That's true luxury

That's true luxury


That's true luxury

It is a fashion essential that every man should invest in. Forget about those store-bought, ready-made shirts and indulge your creative side by customising what you wear, insists Akshay Narvekar

Its presence is ubiquitous in every wardrobe. When you’re used to wearing a clean, crisp, well-fitted shirt, you’ll never want to go any other way. Buying the perfect shirt isn’t rocket science – but there are a lot of details that go into creating the garment. Everything from the collar, cuffs, cut of the torso to the thread colour of the buttons, play a big part in defining a shirt.

That’s where made-to-measure craftsmanship comes into the picture, appealing to people of all ages. It allows you to be the owner of a creation whose subtlety speaks volumes about your personal style. Whether you wear it on denim pants, chinos or formal trousers, a shirt plays a huge role in making or breaking your look. And there is a certain method you can follow to look your best in a finely-made shirt.

The first step to conceptualising a customised shirt is choosing the fabric. While doing this, it is helpful to ask yourself a few questions: ‘Do I need it for a specific occasion?’, ‘Do I want a formal shirt or a casual shirt?, ‘Will it suit this weather?’. Your answers to these queries will help you narrow down on the ideal material.

There are a variety of fabrics available today, such as oxford, chambray, twill, linen, denim, poplin, pique, dobby, satin, to name some. All these have a different feel and texture, depending on the weave. You can choose single-ply cotton or a two-ply cotton fabric. The most luxurious shirts are made from two-ply cotton because individual yarns are thinner and the weave is tighter with a greater thread count per inch. These are available in interesting patterns like prints, solids, checks and stripes.
And then, there is
always a personal preference for a particular colour. So, get creative. Play with different patterns. These details add instant punch to your work wardrobe, while remaining classic at heart. In the cooler months, go for richer, muted tones – the kind that go well with a dark business suit to strike a smart, urbane impact. And when the temperature rises, your colour palette should, too. The next stage is the design of the shirt. Decide if you want a full sleeve or a half sleeve shirt. Will the bottom cut be round or straight?

Spiff collars & cuffs

For the collar, there are more than a dozen options, like the spread, the pointed, the cut away, the bandhgala, the prince Charlie, button down, wing collar...It’s best to pick the one that suits your body type.

* If you have a thin face, choose a broad collar.
* If you have a broad face, choose a pointed collar.
* The spread, however, is the safest option.
* For those who like to experiment, there is also the hipster rounded collar. 

Also, for a well-fitting collar, try the one finger test. If one finger slides in easily – its perfect. Anything looser or tighter than that is just not right.

Next comes the cuff. Pick a regular single convertible cuff or a French cuff for those dress shirts. The stiffness of the collar and cuff can be customised as per your preference. Use collar stays if you prefer your collar to stay firm on the edges.

The front placket of the shirt can also be customised. A French placket gives a cleaner finish, but is more casual.

A regular placket is more formal. These days, a newer, updated version called the pencil placket is trending. It is muchthinner than the regular placket and can be worn both ways. The design aspect is then complete with matching or contrasting thread colours and buttons.

One also has the option of embellishing the shirt with contrasting or matching fabric on the cuff, collar, placket and the like. Give an epaulette or an elbow patch for a funkier look. The trick is not to overdo it. Keep one element as the focus and play with other design elements so that everything just blends in. In the end, round it off with a monogram.

The final step is the measurement. One should always buy a well-fitted shirt – even if you don’t have the body of a model. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortably tight, but make sure it’s comfortable, and not droopy. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing an oversized shirt.

Trim the shirt fat; no matter what your shape is. Buy a shirt that closely fits your torso, as ballooning shirts make one look bulky. The shoulder seams should hug your shoulders. Make sure the sleeves aren’t too long or too short. When unbuttoned, the cuffs should reach just past your wrists. So forget the store-bought, ready-made shirt and indulge your creative side. Pick your combination of fabrics, cuffs, collars, buttons and more, so that your shirt is truly exclusive. It is luxury of another kind.

(The author is founder, Bombay Shirt Company)