Depending on your job and your social life, you may have to wear formal shirts on a daily basis; you might have to wear them for meetings; or you might have to wear them for special occasions only. However frequently you have to wear them, it is worth taking some time to choose a shirt that fits well and that will last. You’ll also want to bear in mind how much time and effort your new shirt(s) will be to wash and iron.
Buying a suit is probably the most difficult part of buying attire for men, because there is such a wide range of styles, colours and fabrics available to choose from. Buying men’s formal shirts is pretty easy in comparison, but you still need to know what you’re looking for.
First and foremost, check your wardrobe to remind yourself of what colour your suits are. If they’re all different colours, then opting for a plain white formal shirt is the most sensible option because then you’ll always have a shirt that goes with whichever suit you want to wear. But if you want, you can choose formal shirts that will co-ordinate with one or more of your suits – especially if your suits are all dark and rather plain, when a good quality formal shirt in a contrasting colour can make a real statement.
Formal shirts normally also require cufflinks – again, these can really make a statement and can be as individual or as nondescript as you like.
Formal shirts are widely available in cotton or linen, and whilst these will undoubtedly keep you cool they are not the easiest of fabrics to care for. Some may be dry clean only and will take considerable effort to iron all the creases out: they are also likely to crease again as soon as you put them on again. Unfortunately, the alternatives usually contain polyester, which can add a cheap-looking shine to your shirt. Shop around and find some that are labelled as easy-care or non-iron as these will remain wrinkle-free the longest.
If it’s been a while since you last bought a men’s formal shirt, don’t just pick up one with the neck size you last bought: chances are, you might have gained a few pounds. Always try on the shirt you are thinking of buying and make sure that it fits properly around your neck and across your back and shoulders. And if your fingers start tingling, you’re not having a heart attack; your cuffs are too tight.