Nothing says power dressing like white collar shirts. But more than power-dressing, white collar shirts in their formality and stylishness, are an elegant nod to a bygone ‘polite’ era. Forget those nay-sayers who say that white collar shirts are a relic of 1980s excess and Gordon Gekko; the truth is, if you have confidence, cultivated taste and natural ease, then you can carry it off with aplomb.
White collar shirts: Necessity is the mother of invention
The history of white collar shirts has much less to do with alpha male executives and much more to do with limited resources. In 1820, white collar shirts were born. A New York housewife with a fastidious blacksmith for a husband, decided that she was tired of the daily drudgery of washing her husbands shirts. So, being resourceful, she decided to cut off the collar and cuffs, bind the edges and neckbands and attach strings to hold the collar and cuff in place. Voila! Suddenly she could detach the white collar and cuffs to wash them separately. It wasn’t long before detachable white collars and cuffs found their way onto coloured and patterned shirts, creating the look now often referred to as the ‘banker collar’
White collar shirts: Play your best line
Many men overlook one of the most important functions of male attire; to lead the viewer’s eye towards the face. And, by virtue of proximity to the face and the alignment of angle, scale and mass, no article of male apparel is better suited to enhancing a man’s face than the white collar shirt.
The contrast between the white collar and cuff and the shirting fabric is perfect for drawing attention to your face, especially if you have a high contrast complexion like Philippe. (See our blog on your complexion and the power of colour for some good advice). In the photo above, you can see how the contrast between the wide blue graphic stripes and the white collar and cuff mirror the contrast between Philippe’s dark hair and light skin. The white collar shirt pictured above is Der Chef – one of our favourites! Philippe pairs this shirt with Schildkrote tie – a stunning accompaniment.
White collar shirts: Soften the look with pastel
Like an actor being typecast because of their most famous role, white collar shirts have as much to thank as they have to blame the 1987 movie Wall Street for their notoriety. And so today, rightly or wrongly, people are as attracted to white collar shirts as they are deterred by them for being associated with corporate moguls. But just as classic as a blue shirt with white collar looks, don’t be afraid to go ‘off-piste’ with white collar shirts with stripes and pastel colours. Your ‘ode to Gekko’ will be softened somewhat by wearing the white contrasting collar with a soft pink or mauve body, such as Greenback Boogie and Fuchsia Fiasco, pictured above. Not only does this make the white collar shirt less conspicuous, but it is also a great solution for men with a low contrast complexion (fair hair and light skin), as the focus will be on your face, rather than drawn towards the white collar shirt.
Philippe is pictured wearing Greenback Boogie in the above photos and as you can see, the pale pink with the white collar enhances the blue of his suit beautifully. What’s not to love about this look?
These days, it should be noted that when wearing white collar shirts, only the rounded club collar or the cutaway collar, like Philippe Perzi Vienna has on all our shirts, are stylish enough to hold their own when contrasted against a different colour or patterned shirt body. Ignore those who may yell “greed is good” in your wake – you’re killing it! Of course, it goes without saying that with any clothing, confidence is key and your clothing should make you feel invincible, commanding and elegant, all at the same time. If you’ve never enjoyed the feeling of unassailability that goes hand in hand with wearing white collar shirts – you are missing out! Start shopping now!
Photos of Philippe by Claire Morgan Photography