How to wear a white shirt

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Manton, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. Geezer

    Geezer Senior member

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    Fuuma lost me at "praxis", probably because I am a bit thick and don't speak French.

    But the return of the "forum elders", the Hidden Imams of SF, in the last few days has made this forum into what I thought it was when I chanced across it three years ago. A post-graduate seminar in clothing studies, rather than a nursery school class on stacking plastic blocks.
     
  2. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Where's itsstillmatt, RJman and RSS?
     
  3. Fuuma

    Fuuma Franchouillard Modasse

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    Praxis is def not french but I assume you were joking. Whenever you see praxis just replace it by "set of practices used to attain the goal of dressing well". To use a religious analogy I don't believe the current crop of thread starters/forum elders really care that you understand the intricacy of the religious discourse or that you are a true believer, they are giving you a few things you should do if you believe dressing well is possible and your socialization has at least given you a somewhat approximation of what "dressing well" means in the western world (aesthetic harmony, social recognition, respect for the ritual of various situations).
     
  4. ballmouse

    ballmouse Senior member

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    I mostly agree with Manton's points on the white shirt. However, for readers that also sometimes err on the SW&D side of fashion (jeans, sneakers, etc.), the white shirt is probably the best shirt to wear. I'm not completely sure why, but I think the contrast of color and narrow color scheme it provides are key factors of the white shirt over the blue shirt. That's not to say the blue shirt isn't fine for SW&D too, but a white shirt is oddly enough a great asset for street wear.
     
  5. Adarael

    Adarael Well-Known Member

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    Well... I'm certainly self-conscious about my love of white shirts, now.

    So, two questions, then: I own a lot of odd jackets, generally with a windowpane check or a rough texture. I've generally avoided patterned shirts with them, because I feel like mixing small pattern with large pattern or small pattern with small texture is a horrible idea. Is this a good place to rock the lightly colored shirt, or a non-busy checked shirt, or both?

    Second question being: What color shirt with a cream-colored odd jacket?
     
  6. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Sigh.

    In terms of historical precedence, I can, if necessary, post pics of English nobility in their tweeds and white shirts at the turn of the last century. Or a sea of sportcoated prep school students in the '60s. Endless Ivy League shots from the post-war era. Or Manton's beloved AA drawings ... depicting casual suits worn outside the city with white shirts. In short, every period of the 20th century.

    Admittedly, white shirts are not always the best choice. Sometimes white's too high contrast. Sometimes blue simply works better. But white shirts are never the worst choice, either. A lot of the horrible combos we see here would be improved by the simple background afforded by a white shirt.

    Do not wear white shirts if you do not like them. But do not be confused: There is not a single place or function in America today at which a non-SFer would think twice about a white shirt.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  7. Adarael

    Adarael Well-Known Member

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    Oh, I own too many white shirts to straight up STOP wearing them. I've already taken that plunge, to be sure.

    I was simply curious what Manton's suggestion would be, for the same reasons I always like seeing what people suggest on SF: I may not do what they suggest, but I like to know why they suggest it, and what their rationale is.

    Edit: Also, I have been thinking lately "I need more non-white shirts." What a convenient excuse you are, threak. I knew you had promise when I opened you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  8. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

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    Manton, I'm not sure I agree. I think a white shirt is often the best choice when it comes to blue jackets and grey trousers, even if worn in the day. Rather than "schoolboy," I think "Old Money." In any case, I think this thread needs more photos.

    These seem to work fine, IMO. Even optimally so

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    Whereas these seem like they could be better with a blue or patterned shirt (Edited: Took out a photo, as someone corrected me and told me one of the shirts was actually cream. I'll try to find other examples later)

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    Finally, here are two interesting photos of Alden, who looks to be wearing two different shirts, even though it's the same outfit, purely because of the lighting. In this case, I think you're right that blue works much better.

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    I'll leave it to someone more motivated than me to Photoshop the first set of photos with blue shirts, should we care to make better comparisons.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  9. MyOtherLife

    MyOtherLife Senior member

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    Mantons thoughts are interesting but they appear to me as conjecture mixed with some (cherry-picked) fact. Doc Holliday provides irrefutable fact. Wealthy gents wearing a white shirt to a black tie event may be an unrecognized faux pas. All classes of gents wear (wore) a white shirt to sunday church service, funerals and weddings. History is being lost in the originating post. White represents (or at least represented) purity; blue, fidelity; purple, royalty, etc. Perhaps a dedicated thread to the historical meanings, importance and usage of colour in clothing is in order?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  10. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Senior member

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    For the most part, I find the Manton school of thought intriguing. It's highly opinionated, though usually well reasoned.

    That said, Manton tends to conflate the topics of social-correctness and aesthetics. For instance, when I encounter a sentence that begins with "It's never okay to...," I assume this sentence is about social correctness. "It's never okay to" connotes to "It is incorrect to," or "It is improper to." But in this case, Manton does not appear to be calling something "never okay" on the criterion of social etiquette. Rather, he's justifying his proscription by way of aesthetic principles. "It's never okay to" wear a white shirt in X context, per Manton, because a white shirt looks bad in X context. Or is he saying that it's never okay to wear a white shirt in X context because it's not proper to do so? Or is it both?

    Making this even more confusing is the fact that Manton will base a lot of his opinions on subjective preferences. (And he will even admit as much). Nevertheless, he states these preferences in generally the same tone as he states his social rules, in generally the same tone as he states his aesthetic ideals. That tone is peremptory by default, as if intended to be both the first and final word on any subject.

    Manton, I don't believe you intend to be this way. In some ways, I even think this makes you more charming and more interesting as a thinker. But I do wish you'd take more time to differentiate between your aesthetic opinions and your social proscriptions, or else to draw a connective thread between them.
     
  11. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Senior member

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    Also wanted to add the following, but my iPad is not letting me edit my last post for whatever reason...

    Fuuma has compared your rhetorical style to Aristotle's. But above all others, I hear E.B. White in your tone. There was a man who obviously knew that he knew better than everybody else (and often he did). But he always blended personal preference with technical rules, presenting them both as if they were the same. Perhaps it speaks volumes, to his credit, that people adhered to his preferences so thoroughly as to forget the difference. I think this is the highest honor that one can wish for you and your personal effect on SF culture.
     
  12. ColdEyedPugilist

    ColdEyedPugilist Senior member

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    Lately, I've become increasingly aware that my navy twill suit is so dark as to make it the least versatile item in my wardrobe. It seems to scream out for dark red or gray / silver patterned ties. As a consequence, I find myself gravitating toward my lighter than navy sharkskin...
     
  13. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    2 of the 3 i know are around. 1 i am not sure.
     
  14. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    i honestly dont really have a whole lot to say on this matter, as my previous notions have been shattered in a sense, and im trying to figure out where i now stand.

    i do find the contrast between mantons post and docs post to be highly interesting, as they are both excellent and knowledgeable MC dressers. at the very least it all makes me think twice about donning a white shirt, and is good knowledge to have.
     
  15. indesertum

    indesertum Senior member

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    Who comes up with ideas like white doesn't go with greens and yellows etc? Or rather how do you come up with these? Seems rather like subjective pseudoscience to me
     

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