Start with lots of white shirts, ditch the silk, you won’t go wrong


A man’s dress shirt is the most powerful signal he uses to non-verbally communicate with those around him. A dress shirt is a button-up shirt with a collar, long sleeves, and wrist cuffs, short sleeves simply do not make the cut.

Men have so many ways to express personal style through their dress shirts and sometimes they fail to explore the plethora of designs and styles available.

Image consultant Mwenesi Musalia says while there are a number of collars to pick from, the straight point collar is the most balanced collar type, suiting both formal and casual attire. “A collar is what stands out most in a dress shirt, the American shirt have collars that are closer together while the UK ones are spread out however you can always pick from the off the rack shirts which are in the middle,” he says.

The fit: A shirt that is too tight or too loose instantly singles you out as style-inept and destroys all the hard work put into a bespoke suit.

“Have room in the chest and waist to pinch out one to three inches of fabric depending on the desired fit,” he says.


Mwenesi says that the dress shirt needs to fit properly and ideally two fingers should easily slip in the collar when buttoned.

“It also should not be too tight around the waist, you should be able to raise your arms and not pull the shirt. You should also have at least one inch of fabric when your arms hang,” he says.

He adds that a dress shirt should also fit well around the shoulders and one way of knowing this is by ensuring that the shoulder point does not extend past the shoulder.

The fabric: Cotton is the most ideal fabric to pick. “The higher the thread count the better because not only is it more comfortable but it is also less transparent and can work for those who do not wear vests underneath,” he says. The vests or any other undergarment worn under the dress shirt should not be seen.

Silk is not a texture to wear to work and men should always pick a solid pattern that brings the outfit together. “A striped or checkered shirt is good, the rest like paisleys can be intimidating and limits the rest of your outfit choice because you cannot wear a suit that has pattern when you have on a busy shirt,” he says.

The tie: The shirt pattern also dictates the type of tie to marry the outfit and Mwenesi says that large printed shirts are best suited with a plain tie.

“Also important to note is that a tie must always lie between the top of the belt and the navel, absolutely no further than that,” he says.

He adds that a tight knot can overwhelm the collar and can achieve a creased and rugged look. When it comes to pairing the dress shirt with a suit, Mwenesi says that if you cannot blend patterns and colours just stick to the solid colours.

A man should never have shortage of plain white shirts. “When building an outfit, the shirt should be the canvas against the other things you put on and a white shirt will always help you in achieving a contrast between your shoes and the suit,” he says.