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Men's shirts - how to choose - a UK buyer's guide

Dress Shirts @ My Tuxedo
- Fine quality dress shirts for men, in white or black, starting at £11.99 for a white wing collared dress shirt.
Boys sizes are also available.

Men's Shirts - A Buyer's Guide

Smart mens shirts feature in virtually every man's wardrobe, even if they are only worn for occasions such as weddings and job interviews. Many "white collar workers" wear shirts on every working day of the week. At first glance, it may appear that there are only a limited number of options regarding styles. However, when buying a shirt you will need to consider the following factors:

  • The material the shirt is made from
  • The finish
  • The style
  • The colour
  • The size
Thomas Pink
- A range of luxury men's shirts in styles and materials including evening, formal, casual, linen, short sleeved and polo. Worldwide delivery is available.
Austin Reed
- High quality formal and casual wear from this long established high street and internet retailer.

T.M. Lewin
- Top quality men's formal shirts, ties, suits, shoes and knitwear.

The Material

Shirts are generally made from the following materials or blends:

  • 100% cotton
  • Polycotton, typically 65% cotton, 35% polyester
  • Silk
  • Linen

100% cotton is the most comfortable fabric to wear - it allows the skin to breathe so aiding the evaporation of sweat, especially in warm weather or overheated offices. However, without special finishes (see later) it creases easily and can be difficult to iron. Mixing polyester with cotton makes the material "easy wear" or "easy iron". However, the disadvantages of polyester are that it is neither breathable nor absorbent, and the fabric can be damaged in high contact areas such as inside the cuff and the neck.

Silk and linen crease easily, although both are breathable and comfortable to wear. Silk is primarily used in dress shirts - linen is only occasionally used, or may be mixed with other fabrics to make it easier to care for. Silk shirts will either need to be hand washed or dry cleaned (check the washing instructions on the shirt).

Whichever material is used, it is woven to make a fabric which can be described as:

  • Oxford - a popular choice for dress shirts with a slightly elevated basket weave, Oxford is a heavy, durable material.
  • Pinpoint Oxford - A two ply material that is lighter and finer than Oxford.
  • Poplin - The same quality and weight as Pinpoint, but with a smoother finish.
  • Twill - Heavier than Poplin or Pinpoint, but with a smooth finish.
  • Broadcloth - Generally perceived to be the highest quality material as it is very tightly woven, although it should be noted that abrasion on the collar and cuffs is more noted than for the Oxford weave. It can be woven into different finishes although the plain Broadcloth is lightweight with a smooth finish.

The Finish

The finish applied to a shirt will improve the fabric. Common finishes include:

  • Mercerisation - this process makes the material more comfortable, gives it a luster and added strength.
  • Iron free - this is the finish given to non-iron 100% cotton shirts.

The Size

Dress shirts are generally sized via the circumference of the neck, given in inches eg 16". If there is a second measurement, somewhere between 32" and 36", this is the length of the sleeve.

Joseph Turner Shirts
- Luxury gentlemen's shirts, both formal and casual, together with ties, cufflinks, shoes, jumpers, belts, boxer shorts, socks and evening wear accessories.