Depending on the collar, the men’s shirt tells a story, but above all describes the man who wears it: formal and elegant, relaxed, casual or workaholic. Different models for different needs. The button-down, cornerstone of the Alexander Mcqueen shirts collection for example, is the most casual and less formal, wearable both at work and in leisure and strictly without tie. The kent-collar, or Italian collar, is the classic par excellence such as the Ralph Lauren shirts, which, with its straight and narrow tips is wearable at all times and is the favorite of all businessmen, including Patrick Bateman. The collar is with triangular wings and shows the first button of the shirt: it is the most popular model and is suitable for both an elegant and more casual look. The cutaway-collar, or the French collar shirt, is one of the most versatile, with open tips and very reduced as we can see in the models of Hugo Boss shirts; has the wings more open and the first button is much more visible. The collar with the buttons is much sporty than the first two, suitable for an evening with friends or a working day but not for official events. The Oxford, the classic underjacket, is one of a kind piece in the Giorgio Armani shirts collection. They can be both worn out and stretch like those of Dondup, super suitable for a decidedly younger audience or regular Tommy Hilfiger shirts. The one with the Korean collar finally, of Asian mold, is without collar, and being much cooler, is not only casual, but also more suitable for hot seasons and you can buy it among the proposals of Low Brand shirts.
Even the cuffs of men’s shirts play a fundamental role, so as to characterize the entire style of the same. The rule says they should adhere to the wrist, but never tight. Also for these, there is a wide choice including: the blunt cuff is the most common and casual and can be combined with a classic collar, the round cuff instead, is more formal and refined, while the straight cuff is sporty and uncomplicated. Finally, the French cuff can be either without buttons or have a specific buttoning for cufflinks.
But let’s start from the beginning. This garment has very ancient origins, the first evidence of which dates back to the ancient Egyptians who, used the linen shirt, both to protect themselves from the scorching heat, and as underwear. Around the third century, the shirts appeared in ancient Rome as an intimate piece to be placed under the clothes. With the arrival of the Crusaders comes also the so-called camis, garment used by the Persian people. The front had a wide and rounded neckline, which allowed to show the musculature, while the sleeves were totally removable: it was possible to remove them and change them according to the occasions. In the house they wore modest and simple sleeves, while for official events, the most elaborate. Legend has it that it is in this period that the Italian saying "it’s all another pair of sleeves" is born. During the Middle Ages, these also became an important token of love: they were exchanged by lovers as if they were a sort of ring.
To the post-Renaissance period, however, we owe the birth of the arrangement of buttons: left for women and right for men. This was because women needed dressing assistants, and these, usually right-handed, thought it easier to tie shirts on the left side; men, on the other hand, accustomed to dressing themselves, they did not need a particular position of the buttons, which is however kept on the right.
Between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries we see the birth of what is called sham or "half shirt", a decorative tool used to cover only the upper part of the chest and worn over a shirt considered simpler. In the eighteenth century the shirt finally extends beyond the chest and becomes longer, to make up for the function of underwear. It is only with the advent of 1700 that, as it happened for shoes, even for men’s shirts a distinction is made between the elite and plebs: in the first case, in fact, these were embellished with details and precious fibers, with lace and lace, while the people had the possibility to wear only simpler shirts, with raw fabrics and not embroidered. Also the colour usually indicated a certain social class: the white, for example, could be worn only by the rich who, not working, did not need constant washing.
With the Industrial Revolution, the men’s shirt attracted all the attention: it was the favorite garment of the magnates who wore it with high and tight collars, especially during the elegant dinners.
In 1830 the detachable collar was invented: a housewife (genius!), tired of constantly washing her husband’s shirts, decided to cut a collar and found a way to attach it later on to the other shirts, as the saying goes: they all want the man in the shirt, but no one wants to wash it!
In the mid-19th century, all the collars and cuffs of men’s shirts became removable and sold separately. With the advent of the washing machine in the early 1900s, however, the shirt is back to being whole: cuffs and collar included. The latter also undergo a transformation: the pointed ones become predominant over the rounded ones and are preferred by businessmen.
In the '20s, the button-down shirt appeared in the male clientele, which, thanks to the two buttons, fixed the collar avoiding that it curled. At this time, it also became a distinctive feature of the political party: black for the fascists, brown for the Nazis.
In the 1950s, it was mainly the short-sleeved men’s shirt that struck the scene. Combined with a tie, it becomes popular especially among NASA professionals, who launch a real fashion among new generation employees.
