar points.

anatomy of a dress shirt: the front

One may think that the front of a men's dress shirt is pretty uniform, but that is not always the case. We have come to expect a certain proportion for our yoke, shoulder and sleeve, but altering one can really change the appearance of your entire outfit. One particular part of the front you can’t overlook, although many do, is the sleeve placket. If your cuff is buttoned, so must your sleeve placket.

Collar: The part of a shirt that encompasses the neckline of the garment, often so as to fold or roll over. Comes in various shapes, depending on the face shape and occasion.

Yoke: A shaped piece of fabric in a garment, fitted about or below the neck and shoulders, from which the rest of the garment hangs. It can be split in two, called the “split-yoke.”
Placket front: A standard shirt front with a placket sewn on top of the shirt front.
Plain front: A standard shirt front with a hidden placket; usually lapped left over right for men, and vice versa for women.
Fly front: A flap of material down one side of the front opening of a garment to conceal buttons or fasteners.
Armhole: The opening in a dress shirt, which the arms are sewn into.
Sleeve: The part of a garment that covers the arm and is usually cut wider than the cuffs. Most sleeve lengths fall between 32 and 36 inches.
Sleeve placket: A distinctive feature that is sewn on the sleeve; the opening of the sleeve fabric near the cuff.
Cuff: A fold or band serving as a trimming or finish for the bottom of a sleeve. Some cuff styles include French cuffs and barrel cuffs.

anatomy of a dress shirt: the back

Few battles can be won on the shirt-back, but many have been lost. A few things that have put a few great men down are overly flared pleats and darts and, of course, the ever deadly hang loop. There is only one shirt in the world that should have a hang loop, and that is the traditional Ralph Lauren Polo Oxford button-down in white. Anything beyond that has a hang loop is not for you, or for your friend, or even your worst enemy.

Back collar height: The part of the collar that is folded over (at the backside of the dress shirt).

Yoke: A shaped piece of fabric in a garment, fitted about or below the neck and shoulders, from which the rest of the garment hangs. It can be split in two, called the “split-yoke.”
Hang loop: A piece of fabric sewn into the yoke seam that allows the shirt to be hung at this point.
Side pleats: Single fabric folds at the other parts of the shirt back.
Box pleat front: A double fabric fold, with the material folded under at each side at the back center of a shirt.
Sleeve: The part of a garment that covers the arm and is usually cut wider than the cuffs. Most sleeve lengths fall between 32 and 36 inches.
Darts: A tapered seam of fabric for adjusting the fit of a garment.
Hem: The finished lower edge of the dress shirt body.
Tail: The part of a shirt below the waistline.

Men's Shirts: The Best Under $50

A decent button-down for less than a week’s worth of takeout? Yeah, I thought it was impossible too. But I never fear a challenge (and neither should you). The common culprits for failure: a dated point collar and enough extra fabric flowing out the backside to jury-rig a parachute. It’s the I-love-my-9-to-5-desk-job shirt that blouses at the waist and has bat wings for sleeves that trips up most men, whether or not they’re running on a six-figure salary. Fortunately, from a day at the office to a night spent out and about, these selections show that it isn’t money that matters -- it’s form and fit. Here are the best men’s shirts under $50:

Jos A. Bank French cuff shirt

For American men, the French cuff might as well be as foreign as the name implies. However, this small sleeve detail can turn the average men's shirt into something chic. That is, of course, if it’s slimmer in the shoulders, chest and waist -- like this one from Express. A flat-front trouser is all you need to go effortlessly from office to evening.

Michael by Michael Kors blue stripe dress shirt

Seersucker-y blue and white stripes are an obvious choice for spring. But only expert tailoring can make a men's shirt suit-able. Something in cotton khaki, perhaps? A fine choice. And if the cut is too generous here (Michael Kors isn’t known for his slimming designs), use the cash you’ve saved on this bargain to take a trip to the tailor for a couple of pound-pulverizing darts.

Calvin Klein poplin button-down

When in doubt, basic is always best: no pockets, patterns or weird plackets -- that's why this men's shirt under $50 makes the cut. The modern styling here works tucked in with a lightweight wool trouser or undone with darker jeans for more casual office environments. And in cotton poplin, there’s no need for an unsightly undershirt. This button-down keeps you clean and crisp. Now you won’t have to worry about being that guy in the office.

Lands’ End Canvas 1963 denim work shirt

The work shirt is the uniform for the season. In this version from Canvas 1963 -- the J.Crew-like, low-cost line from catalog king Lands’ End -- comfortable shoulder pleats are complemented by a shorter shirttail that’s meant to be worn out. Khaki is the obvious option down under, but the trend-oriented guy will go for denim in bright white.

Price: $39.50
Where to buy:

 UNIQLO slim-fit tuxedo shirt

Fine fabrics, trim fits and super-subtle detailing are telltale signs that point to Japanese mega-brand UNIQLO. Its tuxedo shirt is ideal for anything from dark-wash denim and a blazer to a look that’s just shy of black tie. And it all comes for less than the cost of a rental.

Price: $29.50
Where to buy:

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