Black Tie, White Tie? What About the Shirt?

Knowing what shirt to wear for every single occasion isn't always easy. Trends come and go, and the expectations people have around dress codes are as unpredictable as the next fashion season.But there are some fundamental principles that never go out of style. Knowing them will ensure that you'll always be ready for your next event, whether it's a casual hangout with friends or your sister's second wedding.


Casual attire is as easy as it gets. You really can't go wrong unless you're actually trying to. You'll be matching your shirt with items like blue jeans, sneakers, or even sandals. This gives you a bit of freedom when it comes to picking out the right shirt. The traditional t-shirt is a guaranteed winner. Having a selection of white, black and grey t-shirts in your wardrobe will mean that you'll always have an option for casual outings. But that isn't your only option. For warmer climates, choose a linen dress shirt that you can pair with your jeans or trousers. Linen provides a comfortable look and feel, while dressing you up a little bit more than the rest.


Choosing the right shirt for special occasions can be a bit trickier. You'll surely face a wide range of dress codes that fall into this category, and they can all seem to share many characteristics. For example, you might think 'informal' means the same as 'casual'. But in fact, informal dress is a more casual version of semi-formal. Informal generally calls for a dark suit, so you want to take a little more care in choosing the right shirt. Lighter colours work best to contrast the darker suit. You can also experiment with different fabrics. A striped material will give your entire a look a bit more texture without making you look too casual in the way that bold stripes or patterns might. If an event calls for festive attire, then you can add some bold colours in your shirt choice. Striped and checked shirts work well for more festive occasions.


Work-related events like annual functions and meetings call for a more formal shirt. Business formal is characterised by the use of business suits and ties, and your shirts will require French cuffs and a pair of subtle cufflinks to match.You want to avoid loud colours or patterns, although you can add some style using subtle patterns and a variety of fabrics. Much of it will depend on the particular work environment you're in, so use your best judgement and err on the side of caution.


There are variations when it comes to formal wear, which makes it difficult to know which shirt to wear. Events like the opera and ballet often call for white tie dress, which means a tuxedo and a white shirt that has pleats on the front. This style of shirt is usually worn starched to give it a more firm appearance. Black tie events can give you a little more room to play with. Although you'll still be wearing a tuxedo, the shirt can vary in material and style. Fabrics such as silk, cotton, and even linen can be used at black tie events.If the event host doesn't require guests to wear a tuxedo, then a black tie optional dress code will be established. You'll still want to choose a shirt with French cuffs, but you only need to pair it with a dark suit. Knowing which shirt to wear for the occasion can save you a lot of work (and potential embarrassment). Following these principles will allow you to stay on-trend while looking like you really do belong at your next event.


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