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The DNA of your daily sartorial choices

The white shirt is possibly one of the most neglected garments in our wardrobes, when in fact it should be one of the most important. Think of it as a building block, or the DNA, on which to construct your daily sartorial choices. Coupled with its simplicity, it’s a garment that works in all social situations.

It's an absolute winner, inside and outside the office

At black or white tie affairs, the white shirt comes into its own with, among other things, a detachable collar or - the pièce de résistance - a French cuff. Depending on your taste, this is probably one of the few occasions when a flashy cufflink is a must, bestowing a splash of showy pizzazz on a clean white canvas. However, under no circumstances should this incarnation of the white shirt be worn to the office.

What really clinches the deal and makes the white shirt indispensable is its seamless ability to meld into your casual wardrobe. Just by rolling the sleeves and keeping the neck open you can add gravitas to your denim jeans or chinos.

Not all white shirts are the same

The most important rule of thumb to consider when buying a white shirt is the quality of the cotton from which it’s made. Not all white shirts are born equal, and as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. Here’s our handy guide to the most popular shirt weaves from Charles Tyrwhitt.

Poplin is the original Jermyn Street fabric and is the lightest shirt weave, so although it’s suitable all year round, many prefer to wear Poplin in the warmer months. Woven from 2-fold yarns of 100% cotton, Poplin is smooth, flat and dense; it feels crisp and cool against the skin.

Regency Weave
Fine long threads of Egyptian cotton are intricately woven into a dense, subtly-textured cloth. The Regency weave has enough weight to hang well and look smart.

A style of twill weave, so called from its resemblance to the backbone of a herring. Due to this texture, the fabric feels slightly heavier than a poplin but is soft to the touch and is easier to iron than a poplin. This weave is also fairly water resistant, meaning it dries faster after washing.

Satin stripe
A very tightly woven, steep twill using high-shine yarns. This weave creates a subtle white on white stripe, woven from long-staple Egyptian cotton into a smooth, lustrous cloth.

These exciting diagonal weaves create a soft and silky fabric with a magnificent sheen. The weave has a sturdy structure, allowing the yarns to move more freely. Twill hangs well and has a natural luster.