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How to wear a white shirt

sugarbutch

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This is the point at which I remind everyone that white shirts were THE shirt as what we know as tailored clothing came into being. The anti-white shirt stuff is revisionism.
 

archibaldleach

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Well, we're not (at least most of us are not) dressing for the 1950s anymore. If you wear a tuxedo 5 or more nights a week for dinner, you may disregard this statement.
 

archibaldleach

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Well, we're not (at least most of us are not) dressing for the 1950s anymore. If you wear a tuxedo 5 or more nights a week for dinner, you may disregard this statement.

This sounded snarkier than I intended. What I'm getting at here is that at the time the white shirt was "the dress shirt" so to speak, we had a greater percentage of the population in suits (ideal domain for the white shirt other than formalwear and IMO a blazer and greys) and there was also a social expectation that one would wear white shirts. Even if a light blue shirt may have been a better choice aesthetically, it just wasn't done by a lot of people. The white shirt was in a sense more versatile because it was so commonly expected. We don't live under such a system anymore, so it makes a lot more sense to only make white shirts the mainstay of your wardrobe if you regularly wear suits and dress conservatively each day. Otherwise, the light blue shirt works a lot better with a lot of odd jackets (and ecru works pretty well with tweed too) and serves as a better ground for some ties even when one is wearing a suit.
 

Andrew Ryan

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I do agree, and agreed with Manton's OP as well. I've just been experimenting in the last month or so with trying to see how far I could go with blending the white shirt into my look, as there have been some notable exceptions in the thread. I thought it was working okay so long as I sticked to some basic principles (keeping it simple and monochromatic, etc) but wasn't entirely convinced. The feedback in this thread has slowly started to win me over, and I think after I get my new collars in and decide on one optimally, I'll probably be placing a large order of those - in blue with white ground (I always wear a plain white square so I never go with completely solid blue). I so love the look of the white shirt, but I do not wear suits or blazer/greys regularly, so I think I'll have to give in.
 

Andrew Ryan

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Also: given my affinity for brown jackets (and having so many) it was a hard pill to swallow and why I wanted to test that out at last, for the final breaking point.
 

Andrew Ryan

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I'd still love to hear @DocHolliday 's take on this further, as I think as I recall he still sticks to his guns and wears 'em with SCs. And because Doc is awesome.
 
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Andrew Ryan

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Another thought: it was mentioned by TM here and and Vox's coherence thread that city features and stylings can work well with the 'first type' of casual suits, i.e., those without patch pockets etc, and in fabrics like flannels, frescos, and worsteds with urbanized country patterns (like the small scale houndstooth in my previous two posted fits). His categorical criteria seems to make the white shirt a given for these kinds of suits, but he did not mention them specifically.

What say the rest of SF on that subject in contrast to the recent discussion on city/country blend with SC/trou? I don't recall this being discussed in any great measure in the rest of this thread.
 

Andrew Ryan

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Shitty pics, but:

Blue linen SC, white OCBD (an old BB's one, not one of my softer rolled customs that I'd need to order in white), slate blue grenadine. Ignore the grenadine/linen issue (need moar cotton ties) half-windsor, tie clip and dirty mirror.






At least somewhat acceptable? I'd have some soft unfused BD's made up in cotton/linen blend for S/S along with OC for F/W. It's been established that BD collar white is okay with SC, if 'rarely optimal'. I'm okay with that, I think. Sometimes you need to compromise.

EDIT: I'm aware as has been established that this could be more coherent. Again, I'm trying to find the line where it's least incoherent, though it will never be free of the issue.
 
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Makoto Chan

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Shitty pics, but: 

Blue linen SC, white OCBD (an old BB's one, not one of my softer rolled customs that I'd need to order in white), slate blue grenadine. Ignore the grenadine/linen issue (need moar cotton ties) half-windsor, tie clip and dirty mirror. 

At least somewhat acceptable? I'd have some soft unfused BD's made up in cotton/linen blend for S/S along with OC for F/W. It's been established that BD collar white is okay with SC, if 'rarely optimal'. I'm okay with that, I think. Sometimes you need to compromise.

EDIT: I'm aware as has been established that this could be more coherent. Again, I'm trying to find the line where it's least incoherent, though it will never be free of the issue.

I dunno man, the thing is, when you're trying your hardest to pull off an inbetween look, its those details that make the difference. If I ignore the actual clothes you're wearing, then yes conceptually this is somewhat acceptable.

Also, does this go without saying?:: You are putting in more effort than 90% of the population. Your clothes fit and you are thinking about how to look good.

You'd be better off if you weren't trying to mix these looks. I'm not sure what line you are looking for? I think perhaps the line you are looking for is to have just one element be mixed from that "country" side.
 

Andrew Ryan

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The grenadine would be replaced by cotton for next season (it's about time to switch to cashmeres and wools now). I know, I know about the FIH and no clip seeming to be the linchpin of making this work better, but I just can't go there.

The line I'm looking for is using a sport coat from the 'city/formal' spectrum (as per Vox's thread) with a white shirt (and, complicating matters for most, a half-windsor and clip). I think the BD collar is as close as I'm going to get to that line.

I appreciate you saying that I'm putting in effort. And the truth of the matter is that IRL, this stuff is absolutely fine - hardly anyone gets it. But even to the untrained eye, something can seem 'off' to them without them knowing exactly what it is. Trying to minimize that. Also, the line I'm after has to do with my social/work context as well.
 

Makoto Chan

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You're just doing your best to make this really hard for yourself. I tried to type something helpful for you but I got nothing.
 

Andrew Ryan

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Au contraire, you got a 'this post is helpful' thumbs up from me.
 

Andrew Ryan

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Ok: I know I'm kind of beating a dead thread here, but another point to consider. It seems to me that all of the issues inherent in the white shirt w/ SC rig are, insofar as I can tell, drastically changed when you remove the tie from the fit. There's still the white color aesthetic issue, but assuming you're avoiding earth tones, I can't see a situation where a button down collar white shirt (with some texture, though not necessarily OCBD) doesn't work. I'm thinking a surrender to the blue shirt in the context I've discussed for tie-wear is, at this point, in order, but an observation of my closet of just about everything with one open collar still seems a valid option.

Am I alone in this, or on point? I know this thread was dedicated to the jacket + tie context, but it seems to remain the best place to foster discussion on the Great White Shirt.
 

archibaldleach

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^ Beating a dead horse too... :)

If you remove the tie from the equation, aesthetic issues relating to shirt and tie combinations go away but nothing else. I'm still not sure how many times a white shirt is going to be inherently better with an odd jacket sans tie than a shirt of another color. In fact, in a meaningful majority of scenarios, it will be sub-optimal. Also keep in mind that this thread is basically talking about white spread collar dress shirts for the most part (which IMO should just not be worn without ties). A white OCBD is not going to be subject to exactly the same rules. If you also remove the jacket, you are now completely beyond the scope of the thread and, for that matter, the realm of classic menswear.

It's fine to like white shirts and wear them often, but it's also important to understand their limitations when it comes to building a shirt wardrobe. If your goal is to wear white shirts all the time (or most of the time), you will not be as well dressed as someone who has a variety of shirt colors to choose from. If your goal is to be well dressed, you need to build a shirt wardrobe that recognizes the limitations of different shirt colors. You can probably wear all white shirts and be better dressed than most, but you still will be giving up opportunities to really take your look to the next level.
 
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