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The Look goes on...

Mr Knightley

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Interesting topic Mr. K.
I first entered the white collar workplace in the early nineties. I wore suits to work for the next ten years and every day wore white shirts and white pocket squares. Eventually I was tempted by a beautiful cream sharkskin suit which would have completely washed me out with a white shirt. It was a big step for me to get a denim blue shirt to wear with it. I’m not sure where the white shirt thing came from, I wasn’t a total devotee of Cary Grant but admired his look so maybe there was some of that in there?
Anyway I very rarely wear a plain white shirt these days and almost all my work shirts are variations of blue - stripes, checks, patterned textures etc which are much more flattering to a pasty blondie!
I’ve been sorting photos recently and came across one of me in the nineties with a very loose fitting plain white polo, sleeves almost to the elbows, like your second pic above.
It’s funny how certain elements of the look are sustained despite variations due to the vaguaries of current fashions. Your two pics are a great illustration of this but I have to say the earlier more tailored version is much more flattering. Having been guilty myself of a looser fitting interpretation I won’t be going back there and that’s why the recent pendulum swing away from sausage skins towards loose fits and pleats bugs me. Some things just look better regardless of what the current trend may be.
Good stuff TWD.

I’m not sure where the white shirt thing came from either. It would be too simple to say that it was a hangover from the days of the ‘white collar worker’, but I do wonder if its relative demise has to do with the younger generations not wanting to associate with the old school? Yes, Cary Grant always pulled it off with style IMO, but I don’t think he really influenced me.

Like TWD, most of my business shirts these days have some blue going on, but I do have three plain white ones that sometimes see the light of day. White shirts are helped by some texture, I think, and one of mine is in oxford cloth (not a BD), one is twill and the other a rather formal cotton poplin, normally worn in the evening.

I have also been looking back at some old pictures and they seem to reveal that a major change of silhouette happened during the 1980s from a rather slim look (although more relaxed than some of the 70’s styles) to one that was about as ‘big’ as it could be, even when you did practice some moderation. Without the benefit of the old photos, I should, in retrospect, believe I dressed pretty much the same in 1990 as I had in 1980. Those two pictures reveal that, although the basic components remained virtually unchanged on those two summer evenings ten years apart, the shape was quite different. If I could find a similar picture from 2000 it would probably show a gradual return to a slimmer look.

Who was it that said something like ‘never be the first into or the last to abandon a fashion’? It would have been in the 19th C - anyway that was probably sound advice.
 

Swampster

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About half of my formal shirts, and quite a few casual, are plain white. I have a range of different materials, cut, collars and cuff. The white shirt is choice rather than a work requirement - not sure if it shows the influence of classic styling or lack of imagination on my part. I've only ever had one (mostly) white polo shirt though.
Of the remainder of my shirts, perhaps 2/3 are either mostly blue or have a blue stripe etc. I only have a couple of solid light blue shirts, both casual.

I didn't ever feel comfortable in a slim look, even when I was built like a racing snake. In the early eighties I had white and blue jeans altered by a school friend so that they were very narrow but I would still usually wear a baggy top of some kind and continued to do so for a long time. The plus side is that I have tops almost 30 years old that I can still wear without looking like I have been poured into my clothes and forget to say 'when'.
 

Luigi_M

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Though this is "o 'ppaese dd'o sole", weather today is more forgiving and allows me to wear a full rig.
20200707_123316-1.jpg

20200707_123500-1.jpg


I am quite erratic in my style. Some of my suits are have a nice unpadded Neapolitan shoulder and slim trousers but my more formal suits tend to be like the one above.
The jacket has three buttons, some structure, both in the chest and the shoulders, and the trousers are not baggy but still comfortable.
English demi brogues, pink microcheck shirt and paisley tie.
I'm guessing wether this might be considered as 'the look going on' or not and I leave the answer to you (real) lads.

RE: white shirts: I like and wear them often, but not with brown shoes.
 

