November 1, 2004
For the Shirt Savvy
The dress shirt is the staple of every man’s wardrobe. It’s the foundation for his suit and distinguishing accessories. That’s why comfort and fit are so important to overall dress. And once you discover how well a fine dress shirt shapes your look, Angie Ridgeway, who has run the Ike Behar showroom in New York City for over 20 years, says you won’t ever want to button up anything else.
When Ridgeway joined the design company in 1982, she admits she knew little about detailed appointment. Today, she dresses a broad range of corporate executives, businessmen, and entertainers. She offers her expertise to finding a better fit.
Watch the pocket. Fine shirts tend to not be fitted with pockets, unless it has a button-down collar. “Men would tend to put their glasses and pens in those pockets. Those were considered working shirts.” Also, all shirt patterns should align perfectly where the pocket is sewn. “There should be continuity on stripes and all other designs.” The same should apply for the cuffs.
Check the fabric. Better shirts are constructed in natural fibers. Ike Behar offers three levels of fabric counts: 100 for its Black label; 140 for the Gold; 150 to 160 for its high-end Loro Piana. Loro Piana is the maker of the finest cashmere in the world. “Shirts with counts higher than that are too soft, wrinkle very easily, and are hard to wear.”
Look for detail. “Look for single-needle stitching throughout, which indicates the seam is carefully sewn twice.” That provides reinforcement on construction, but it also flattens the seam, which provides a more comfortable fit. Ike Behar’s special features include a split yoke cut on a 45 degree bias, which offers stretch and a smoother fit at the neck; two additional inches on the length to prevent the shirt from riding above the pant waist; and Mother of Pearl buttons.
Know the trends. Vibrant color is gaining momentum even for conservative dressers. New palettes include what Ridgeway calls ice cream colors in designs of herringbone and antique stripes. Monograms are off the sleeve and now positioned the third or fourth button down and usually in a soft pearl gray. “It’s less conspicuous.” Tuxedo shirts by Ike Behar offer a semi-spread collar to accommodate the trend of wearing straight ties at formal affairs. They are also now fitted with removable tape, so a man can sport his own accessories.