Menswear - Putting Together A Business Wardrobe - Part 2
Here's the second installment of the "Menswear" series, on adding dress shirts to your professional wardrobe. Let's go guys!
Dress shirts come in a lot of different styles, fabrics and colors. Your choices should reflect not only your coloring (cool or warm) but your business field (banking vs. advertising, real estate vs. entrepreneurial, etc).
Here's a couple of rules of thumb: first, purchase 100% cotton whenever possible. They feel great against your skin (important, since you'll have them on for 8 - 10 hours a day), and can be laundered and pressed / ironed either at home or professionally.
If you're not handy with an iron (and gentlemen, you really SHOULD be), or want to avoid the expense of professional cleaning, you can also opt for "no-iron" or "wrinkle resistant" shirts. The cotton fabric of these type of shirts is treated to resist wrinkles, but you'll pay approximately $15 - 20 extra per shirt for the convenience. They'll only need a light touch with an iron after cleaning instead of a firmer hand.
Second, unless you see your supervisor or other managers wearing short sleeves, keep your purchases to long-sleeved shirts only. Remember, dress for the job you want, not the one you've got. Short sleeves are seen as more casual, and you almost never see and executive with short sleeves on his dress shirt!
You'll need 6 - 8 dress shirts to start with, so that you'll have a couple of days leeway in case you can't get your laundry done (or get your shirts from the cleaners). If you work in a company where senior management dresses conservatively (banking, insurance, legal profession, etc) then plan on sticking to basics.
If you are in a client-oriented profession (real estate, financing, etc), then take your cues from your clients to a certain extent, and stick with basic dress shirts here as well.
To add some variety, you can add a pinstripe in a color compatible with your coloring (white with blue pinstripes, for example if your coloring is cool, white with red or yellow, perhaps tan or brown for a warmer-toned man).
Spread collars are currently popular, though traditional straight collars are always acceptable. Button-down collars have been popular in the past, but are now seen as more casual, therefore not 100% suitable for some more conservative professions.
If you want to express yourself a bit more within a conservative environment, you can choose a pinstripe shirt with a white contrasting collar and cuffs, or choose French cuffs (that require cufflinks) for a dressed-up traditional look.
If your work environment allows you to go beyond basic, look for a variety of patterns and colors. Those in the advertising or other creative professions have a wider choice of fabrics, and could select stripes, patterns or plaids (currently popular in gingham, glen plaids and tattersall plaids).
Choose patterns and colors that compliment your build (wide patterns are to be avoided on more strongly-built men), your coloring (warm or cool), and the shape of your face.