The Ultimate Guide to the Dress Shirt

The Ultimate Guide to the Dress Shirt

If you have ever worn black tie, then you are likely to have worn a dress shirt, too. In today's parlance, the term 'dress shirt' has come to mean any shirt designed to be worn in a formal setting, even that of an office, but for this article we are going to focus solely on the tuxedo shirt. In the late 19th century, a new form of formalwear emerged, gaining prominence in Tuxedo Park, New York, where an American client of the Savile Row tailor Henry Poole had started wearing a new form of formal jacket that didn't have tails. It was here that the tuxedo jacket gained popularity, and naturally, the shirt followed. It was designed to complement the tuxedo, distinguished by its pleated or bib front, as opposed to the plain front of your average white shirt.

 
 

Full-dress shirts were the early front-runners, coming with a front that was so heavily starched that it looked like a breast plate. These early shirts had detachable collars, too, which is very rare nowadays. The Marcella shirt is one of the more popular modern options, being a double-faced quilted cotton cloth, which gives the front a certain thickness and stiffness. The cloth's origins go back to the quilt makers of Marseilles but it was Lancashire textile mills that industrialised the fabric. It is very similar in structure to a piqué cloth, and these ays, the two terms are used interchangeably.

 

 
 
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Key Elements of a Tuxedo Shirt 

Central to the tuxedo shirt's identity are its distinguishing features:

  • Bib Front: The hallmark of a tuxedo shirt, it offers variations like classic pleating or the textured elegance of a piqué or Marcella front.
  • Collar Styles: Choose between the classic formality of a wingtip collar or the modern versatility of a spread or mandarin collar.
  • Cuffs: Tuxedo shirts often sport French cuffs, which require cufflinks for closure.
  • Fabric: Typically fashioned from white cotton or a cotton blend, these fabrics maintain a crisp and formal appearance.
  • Closure: A clean and concealed button placket or stud buttons adds sophistication.

Styles of Tuxedo Shirts

At Favourbrook, we have long since constructed dress shirts in a variety of styles to suit individual tastes, preferences, and of course the diversity of formalwear events one can attend. The modern rules of formalwear certainly allow for greater experimentation, or deviation from the traditional, so it is not uncommon to see pink or even denim dress shirts. On the whole though, these are most popular dress shirt styles you will come across:

  • Classic Pleated Front: Timeless and traditional, featuring the distinctive pleated bib front.
  • Piqué or Marcella Front: The textured waffle-like pattern adds a touch of sophistication.
  • Plain Front: A modern, clean look with no pleats or texture.
  • Fly-Front: With a concealed placket for a sleek and streamlined appearance.
  • Collar Variety: Choose from the iconic wingtip collar for classic formality or the versatile spread collar, which complements different tie and bow tie styles.

The collar style will largely be determined by your choice of neckwear ie. whether you typically wear a black bow tie or tie, and what sort of knot you tie with the latter. On the whole, smaller, neater four-in-hand knots tend to look more sophisticated with black tie so you don't want too big a spread in the collar tips. Likewise with a bow tie, keep the collar size in line with the bow tie - you wouldn't choose a strong, large collar then pair it with a diminutive bow tie. 

The best way to understand which style you prefer is to come in store, where our extremely experienced staff will be able to personally guide you through the various options, and most importantly, give you an honest and well-informed opinion!

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