Ultimate Guide Of The Formal Shirt, With Style And Selection Advice

The bible of the shirt posted just over a year and a half ago is one of the most visited articles of the site.
Unfortunately, it is not really up to date, and it is also quite incomplete: it was time to concoct a larger article, which is a true guide to the man’s shirt.

The objective is to be as complete as possible, so I have not gone into the details for some more accessories aspects of shirts to not make the article boring.

You will find there all the criteria to choose your shirt, advice to wear it and to check that it goes to you, but also (and ESPECIALLY) the brands that count.
We will talk about recent brands, which have a relatively good quality/price ratio (with classics like Hast or Blue Cavalier, but also other brands more confidential).
You will also discover small Neapolitan brands very little known, but that is easy to buy on eBay, Yoox or other sites of destocking. Just know their name, and know a little where to look

I Choose Your Shirt Man

1 The Budget

This is a fundamental criterion, but it is too rarely mentioned: a man‘s shirt is neither a jacket, nor a coat, nor a pair of shoes . It will wear out and you will have to replace it: how to devote a coherent budget without sacrificing the rest of its wardrobe? Here’s an infallible trick.

A Wear

A shirt is not synonymous with longevity: it is a cotton garment that is worn close to the body, which must be washed at least once every 3 ports.
Regardless of its quality, cotton will inevitably deteriorate as the washings: this reduces its life expectancy to maximum 3 years, at the rate of 1 or 2 ports per week.
So it is not necessarily a good idea to spend more than 100 euros on a shirt knowing that a jacket or a woolen coat are much more durable investments that are not directly in contact with the skin. You see) and whose material needs to be washed less often because of its hydrophobic properties (it moistens much less).
Invest wholesale in a shirt the third of what you would be willing to pay for a nice jacket or coat.
The life span of an average shirt is 35 to 50 washes.

B Consistency With The Wardrobe

The main thing is to keep a concern for consistency: a beautiful shirt under a jacket or a synthetic coat badly cut will not save your outfit.
First choose the upper layers: they are the most visible and the most structuring of your wardrobe.
Most of the collections of recent brands, like Cavalier Bleu , Marchand Drapier or Melinda Gloss have a good example of price distribution: about 140 euros the shirt and 450/500 euros the jacket.
The same proportions apply to shoes and boots.
I advise you not to invest in the eternal black derby, not so versatile and prefer the rather thin brown boots that can be worn in more occasions.

2 Signs Of Quality


The Titration

The number of different yarns present in a pound of fabric. The
more threads there are, the finer the yarns are and the higher the quality. For example, a titration of 100 means that there are Has more than 110 threads in a pound of fabric.
We reach a threshold of quality particularly perceptible precisely from a titration of 140: just as for the costumes, it is not particularly useful to go further. Beyond that, you will have a shirt too expensive and a fabric too thin, so too fragile and with a short life.The result is visually beautiful with a very soft fabric and almost translucent material, but it really is a matter of amateurs.

Basically, a high titration means there will be more wires on this surface:

Note that a low titration can also be explained by coarser wires, but not necessarily of lower quality (this can be done on casual shirts for example)

The Double Twists

The double twist does not refer to weaving but to the quality of the cotton yarn used.Only the longest fibers can be used for this technique: two wires are actually assembled together in a twist. There are even triple-folks.

They are wound in this way:

These fabrics are generally softer and resistant and give a richer texture and worked to the fabric. The only defect: the shirt is thicker and less suitable for hot climates, and it is also more difficult to iron. It can be a single thread of a double or triple.
It can be seen in the notation, for example a 140/2 titration denotes a double thread of quality 140: it is a quality which is very rarely found in the ready-to-wear and which concerns above all the custom-made.

What you need to remember: the finer the thread, the longer the cotton fiber and the better the fabric quality of your shirt.

B Finishes To Watch On A Man’s Shirt
Buttons And Buttonholes

On a man ‘s shirt of quality, the last buttonhole is horizontal.
This helps to reduce the friction that often happens at this location when removing and removing the liner.

The composition of the buttons also has its importance: plastic buttons will hold less than mother-of-pearl buttons. For casual shirts, you can also opt for buttons made of wood or bone.
The cross stitching of a button is also indicative of a good middle / top shirt.


