Guide to Finding the Perfect Shirt
Be it a tailored or an off-the-rack, can you tell what is a good shirt and what’s not? To many people, shirts are just shirts, but how do you know whether they are worth your money?
- Shirt Collar
The collar of your shirt creates the first impression of the look of your shirt, especially when it is still exposed when you are wearing a suit. It should fit as snug as possible around your neck, to complete a well-balanced outfit.
A comfortable fit of the collar would be when the collar is touching your neck all-around, while you are still able to slid 2 fingers in.
- Sleeves Length
One of the most common issues people have with their shirts is that the sleeve length is never perfect. Sleeves that are too long will create lots of creases around your arms, due to excess fabrics. It will look unattractive if the sleeves are too short as well, as it will seem as if your arms are short as it ends higher than it should be.
- Fit of Cuffs
Cuffs are one part of the shirt which many people overlook. When worn with a suit jacket, about ¼ to ½ inch of the cuffs should be shown beneath the jacket sleeves. To add on, the cuffs should also be nicely wrapped around your wrist, where you cannot remove the sleeves without unbuttoning the cuffs.
Take caution about French cuffs, as they are much wider than the regular button cuffs, due to the double fold cuffs. The suit jacket sleeve openings would hence be affected too, as they have to accommodate for the wider shirt cuffs.
- Fit of Armholes and Arms
You will probably encounter large armholes while shopping off-the-racks. Most manufacturers produce such sizes as the shirts are meant to fit most body types. However when you have a large armhole, naturally it will create lots of excess fabrics at your underarm, and the sleeves will hence be baggier.
(Example of armholes that are too big)
A smaller armhole will not only give you a better fit, it also gives you more mobility for better movements. Of course, armholes too tight can sometimes give a tugging look underneath your armpits, and it will be uncomfortable. This is why a good balanced fit is important!
- Fit of Body
If you see the buttons of your shirt straining, obviously it is now too tight for you. You will see wrinkles forming around the buttons, which the tightness will also constrain the shoulders and the sleeves. On the other hand, if your shirt is so loose that it billows, you will have to either size down, or have your shirt tailored.
(Shirt too tight; you can see some tugging around the buttonhole)
A good-fitting shirt should have the shirt plackets laying on top of each other nicely, with slight to minimal “muffin-topping” above the waistline of your pants.
- Shirt Length
(Example of a good length)
The main issue regarding shirt lengths is whether it is long enough to be tucked in. This applies for dress shirts as you will not be tucking it out most of the time. When you raise your arms and the shirt gets untucked together, it is too short. You will have to rely on a shirt stay, if not you should find a longer shirt.
- Bonus: Patterns of Shirt
When your shirt has patterns, such as checks or stripes, take note of the “pattern matching”. This is one tip to know whether your shirt is well-made. Take a look at the seams, and you will see that a good quality shirt will have the lines matched up. How does this imply the quality of the shirt? It takes more time, effort and resources to produce a shirt with matching patterns, and it also shows that the manufacturers take notice of minute details like that.
This is a split yoke, intentionally made for striped shirts, to create a Chevron. Isn’t it satisfying to see the lines matching so perfectly?
- Bonus: Mother of Pearl Buttons*
(Different types of Mother of Pearl buttons)
Mother of Pearl buttons are highly sought and favoured by shirt makers. The buttons are made of the inner layer of shells from oysters, abalones etc, hence they have an iridescent sheen, adding extra elements to your regular dress shirts. They are also more resistant to chemical reactions (like your detergent) as compared to normal resin buttons.
It is exclusive due to the high cost of material, and it has a high scrap cost too, when each individual buttons are unique, resulting in possibility of off-standard colour or quality.
- Bonus: Shank Buttons*
Shank buttons are specially sewn onto the shirt with additional threading, which in turn forms a small gap between the button and the fabric. This helps to ease the tension on the button when the shirt is worn buttoned up, reducing any tugging and wrinkles around the buttonholes.
*Available at Assemble upon request. Additional charges apply.
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