I ought to point out at this point in proceedings that men should expect to pay a bit more for their clothes – but own less and buy things less often.
Try if you can, if you have started having a conversation about clothes with a man, to make him understand that multi-packs of 3 white t-shirts from SportsDirect are a false economy – also potentially unethical (if he might respond to that).
So, yes, I will be suggesting some slightly more expensive stuff than usual precisely because I know how much a lot of men don’t like shopping and don’t want to do it often Buy cheap, buy twice!
Further game plan notes: if you do manage to get a man to buy and wear something new that you like on him, go totally overboard. “You look TERRIFIC,” you should say. “That looks AMAZING on you.” They really need to hear that kind of thing. They’re 80% doing it to please you anyway.
Anyway here we go – please bear in mind these are all recommendations for summer (or should I say “summer”) – Autumn/Winter will come later, which is why no knitwear suggestions.
T-shirts and polo shirts are for men just as much of a cornerstone of their wardrobes as ours.
It really is important to get a good quality t-shirt, which will retain its shape, not go see-through or highlight any
moobs small physical imperfections.
The same rules apply to men’s capsule clothing as women – stick to navy, grey and white and then everything will go with everything else. They can be worn on their own or under an open checked shirt or a sweater.
Sunspel and J Crew are my current favourites for T-shirts for men.
This from Sunspel is nice, but have a poke around and see if there’s anything else you like. Dodge anything claret coloured or, like moss green. NOT CAPSULE. I can’t vouch for the polo shirts, but Sunspel is an excellent brand, you can buy with confidence.
Giles has multiples of these “broken-in” t shirts from J Crew in different, plain colours.
And look, how can this polo shirt not be really, really great?
Every man needs a checked shirt. If yours doesn’t have one, get one. I know – they have become something of a hipster cliche in recent years, but everyone is still wearing them, so why deny yourself the ease and convenience of a checked shirt just because you’re scared of hipsters?
As we slip into AW17, I think this colour way from Hilfiger is nice
This is beautiful from Folk, ignore the ridiculous way it has been styled here, no-one expects a man to wear his shirt like this.
This is good from AllSaints
Giles has his shirts made by a tailor in London called The Cad and the Dandy. This is because Giles, like most men, is a non-standard size. His particular quirk is that he has an absurdly huge neck measurement and giant shoulders but a small waist and not the arm length to go with it.
A bespoke shirt works out at £120 each – I think they get cheaper the more you buy – and if I was a man and needed work shirts, I would get five made, (writing the cost off against tax if I was self-employed), and just be done with it and never think about it again until the armpits got holes in them from toxic sweat/deodorant reaction.
Please, if anyone else has great recommendations for good quality work shirts for men, leave a comment! For very tall men, if you missed it in the comments. Charles Tyrwhitt is a good non-bespoke option.
I must point out there that no man should ever wear a white shirt during the day. White shirts in the day are for waiters and school boys. During the day, men ought to wear pale blue or pale pink shirts, nothing else will do.
There was a comment about white shirts not showing sweat stains during stressful work days/presentations. I am very sympathetic to this, no-one wants pit stains at the best of times. I guess I don’t have an argument against that, but perhaps on non-very stressful days he might wear another colour?
Non-check casual shirts.
This kind of shirt is very useful in a smart-casual situation, from J Crew – home of smart-casual. In fact, I think they might have invented the term. It can be worn on its own or over one of his new white Sunspel T-shirts. Later in the year, it can slip under a sweater.
A reasonably new and clean sweatshirt will take you pretty much anywhere. An absolute essential for the modern man.
I like this one from Scotch & Soda
and of course this one from Ralph Lauren is a classic
Well – I have to say that my man ticks all these boxes!! Loving this and looking forward to autumn/winter for men and women. My son taught me some time ago the concept of ‘cost per wear’ and it took a bit of time to get used to but it works – I shuddered at buying the jeans he wanted but they lasted him throughout uni and they are still not worn out 7 years on! They have more than paid for themselves! Thanks for this Esther!
I can’t recommend any shirts, but my husband wears these under his work shirts for any sweaty moments.
He doesn’t really sweat. He just thinks he looks like Don Draper. He doesn’t.
yes but Sudge let him dream x
I asked my husband – he of T.M. Lewin blue shirt wearing fame, see below – who he thought he looked like in his T.M Lewin shirts and he said.
Vicky Holding says
Loving this…but we need a Giles speed up video! Thanks Esther! x
ha ha! I know he’s come over all shy x
Love all this – I echo Sunspel for good quality. J crew annoys me for being absurdly pricey compared to in the US and having quite slow delivery. BUT still much better than most other U.K. Stores in terms of choice. Also the people who work in their stores are SO helpful as you try to make sense of their sizing- less intimidating for the non shopping male than many stores.
