The Business Shirt Pt 1 – Celebrating the hardest working member of your wardrobe
by Clare Sheng
I’m Clare, the director at The Fitting Room on Edward, and the author of The Suit Book. My team and I help busy professionals look good and feel more confident by altering and styling their clothing. Everyone knows, a well fitting suit not only gives you confidence, it also improves your productivity and influence.
I’m here today to talk to you about the hardest working member of your wardrobe, the business shirt. It is the unsung HERO of your wardrobe and it’s about time we celebrate their contribution to your attire.
Why is it that the business shirt is often over looked, and cast off as unimportant compared to the suit? People often buy ill fitting shirts as an add on accessory to the their suit. They spend less money on its purchase and alterations, and say “ah… Doesn’t matter about the shirt’s fit or quality, it’s just a shirt”.
Each and every day, it’s the business shirt who hugs your skin all day long and works hard at absorbing your sweat and oils. It then gets run around in the washing machine every week before being crushed by a hot iron on a Sunday night, and then the cycle starts again.
In Brisbane where I live, the weather is warm all year round. Wearing a shirt with chinos and no blazer is our staple Queensland uniform. An ill-fitting shirt with cheap fabric will instantly reduce your influence, confidence, and professionalism.
Therefore, the business shirt should be the most IMPORTANT part of your wardrobe. Even if you don’t have a couple of bespoke Italian suit, make sure you have 10 good quality, well fitting shirts in your wardrobe
This is the 1st of a 4 part series, where we break down everything you need to know about the business shirt.
Lesson 1: History of the shirt and where to wear which
The dress shirt has been around for over 200 years. It was originally designed to be an undergarment, where only the collar and cuffs are visible over the vest and jacket. The shirt was white, to indicate only the wealthy can afford to buy and have them cleaned regularly.
After the first world war, the “status” of having white shirts begin to diminish as they become more accessible to the general public. Men begin to experiment with different fabrics, textures and a looser fit.
In the 60’s and 70’s, the shirt went through a phase of large collars, floppy fit, and synthetic fabrics, not to mention the loud patterns.
Luckily, by the 90s, power dressing came back into fashion, and the design of the shirt became more smart and elegant.
Today, you will find there is a wide range of shirts to choose from, with subtle details to add flavour to the look. You can choose between different types of fabrics weaves, collars shapes, cuffs, fit styles, and colour.
Although there are no longer formal dress codes enforced in the workplace in Queensland, it’s still prudent to understand the different types of shirts and where they fit in the dress codes.
Plain coloured shirts with different weave patterns are considered professional, and suitable for a serious work place such as law.
A smart casual workplace is perfect for patterned fabrics, and button down collars.
When the invitation says black tie, make sure your shirt is white, with a pleated front, the buttons are covered in the shirt panel or replaced with studs. The cuffs should always be a fold back or French cuff and finished with cuff links.
Most people actually struggle with buying shirts off the rack that fit properly. After working with clients for over 10 years, I have heard the same problems over and over again.
- The sleeves are too short or too long
- The neck button doesn’t do up properly
- The body is too loose and balloon like
That’s why The Fitting Room has developed our custom made shirt service.
We will help you choose, style and create fully tailored business shirts so you could have a wardrobe full of perfectly fitting HERO shirts.
In the next chapter of our blog series, we will talk about the different types of collars and cuffs of a shirt, their subtle nuances and how to make them work for you.