Mens Formal and Cotton Dress Shirts

Men's formal dress shirts are those used for the very best occasions: a wedding, or an important company party. Traditionally, the term ‘dress shirt' was used to denote shirts that were specifically formal: these had detachable cuffs and collars which made them stiff and very uncomfortable. Now, of course, the usage of the term has extended to include all shirts. Naturally, a man's formal dress shirts should be the best one in his closet. To save some money, we recommend investing in one very high quality, and very flattering, formal dress shirt.

You might even want to select a Custom Dress Shirts or one that is properly tailored to your body. It is likely that at some point in time, you will be invited to a black- or white-tie event. Such events demand that you wear a tuxedo, or a tail coat (or ‘Penguins'). In North America, it is generally considered appropriate to wear a white formal shirt with wing or spread collars for both black- and white-tie affairs. We have the Duke of Windsor to thank for the use of the spread collar: before he wore them, spread collars were considered too informal for black tie. As a more practical choice, we would recommend investing in a formal, spread-collar shirt, in Pique fabric, as you will probably get more use out of it. Dressing for Black- and white-tie events does, however, require basic knowledge of clothing etiquette. We suggest you do some background reading.

Dressing for formal occasions that aren't black- or white- tie is far simpler. We recommend wearing a spread collar shirt in Royal Oxford fabric, perhaps accentuated with French cuffs. Royal Oxford is a thick, lustrous fabric which lends itself well to somewhat formal occasions.

Key points for men's formal dress shirts:

• ‘Dress' shirts used to refer only to very formal shirts with stiff, detachable collars and cuffs
• Formal Mens Dress Shirts are usually white
• For black- and white-tie, we recommend wearing a spread collar shirt in Pique fabric
• For less formal events, consider a spread collar shirt in Royal Oxford fabric.

Men's Cotton Dress Shirts
Cotton is by far the most popular fabric for men's Dress Shirts. Having firmly displaced linen as the fabric of choice for daily usage, cotton is the most popular fabric for shirting. (Linen has instead acquired a reputation as the fabric of choice for luxurious summer wear.) Cotton's hollow fibers make it a very breathable fabric that absorbs sweat easily. This makes it convenient to use, and (depending on the weave) ideal for summer. Cotton can easily withstand high temperatures. Thus, cotton dress shirts are durable and low-maintenance: ideal for anyone who wants to look good without having to work too hard at it.

There are four types of cotton prominent today: American Upland cotton is the most common; Sea Island cotton originated in the West Indies; Egyptian cotton originated in, well, Egypt; and Pima cotton is the American variant of the Egyptian type. Egyptian and Sea Island cotton are considered the finest as they yield longer and silkier fibers.

The best kind of cotton material is, of course, pure cotton. A lot of materials nowadays are either treated to make them wrinkle-free, or are made of a cotton and polyester blend. Wrinkle-free might be more convenient for daily use, and cotton-blend shirts might keep their shape better than 100% cotton. However, pure cotton feels softer and suppler than either. For fine dress shirts, particularly for formal wear, we recommend 100% cotton fabrics.

Key take-away:

• Most popular dress shirt fabric

• Hollow fibers make it very breathable and ideal for summer

• Can withstand high temperatures, making it durable for many washes

• Sea Island and Egyptian cotton are the finest.

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