The White Shirt

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

Since I can remember, a white dress shirt has hung in my closet. It accompanied me in church pews with a clip on tie, my college graduation, and my first job interview. It enjoys an open door policy: accepting all colors and patterns into its ranks. Friendly with handed down ties, and corduroy jackets from your grandfather, it knows no foe. It’s the backup singer supporting all ensembles, the humble hero serving outside of the spotlight.

It’s typical for sartorial minds to be infatuated by the suit, and rightfully so. Hand stitched lapels and spalla camicia shoulders are luxurious details performed by artisans, and should be appreciated and celebrated.

But we forget the white shirt serves us like a canvas serves a painter, a vessel for inspiration, only limited by one’s imagination: a coral knit tie can nestle with a button down collar and olive sport coat; an orange and green regimental tie fits between a semi-spread collar and a navy blazer. An outreached arm might reveal stitching on a cuff, a subtle mark of expression.

The need for individuality does not cease at the white shirt. Shirt makers have given us the power of choice: broadcloth or linen, semi-spread or button down, lined or unlined, horn or pearl, initials? On the collar, cuff, or pocket?

But proceed with caution. Avoid fads and extremists. Sartorial bliss lies within its simplicity, details only you and the maker know, quality only appreciated within distance of a kiss, fit that boosts confidence, and erases doubt.

The white dress shirt transcends class, generations, and occasions: from classrooms to boardrooms, postgrads to presidents, and galas to dive bars, the white shirt is part of the fabric of our society.

Its style is timeless, like Sinatra, good bourbon, and manners.

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