How to choose a formal shirt

How to choose a formal shirt

You’d be forgiven for thinking there isn’t all that much to think about when choosing a shirt to go with your formalwear outfit but as with most things sartorial, god is in the details. A plain white shirt is the bare minimum and while your standard spread collar business shirt will suffice, that's all it will do. A dress shirt on the other hand will always make a stronger sartorial impression.

There are essentially three occasions that would require the wearing of a dress shirt: with formalwear, black tie, and white tie. Each occasion requires a slightly different style of dress shirt than the other. White tie, being the most formal of the bunch, naturally has stipulations the others don't. A dress shirt for a white tie ensemble must have a detachable wing collar and be fastened with shirt studs instead of buttons on the front. The studs are typically mother of pearl set in gold or silver, but black onyx inlay is also permissible. And the cufflinks should always match the studs. The most important part of the shirt consists of the front two panels which are made up of layers of marcella cotton, often heavily starched. 

WHITE POPLIN PLEATED PINTUCK DRESS SHIRT

WHITE POPLIN PLEATED
PINTUCK DRESS SHIRT

IVORY POPLIN COTTON PLEATED PINTUCK DRESS SHIRT

IVORY POPLIN COTTON
PLEATED PINTUCK
DRESS SHIRT

WHITE MARCELLA COTTON BIB FRONT DRESS SHIRT

WHITE MARCELLA
COTTON BIB FRONT
DRESS SHIRT

For black tie, the rules are more relaxed. Marcella is still the preferred fabric, and the shirt can have a variety of fronts, from plain cotton, to a pleated bib or even ruffles. While white or cream are the traditional colours and the overwhelming favourites, many a chap has been seen in a chambray dress shirt in recent memory, not least Ralph Lauren. The style of front is largely subjective, but we can thoroughly recommend the pleated variety to add some geometric style to your tuxedo. A stud front fastening is the more elegant and considered choice but a button front or hidden placket is perfect acceptable.

WHITE CAMO COTTON PINNED TUCK DRESS SHIRT

WHITE CAMO COTTON
PINNED TUCK
DRESS SHIRT

INDIGO ROCKWELL LINEN PINTUCK DRESS SHIRT

INDIGO ROCKWELL
LINEN PINTUCK
DRESS SHIRT

WHITE POPLIN/MARCELLA COTTON WING COLLAR DRESS SHIRT

WHITE POPLIN/MARCELLA
COTTON WING
COLLAR DRESS SHIRT

Finally, the shirt for formalwear - and this one is the simplest. Despite the morning suit being the height of formality, one needn't wear a dress shirt. A plain white shirt with a spread collar in a nice weight of cotton is the go-to style, or alternatively one can wear a lightly-coloured shirt with a contrast white collar and French cuffs (a look sported by HRH Prince Charles when attending Royal Ascot. The coloured option can be especially useful if you decide to wear a 3-piece charcoal morning suit for example, since your waistcoat will be the same colour as your morning suit.

BLUE FINE STRIPE COTTON PENNY COLLAR SHIRT

BLUE FINE STRIPE
COTTON PENNY
COLLAR SHIRT

BLUE KENT COTTON KENT DOUBLE CUFF SHIRT

BLUE KENT COTTON
KENT DOUBLE
CUFF SHIRT

PINK KENT COTTON KENT DOUBLE CUFF SHIRT

PINK KENT COTTON
KENT DOUBLE CUFF
SHIRT

To shop all of Favourbrook's shirts, click here.

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