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Business Dress Shirts – The 12 Essentials

J. Cogburn

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I have the dollars to invest in only a limited number of bespoke shirts for the office. While I have a preexisting rotation, I hope to retire my existing stock of retail dress shirts and use them only for casual wear. And while I hope and expect to buy more than 12 bespoke dress shirts eventually, it's unclear when that day will come. My question to you all - what 12 would you commission?

The pertinent considerations are (1) I must wear a suit four days a week; Friday's are "casual" and I don't need a bespoke shirt for those days, (2) I am a "summer" (grayish hair, ruddy skin tone, (3) I wear grey and blue suits (two of each) with a tan suit for warmer weather months, (4) I am in a somewhat conservative field and like to dress "quietly into the day" to quote ASW, (5) I live in DC so there are four seasons to consider.

My tentative roster of purchases is as follows:
"¢ two soft white shirts with French cuffs for more formal evening occasions, speaking engagements, etc.;
"¢ a soft white pinpoint Oxford with barrel cuffs because I like some texture in my shirts;
"¢ a light blue broadcloth with white collar and French cuffs;
"¢ a medium blue end-on-end with barrel cuffs;
"¢ a relatively tight light blue Bengal stripe on white with barrel cuffs;
"¢ a medium blue micro-check with barrel cuffs;
"¢ a medium blue small box tattersall check on white with barrel cuffs;
"¢ a light pink broadcloth with white collar and French cuffs;
"¢ a Champaign end-on-end with barrel cuffs;
"¢ a dark red blue Bengal stripe on white with barrel cuffs; and
"¢ a bottle green medium check on white with barrel cuffs.

Seems like a reasonable balance to me. Of the ten daily shirts:
"¢ five are solid and five are patterned; and
"¢ half are blue with five other colors represented with one shirt each.

Do you give my tentative roster of purchases a thumbs-up or would you make changes? If so, how so and why?

Thanks ye sartorial brothers ....
 

Achilles_

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I don't really care for dark blue shirts so i would make most of mine light blue.
 

Metlin

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Originally Posted by Achilles_
I don't really care for dark blue shirts so i would make most of mine light blue.
Indeed. I'd be wary of the darker colors in general, and err towards the lighter end of the spectrum. It would be helpful if you could post pictures of the swatches.
 

J. Cogburn

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Originally Posted by Metlin
Indeed. I'd be wary of the darker colors in general, and err towards the lighter end of the spectrum.

It would be helpful if you could post pictures of the swatches.


Agreed. But only one "dark" shirt - the medium blue end-on-end. But I guess the medium-blue micro-check would also qualify. For what it's worth, Alan Flusser thinks the deeper and richer the blue, the better for those with my complection. And I have blue eyes, so there's that.

I have no pics of the swatches. But they are Thomas Mason's high-end line (2-ply 140s).
 

Achilles_

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Originally Posted by J. Cogburn
Agreed. But only one "dark" shirt - the medium blue end-on-end. But I guess the medium-blue micro-check would also qualify. For what it's worth, Alan Flusser thinks the deeper and richer the blue, the better for those with my complection. And I have blue eyes, so there's that.

I have no pics of the swatches. But they are Thomas Mason's high-end line (2-ply 140s).


I don't stay away form all dark colors, in fact I just ordered a gingham shirt with a darker blue. I guess I might have misread what you posted. It seemed that you only had one or two light blue.
 

Raralith

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The pertinent considerations are (1) I must wear a suit four days a week; Friday's are "casual" and I don't need a bespoke shirt for those days, (2) I am a "summer" (grayish hair, ruddy skin tone, (3) I wear grey and blue suits (two of each) with a tan suit for warmer weather months, (4) I am in a somewhat conservative field and like to dress "quietly into the day" to quote ASW, (5) I live in DC so there are four seasons to consider.
If the above is your goal, would get more solid shirts and less patterned shirts since it looks like you are looking for something more conservative. I'd also consider button down collars for casual wear as some spread/point collars without the top buttoned (for a tie) get too spread apart/sloppy which doesn't happen to a button down collar. If I had to rebuild mine off of 12 shirts, I'd probably do:
- 2 french cuff in white, and light blue in poplin (correct me if I am wrong, this one has more sheen than broadcloth poplin)
- 3 barrel cuff in white in broadcloth poplin
- 3 barrel cuff in light blue in broadcloth poplin
- 4 button down collars in cream, pink, and something in patterened tattersal check and bangel stripe
This covers the light blues for grey, and white for blue suits; tan works with either. I'm not going to lie, it is boring, but simply put, that's conservative for you. Patterns is pretty much the opposite of "quitely into the day" approach, in my opinion. Also, four seasons has more to do with your suits and coats than anything so your shirts shouldn't be as much of a consideration.
 

