“The three biggest fashion mistakes are cheap suits, shoes, and shirts. Spend your money on something good.” – Donatella Versace
It is hard to disagree with Donatella’s expert advice when it comes to dressing well. Considering that designer shirts are such a staple part of any man’s wardrobe, it makes perfect sense to invest in quality pieces. Whether you need a new shirt for a formal occasion or a night out with the lads, here at Mainline Menswear we have a fantastically varied collection of designer shirts to suit any scenario.
So, if you’re feeling a little in need of some help and advice when it comes to styling, let me take you through what I have identified as the eight essential designer shirts and some helpful go to brands for each.
The Monochrome Shirt
Let’s begin with the basics, you simply cannot go wrong with a plain black or white shirt. These are especially appropriate for a formal setting, when it is best to keep things clean and classic. If it’s time to suit up, a white shirt is incredibly versatile and can paired with any coloured suit.
Purchasing a monochrome designer shirt really can be quite the investment, as a timeless classic it will see you through changing seasons and be suitable to wear again and again for any formal occasion whether that’s in an occupational or social setting.
The Oxford Shirt
Whilst still being recognised as a smart garment, the Oxford shirt has somewhat more of a relaxed edge. Originally worn by English polo players, the Oxford shirt was adopted by American Ivy League students, giving the shirt a smart intellectual yet slightly sporty twist.
Constructed in a thicker fabric than your classic shirt, the Oxford is crafted with two yarns which you can opt for in a block colour or alternatively, when white and coloured yarns are combined a two tone woven effect is created. Pair an Oxford shirt with chinos and brown leather shoes for a preppy style or dark jeans and trainers for a more casual look.
Checks and Ginghams
If you fancy something bolder than a plain shirt but aren’t quite ready for a striking print, a checked or gingham design is the way to go. With these styles you can introduce bolder colours such as reds and greens alongside your classic safe shades of white, navy and black.
If you’re dressing down opt for a larger check and during colder months these look great in a flannel fabric. If you’re keeping it formal, a small gingham check adds character and looks great when paired with a solid black or navy suit.
Dots and Stripes
If you feel a check is a bit too playful, a great alternative is a simple stripe or micro dot design. Spots and stripes are great for doing business, they remain formal but also have an air of confidence, they give off the impression that there’s a bit more to you than the safe plain shirt.
My advice when it comes to these styles is to keep it classic in white, black and navy. Choose a slim pin stripe over a large block stripe and opt for micro dots or diamonds rather than larger polka dots.
For those who are a bit more adventurous, an intricate allover print can make a great statement. One option available is an elegant unmistakable Versace print in black and golden yellow which certainly won’t go unnoticed.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a bit different, Paul Smith have some fantastic quirky designs and Pretty Green’s paisley print has a great retro vibe. With a bold shirt you must tone down the rest of your outfit, keep your lower half a solid block colour.
The Short Sleeved Shirt
As the weather gets warmer it’s advisable to invest in a short sleeved shirt. These are great for summer events for which you need to smarten up a little, however whereas a long sleeved version would leave you feeling hot and uncomfortable, shirts with short sleeves will keep you cool and fresh. As these are a typically a Spring/Summer season garment there are some great summery colours to choose from.
This year it’s all about the pink but if you’re not quite sure it’s your colour, an alternative is to opt for a crisp white (which will also help keep you cool) with a playful summery logo.
The Denim Shirt
Hailing from the cowboys of the wild west, the denim shirt began its life as a garment of hard wearing functionality. Today a denim shirt is a great go to for either a day event or a night out, it looks great during the summer barbeque season yet is also warm enough to wear during the colder months.
It’s versatile and oh so comfortable. With the vast ranges of denims out there you are sure to find a style that suits you, whether it’s in a raw indigo or a sun-bleached wash, button up or press stud fastening, clean or distressed, you can’t go wrong with a denim shirt.
The Knit Shirt
Like a denim shirt, knit shirts are a strong casual take on an otherwise formal piece. Somewhere between a polo shirt and a traditional shirt, these are perfect for smart casual occasions when teamed with a pair of designer jeans.
Being constructed in this alternative fabric, they are less prone to creasing and you’ll find you have greater freedom of movement. The key to wearing these is to keep it casual, don’t expect to be able to wear your knit shirt with a suit and tie for a comfortable formal shirt substitute, it just won’t work.
Written by Lucy Jackson