English sewing (curiously called French Seams)

The English seam is u little to the shirt what the Goodyear fitting is to the shoe. On a classic ready-to-wear shirt, two pieces of fabric are simply superimposed and sewn together by two rows of seams (which in fact resembles the Blake assembly).
On an English seam, fold the edges and make a first row of seam inside, and a second visible on the outside.
Once characteristic of the biggest houses, it is democratized again with the appearance of brands with more streamlined and qualitative production.

The site Thank you Alfred has realized an explanatory diagram almost perfect to fully understand the difference:

The number of points per centimeter

The sacro saint is often spoken 7 points to the centimeter. The density of dots to the centimeter is of interest and is not just a purist detail: the higher it is and the stronger the seam, while maintaining a finer sewing thread and therefore a less coarse finish.

Various Finishes

If the shirt is patterned, the continuity of the shirt can be checked between the yoke on the shoulders and the rest of the shirt or at the chest pocket, if there is one.

Also check the presence of a reinforcing swallow between the sides of the shirt on the sides (when the edges are rounded, it serves to prevent the panels from breaking).

For a formal shirt, it is better to have a collar with removable whales that guarantee a good hold of it: prefer the metal and remove them before washing.

C Construction And Style

Remember that a collar without interlining (the interlining between the outer and inner part of the collar) is soft and is therefore reserved for more casual moments.
A collar with a thermo-bonded interlining is the most rigid (which can sometimes be uncomfortable) and will be slightly warmer, but easier to iron. Lastly, a collar with a hand-held interlining is the most natural construction, and the most characteristic of the big blouses.

Overall, you will avoid over-casual collars (like buttons), formal and dressed (broken, especially reserved for galas and weddings) and the club, more sophisticated.


The observation is simple: the wrists often reflect the collar. On Hast shirts, you have a rather modern semi-cutaway collar and beveled cuffs that are a little bit like them.
The wrists are more important than you think: they become a real point of attention when you express yourself with a minimum of body language, by moving your arms.
Ideally, if you take a tailored shirt, the length of the wrists should be proportional to the total length of your arms.


Cotton poplin

The poplin is a cotton with a tight and plain weave, slightly inclined. It comes from Avignon, which was the seat of the Popes for a century during the Great Schism. As a result its name refers to it and is very close to papeline.
A solid fiber implies that the warp and weft yarns pass alternately and in a regular manner without drawing any particular patterns: it is the softest, most formal and the most silky.

The Oxford

The oxford uses a heavier fabric, with a rough texture, but will be more durable.Several warp threads pass under the same number of weft threads. . The warp yarns are colored and the white weft film. These shirts come from the sport, are obviously less dressed (unless the shirt really has a very formal construction).

Wire yarn

The material has a rather tight weave that alternates colored yarn and white yarn: the warp yarn is colored and the weft yarn is always white.
It’s just like poplin. There is a slight tile effect and a more silky texture.
It is exactly this manufacturing process that is used for chambray


To play safe, one will stay on the simplest patterns with solid colors.
Avoid complicated multicolored checkered patterns.

D Colors
A Alternatives To White?


The white does not go with all skin tones, and is not necessarily suitable for casual occasions (example: the cheap denim jean combo and white shirt). It is also a color a little too smooth in front of textures asserted like the tweed or the big mesh.
White also becomes more dirty and is more difficult to clean.
They get dirty easily and are difficult to clean.
Finally, white is far from being a color so neutral with which one can combine everything and is difficult to marry with yellow, violet or burgundy that blend better with blue


Blue is also available in more materials: linen and cotton voile for summer, chambray for more casual frames and oxford or twill for winter.

B Contrasts

The contrast between your shirt and the top layers (pullovers, jackets etc.) should reflect the contrast between your skin color and your hair.
Below, you see that a weak contrast between the skin and the hair (for example white-haired pale) results in a similar contrast between the shirt and the jacket (which I do not agree with ).