I wanted to add COS as a great source for staple (grey/ navy/ black) t shirts for men- nice thick cotton that hangs well. everything else is a bit odd. Much like the women’s section I guess.
My husband used to get bespoke shirts at Emma Willis – I’ll check out Giles’ one now, thanks for the tip!
My husband swears by Thos Pink; says Tyrwhitt’s has gone downhill. Tyrwhitt’s also – this is my observation – fuse the collars and double cuffs which is bad from a quality tailoring point of view, but only matters if you’re a purist. Emma Willis makes her shirts in Gloucester, as do Turnbull & Asser, though they have a light industrial unit next to a brilliant locksmith, not a snazzy townhouse.
Jane Marland (@janehandmade) says
Oooh, The Cad and the Dandy offer git vouchers for bespoke shirts – that’s my husband’s Xmas present sorted, thanks Esther! He’s slim but has a weirdly broad upper back. I can sew, so in theory I could make him a bespoke shirt myself, but who can be arsed to do that?! x
yes Jane QUITE who can be arsed. also I defy your husband not to have an amazing time at the Cad and the Dandy – they have a beautiful office and are incredibly welcoming, helpful and non-snobby – he can pick out all different kinds of material and the shirt will be so incredible he will want more xxxx
My wife directed me here, and I can confirm C&D are great – there’s also the added bonus (risk?) of bumping into Giles himself as I have done on a couple of occasions.
And Sunspel stuff is amazing obviously.
a COUPLE of occasions???
I suspect Giles is a far better customer than I am.
Tom B says
I have done reasonably well again today though I am guilty of cheap t-shirts and quite a few moss green items tsk tsk! Now the cost thing…….the concept that got me (a Yorkshireman by birth – we expect value) at least willing to spend is ‘cost per wear’* yes an item may cost a lot but if you wear it loads it owes you nothing by the time it is demoted to ‘DIY-wear’! I also totally get the ethics thing too.
* I’d love to claim credit for this concept but it is from my very significant other’s son a wise, young, and actually well dressed lawyer!
Big T.M. Lewin fans here. My husband takes great pride in his enormous collection of blue-and-white T.M. Lewin slim fit shirts. They fit well – he’s reasonably tall and slim (skinny) with a wide back and shoulders – have a great selection of fabrics from traditional to modern, are cheap, and last the distance until the armpits are uurrgh. We operate a no-iron household, so my husband just gives them a brisk flick as they come out of the washing machine.
I have a weird theory that men MUST wear a collar and think my husband looks ridiculous – laughable – in a t-shirt. Is anyone else in this camp?
I like a collar. I think t shirts maybe look quite good on stocky builds but can be a bit teenagery on tall and lanky?
Cindy yes, if you are very slim or thin (applies to girls as well as boys) you can benefit from a bit of structure
Yes, teenagery – that is it. They also don’t work with a thick neck or a bit of chub. Pretty unforgiving things. They look more than a bit of alright on the J-Crew model in Esther’s post though!
I had to have a second glance, but yes he just manages to pull the look off I think.
not me but Flopsy this is definitely a widespread attitude
Yes. T-shirts on their own are for the under 25’s only.
I laughed at this as my other half is currently wearing a claret tee from Topman that is literally the only thing he’s bought this year, apart from a three-pack of white ones from Sainsbury’s. And it has CAP SLEEVES.
For the white shirt problem – my husband has a navy and white shirt in a very fine check – gingham-like I guess, but not really with that vibe – and though I doubt very much he ever breaks into a sweat at work, I would say it would not show through as it would on a plain pale colour, so perhaps something like that as an alternative? He looks very good in it anyway.
Can I just say this installment has really opened my eyes to how enjoyable browsing for menswear is, I mean it is a *bit* of a chore clicking on picture after picture of the ugly unfit dudes modelling the stuff, but knowing I will bring joy to my loved one at the end of it keeps me going.
Cindy thank you for this helpful and instructive comment
If anyone wants to stop sweating from their armpits they should try either Driclor or Drysol. They’re special roll on deodorant treatments that you use at night. Seriously amazing and saves you from having to toss clothes away once that weird white chalk begins to build up.
Brooks Brothers non-iron for work shirts – winners.
Thanks for the Cad and the Dandy recommendation!
My husband, who thinks he is the menswear oracle, gets his shirts from Coton Doux in Paris which is not too expensive. Re yesterday’s post, I have been trying to get him into desert boots for years and tried again by sending him the shoes link and he still will not budge because he doesn’t want to look like a “Boden model” and I have been LOLing for over 24hrs now #thestruggle
Sasha B says
Yesterday, I sent an email to Mr B with a link to the fabby desert boots, how lovely they’d look on him, giving examples of multiple outfits he could wear with, Clarks usually wide fit so his superwide feet amply taken care of etc etc etc
Got a reply back, “No”.
