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How to choose formal shirts for men

A formal shirt is not only for the office or formal events - it's versatility makes the formal shirt appropriate for almost any occasion. For example, a formal shirt (with sleeves rolled up, perhaps) with jeans is a classic look for a night out. No matter the occasion, choosing the perfect formal shirt is easy as long as you follow these simple tips.

What size shirt should I buy?

This is nearly always the first question and one many gents do not know the answer to. Men's formal shirts are measured around the thickest part of the neck and along the length of the sleeve, usually in inches. For neck measurements, remember that 15"" is small, 16"" medium, and 17"" large. Formal shirts are usually available between 14" and 18" neck measurements.

What material should I look for?

For a quality formal shirt, find one that's made of 100% cotton. The highest quality has a 100 yarn count and is made from poplin cotton - these are super fine yarns and up to 100% lighter than lesser quality shirts.

How do I know if my formal shirt fits?

A few simple checks will help you to test the fit of your formal shirt. When your shirt is fully buttoned, there should be room for two fingers to fit comfortably between collar and neck. Your arms should be able to move freely, without the shirt pulling across your shoulders. Shirt cuffs should end just below the wrist when your arms are at your side.

Colors and patterns

Conservative colors are perfect for the office or for job interviews, although increasing numbers of men are opting for more colorful pinks and yellows to portray a lively image.

A formal shirt in a solid color is a wardrobe essential, as it is much easier to match with the rest of the outfit, but stripes and checks can also work if carefully matched with a tie.

Do I need to wear a tie with a formal shirt?

Not always. These days a formal shirt, when matched with formal trousers (or a suit) and a pair of men's leather shoes, will be enough at most formal events.

However, you need to be sensitive to the occasion you are attending and tailor your choice of clothing accordingly. When you need your attire to make a strong impression, such as a job interview, a tie is essential.

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