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A guide to help the average man... look less average

The white dress shirt

Mark Kwak

The white shirt is arguably the most important piece of clothing that you can own. It was, is, and always will be, a staple piece for any man's wardrobe.

Now, white dress shirts are not necessarily special. They won't make you stand out from the crowd and they won't get you loads of compliments. Though this may seem like a bad thing to you... au contraire my stylish friends. The fact that white shirts don't bring attention to themselves can actually work marvelously to your advantage.

First off, for this reason, white shirts match with just about anything. Take for instance pants.

Jeans? Check. Khakis? Check. Slacks of virtually any color? Check. Add in the fact that they work with every sweater, jacket, or coat you put on top of them, and voila, you've got yourself the most versatile piece of clothing in your wardrobe.

Second, white shirts will work casually (let's say with the top two buttons undone, and rolled up sleeves) and of course formally as well with a suit and tie. This means you can use them in a multitude of situations, and never be noticed if you wear the same shirt three weeks in a row. In fact, someone I know did a little experiment once and wore a white shirt for two weeks straight. The week following, he tried to wear a purple shirt repetitively. Not a single person noticed when he wore the white shirt, but only two days into wearing the purple shirt, someone commented.

However, this doesn't mean go out there and buy just any white shirt. Virtually every clothing company known to man makes a white shirt, and so it could actually be a task to find the right one for you.

There are two camps of thought, and neither is wrong. The first camp says that you should just find a cheap white shirt that's passable, buy three or four of them, maybe get them tailored, and then replace as need-be since they will be used so often. The other camp says that the white dress shirt is so important to a man's wardrobe, that they should invest some dollars into making sure they get the best shirt they can, regardless of price.

I personally think a healthy medium can be achieved. Buy something nice, that has a great fabric and feel, but don't feel the need to buy high end luxury designer, because you might be paying the extra premium for little to no improvement of quality.

I mean let's face it, there's no patterns or colors involved in a white shirt, and a good tailor can help make sure the shirt fit well on you as long as you have the right shoulder fit. Here's a good article that tells you how shirts should fit across your body. So as long as you've got a nice, durable, breathable, great feeling (to the touch) white shirt, you're good to go. As a general rule, I personally like white shirts that are a bit thicker in fabric, to show less of the peach skin tone through, and to be a bit more durable for the long run.

Here are some recs for good white shirts in different price ranges. I would suggest sticking to a slim fit with regular button cuffs (french cuffs are reserved for the most formal of situations). I personally like point collars since they work well without a tie, but a semi-spread should work just fine as well. Button down collar is up to you, depending on how casual you want to be. (button downs are considered slightly more casual).

~$30: Uniqlo Oxford Cloth Dress Shirt

~$75: Brooks Brothers Classic All Cotton

~$150: Thomas Pink Emir Poplin Shirt

~$200: Turnbull & Asser Classic Plain White Shirt

In all, make sure you have a couple white shirts in your wardrobe at all times. Go ahead, wear the heck out of them, match them with everything, and stay fresh. Till next time.