Have tried again with one more tiny link to the J Crew navy polo shirt today. No reply, yet. Ughhhhh. Am trying!
My husband bizarrely said “yes! Those are just what I’ve been thinking about!” before the phrase desert boot had entirely left my lips. Maybe he looked through the transfer window and saw someone wearing some, as to my knowledge that is all he usually thinks about. It was a pleasant surprise after the grimace I received upon uttering “Birkenstock” in his vicinity.
some men are beyond help x
Tried for years to get husband into desert boots and he was stubbornly resistant until I left onside favourite travel mags casually lying open at the page where Anthony Bourdain (his absolute boy crush) cited them as his number one take-everywhere footwear. Now he lives in them.
Generally he is doing pretty well on the capsule wardrobe stakes (although I have given up ever trying to get him into espadrilles and I have banned deck shoes) and is looking pretty sharp these days. His uniform is white shirt, jacket and selvedge denim and he looks great in it. TBF I have a similar uniform. Our predilection for white shirts is as strong as your prejudice against them, Esther. I get your point about literal uniform aspect but I don’t think that generally men need to worry unless it’s a very cheap one which they are accessorising with a tray and/or name badge.
Madeleine your counter-argument is noted
My husband wears white shirts most days to work, but hopefully as he’s in the forces he is let off this one? He actually tells people that’s why he joined up “so I don’t have to decide what to wear”.
Of COURSE – soldiers can do what they hell they like – that’s also a perfectly good reason for signing up
Better not tell him that! I went to a work BBQ of his recently to which he wore his most *hideous* shirt (on purpose) and was widely congratulated on it. ARGH!! It’s a bit of a tradition among sailors to try and out do each other on this, but at least it normally happens when they’re safely miles away at sea!
sorry but this is adorable
jonathan lord says
Loving these articles. Is ‘articles’ right word? Anyway… Drakes of London shirts are my greatest discovery of the last couple of years. Not the cheapest but a great fit for those with broad shoulders and super comfortable. Also Emmett are worth a look and Gant Rugger for casual oxfords. In anticipation of your next post… Incotex for the greatest chinos
Hello Jonathan they are technically “posts”. Thank you for these recommendations
We are getting there after a bad bad start when on our first summer holiday together he appeared on the beach in his Jermyn St shirt (sleeves rolled up mind, and no cufflinks), school rugby shorts and running shoes. My husband now invariably wears navy, black, white and grey, and has embraced the well fitting white T shirt. He thinks he’s channelling Tom Ford (true only to the extent of the receding hairline). However shoes are a perennial issue. He goes a bit bonkers in shoe shops (esp at airports) and buys weird shoes, always too small and usually expensive. Perhaps it’s displaced panic about flying or something. Will print off pics of desert boots with Tom Ford’s face superimposed on the model and leave them casually strewn around.
By the way, I think back in the day there was a house rule at IBM in the US that employees must always wear a blue (or was it white) shirt, which meant that everyone who didn’t work at IBM avoided the blue (or was it white) shirt for fear of being mistaken for an IBM drone.
Tania I love this historical detail, thank you x
My top menswear tip is to take them shopping to a department store – John Lewis, obviously, for preference – and that way they can try lots of different brands but will genuinely think THEY HAVE ONLY BEEN TO ONE SHOP! A friend passed me on this gem and it works a treat. Much easier than hauling them in and out of several smaller stores: two hours round JL’s, then take them for a scone if they’ve been good.
That said, I would like to see my man in a slightly vintage waistcoat that he can wear with smart jeans. Not capsule, I know, but any suggestions?
My husband swears by Emma Willis. Agreed they’re a bit spenny but they wash beautifully, not dry clean only like lots of lazy brands, and they seem to last really well. He has had new collars and cuff put on some as well when they start looking tired, rather than buying new ones. I think for work shirts spending a bit extra on bespoke is really worth it as the fit makes all the difference. For t-shirts he always buys Uniqlo, they are amazingly cheap for the quality and don’t have any weird detailing. Folk and APC are great for shirts and sweaters.
Lucy John says
Only skim reading this as I am categorically not allowed to buy my husband clothes. He has a style which I am, on the whole, happy with… however, one thing that does annoy me is how he tries to wear his shirts like the model in the pale check! I call this “Gavlah” style a la Gavin from Gavin and Stacy. Luckily, one quote from Corden means he quickly unbuttons the top button. A month or so ago I was reading your husband’s Times Column about Prince William dressing in “off duty” Sandhurst uniform of blue/pink shirt tucked into jeans with loafers. This really made me laugh! Made me reflect that I’d take Gavlah over that any day of the week.