Yorky

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I've always thought that a white polo surpasses any other colour, whether it's a Fred, Lacoste, Smedley, etc, they can be worn effortlessly either casually with jeans, chinos or dressed up with a blazer, or an unfussy suit. Only untipped though with the smarter look.
As far as the white shirt goes these tend only to be worn with a suit or jacket etc when I'm socialising, and never for work purposes. The reason for this is because during a working day, they get a lot of wear and hence more grime on the collar and cuffs etc, a night out is much shorter (at least they are nowadays).
 

Botolph

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Most of my shirts are buttondown, and most are blue or candy striped. The three or so white ones are point collared and either pinpoint or poplin(one is broadcloth with french cuffs). When the occasion should require and I wear a suit, it’s typically the cuffs/broadcloth number.
I’ve always “run hot”, so Oxford cloth has been my go-to in shirts... but now officially in my mid-40s, I find I’m cooling off a bit so more cloths/weaves are finding their way into my rotation. I doubt white shirts will become MORE prevalent in my wardrobe, though.
Being from a poor working-class background, and then fortunate enough to indulge any “sartorial” whim I wanted for the last twenty-plus years(as monetary means could permit), I have never worked in an office environment so thus never had much use for daily white-collar wear(but for a stint as a grocery clerk as a kid).
Now the white polo shirt— I’ve always liked them but being somewhat heavily tattooed on the chest, I’ve had to be careful because, for instance, a white Lacoste Polo would look dirty, tattoos show through. For me, a cream color Fred Perry with green tipping is perfect— unless it’s spaghetti night at Botolph Towers! 😜
I have a white long-sleeved Smedley in sea island cotton that I will wear under a blazer— I really like that look. Sharp and refined but casual enough.
 

Thin White Duke

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I keep my work wardrobe almost completely separate from my not work wardrobe. I think every man should have at least one white shirt, if not for work then for formal suity occasions like weddings and funerals or the invitation the the royal garden party!!

I remember reading one of those self-appointed style sauvants listing the inevitable top ten items every man should own. Number one was a white shirt. Number two was also a white shirt as he claimed they were such a key item we should have at least two!

I have a couple in poplin with French cuffs (one was made bespoke for my wedding) and I have one in thick herringbone that I wear for work.

B7483FCF-22FD-4AC5-9799-C477A66E0C0D.jpeg


One reason Cary Grant looked good in his signature look was his perennial mahogany sun tan - not so easy for me to acquire!
 

Clouseau

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I've always thought that a white polo surpasses any other colour, whether it's a Fred, Lacoste, Smedley, etc, they can be worn effortlessly either casually with jeans, chinos or dressed up with a blazer, or an unfussy suit. Only untipped though with the smarter look.
As far as the white shirt goes these tend only to be worn with a suit or jacket etc when I'm socialising, and never for work purposes. The reason for this is because during a working day, they get a lot of wear and hence more grime on the collar and cuffs etc, a night out is much shorter (at least they are nowadays).
Yes and polos are more forgiving when you have too much weight.
 

Thin White Duke

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Though this is "o 'ppaese dd'o sole", weather today is more forgiving and allows me to wear a full rig.
View attachment 1419643
View attachment 1419644

I am quite erratic in my style. Some of my suits are have a nice unpadded Neapolitan shoulder and slim trousers but my more formal suits tend to be like the one above.
The jacket has three buttons, some structure, both in the chest and the shoulders, and the trousers are not baggy but still comfortable.
English demi brogues, pink microcheck shirt and paisley tie.
I'm guessing wether this might be considered as 'the look going on' or not and I leave the answer to you (real) lads.

RE: white shirts: I like and wear them often, but not with brown shoes.
This is a good look Luigi - I see by wearing a pink shirt rather than white, and brown suede shoes you take it a couple of steps away from being severe business formal. I have a very similar suit (an old eBay score, I think it’s a pre Ludlow J Crew) which I wear with a blue herringbone shirt and burgundy punch caps. Very formal business would require black shoes. At one time every pair of shoes I owned was black. I have very few now but one pair of black shoes is like a white shirt - perhaps not very versatile in today’s more casual world but still necessary for those occasional formal events like weddings and funerals. I have a pair of black captoes which get very rare use and a pair of black longwings which I wear with the above houndstooth jacket and my purple tweed jacket.
I recently got some black Meermin soft calf chelseas thinking they would be versatile for travel but due to the lockdown haven’t had much chance to wear them.
 

covskin

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I haven't had a white polo since my late teens but I crossover a white twill work shirt sometimes, twill to keep me some distance from the OCBD thing.