In this period of freedom, tolerance and well-being that leaves behind a war just ended, in the air there is a strong desire for autonomy and youth thanks to the great stars of American cinema that make viewers dream. And that’s how the ideal of beauty and elegance strikes any man. In "North by Northwest", Cary Grant plays the English role of the refined gentleman in both manners and suit. Its key element: the strictly white men’s shirt. In this period the revolution not only touches the length of the sleeves but also the fabrics: each fabric, gives a different appearance and portability. The attention to the sartorial quality of this garment is the characteristic on which the Italian fashion of this period aims to be known overseas. In fact, it was in the 1950s that the concept of "Made in Italy" was born as a valuable indicator.
Ahhh the 60s. The years of civil disputes, of Woodstock, of desire for novelty. Also in fashion. And it is in fact in this era, that this garment is transformed totally becoming a means to express oneself thanks to the floral and optical patterns like those we find today in the Laneus shirts, and the bright colors as we can see in those signed Bagutta. The 1969 is also the year of the Skinheads movement, born in the suburbs of Great Britain where tartan shirts were the master. This kind of shirts is also recovered by the so-called Hooligans, stadium fans. Today this trend has been taken up by streetwear style. As you can see from the latest fashion shows, this model appears especially in the proposals of men’s shirts by Balenciaga, as in those of Palm Angels and Off-White.
Here we are in the '70s, where the fantasies change totally: on the shirts we find this time very small drawings, contrasting, inspired by the themes of nature or man’s crafts. Today, we find this kind of pattern in the Kiton shirts. In this period also triumphs a new fabric: denim. It is in these years, in fact, that the denim shirt (like those of Dsquared2 currently available) is popular, usually combined with flare pants.
The men’s shirt then becomes an iconic piece of high fashion thanks to Gianfranco Ferrè who inserts it into the classic white fashion shows of the 80s. Born in the 1920s, the Hawaiian shirt is at the height of its success. Worn by Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. it was then taken up by many high fashion brands and not only, starting from the Valentino shirts, but still is alive and well in the male wardrobe even in a more street version as happens for example in the proposals of Vans shirts.
Almost thirty years have passed but it seems like yesterday. We are talking about the '90s. Especially the grunge period, with which young people want to break all ties with the past. Fashion changes (but style remains!): the men’s shirts that dominate the scene are the checked shirts by Woolrich, often tied at the waist or worn over a white t-shirt (Kurt Cobain in primis). In those years movies and TV series become the real protagonists and their characters are fashion icons. How not to mention Dylan of Beverly Hills 90210 and his inevitable short-sleeved shirts, which still inspires more contemporary brands such as MSGM or Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" whose patchwork shirts now live on the catwalks of JW Anderson.
In 2000, fashion became a potpourri of styles and trends: vintage was revived, such as the 70s that come to life again in Gucci shirts, but also the boho, the indie with the paisley pattern of Etro shirts and finally the baroque typical of Versace. But it is in the 21st century that the men’s shirt is completely cleared of customs thanks to an increasingly genderless fashion. We find in fact many types: from avant-garde versions such as those of Comme des Garçons, animalier as the Saint Laurent shirts, oversize as the proposals of GCDS. All this goes through the timeless Burberry tartan shirts up to the ethnic ones like the Marcelo Burlon shirts.
Currently a phenomenon has taken hold strongly: logomania. The logo of a brand has always been something able to inspire identification, to make the millenials (the main targets of today’s fashion) feel part of a community, an exclusive and cool elite. Did you think that the shirts would be excluded from this phenomenon? Of course not! All the major brands have ventured into this new trend and the result is under everyone’s eyes: rain logos as on Dolce & Gabbana shirts or Valentino, which you can find among our proposals.
Among the major yarns, cotton is certainly the most widely used fabric for shirts. Then we find the fil a fil, very light fabric, adaptable to every season; the flannel, warm and soft for the winter so much used, then as today, in the Woolrich shirts, created by the brand itself, to protect the workers of Pennsylvania; the linen, fresh fabric, that protects from the sun of the hot summer days; the Oxford, which, with a braid between white and colored threads, is soft and very resistant. Silk, on the other hand, expensive, light and precious, immediately gives an elegant and refined look exactly as it happens for the twill that has an iridescent reflection, suitable for monochromatic shirts. Finally, we must mention poplin, a very light cotton, but soft and resistant at the same time that is the flagship of Prada shirts, along with those produced with Re-nylon fabric for its sustainable fashion project.
In short, from this point of view we can say that contemporary men are, to put it mildly, quite spoiled: myriad of collars, cuffs and cuts; as many choices of buttons as are the luminous bodies in the cosmos; numerous weights of fabric; custom embroidery, contrast stitching or monograms... A modern men’s shirt emporium is, for the informed dandy and not, an arcadic fulcrum of abundance: a place where "the agony of choice" is a disconcerting oxymoron!