Ataturk

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White and white base with a fine pattern are the way to go. Get more white shirts, 'cause they don't last as long.
 

DerekS

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not a fan of even medium blue...go for light blue....and white.
 

J. Cogburn

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Originally Posted by Raralith
If the above is your goal, would get more solid shirts and less patterned shirts since it looks like you are looking for something more conservative .... I'm not going to lie, it is boring, but simply put, that's conservative for you. Patterns is pretty much the opposite of "quitely into the day" approach, in my opinion. Also, four seasons has more to do with your suits and coats than anything so your shirts shouldn't be as much of a consideration.

I have lots of solid ties in my wardrobe, so small patterened shirts still allow me to "go quietly" when paired with a solid suit (for the record, the four suits at the moment are a RLBL navy blue 2B herringbone, a bespoke DB French Navy blue with white chalk stripes, a RLBL charcoal 2B pick & pick, and a RLBL charcoal 2B mini-houndstooth). Only two patterned shirts - the bottle green check and dark red bengal stripe. Well, one isn't always in the mood to go quitly.

But I take your point.

Re the seasons, many suggest voile or something in the summer and twill or something in the winter. Don't have the dough to have two separate dress shirt rotations though, so these will have to do.
 

TheFoo

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Your proposed list gives me a headache. 10 light blue poplin, 2 white poplin.
 

George

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Originally Posted by mafoofan
Your proposed list gives me a headache. 10 light blue poplin, 2 white poplin.
He should just get 10 blue poplin, follow the 1Format. Have you trademarked that concept yet? You should
 

TC (Houston)

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After going through this process, I don't think you want to put as many constraints on yourself as you indicate. I would do this:

Batch 1:
2 light blue, 1 white, 1 other.

Batch 2:
2 light blue, 1 white, 1 other.

Batch 3:
2 light blue, 2 other.


I would have a vague idea of what you want, and make the specific choices after having a chance to look, touch and feel the fabrics and patterns in person. The coolest part about bespoke is getting anything you want. Why go in with a bunch of preconceived notions about what is going to excite you?

I have tons of patterned shirts because I initially felt that bespoke shirts should not be mundane. Well guess what, I'm always short on solid light blue. You cannot have too much solid light blue.

Also, the reason I suggested the batches is because you will want to make changes to your pattern. Even doing a full-blown test shirt, you will identify some tweaks after a few wearings. That will also give you a chance to incorporate a little variety in collar/cuff choices.

Good luck!
 

Achilles_

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Originally Posted by TC (Houston)
After going through this process, I don't think you want to put as many constraints on yourself as you indicate. I would do this:

Batch 1:
2 light blue, 1 white, 1 other.

Batch 2:
2 light blue, 1 white, 1 other.

Batch 3:
2 light blue, 2 other.


I would have a vague idea of what you want, and make the specific choices after having a chance to look, touch and feel the fabrics and patterns in person. The coolest part about bespoke is getting anything you want. Why go in with a bunch of preconceived notions about what is going to excite you?

I have tons of patterned shirts because I initially felt that bespoke shirts should not be mundane. Well guess what, I'm always short on solid light blue. You cannot have too much solid light blue.

Also, the reason I suggested the batches is because you will want to make changes to your pattern. Even doing a full-blown test shirt, you will identify some tweaks after a few wearings. That will also give you a chance to incorporate a little variety in collar/cuff choices.

Good luck!


I agree with the light blue sentiment. It's always appropriate and looks good with just about everything. I have 4 light blue shirts (different textures) but I am always looking for more.
 

Metlin

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I personally go with the Foo/TC sentiment -- recently, switched all my work shirts to white and light blue only. The only variation is in the collars (6 point, 6 spread). There's a zen quality to them, and makes it that much easier to pick out my outfits.
 

sportin_life

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I hope to retire my existing stock of retail dress shirts and use them only for casual wear
I hear a lot of people doing this but am curious what you wear them with? I'm assuming that most wear them unbuttoned, tucked in with chinos on weekends?

I end up tossing my older dress shirts b/c they look weird untucked w/ jeans.
 

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