Are you interested in shirts, and want to learn about the history of this great piece of clothing? Understand how shirts became part of the classic business outfit? What are the classic business shirts and what are the modern business shirts? Are you unsure what differentiates smart casual and business casual? And want to understand when a shirt fits properly? And what are the quality characteristics? To be able to recognize the details of a good shirt? And as a tall man, know what to look for in shirts based on your figure?
Then take a nice drink to hand, and read in peace our guide. We at RIESENHEMD Hamburg as a manufacturer of exclusive men’s shirts for tall men are happy to share our knowledge with you – because we love shirts, and put all our energy into designing and manufacturing great shirts for long men.
A bit of history
Today, the men’s shirt is a core piece of the men’s wardrobe. However, this was not always so. Until the middle of the 18th century, shirts were rather a part of the underwear, closed without buttons on the front, and with removable interchangeable collar That the shirt was for a long time rather a part of the underwear, you can see also in the origin of the name – the shirt comes from the medieval word “Hemedi”, which means skin.
From the middle of the 19th century, the shirt became a status symbol – those who could wear a white shirt showed that they could afford to wash such a shirt and did not have to do manual labor. The shirt in its current form (with the collar turned down, and buttons in the front) then established itself as part of the business wardrobe at the beginning of the 20th century.
Shirts as part of the business outfit
Even if the business outfit is a little less strict and uniform nowadays – a shirt is still an elementary part of the business wardrobe. A fine shirt sends a signal that you want to be taken seriously in business. And in many industries it is still obligatory to wear the classic combination of a good suit, an attractive shirt, a proper belt and coordinated dark leather shoes – only the tie, for years a must, is now omitted from time to time even in the financial sector and among lawyers.
But even in creative industries, a shirt always makes a positive statement – even though shirts with different patterns and colors can often be worn here than in the classic business wardrobe.
Especially when it comes to making a good first impression – be it at a job interview, be it at a sales meeting, or at a dinner – you certainly won’t go wrong with a nice shirt in a classic design. Remember – more than 70% of the impression you make is shaped by appearances – like your appearance, your voice, your smile, and your clothes.
Classic and modern business shirts
The classic of the business wardrobe is the white dress shirt. It is very elegant and can be perfectly combined with a suit. Glossy white and neatly ironed, it puts its wearer in the best light.
Equally well dressed is a business shirt in a fine light blue fabric – it is also impossible to imagine professional life without this shirt and combines very well with all classic suit colors. It is a little less formal than the white dress shirt, but still very elegant.
But other types of shirts can also be worn in business – subtle patterns, fine stripes and checks (for example, in different shades of blue) have long been established, and bring a little more dynamism to the shirt. Slightly reddish and pink shirts can also be found in business shirts – but refrain from wearing colors and coarse patterns that are too screaming – these have no place in the business world. Especially as a tall man who offers a lot of visible space, less is often more in terms of patterns and colors.
Smart Casual, Business Casual, “come as you are” – wie jetzt?
Due to the fact that in the working world the uniform style of suit, shirt, tie is increasingly dissolving with regard to clothing, the question naturally remains as to what terms such as business casual and smart casual mean when you turn up at invitations.
But you shouldn’t be fooled by the word casual – it doesn’t mean casual clothes. Business casual is usually a suit, an elegant shirt, and leather shoes, but no tie. It is also possible to combine a jacket, cloth trousers and a shirt, but the jacket should be elegant. In no case you can wear jeans or boat shoes or sneakers
Smart casual is a little less formal. Cloth trousers, but also quiet cotton pants (chinos) or corduroy pants (finely ribbed) are possible. The first choice is still a shirt, but in summer it can also be a plain polo shirt, preferably in combination with a fine V-neck sweater.
“Come-as-you-are” – not just a Nirvana song lyric, but sometimes seen on business evening invitations. The rule here is simple – suit and shirt, but no tie. Definitely no jeans or casual look – the “come as you are” refers to the office look.
When does a shirt fit right?
The shirt must fit the torso and should be neither too wide nor too tight. The arm length should be such that the edge of the cuff at the wrist stops approximately at the thumb bone. Especially tall “normal-slim” men do not have it easy to find suitable shirts – often they are either too short at the sleeves, or – if they fit at the sleeves – much too wide at the body. That’s why RIESENHEMD Hamburg has its own cut – longer in the front and back without going wide – more fitted in our Slim Fit shirts, slightly fitted in our Modern Fit shirts. And of course with extra long sleeves of 72 cm – suitable for men over 1.90 meters.
