What makes the perfect shirt? This sounds rather like questions I used to ask my Dad many years ago – the kind of question my son bombards me with today. The answer to the question sounds rather like the answers I used to get – and I give today. “Depends”. And therein lies the rub. As a shirt maker, there are so many things to talk about in the perfect shirt. There is the choice of the fit and cut – a slim cut which hugs your body’s contours; a semi-slim which follows your body, but leaves a bit of room; a generous `classic’ fit; or a comfort fit. Follow up with fabric selection – synthetic, cotton, linen, wool, combinations of natural fibres and synthetic; the thread count and construction; fabric weaves – poplin, oxford, twill, chambray, and so on. Do we go with a single or split yoke – the piece of fabric just behind and below the collar on your shoulders? Collar type, cuff? Placket, pocket, buttons, hem? We have not even gotten started on the colours or patterns yet. Let’s get back to “depends”. What is a shirt for – it’s your first face to the world, it’s your ‘armour’, it’s the thing for most men that people see the most of. Your shirt must help you put out the vibe that you are aiming for, you need to feel confident in the colour and look it gives you, and comfortable wearing it. So… the perfect shirt depends on what you want to tell the world. Are you gearing up for a boardroom battle? A classic white dobby in a semi-slim fit that gets in smoothly under your suit jacket. Drinks with a client at the end of the day – button-down solid colour oxford. Got a date at the disc with your significant other – ultramarine satin poplin with a long tail (so that it stays tucked in while you’re on the dance floor). The perfect shirt depends on who you want to be today, corporate sharp shooter – point contrast collar in blue Bengal stripes (no pocket); another one of the guys at work – classic fit dark blue chambray with a pocket; sporty dad – purple gingham check in a comfort fit (you are going to be chasing the kids around, right?). Think that through, and the rest will fall into place. A hint for those who like to keep things simple – what you need to do defines your fit; your mood and location define your colour. Whether you are chasing the kids around the park, chilling with friends over the weekend, giving an annual presentation to the management team, looking cool for the girls at the club, you know the fit that you need, and the color which works. In the end don’t get caught up by what fashion gurus prescribe, your perfect shirt is one which enables you, to present you, to the world.
Sujay Naik is the Co-Founder of the online shirt company Nord51 and runs the marketing consulting and brand management firm Zephyr Consulting Services. He is also a director at Calorie Care.