5 Qualities Of The Best Men's Dress Shirts

1. A Curved Collar Stand

Its a region of the shirt that makers don’t often talk about, but it really deserves a break-away description.

A collar stand (or ‘band’ as some prefer to call it) is the anchor for the collar leaf, and its what really determines how the collar sits against your jawline.

There are many different approaches to collar bands and their balance with the collar leaf and the tie intended to be worn. The standard for collar band height is somewhere around an inch tall in the front, and an inch tall in the back. This height works well when the most common and popular necktie widths (from 3.5” and under at the widest point of the front blade) are knotted around them.

If you increase the height of the collar band, you are going to change the entire dynamic of the dress shirt. Right now super-tall collar bands are popular with many bespoke makers. Its very reminiscent of the victorian era and the very first dress shirts ever made. The most common problem here is that a lot of makers don’t taper or curve their collar bands to be slightly shorter in front than in the back… The result? A tall, straight-cut collar band is generally not going to look great when worn without a tie. The weight of the tall collar in the front will often cause it to flop over or slide under the lapel of your coat lapel.  

When the collar band curves and tapers towards the shirt fronts, it prevents the front plackets from collapsing under the collar’s weight. Part of this problem comes from the collar’s geometry. However, the performance of that pattern’s geometry is dictated by the happy marriage of interlining and shirting fabric weights.

2. Quality Interlining

A good dress shirt is only as good as its interlining--the guts inside the collar and cuffs.

Just like shirting fabrics, there are all sorts of weights and constructions of interlining, each producing a different effect. It’s here that the geometry of a collar can have less significance--choose a stiff interlining, and even the skimpiest collar will stand erect. Choose a light, gauze-like interlining and your collar will fly around and not anchor to the back of your neck, as it should (the reason why lighter interlinings are decidedly more casual).

Interlining is a highly personal choice, and should be considered based on the wearer’s needs.

3. A Gusset

There’s a lot of debate about whether this is actually a marginally functional feature, and.. well.. its functional when its done right.


A gusset thats just a patch (see below) only serves to reinforce the hemline around a stress point. Borrelli refers to this as “la mouche” … and while that is not a particularly useful piece of information, it never fails to make us giggle. 

When a generous, triangular gusset is applied to the inside of the hemline, it gives that area the ability to flex and stretch naturally, but with reduced risk of seam slippage from sitting down.

4. Adequate Tail Length

Part of the joy and pleasure of a well-fitting dress shirt, is the way it stays cleanly draped against your body. An untucked dress shirt is a great idea for the beach, but in almost any other case it will look messy (which may be the look you are after). Tucking in your shirt essentially anchors it and ensures that the fabric drapes across your body properly.

If you want to achieve that clean look,  you have to make sure your shirt’s tail is long enough to cover your ass! Most makers don’t give enough length there because they have to consider the average tastes and body shapes of the mass market (fabric consumption can also be a factor at times).

Simply put: more surface area on your seat = more friction = a shirt that stays tucked (if you’re into that kind of thing).

5. Durability, Wash After Wash

If you are looking at durability from the perspective of shirt fabric, definitely make sure your cloth fulfills the rigorous ÖEKO TEX Standard 100. This is an independent textile testing organization that laboratory tests for color-fastness, harmful substances, and ecological compliance of the milling process. This isn’t just technical filler. If you could imagine an entire lab of German chemists doing almost everything under the sun to your shirt’s fabric in order to make sure its safe and durable enough for you to wear.. then you’ll begin to see just how awesome it is.

Finally, there’s the concern of stitching. Most shirt seams today are made with modern machines, and are durable enough for daily wear. What you want to be careful of, however, is hand stitching. While many extoll the virtues of seam elasticity and artisanry afforded by hand stitched seams, the simple truth is that hand stitched seams are neither as consistent nor as strong as machine stitching. In general, on the issue of handwork, we agree that in many cases “You can have careless, unqualified craftspeople” and it often doesn’t justify the higher price, especially with dress shirts.

Think we’ve made a mistake? Send us an email at questions@sebastianward.com or comment below, we’d be happy to make an update.

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  • Thoughtful and informed!

    Posted by Gloria Signorelli on February 20, 2015

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