The Perfect Men's Dress Shirt
By Ken Deckinger / November, December, 2011
The right men's dress shirt can make a man look and feel like a million bucks. Finding that perfect shirt, however, takes a bit of skill. Here are some tips to make the man in your life love the cotton pleasure you give him this season.
Go custom -- The ultimate gifted dress shirt is a custom shirt. Store-bought, off-the-rack dress shirts are designed to fit the "perfect man" -- the man with ideal ratios and proportions. In reality, all men are shaped differently. Some have large necks with short arms or small torsos with broad shoulders. Custom shirts are measured at multiple points, so that the shirt fits all parts of the man's body perfectly. It's designed for him and only him.
If you don't want to go the custom route, there are a few things you should consider to make sure that the shirt you pick out compliments your man's features and physique.
The correct collar type -- There are essentially two categories of collars to be concerned with as you start eyeing a shirt: spread and point. A spread collar is the wider of the two. Within each genre are a number of variations defined by how wide or narrow the collar is.
As a rule of thumb, you want to pick a collar type that balances your man's face. If he has a narrow face, choose a spread or wide collar to make his face appear more full. If he has a round face, select a traditional point or narrow collar to give the appearance of lengthening the face.
There are, of course, also always button down collars, if that's what he prefers. These are okay. Although accepted in business, they are generally reserved for more casual situations.
The right cuff for the right occasion -- Dress shirt cuffs also fall into two main classes: the button cuff and the French cuff. Selecting the appropriate cuff is usually as easy as determining the occasion for which the shirt will be worn.
Button cuffs are for more casual settings. They're versatile. They work perfectly for work, nights out, even events that require a suit. French cuffs are more formal. You'll notice these in professional office settings and more elegant events. A French cuff shirt is often times paired with a suit.
French cuffs use cuff links to be closed. This creates an opportunity for your man to show off his unique style as the cuffs come in all sorts of shapes, materials, and sizes. You can go as traditional as simple stainless steel or mother of pearl or as creative as Mickey Mouse. Of course, the downside to a French cuff is you'll need to buy them with your gift, if he doesn't already have any. A decent pair will run you roughly $75. Prices can range from $10 for elastic cuff links to as high as thousands of dollars, depending on the materials used.
If you're considering a shirt with a pattern such as stripes or checks, be sensitive to your man's body shape. As a rule of thumb, vertical stripes make a man's body look taller and leaner. That makes them great for athletic, short and heavy body types. Tall men can get away with vertical stripes too, as long as they're not too bold. If going with checks, anything works, but try to stay away from bold checks for shorter or heavier men.
At the end of the day, just like everything in life, it's the details that make the difference. The right collar, cuff, and fabric pattern will fine-tune your shirt gift so that the recipient looks outstanding and feels like he can take on the world.
Ken Deckinger is the founder and CEO of New York City-based Dillon Road custom men's clothier, having consulted with and designed custom clothing for men across the country.
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