C Color Combinations

For a color combination that walks between jacket, shirt and tie, you must respect your skin/hair contrast. If it is strong (eg you have light skin and dark hair), then you have to replicate it on your suit. Here are some examples with navy blue and anthracite gray:

E The Fit

A real computer graphics Real Men Real Style summarizes perfectly what you need to check (I have not translated it but you will see, it is quite explicit)

Four main points (among others) are to be remembered:
– the neck circumference : it must be wide enough to pass two fingers. Take the one size above to buy as it will shrink after the first washings
– the torso: be careful with the chest (avoid wrinkles) and make sure the shoulder seams are well placed
– length Total: if it is a formal shirt you will not get out of the pants, take the long. If you intend to take it out of the pants, it should only protrude between 5 and 10 cm
– the length of the sleeves: they must cover the bone of the wrist but stop just before the beginning of the hand

Two markers:
– the pliers: a back without grippers usually means a shirt very close to the body. Conversely
, a back with clamps will have more space and is suitable for stronger templates
– the throat: this term designates the buttonhole. A throat surrounded by seams will be more visible, and will often give a more casual shirt.
A throat with visible seams adds horizontality to the silhouette and thins it.

Shape and size of face

A round face needs an elongated collar with thin sides (cf picture on the left).
Despite a similar shape, the face on the right seems much rounder because the panels are wider, and descend less. The size of the face also plays a significant role.
On these two photos from The Great Gatsby , Leonardo Di Caprio’s head is rather large and broad: it is refined with a more vertical collar, and wide panels that respect these proportions well.

On the other hand Tobey Maguire has a smaller head, but a similar shirt, with sides once again very deep: one has the impression that his head is smaller.

The neck length is another parameter, to weight according to your common sense with the shape of the face.
A long neck
You will need a short collar, but which goes up high enough to get closer to the face.This will give the impression that the neck is slightly shorter.
A short neck
Avoid a rising collar (so especially no collar 3 buttons) and choose panels that go down.
This will add verticality and therefore an impression of length to your neck.

Ii Style Advice: Wearing A Man’s Shirt

1 Mistakes In Taste

The combination of forms

The shirt collar Boateng is not a fault of taste (it is he who imagined this form). The collar shawl collar either. Yet the two ensembles do too much, especially as the collars of the shirt collar are really deep, in comparison with the too thin cuffs of the jacket. The fine tie that does not really fill the collar completes to make it a chic casual outfit, but that does not respond at all to the real codes of the formal.

The contrast of stripes

The golden rule of the association of motives is to make it possible to distinguish them. This is completely respected here with a very different thickness of stripes.What’s wrong then? It is the poverty of the final set: the tennis stripes of the suit are a bit tasteless, the tie is irrelevant and cost you only see the stripes of the shirt. It is a shame if for example the costume was worth a fortune. It would have at least had to inject a few colors through the tie or a pouch

2 Examples To Follow

Shirt With Red Stripes

The red stripes are the perfect pattern for those who have a low contrast skin / hair (because the contrast between red and white is not too strong). It is perfectly accompanied by an orange tie and a casual cotton blazer. Here, everything was done according to the low contrast skin hair (white hair and a little red skin) but we managed to have a minimum varied outfit.

Shirt with collar pin

A three-piece suit always has a minimum of character, even more when it is made in this kind of big flannel of wool. The cover and tie also add interesting details. So it would have been a little sad to wear it all with a simple white poplin shirt that would have been too smooth in that outfit. This shirt with pin collar thus brings balance in the outfit: it is the height of the rest, besides being perfectly complementary to the level of colors and proportions. In short, a lesson to remember: be careful not to choose a shirt too classic clothes with clothes that would come out a bit of the lot.

Iii The Marks

I made the choice to include only ready-to-wear: it is the most easily comparable offer and the shortest delivery times.
Do not forget that the shirts of the ready-to-wear are sold, and not half-way.

Do not automatically give in to the sirens of these mid-size blouses of entry level: if some are serious, others are simply intermediaries between you and a Chinese workshop that produces for 10 euros with a rough patronage and fabrics of Poor quality.

You will also lose in flexibility between manufacturing time and delivery time, while a few days are enough to receive and return a shirt ready to wear if it does not suit you.

Unless you really have a particular physique, first look for a ready-to-wear brand that can go for you (or that requires only minor retouching).

