If you’re the kind of guy who thinks a shirt’s just a shirt, you need to read this article. You may have the perfect suit, but your shirt choice will make it or break it. A few subtle differences in the style and cut will transform you from looking like a nineties car salesman into a twenty-first-century city slicker.
We’re going to run through the basic styles of dress shirts that complement great suits. Plus, we’ll explore some curved balls and pitfalls every man should avoid to achieve sartorial greatness.
Breaking Down Different Types of Dress Shirts That Go With Suits
The white dress shirt is an office staple the world over and for good reason. Every man should have a few in their wardrobe, and you can’t beat a classic white shirt and dark tie combination. But before you even think about the color of your shirt, you need to nail down the collar, cuff, and fit that works best for you.
The single most important decision a man makes when choosing a shirt is the collar style. In this article, we’re going to rule a few out right away. Button-down, band collars, and wing tips all have their place, but they don’t work well with regular suits. So instead, focus on these three options:
- Straight collars: Also called the point collar, these collars are standard on most shirts. They’re ideal for everyday business wear.
- Spread collars: These designs feature a wider space between the collar tips. They’re perfect for wider knots, like the Windsor, and, like the straight collar, work better on men with rounder faces.
- Cutaway collars: Cutaway collars put even more distance between the tips. They look great on guys with longer faces and can be worn open or with ties.
Dress Shirt Fits
Usually, there are four options available:
- Classic fit: This is your go-to if you appreciate a shirt that allows you a little extra room to move. It is cut slightly looser and can look great in a suit, where much of the shirt is covered most of the time.
- Modern fit: It’s called modern for a reason–it’s what the cool kids are wearing, and you should consider it too. It tapers in at the waist and creates a more flattering silhouette for many physiques. Perfect for men who like to take their suit jackets off the first chance they get.
- Slim fit: If you have a slimmer frame, you may look your best rocking a slim-fit shirt. It’s not just the waist that’s tapered; the sleeves are close-fitting, and the armholes are slightly higher too.
- Extra-slim: This final fit is suited to guys with a particularly svelte physique. Also sold as “skinny fit,” every dimension is narrowed for an ultra-sleek appearance.
While classic fit is very comfortable, it’s not always the most flattering style. If you haven’t already, consider trying a modern or slim-fit shirt and notice the effect that the cut has on your body profile.
There are several types of cuffs to choose from, but the first point to consider is whether you want to wear cufflinks or not.
For formal occasions, cufflinks are a must. They pair perfectly with tuxedos and business suits. But if you’re sitting at a computer all day, they can get in the way. So there’s a place for regular button cuffs as well.
You’ll need a single or double (French) cuff shirt if you want to wear cufflinks. However, for everyday wear, barrel cuffs with buttons are the most common and timeless classic.
Colors and Patterns
White is great, but it’s not the only color. Light blues and pinks also classic pairings with suits, perfectly contrasting with a wide range of fabrics and ties. You can also branch out into other block, pastel colors such as lavender and light gray.
Consider striped shirts if you want to add more interest to your wardrobe. Traditional European styles that inject personality without sacrificing formality are Bengal stripe, pinstripe, and dress stripes.
The Fit Really Matters
Whatever physique you have, getting a well-fitted shirt matters. No part of the shirt should be too tight or too loose. Pay attention to these crucial areas:
- Sleeve length
In a perfect world, we’d all get made-to-measure shirts. Although that’s out of reach for many of us, most people can afford a tape measure and a few minutes to take down their vital statistics.
Now you know the style of shirt you want and the important measurements, you can start searching for the perfect style and fit.
If you find that you’re bigger on some measurements and smaller on others, don’t panic. Consider getting a larger size and visiting a tailor to make some minor alterations.
Tired of traditional dress shirts yet still want to radiate suaveness? You’ve got several options to choose from that still pair excellently with many suits.
The Floral Shirt
Formal floral shirts can range from subtle micro prints to bold, flowery patterns that can’t be ignored. We’re not talking about Dad’s aloha shirt here. These striking designs are perfect for men who want to tread the line between formality and whimsy. Perfect with a block color tie or worn open-necked.
The Roll Neck
A debonair design that’s perfect for when the winter bites, roll-necks, and suits have stood the test of time. Just be sure to choose a fine gauge sweater to preserve the silhouette of the suit. Stick to neutral colors that keep the suit the star of the show.
The Polo Shirt
Perfect for a casual look, feel free to experiment with different combinations of colors and styles. If you’re looking for a tried-and-true look, try a light gray suit with a dark, contrasting polo.
Can You Wear Casual T-Shirts With a Suit?
While the answer varies depending on your suit and shirt of choice, it definitely isn’t a “no.”
Wearing t-shirts with a suit can be perfectly acceptable, stylish, and an excellent way to add a bit of casual personality to your outfit — but only in the right circumstances. For instance, if you’re wearing a suit to work every day, you might be tempted to pair it with a casual shirt. In some work environments, that is perfectly acceptable! In others, though, your employer might not even entertain the idea of it — so use good judgment. Never wear a t-shirt with a suit or blazer if the dress code is business formal.
So when is it OK to wear a casual shirt with a suit?
Only attempt to do so if there is either no strict dress code or if it’s business casual. Your main goal when wearing a t-shirt with a suit is to look casual and stylish without feeling under-dressed or out of place.
If you’re wondering what style of t-shirt you should wear depending on the occasion, here is a short list:
1) Crew necks: Crew neck t-shirts are the go-to when replacing a dress shirt. This is usually appropriate in more laid-back office settings, going out, and even attending events.
2) V-necks: V-necks are usually not appropriate in office settings as it exposes your chest, but for going out and some formal events, you’re probably good to go!
3) Henley t-shirts: Henley shirts are a bit more versatile than crew necks or V-necks since you can wear them either buttoned or unbuttoned. If you’re leaving it unbuttoned, stick to more casual settings. Buttoned, however, and you can use this type of shirt anywhere where you might use crew necks with a suit.
When pairing casual shirts with a suit, it might be best to experiment with whether what you’re going for might look better with a blazer and jeans as opposed to a full suit.
Combine Style and Formality with the Perfect Shirt
Choosing the right shirt is about more than what’s in style. The best shirt is one that suits your physique, complements your suit, and moves with you through the day.
That’s why we’ve created the xShirt. Made from 8-way stretch fabric, it’s wrinkle-resistant, meaning you look sharp from morning till night.
Check out our range of performance shirts and place your order today.