But when is a shirt a good fit? If one of the following occurs when you look in the mirror, then unfortunately the shirt is not the right size for your body:
- If the button opens at the chest or stomach, the shirt is too tight
- If the shirt comes out of the pants when bending, the shirt is too short
- If you can not move the sleeves well, the shirt is too tight
- If you can’t see the cuff of the shirt when wearing a jacket, the sleeves are too short (or the jacket too long)
- If you look like a potato sack, the shirt is too wide
At the neck, with the collar closed, you should have about a finger’s width of air. And: if you wear a tie, you should always have all buttons closed.
Features of a high quality shirt
A high quality shirt is characterized by a great fabric, careful workmanship and interesting, well thought-out design details.
The fabric of a shirt must feel good on the skin, because you wear a shirt for several hours a day. Shirts made of cotton are best, as they are very breathable. Linen is also very comfortable, but wrinkles easily and is therefore rather not suitable for the business look. When it comes to cotton shirts, you should make sure that the fabrics are not too thin – “see-through” fabrics are an absolute no-go in business.
Fabrics vary greatly in the quality of the fiber, the type of yarns, and the weave. Finer fabrics are usually a little thicker, thus also last longer, are still supple and feel silky and pleasant on contact with the skin. RIESENHEMD Hamburg uses only high quality fabrics made of European cotton, which are also tested and certified for harmful substances according to the strict “OEKO-TEX® – STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX” procedure.
Fabrics that are labeled “non-iron” are of course practical, as they require minimal ironing. However, these fabrics are chemically treated and have a lower breathing function than shirts made of pure untreated cotton. RIESENHEMD Hamburg’s “easy-iron” shirts, on the other hand, have no chemical additives, and can still be made office-ready with less ironing than normal.
Also important is the careful processing of a shirt – this is another way to recognize the quality. When sewing, make sure that the number of stitches is as high as possible – then the seam will last longer. At RIESENHEMD Hamburg, for example, we use 8 stitches per cm – this should make our shirts last as long as possible.
And then there are a few design details that show whether a shirt was made with the demand for quality. At RIESENHEMD Hamburg, for example, we make sure that the buttons and the thread used for the buttonholes match the fabric of the shirt well. For some shirts, where we think this goes well with the design, we use other fabrics in the inside collar and inside the cuffs that match the color of the main fabric. And our cuffs tend to be softer, so they flow smoothly over the wrist. And we have two buttons on the cuff – so you can match the width of the cuff to whether you are wearing a wristwatch or not; in addition, our cuffs can also be closed with cufflinks, because we use a combination cuff that can be closed both via the sewn-on buttons and by separate cufflink.
Design is important – we at RIESENHEMD Hamburg consider all details carefully before we produce a shirt
Collar, placket, cuff – the most important “features” of business shirts
The different shirt collars
Each manufacturer has its own collar shapes (and sometimes calls them something else), but they can basically be divided into four main categories
The classic: Kent collar
The Kent collar is the classic among shirt collars and can be found on both business and casual shirts. The collar legs are relatively pointed, and so the collar can be combined well with all kinds of tie knots. The Kent collar stretches visually a little, so we at RIESENHEMD Hamburg have a slightly shorter version of the Kent collar in use for our large clientele, often called Italian Kent collar or Modern Kent.
Modern: The shark collar
The shark collar, also called cutaway collar or shark collar, is currently the most modern collar shape. This collar is characterized by the widely spaced collar wings. If you use shark collar shirts and tie, you should tie a thicker knot, so that the space between the collars is also properly filled.
Tall gentlemen look good in a shark collar, because it contrasts with the usually elongated faces of long-grown men.
Our collars (clockwise from top left): Shark collar, traditional Kent collar, modern Kent collar
Formal: The Tab Collar
The Tab collar is a very formal collar that is always worn with a tie. It is similar to the Kent collar, but is cut a little tighter, and should therefore rather be worn with thinly tied tie knots. The special thing about the collar is the bar that connects the two collars and thus ensures a perfect fit of the tie.
For leisure: The button-down collar
The button-down collar is very popular with casual shirts, but tends not to be found in the business wardrobe. As the name suggests, the collar wing is connected to the shirt by a button, approximately at the level of the collarbone. The button-down collar should always be worn buttoned.