A Recent Brands, Good Value For Money (And Not Found In Outlet/Opportunity)


Here is the main part of the Hast shirt test : Hast
shirts have a fitted cut (halfway between the slim cut and the straight cut) and now offer an extra-slim offer.
The semi-cutaway collar, the signature of the brand, is hyper-versatile: with a tie and a big knot Windsor, it suits well in a formal context. Without and with one or even two open buttons, it will also be suitable for more casual occasions.
The Hast shirts are made from a double twisted cotton, so more durable and durable than the average: it had already been evoked for Cavalier Bleu.
We also talked about titration: it is slightly lower here since we have 100/2. But we must put things in context, such a titration is already very respectable in itself, and is all the more impressive in these price brackets.

Office Artist

Since 2013, Olivier Cothenet, designer of the brand, offers a good compromise of formal and casual shirts with a high armhole but a more generous cut and with a little margin in the back so as not to leave comfort for long days in the office. They are also distinguished by original textures. We talk about it in detail about the test carried out last December.

They are available at 94 euros on Office Artist .


Hand-worn collars, with interlined interlocking and offset armhole: that high-end finishes for relatively affordable prices. Quite a few stocks available by cons: we tested these shirts here.

B Confidential Brands On Yoox

These are the less well-known brands that unload the collections of the past years, which therefore remain quite valid in outlet.

Guy Rover

Guy Rover is one of the brands that has been adopted by Japanese male fashion enthusiasts. Bizzarement, it was somewhat left out by Americans and Europeans. The brand started in 1967 in northern Italy and was soon the subject of a real cults among the geeks of Japanese menswear. They are actually coveted for their original cutaway collars, or some other raised collars. The discrete seam characteristic of their logo is subtle. They finally have two signature marks a discrete stitched strip in Italian colors on the back of each collar and a subtle seam characteristic of their logo.

High quality, attention to detail and traditional tailoring are the trademarks of prestigious Guy Rover shirts. The Venetian box is known throughout Europe and abroad for an astute combination of traditional tailoring and modernity.

Only defect of these shirts: a prohibitive price, more than 250 euros. Interest? A massive presence on Yoox , and there does not seem to be any question of underline in view of the signs of quality such as for example the horizontal buttonhole.

Striped White Shirt

The supply of Guy Rover on Yoox is a little random, and as much you can have very good models in full sizes, as much as you can have little choice, with too many buttoned collars and some synthetic materials. Rest assured that this model, with discreet patterns and all-round finishes, is the right choice.


The brand is one of the oldest in Italy, founded this time in Milan by Luigia Truzzi.Truzzi shirts are famous all over the world. It is characterized by a flawless collar and an impeccable cut, made by the master tailor Ferruccio Ballini, who during decades led the patronage.
At the age of 21, he bought the Truzzi factory in 1924 and reviewed the cut and make-up of shirts, with a selection of sophisticated fabric.
In 1950, he decided to move to Corso Matteotti without changing the identity and name of the brand. The method of making does not change.
The shop then moved in 1997 before being bought by the Saitt group. The production then becomes large-scale and uses advanced technology, combined with a sharp selection of fabrics. Shirts are distributed only in the best shops

One of the most discreet Neapolitan brands: the buttons are in mother of pearl and have a cubic finish: they are hand sewn with the famous chicken stitching. The shoulders are sewn by hand. The collar of the collar is mounted by hand, with removable whale

The shoulder yoke is in two pieces for a perfect match with the shoulder seam. The sleeves are also sewn to the body of the shirt in the hand.
The bottom of the shirts is rounded and split with a hand-stitched reinforcement swallow

In short, it is one of the Neapolitan brands with the most advanced know-how, but also one of the least known because its production on a larger scale remains relatively recent.

It’s a bit of a typical configuration for you to find it on Yoox . At 120 euros, you have a shirt that is worth at least twice as much.

Mastai Ferretti

Mastai Ferretti is a mid-range Italian shirt brand owned by the Italian company SAITT, which specializes in the Italian shirt (which bought Truzzi) but whose products are made in Romania. The cut is rather well fitted, with bending clamps in the back.

