Elements of the White Dress Shirt
The white dress shirt is one of the fundamental pieces in any man’s wardrobe. White is the color to wear in all official occasions and it is generally the right color when a minimum of elegance is required. Except in the heat of the summer, when there is risk of sweating through thin fabric, the white dress shirt is almost always the right choice.
From Whence It Came
The origins that tie the color to elegance stem from the fact that at the turn of the century only men of serious means could permit themselves to wear a shirt that required daily washing and ironing. Luckily we have progressed to the point where most men have a white shirt of some type in their wardrobe and the question becomes what characteristics should the ideal white dress shirt? The answers depend on the personal style of the wearer but TOBIA has a few opinions on the topic and suggests you keep at least two types of white shirts in your closet.
The Casual Shirt
The first should be appropriate to wear with “smart casual” – jeans and a blazer or with a beautiful double-breasted cashmere coat without a jacket. For this version, choose a soft, fine fabric to wear without an undershirt. If your shape permits, opt for a slim fit without exaggerating of course. The effect of muscles exploding out of a shirt is never elegant. We advise a medium rigid collar. Pay attention when choosing a soft collar because it tends to wilt after little wear and does not maintain the ever-fresh look of a more rigid collar. TOBIA is in love with stitching on the edge of the collar and cuffs with single buttons.
If you appreciate fine details, ask for buttonholes sewn by hand. You pay decidedly more for them (if someone asks less than $50 for them you should be skeptical) but you will never regret the choice. It’s worth every penny. For those that like a personal touch, we suggest hand-stitched initials on the left just below the middle of the shirt. Consider a blue on white to match the contrasting thread on the buttonhole of the collar.
The Elegant Shirt
This brings us to the more formal shirt that you want to have in your wardrobe, which will be appropriate for your most important business meetings. You’ll want to choose a thicker fabric which allows you to wear an undershirt keeping you fresher all day, especially in the summer. This avoids the unfortunate effect of sweat seeping through too-fine fabrics. In this case, we suggest a monogram of white on white or a very pale almost imperceptible grey. Hand-made buttonholes are not really necessary as you’ll most always be wearing a tie and the extra effort will be wasted, even if you will always know the difference. French cuffs 3 ½ inches wide with a rigid collar and no tie space complete the look. The size and shape of the collar should, of course, always be chosen according to your face and neck. TOBIA likes to see their shirts point out of the jacket about 1 ¼ inches.
For the buttons, the icing on the proverbial cake, there is only one choice for a shirt of any type – mother-of-pearl. They are elegant , resistant and the hallmark of a truly fine shirt.