Selecting the fit and collar of a dress shirt
When making a dress shirt purchase you need to consider: size first and foremost, collar style, construction, and fabric.
Size and Fit
If the first thing you do when leave your office for home is loosen your collar button and pull down your tie, your shirt collar doesn’t fit. A recent study by Cornell University shows that 70 per cent of men wear their shirts too tight. You should not experience, much less tolerate, discomfort when wearing a dress shirt and tie.
Don’t Get All Choked Up About It
There are a couple of ways to avoid that choked-up feeling. First, put on one of your shirts and button the collar. If you cannot put your two middle fingers between the collar and your neck without touching, your collar is too small. Buy a half size larger.
To be sure, put a tape measure around your neck at the Adam’s apple. Add one half size to that measurement. Dress shirts in the U.S. are sized in half inch increments: 14, 14 ½, 15. 15 ½, etc. So if your neck measures 15 inches, purchase a size 15 ½.
Sleeves That Fit Just Right
Getting the sleeve length right is important too. Usually, dress shirt sleeves are sized in ranges: 32/33, 34/35, etc. Ideally the end of the cuff should come ½ inch below the break in the wrist, i.e. where it bends. About ½ inch of cuff should extend beyond the end of the suit jacket cuff. To get your sleeve length, you will need some help. Using the tape, with your arm extended out to the side, have an accomplice take the measurement from the middle of your back, over your shoulder to your wrist.
The other thing to consider is the fit of the shirt. This information is usually on the packaging. Most men’s shirts are either tapered or fitted and full cut. Men with a slim build may prefer the fitted style, while the fuller cut would be a better choice for men who are stocky or have a larger build.
Collar Style and Construction
Next to fit, collar style is probably the most important consideration when purchasing a dress shirt. The collar is the most visible part of the shirt. It frames your face and showcases your necktie. Consequentially, the shape of your face and length of your neck should play in role in the style of collar you choose. As a general rule, the large the man the larger collar he can wear and vice versa.
Pinned Collar Dress Shirt
This is the same as the regular collar except that it is worn with a pin that goes through the collar, with collar bars that snap onto the collar, or with a bar that has a screw and ball that connect through eyelets. This style looks best on men with a medium to long neck
Spread Collar Dress Shirt
This collar has medium spread and shorter points. It is a better choice for men with a short neck or who favor a full Windsor tie knot.
Button-down Collar Dress Shirt
Similar to the straight point, but the ends of the collar are secured with buttons. Having no collar stays, this is a much softer and relaxed style but is still commonly worn for business wear. It can accommodate any type of knot and is the collar style to be worn with a bow tie.
Regular or Straight Point Collar Dress Shirt
This is the main stay of most men’s wardrobe and goes with just about any type of suit or sport coat. The length of the collar tends to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and with the dictates of fashion.
Tab Collar Dress Shirt
This style holds the tie in place by tabs attached to the collar and held together under the tie knot. Not all that common today.