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The Gentleman: Style Sins

The Clubbing Shirt

One would think that a gentleman would have a hard time messing up something as simple as a dress shirt. After all, it’s hard to go wrong with a white or a light blue button-up oxford. However, more and more, The Gentleman is seeing men wearing truly dreadful button-up shirts to job interviews and business formal events on his law school campus and out in the greater corporate world. After staring in puzzlement at jet black, shiny, or bright red oxfords, The Gentleman finally realized what was wrong. Guys have begun buying and wearing shirts that they are hoping will work both for professional events and nights out at the club. Thus, The Gentleman presents the third entry in his re-occurring “Style Sins” feature: “The Clubbing Shirt.”

The Gentleman has no opinion about the overall quality or style of the Clubbing Shirt when it is actually worn to a club. For that matter, The Gentleman has no official opinion about night clubs in general. However, when a man begins wearing a Clubbing Shirt during the day, things start to go awry.

A Clubbing Shirt is always very tight-fitting, even more so than a slim-fit shirt and is usually either jet black, or a bold blue or red. Clubbing Shirts are also frequently shiny. Below is a very typical Clubbing Shirt from Dolce & Gabbana.

Dolce Gabbana Striped ShirtPhoto Credit: Dolce & Gabbana

It doesn’t look bad here. Though, I would point out that unless you are as fit as the model in this picture, you are likely going to look a good bit sillier than the model because of how tapered the shirt is in the waist.

Now, let’s throw a gray suit on over that black shirt and see what happens.

Gray Suit with Dark ShirtPhoto Credit: ImageShack

Suddenly, you look like you belong in a high school production of “Guys and Dolls.” That is not a good thing. Wearing a trendy black shirt under a suit gives off an aura of self-consciousness. It’s almost as if you’re embarrassed to be wearing a suit, so you put on your most fashion forward shirt to prove that you are still cool. The result is disjointed and cheap looking.

What kinds of shirts are off-limits? In addition to black shirts of any kind, red and bright blue or teal are simply too vivid to be worn in a professional environment. Think of a shirt as a blank canvas. You will wear other accessories, like your tie and your pocket square, to bring life and energy to your ensemble. Notice how this gentleman’s red shirt drowns out his tie:

Black Suit with Red ShirtIdentity hidden to protect the innocent.

White, light blue and pale pink shirts are a gentleman’s safest choices because they are subdued and allow for a great deal of contrast with ties and pocket squares. Once you have developed a stable rotation of those colors, understated pinstripes and checked shirts ought to be added. I’ll spend more time talking about advanced shirt and tie pairings in a future article.

For now, just remember The Gentleman wants to be sure that you never wear this guy’s shirt to the office:

Guido JuiceheadGuido Halloween Costume courtesy of my former roommate, Chris.

Next week, The Gentleman interviews a law school classmate who has started in his own clothing company…

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