Know your cuffs ‘n’ collars
The formal shirt is an important part in a fashion conscious man’s wardrobe. The correct shirt selection can add oomph to your personality & individuality to an otherwise monotonous office outfit, so careful consideration is advised when the time comes to refresh your formal work attire.
Collars: The collar is one of the formal shirt’s more prominent features and is an aspect that should not be ignored. As well as indicating the formality of the shirt, the collar’s almost eye-level position is difficult to miss and can therefore easily make or break an otherwise carefully created formal ensemble.
Types of collars: Pointed collars: The most prevalent collar style, the forward or straight point collar is cut using straight lines and with a relatively small spread. It is the design most associated with the traditional men’s dress shirt.
Its balanced and neutral appearance exudes confident sophistication, whilst it remains versatile enough to blend comfortably with both formal and casual attire.
Spread collars: Also known as the cutaway or Windsor collar, the spread collar comes in various widths and angles, revealing more of the upper shirt.
Due to the distance between the collar points, the spread collar is worn with a tie and is reserved for business/formal dress only. Gaining popularity in recent years, the spread collar’s width complements those with a slim build by balancing the body’s vertical lines. Buttoned down collar: As the name suggests, the button-down collar is attached directly to the shirt body by way of two small buttons and can be worn with or without a tie.
This collar is naturally suited at casual ocassions, and is the least formal of the collar family. The current trend is to wear it without a tie and with the shirt buttoned to the top (although the collar itself is rarely left unbuttoned).
Cuffs: The shirt cuffs (along with collar) are one of the few features visible when coupled with a suit jacket. An effective choice completes a polished and perfectly proportioned appearance.
Button or barrel cuffs: The button cuff is the traditional and most popular cuff type and the basic single button style is commonly seen. Consisting of a single cuff that wraps around the wrist and buttons into place, this functional option can offer square, round or angled corners and some versions provide an additional adjacent button for adjustment. The more formal barrel cuff has two or three vertical buttons (and buttonholes), rather than the single, and is therefore longer – its extra fastenings provide a snug fit around the wrist.
Cocktail or Turnback cuff: The turnback cuff is one of the least known styles, although its combination of elegance and functionality is now thought to be making something of a comeback. The cocktail or turnback cuff is essentially a double length two-button barrel cuff that then folds back on itself, while the corners are usually rounded to avoid any snagging in the jacket sleeve.
French cuff: This classic dress shirt cuff folds back around the wrist and is fastened by cufflinks rather than buttons. Although they are ceremonial in style, the French cuff is not reserved for black tie events only and is perfectly acceptable daily wear in many workplaces. Often only provided with high end custom shirts, this is perhaps not the obvious choice for the limited budget, especially when coupled with the necessity of cufflinks. It is worth, however, having at least one such shirt in the locker, as nothing pairs more perfectly with a beautifully tailored suit and silk tie.