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Buying a Men's Dress Shirt: A Beginner's Guide

From the nuances of fit to the innumerable choices in styling, choosing the right men’s shirt is a journey of its own. If you’re here, you know. Menswear being our bread and butter  here at Eight-X, we’re sympathetic to your struggle.

To offer some support, we’ve outlined a few pointers that will streamline your search. This is hardly an exhaustive list-- it’s a simple guide that will help you the next time you’re shopping, so that you can easily cut through the confusion and land a shirt that fits your person and your style. Like anything, the more you put these little rules into practice, the better you’ll get at them.

FIT

While there’s enough that goes into fit to merit its own essay, keep these three areas in mind while searching for a shirt: collar, chest, and sleeves. 

You should be able to turn your neck without your collar moving with you (too tight). Can you fit a finger inside your collar? Great, your collar fits. Two fingers? Too loose, and too loose means too frumpy.

Your shirt should button up smoothly. If the buttons gape, or the fabric stretches or puckers across your chest, move up a size. You may be able to pinch an inch or two of fabric from each side, but under no circumstances should there be billowing of any kind taking place on any part of your shirt. 

Your shirt sleeves should fall at the base of your thumb. The armhole should not at all constrict movement, but if you have excess fabric under the arm, or if your sleeves bunch at the wrist, your shirt is too big. 

Another tip: Stretch your arm above your head. Does your shirt come untucked? If the answer is “yes,” it’s too small. While your shirt will inevitably lift an inch or so, movement should not completely disrupt the positioning of your clothing.  

QUALITY

When it comes down to it, the quality of a shirt depends on how much you’re willing to spend and the type of shirt you’re looking for. However, we’ve outlined a few indicators of a well-constructed shirt that you should look for no matter what your budget is. 

Buttons: the devil’s really in the details. Gently-- gently-- tug at the buttons. They should be firmly sewn into place. It shows that at the time of manufacturing, someone cared about whether that shirt would survive the first wash cycle. Another nice detail-- extra buttons. These are also an indicator of a shirt created to last. 

Fabric type: while it’s not unusual for shirts to have spandex or elastane for stretch purposes, you want your shirt to be mostly cotton-- ninety percent and above is ideal. Cotton is breathable, durable, and light. Synthetic materials trap moisture,  sweat, and dirt, and will require more frequent washes. There are many affordable cotton dress shirts on the market, and they’re worth the space in your closet.

Stitching: take a look at the shirt hems. Look for consistency (good) and loose threads (bad). Check for details such as embroidery or trim on the shirt. Again, this would indicate that the manufacturer put care and attention into the construction of the shirt.

STYLE

Once you’ve completed your inspection, ask yourself if the shirt you’re holding in your hands is a shirt you want to have on your person, in the world, through the streets. Is it appropriate for the purpose for which it was purchased (work, wedding, travel)? Is it representative of your personal style and vision? Do you even like this shirt? Does it help you tell your story? Focus on curating pieces that you love, that you’re comfortable in, and that you always want to wear. It’s a winning formula. You’re welcome.

Speaking of style, we have lots of great quality shirts in all shapes and sizes. Give us a try. Statistically speaking, there’s something here you’ll like.