An important yet often overlooked factor to consider when wearing a button up shirt is the season.
The fact is that not all button up shirts are made from the same fabrics (nor should they be).
Some are more appropriate for the winter season (e.g. flannel) while others are better suited for the warm summer months (e.g. linen).
With spring just around the corner I figured I’d take the opportunity to go over a few button up shirt options that are perfect for the slightly warmer and longer days ahead.
But before I begin, I should mention that the options I discuss below can technically be worn year-round. Nonetheless, I still find them to be particularly appropriate for the spring/summer season.
Here we go…
Chambray is a lightweight cotton fabric in a plain weave that combines a coloured yarn (usually blue) with a white yarn. This gives chambray its characteristic textured, almost denim-like appearance.
The great thing about chambray shirts is that although they have the look of denim they don’t have nearly the same weight. This makes them perfect for wearing during the spring and summer months.
The most popular chambray shirts come in blue but you can also find them in red, grey, and black too.
My recommendation is if you have blue eyes and dark hair (i.e. a high contrast complexion), then go with a blue chambray shirt. On the other hand, if you have red/blond hair and a sort of ruddy complexion, go with a red chambray shirt instead. For the rest of us a shade of blue or grey will likely work well.
But you can also wear it with denim too. However, if you choose to go that route just make sure that the shirt’s colour has a large enough contrast from the colour of your denim. Here’s a good example of what I’m talking about:
The guy on the left, not so great. The colour of the shirt and jeans are too similar. The guy on the right looks much better as there is a distinct contrast between the chambray and the denim.
You will start to see plenty of retailers begin to roll out their chambray shirts for the upcoming spring season. However, my favourite chambray shirt right now is the Slim Indigo Japanese Chambray Shirt by J.Crew:
I find that a lot of chambray shirts on the market have that utility shirt look to them (which is not bad) but this one is much simpler in design making it easy to wear (i.e. versatile). You can scoop one of these up for about $100.
Gingham is a medium to lightweight plain-woven cotton cloth known for its characteristic check pattern of two alternating colours.
Gingham shirts can come in a variety of different colours making them a good choice for the spring season when you want to transition to a brighter colour palette.
The key to wearing gingham well is keeping the number of patterns you wear to a minimum. That means pairing it with solid coloured trousers or denim jeans, and if you’re going to wear a tie, make sure it’s a solid one as well. The last thing you want to do is introduce too many patterns making your outfit look more like an optical illusion. Here’s an example of what I mean:
The guy on the left (Steve Adams) doesn’t look nearly as sharp as the guy on the right. Why? His outfit is too busy. It’s distracting. He is an example of how NOT to combine patterned clothing. The guy on the right, however, nails it with his red gingham button down dress shirt basic navy suit and tie combo.
One of the better gingham dress shirts I’ve seen recently is the Tailored Fit Gingham Dress Shirt by Gitman:
It’s pricier than regular dress shirts ($175) but justifiably so as I’d consider Gitman to be on the top end of off the rack (OTR) shirting for men. They are high quality, American made dress shirts.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more budget conscious but still decent quality, take a look at Nordstrom’s own Trim Fit Non-Iron Gingham Dress Shirts:
These are about $50 and come in a variety of spring appropriate colours including the purple violet you see above.
White Dress Shirt
Every guy should have multiple white button up shirts in his rotation as they are easily the most versatile type of button up shirt you can own.
The big advantage with standard white button up shirts is that you can literally wear them with anything. Denim jeans, chinos, wool trousers, you name it. They are a lot like wearing a blank canvass onto which you can combine various other patterned or coloured garments.
The paradox with the white button up shirts, however, is that their strength is also one of their biggest weaknesses. They are so plain that they can often be a little too boring when worn on their own.
Fortunately, there is a company out there that has solved this problem by tweaking the standard white button up shirt with some interesting twists.
Batch Shirts is a relatively new menswear company that has been making some awesome button up shirts. They recently came out with a line of white button up dress shirts that are anything but plain.
What I like about Batch Shirts is their signature collar detail. It’s a small difference to be sure, but enough to make their shirts stand out in a good way. Combine that with mother of pearl buttons, high quality fabric (100% mercerized cotton), and expert craftsmanship and you have a recipe for some fine looking button up shirts.
I recommend checking out their Apex white dress shirt. It’s a spread collar shirt with sharp black detailing making it easy to wear with a tie or on its own:
Jeans, chinos, wool trousers…this shirt can go well with all of them.
With the spring season right around the corner you’ll be looking for ways to lighten and brighten up your wardrobe and the type of button up shirt you wear is a good place to start.
The options I’ve covered above are great pieces to introduce to your wardrobe for the spring season to keep you looking stylish.
Here’s to looking sharp!