Within these four major collar styles, there are countless variations on the part of the various shirt manufacturers; in addition, there are very specific other collar styles, such as the stand-up collar, also called the Mao collar, which has recently made a comeback in casual shirts. And, of course, there is the flapped collar, which is worn with a tuxedo and is often referred to as a tuxedo collar.
The button bar
Page early 19th century, it is common for shirts to have buttons on the front, allowing the shirt to be opened (instead of being pulled over the head as before). The button placket is thus an elementary part of the shirt design.
Particularly elegant and therefore often found on business shirts is the simple button placket, also called smooth button placket or French placket. Here, the buttons are sewn onto the front of the shirt and the fabric folds back once again.
Somewhat more durable, and therefore found on casual shirts as well as business shirts, is the patch button placket. Here, an extra portion of fabric is sewn onto the front of the shirt, on which the buttons then sit.
Our button plackets: patch button placket, French button placket
Occasionally you will also find concealed button plackets, for example on tuxedo shirts. Here the buttons are hidden under an extra layer of fabric, so that they are not visible when buttoned. This is very elegant, but nevertheless this form of button placket is used more and more rarely.
The cuffs of a shirt
The sleeves of a shirt end with the cuff. There are different ways in which this cuff is designed. Roughly speaking, we can distinguish between sports cuffs, combination cuffs and turn-up cuffs. These are then either straight, rounded or beveled in design towards the end.
The simple cuff, also called a sport cuff, is the most common cuff style. It is popular for both business and casual shirts and is worn without separate cuff links. The cuff is closed with one, two or even three buttons sewn on the sleeve. Often there are two holes(rows), so that you can regulate the width of the sleeve at the wrist, for example, to leave room for a watch.
The combination cuff has both sewn on buttons like the sports cuff, but in addition to the buttons also another hole with which you can alternatively close the cuff with separate cufflinks.
Our beveled combination cuff – can be closed by cufflink as well as by the sewn-on buttons
The turn-up cuff, also called double cuff, is certainly the most elegant and at the same time the most formal type of cuff. As the name suggests, the sleeves here are significantly longer, but at the height of the cuff, the sleeve is folded over, and the then double fabric here is held together by a separate cuff link.
RIESENHEMD Hamburg offers both combination cuffs and turn-up cuffs (for the Paris and Rome models).
Our cuffs (clockwise from top left): chamfered combination cuff, rounded combination cuff, turn-up cuff
Some other points worth knowing about shirts
In business, people always wear their shirts inside their pants (so they should be long enough). There are even special holders and tricks that can prevent the shirts from slipping out.
If you wear the shirt outside the pants in the leisure area, the shirt should ideally end in the middle of the buttocks. If it is too short, you may see the belly and underpants, which you should avoid in any case as a gentleman.
With tie and bow tie you should always have the shirt completely closed, i.e. all buttons are in use. Without a tie, in business you leave only the top button open; in casual wear you can leave one more button open.
Under the shirt, you either wear nothing or a thin undershirt that fits closely to the body. The undershirt should be cut so that it is not visible even when the button is open. With white shirts, it is ideal if the undershirt is skin-colored, then you usually can’t see it. In no case should you wear a T-shirt under the shirt, which is then also visible.
Short-sleeved shirts have no place in the business world; they should be worn purely for leisure. And the same applies to long-sleeved shirts: rolling up the sleeves is actually taboo in the office, unless it’s absolutely hot. When in doubt, don’t be the first to start rolling up your sleeves, unless you’re the boss.
Proper care is important – then the shirts last longer and look like new
And – even if you have your favorite shirts – like any article of clothing, shirts wear out and should be sorted out and replaced after a certain amount of wear – see our article on “spring cleaning for shirts”
What you should pay attention to as a big man
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as a tall man, so you look simply classy in your shirt:
- The shirt should fit well (see above) – so take special care that it is long enough so that it doesn’t slip out of your pants after sitting down and standing up a few times. And look at the sleeves, that they are long enough – if under a jacket only the hand but not the shirt looks out, then the shirt is too short, you should be able to see at least 1-2 cm of the shirt sleeve
- Avoid too strong colors and restless designs – because the shirts have a lot of surface area on the body due to your size, and too much in color and design then usually does not look very elegant. Less is more!
- If you have an elongated face (which many tall men have), then shark collar shirts with a wide tie can suit you very well
Do you want to learn even more about fashion tips for tall men? Then read our article “7 fashion tips for tall men”.
We hope that this brief overview of shirts was interesting for you. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact us (click here for the contact form).