Interesting detail: the fabrics used are often the same as those of Truzzi, but with a more industrial manufacture in Romania, therefore with lower standards. Do not delude yourself, you just go from a very good quality to just a good quality, but with a very good fabric. There are always swallows on the sides, English seams, mother-of-pearl buttons and hand-sewn buttonholes.

In short, a good entry-level alternative to Truzzi.


Two particularities for Canali: a production made at the chain, but carried out in the own factory of the brand, which produces for nobody else. You do not have to ask yourself a question in this case: no, the factory of this brand does not produce for another brand sold three times cheaper. Like any Italian brand that has its own studio and which is not yet immensely popular, Canali has a sacred flop of products distributed on Yoox, including many basic shirts in many sizes.

Canali shirts are perfect for large sizes, especially because of very long arms. We are on mid-range so the neck remains heat-bonded. Pay attention to the cheapest models that would even have non-removable plastic whales, so less durable.

The brand is available here.

Ultra-Prestigious Brands On Destocking On Ebay

Luigi Borrelli

The great Borrelli tradition began in 1900 with Anna Borrelli, who makes and distributes shirts from her home in Naples, Italy. She’s actually going from a little studio she’s been spinning with her son, Luigi. It is through this small business that Luigi learns all the details of the manufacture of a Napolitan shirt. In 1957, he started his own company, now run by his son Fabio.
The brand that invented the swallow
The handmade also includes applying the contrasting swallows in ba s and sewing the mother of pearl buttons with the famous houndstooth seam. It is believed to be typical of Naples, but it is actually Borrelli who introduces it. It was basically a mistake made by Anna Borrelli on the prototypes, which the workshops continued to apply. Similarly, the swallow was introduced by Anna Borelli, to add a real durability and allow a greater flexibility in the seated position.
The box now produces a ready-to-wear men’s line entirely handmade in addition to shirts.

An industrialized assembly

Flash forward a decade later: now the shirts are made by machine. The buttons are always sewn by hand, but the sleeve head is no longer mounted by hand. A rather important detail as it is a bit of a basic characteristic of Neapolitan know-how.

Given the fame of the name, Borrelli models can be found quite easily on eBay at attractive prices. The e-shop Shop The Finest also offers a lot of different models

Barba Napoli And Buonamassa Napoli

Barba Napoli is one of the oldest Neapolitan shirts, founded by the brothers Barba, Antonio and Vittorio. The quality of their shirt is such that the demand quickly exceeds Naples to spread to all Italy. Nowadays, the brand exports to the United States, Japan and United Arab Emirates.

Barba features three different lines: Barba black label, Barba gold label and the Buonomassa line. The gold Barba line is comparable to brands like Borrelli in terms of quality of construction (in terms of the number of handmade operations) and fabrics

The Black Label line features more fitted cups with a higher armhole. The fabrics of the Buonomassa line are as good as the models of Kiton (with the famous fabric Riva).

They are notably available on Shop The Finest , Stil Tiger (a more expensive German eshop but shorter delivery times).


With Isaia, one arrives in the very high-end of the Neapolitan tailors: their experience in the fabric goes back to the 1920s, while the manufacture has existed since 1957. Isaia has been especially noted for impeccable lines, cross suits to cut The breath and finally patterns and colors tapped by the eye but always tasteful. This is one of the high-end brands with the most assertive style (in short, do not buy your very first costume there).

The eBay European Style Shirt offers the relatively formal Isaia models, from simple plain to light blue and navy stripes.
The Saraf Saraf shop is more representative of the casual style of Isaia with a nice variety of plaid patterns (one finds especially some Scottish tartans really well executed).


Mattabisch is a brand owned by Kiton. So there are a lot of signs of quality: good fabric, mother-of-pearl buttons, a hand-fitted armhole and a perfectly proportioned collar.
The shirts of this brand are in addition a little less slim than other Italian brands. There are also fewer hand-made operations during their manufacture, which allows a price much more accessible.

The eBay store Saraf Saraf offers one of the best prices on Mattabisch (only $ 109).Only regret, you will find many buttoned collars in the selection.
Take advantage of this option if you are not sure of your size: the shop is in Italy so it will make it easier for you to return.