Monday, May 6, 2013

SHIRT TALES 1: CASUAL BUTTON-DOWNS

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING YOUR CASUAL SHIRTS

                                   

Growing up in a tropical country like the Philippines, T-shirt may be the best fashion invention of all time. The comfort and versatility it offers made it everyone’s favorite article of clothing. Many of us wear t-shirts to work, to clubs and I even see some wear them to weddings (despite indicated dress codes) so it’s no surprise that the concept of button-down or “long-sleeves,” as it is popularly called here, is vague.
The term long sleeves is always associated with formal wear. Semi-formal dress codes are commonly (mis)interpreted as long sleeves paired with pants (slacks or jeans), sans blazers.
What many of us wasn’t taught about is that: long sleeves can be casual, too.
Before I/we get totally confusedmy fellow Pinoys, let me clear some terminologies: What we were raised to know as the “long sleeves” or “long-sleeved shirt,” is known in the West as the “button-down” or, simply, the “shirt” (other than t-shirts). Button-down, however, is another misused term. Button-down, technically, refers to a long-sleeved shirt with collars that are each secured down to the front panel of the shirt by… a button! Some articles and shopping sites wrongly refer to button-downs as button-fronts - those collared (even without fastening buttons)  long-sleeved shirts with buttons down the front.
For the purpose of this article and succeeding articles of this blog, we will refer to button-downs as those shirts with buttons on their collar tips, and button fronts as long sleeves (or short-sleeves) without buttons on their collars tips.
Button-fronts are our best alternative to t-shirts in casual dressing upon reaching the dreaded 3-0  as it may exudes professionalism and maturity, depending on the choice of fabric and print. It’s versatile, comfortable and very relaxed. It can also be worn with chinos, jeans, and shorts or with an under-shirt.
While the button-down shirt has made a name for itself in the workplace, the casual button-down shirt has recently become a popular phenomenon for outside the workplace and works as well as button-fronts.
Button-downs and button-fronts come in variety of fabric combinations. The best bets are the softest (cotton) and wrinkle-free ones, of course. Prices vary depending on the quality of the fabric. I say, it is wise to invest on some pieces, especially if it’s the type you can use a lot of times.
I searched the web and compiled various articles to come up with the simplest guide we could use before we hit the stores.  
Askmen.com observes that. "for many of us, choosing a shirt is just like selecting a pair of running shoes, jeans or even a T-shirt. We either like it or we don't, and it's usually the price that dictates whether we'll buy it or not." But since what we are trying to build a sharp wardrobe of better outfits, consider the following guidelines:
QUALITY
Designer brands aren't always synonymous with quality, but for the most part, if a brand name has been around long enough, then odds are that the quality is at par.


Brand name or not, a quality shirt should be made of the finest quality fabrics. Look for 100% cotton and other fine natural fabrics. Delicate stitching also says a lot about the quality of a shirt. A fine quality shirt should have solid yet discreet stitching around the seams and buttons. Manufacturers often try to cut corners by using insufficient or cheap thread. Also, make sure to look out for the smaller details. Cuffs and collars are the most important details of any man's shirt. A shirt that boasts nice cuffs and a well-designed collar is usually of higher quality. As well, a shirt with cufflinks and a heavily starched collar is often seen as more formal than one without the aforementioned extras. For more precise proportions, measure your neck size right below your Adam's apple with measuring tape.

TYPE OF COLLAR
Choosing the shirt's collar is an important step in the selection process. Your collar should sit evenly on your neck, without choking you. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to slip in your fattest finger without feeling choked.
The most common types of collars available in the market right now are forward point collarsspread collars and button down collars (see chart below). Interestingly, as menswear industry continue to flourish, there's a great revival of looks that have long been out of fashion. Designers have shown on the runways some extremely short collars over the past two years. The club collar, with its abbreviated, rounded shape, is back."The overall slimming down of the menswear silhouette calls for smaller collars. Designers and retailers also have been pushing clothes that fall somewhere in between work wear and casual wear, and adding more collar options along the way." 
The upside: Men have more ways to communicate personal style through their shirts than color and pattern. 
The downside: Men who want to choose the appropriate collar for everyday or special-occasion events may need a scorecard.


And here's how to find the right collar to match your face shape:



Generally, a higher collar that is not too wide will complement a narrow face, while one with a lower collar will help exaggerate the length of the neck, and therefore complement a wider face.
Generally, a higher collar that is not too wide will complement a narrow face, while one with a lower collar will help exaggerate the length of the neck, and therefore complement a wider face.

STYLE

Cuts, Hems and Yokes
The cut and design of a button down shirt varies. Oxford button downs, as the more casual look, can come with or without pleats, darts or yokes. If an Oxford is cut with pleats and shirt tails, it is intended to be worn with a suit or sport jacket. If the hem is rounded, the shirt can also be worn casually and untucked. Oxford shirts will have pleating in the back, but hidden button downs can be either pleated or not. Since they are casual, button down shirts can have a tailored or tapered waist.(e-how)"

Cuffs
The most common cuff type for casual shirts is the Barrel cuff.
This is your everyday shirt cuff. It features a couple of buttons so you can adjust the fit of the cuff 
(other cuff styles will be discussed lengthily in another blogpost).

Pockets
Pockets tend to have a more casual look, although you may find one, finely tailored chest pocket on dress shirts with both point and spread collars. Shirts that feature bulky pockets with flaps or multiple pockets are casual shirts.

Dress shirt fabric
Look for cottons and cotton blends for the best look and most comfortable fit. 

FIT
A shirt that doesn’t fit correctly will still look sloppy regardless of how well-made it is. The first step in choosing your size is measuring your neck and sleeve length. 
Secondly, decide whether you’d prefer the Regular or Slim Fit. A regular fit is looser around the waist while the Tailored Fit comes in and fits more snugly.
While Slim Fit is the trend nowadays, it does not help everyone. Mostly, men with leaner body types often find that regular fit dresses have extra fabric billowing in the back. Slim fit allow for a slimmer waist In regular fit suits, small figure types can look lost in a sea of fabric.

In choosing the proper sleeves length, rest your arms to your sides, your sleeves should end where your thumbs begin. Finally, if you're planning on tucking in your shirt, make sure it's long enough because having to re-tuck it into your pants all day long can become quite annoying. On the other hand, if you're planning on letting your shirt hang out, make sure it doesn't hang too low.


VERSATILITY
Last but not least, you should choose a shirt for its versatility. If you're on a limited budget, stay away from odd colors and patterns. Instead, opt for solid colors such as plain whites, blacks and grays; they're classics and can easily be matched with the rest of your wardrobe.
However, as a t-shirt substitute, I strongly suggest that you leave a room for creativity in choosing your casual shirt to keep your look interesting and exciting. Choose prints that are in trend, color combinations that compliments the whole wardrobe and look for subtle details that you want to define your style.

Hopefully, this simple screening process will help you find good quality, versatile and detail-oriented shirts that will keep you looking sharp for a long time.
Each collar type has its own character; the way it looks depends on how and what you'll be wearing it with. Most importantly, you should feel comfortable with the look and feel of the particular collar.
On a more general level, a shirt should fit nicely around your shoulders and back. You should feel comfortable while stretching forward and avoid feeling as though your shirt is going to rip off your back.


Sources:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324468104578250150034142598.html http://www.askmen.com/fashion/fashiontip_60/96b_fashion_advice.html#ixzz2SC98Dz6p
http://www.askmen.com/fashion/fashiontip_60/96b_fashion_advice.html

http://www.ehow.com/info_8055487_types-button-down-shirts.html

1 comment:

  1. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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