My basic work outfit is five identical white poplin shirts, simple and neat, wash/iron and forget.
 
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Mr Knightley

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The white shirt discussion has been interesting. As usual, it threw up some fascinating side issues like the changing fashions and different male silhouette down the years.

Some favour a slimmer style where others like a roomier fit. Others modify their approach but stick with some basic pieces that reflect the Look.

Above all I can say that I was wrong to write off the white shirt - it’s got some life in it yet 😊
 

Yorky

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The white shirt discussion has been interesting. As usual, it threw up some fascinating side issues like the changing fashions and different male silhouette down the years.

Some favour a slimmer style where others like a roomier fit. Others modify their approach but stick with some basic pieces that reflect the Look.

Above all I can say that I was wrong to write off the white shirt - it’s got some life in it yet 😊
Just found out that I've got the lecturing job that I was interviewed for, and so l will be planning some new clobber. I tend to keep work clothes separate from my other clobber, I've still got plenty of stuff from my previous job, but will probably take the opportunity to relegate some of my everyday wear to workwear, but it won't be including white shirts.
 

Swampster

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I very nearly bought a white polo shirt at TK Maxx yesterday thanks to this thread. Went with a slightly garish Madras s/s shirt instead.

I put on a white shirt to wear this morning. Then noticed a curry stain which hadn’t come out in the wash. Never mind face masks - I need a bib. Changed to another white shirt but it didn’t look right under a jacket with no tie. Perhaps a different collar would have worked. Settled on a CT long sleeved polo in navy.
 

Luigi_M

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So, both @Thin White Duke and @Yorky separate 'work clothes' from the other items.
I thought about that, but I'm unable to see such a sharp distinction in my closet.
I have some formal suits, that I wear on special occasions or when I want to overdress my boss and judges (although both earn much more than me), and some sport coats that I like to wear, maybe even with a polo and chinos, when I feel more relaxed even at work - but then, as I work in a small firm, there isn't a specific dress code.
Of course I don't wear jeans or an Harrington at work, but then there's a grey area of my closet that I wear both at and off work.
It would be interesting and helpful for me to understand what is other gentlemen's definition of 'work' and 'off work' attire.
 

covskin

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It would be interesting and helpful for me to understand what is other gentlemen's definition of 'work' and 'off work' attire.
Suits and button cuff white poplin shirts - definitely work
Suits and button cuff white/blue/pink twill shirt - work
Suits and double cuff white/blue stripe/blue contrast collar shirt - work/formal
 

Yorky

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So, both @Thin White Duke and @Yorky separate 'work clothes' from the other items.
I thought about that, but I'm unable to see such a sharp distinction in my closet.
I have some formal suits, that I wear on special occasions or when I want to overdress my boss and judges (although both earn much more than me), and some sport coats that I like to wear, maybe even with a polo and chinos, when I feel more relaxed even at work - but then, as I work in a small firm, there isn't a specific dress code.
Of course I don't wear jeans or an Harrington at work, but then there's a grey area of my closet that I wear both at and off work.
It would be interesting and helpful for me to understand what is other gentlemen's definition of 'work' and 'off work' attire.
The lines between work and non work clothes for me are a bit blurred, as I wear the same styles of clothes for both, but not the same clothes if that makes any sense at all. For example blue OCBD, black longwings, black loafers, grey wool trousers, khaki chinos, navy sta press, these see the light of day in both settings, but are different/duplicate items. When I'm not going to be lecturing or meeting with clients I could wear polo shirts, jeans, desert boots, which could possibly double up.
 

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