Getting hold of the perfect shirt was once a chore beyond all other chores. Less than a decade ago you had no choice but to plump for an off-the-rack option unless you wanted to spend exuberant amounts of cash on bespoke tailoring.

Thankfully times are a-changing, and today I thought we’d take a quick look at what makes a good shirt and what you can do to find a top that will leave you looking sharp and dapper.

“When do I need to buy a new shirt?”

This is a commonly asked question (and one that nearly made it in to the regular Q&A Quickies feature). The rules for replacement are fairly simple. Keep your eye out for the following warning signs:

Examine the collar. If the tips are looking rounded or worn, rather than pointed and angular, chances are the shirt is not too far away from reaching the end of its wear cycle.

Yellowing. Once again, look to the collar for signs of aging; if there are any signs of yellow you know it’s time to re-invest.

Excessive stretching. If you’re experiencing any warping of the fabric, be it down to everyday stretching or seasonal weight-gain, it’s time to think about searching for a dress shirt with a better fit.

“What are the signs of a good shirt?”

There are a number of intricate indicators you can search for; however, as a busy gentleman of the world, I understand you don’t have the time to think about such things. So look out for the following when picking your next shirt:

Keep an eye on buttons. If there’s one sure-fire way of telling the good from the bad it’s through the buttons. Look at how secure they’re attached to the garment; poor stitching leads to loose threads which will inevitably mean you’re going to be spending the weekend reattaching lost buttons.

Check for a constant weave. Consistency is the key to a great looking shirt; if the weave or weft is uneven you’re not going to get a great overall fit. Try rubbing several areas of fabric between your fingers to check that the texture and weight is even.

“What can I do for a better fit?”

The best way to get a better fit is via bespoke tailoring. If you don’t have hundreds (or at some top tailors, thousands) to spend you might want to test an online custom shirt building utility.

marks and spencer

Here in the UK, M&S offer a pretty good service. There are plenty of fabric options, the prices are relatively inexpensive and the delivery schedule is quite speedy too. Just make sure you’ve got your tape measure handy for the final step.

blank label

In you’re stateside, give the recently re-launched, long-time ‘Guy Style Guide’ favourite, Blank Label a go. If you’ve not tested the newly launched tool yet you should check it out today. A full review of the service is currently in the works, but rest assured, you’re dealing with a great team that genuinely care about the future of custom male fashion.

“How should I care for my shirt?”

The simplest way is to follow the basic care instructions written on the garment. Don’t go overboard with the fabric softener, wash on the coolest cycle possible for the fabric and don’t forget to use the bare minimum of heat when ironing. Naturally cotton will require more heat than man-made fibres, but there’s still no excuse to go crazy by upping it to the highest setting possible! Speaking of which…

“How do I iron a shirt?”

If you want to learn how to iron a shirt, I recommend checking out the following videos:

Do you have any more questions with regards to the subject of dress shirts? Then why not post a quick query in the comments section below.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

2 Responses

  1. New Yorker

    Have tried Blank Label. I didn’t expect much but it was actually well-made. I’m surprised that we can shop comfortably from home, less effort and it wasn’t very expensive either. Will definitely purchase more from them. Co-creation online is much more comfortable.