The Formal Shirt

TuxedoMens formal wear has certainly evolved over the years and the formal shirt is no exception. From its original construction in a tunic style with a detachable collar and cuffs, to the contemporary turn-down collar style.

Often mistakenly called wing-tip shirts (confused with wing-tip shoes I guess), wing collar shirts are favoured by barristers. However, their popularity as formalwear declined when the dinner jacket replaced the tailcoat as the norm for evening wear. And the detachable wing collar is a rarity now.

Todays formal shirts tend to have either a turn-down collar or a built in wing collar.  Some prefer the turn-down variety as these hide the neckband of the bow tie. Either style is acceptable today.

Formal ShirtFormal shirts can be plain or pique.  Pique relates to the weave of the shirt – the finer the pique the more elegant the shirt.  The most popular pique weave is birdseye (or Marcella) which has a fine diamond pattern.  The front panel of the shirt can be pleated or plain. True pleated shirts really look the part, however you can also buy shirts with the pleats woven in. These are great alternative for men who need to wear the shirts regular, say as part of a uniform, as they are much easier to launder.

Cufflinks are an essential finishing touch to mens formal wear.  And studs are an optional extra.  But visible buttons really are a no-no.  If you don’t want to wear shirt studs, then select a formal shirt that has concealed buttons.