Necessity can be sometimes pleasing and other times an annoyance. But excess can be a beautiful thing. There are certain things a man needs in his wardrobe. Of those certain things, there are some that he cannot have to many of; such as solid white shirts.
I believe that at last count I have 18. It is guaranteed that that number will only increase with time.
‘Why on earth do you need so many white shirts Justin?’ I have been asked on more than one occasion. At the heart of the matter are two things. First, a white shirt is the most flexible canvas from which to build an ensemble on. It is nearly foolproof. You can take the most aggressively patterned suits, ties, suspenders, pocket squares or other item and tone it down with a white shirt. The white shirt will act as an anchor point; a bit of calm in an otherwise turbulent sea. Or you can pair a white shirt with the most restrained of things and it will function exceptionally well. With one ensemble they can be formal, yet with another ooze casualness. I cannot say the same about many (if any) other articles of clothing.
For those of you who abhor wearing collared shirts, a plain white crew neck or v neck could be all you need. Just make sure it doesn’t look like an undershirt.
Second, I am a vocal fan of excess. Historically speaking, moderation has not been one of my strong points. But if I don’t have to, why should I? Not to mention that having a plethora of white shirts, all of a slightly different style, allows me to vary my appearance. To keep things fresh to me, to not get bored with the same old shirt over and over again. After all, I dress for me, not for you. The devil is in the details; the difference between a spread collar versus a cut away collar. An oxford versus a poplin. French cuffs versus barrel cuffs. Not to mention, there are 50 shades of white. Yes, I am saying that not all whites are the same. What, blasphemy you say? No. Some whites have hints of blue, yellow or other color. All of these variables lead to thousands of possible combinations, if not more. Who am I to deny trying all of them. And I am sure there are some men who only wear white shirts. Dare I remind you that Don Draper used to keep a new white dress shirt in his desk, you know, just in case.
But perhaps of most importance, white shirts look good on most men. They look bad on nearly none.
I’m buying a formal white tuxedo shirt from Brooks Brothers very soon for black tie holiday parties. What are you thoughts on getting my initials monogrammed on the left cuff? Some people say it would be nice, but others say monograms on a shirt should not be visible when wearing a suit coat. Thoughts?
I just found your post on this topic from March 29, 2013.
Thank you for the advice.
For people who would like to wear collared shirts, a plain white crew neck or v neck could be all you need. Just make sure it doesn’t look like an undershirt.
If you really love white shirts and are excessive, then where is the qualitative aspect? You only number, and then show a few, one recognizable as Lewin’s extreme cutaway in poplin, right? How frustrating! Our man in white shirts has daily experience, presumably washes the shirts himself, and can go beyond the description that white is not white. It would bore all your other readers, but I would read with great interest a ranking of preference, justification, and description and evaluation of every single one of those eighteen!
PS: I decided for cream instead of white, but I don’t deny the beauty of white! (I am afraid ivory might disappointment me.)
I personally love the white shirt, but was thought that white shirts tend to yellow over time and I was better off with only two or three to be changed every so often, is this a myth?
Some white shirts of mine have yellowed over time. However, I am not sure exactly what that is a result of. It may be washing, wear or cheap fabric/dye. But I do not think time is what causes it.
I love white shirts, they allow me be creative with my dressing. Your blog is really cool and informative, keep it coming.
I agree with you 10000000% a white shirt is one item you cant have just one of!
I found your blog cruising the web and I’m happy I did! Alot of good articles and a big inspiration for my own blog http://www.theweekendcut.com
Keep up the good work!