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How To Dress Up Or Dress Down Your Shirt

by Muneeb Khan on April 11, 2023

Choosing the right outfit for any occasion can be tricky, but when it comes to dressing up or dressing down your shirt, it can be particularly challenging. It can be tough to know whether to go for a more formal or more casual look, especially when you are dealing with high-end formal shirts that come in a variety of colors, materials, collars, patterns, and fits. In this blog post, we'll identify the key characteristics of the formal shirts in Pakistan that you need to consider before deciding how to dress it up or dress it down.

The Material

The primary aspect to consider while selecting your men's formal shirts is their fabric composition. Does it comprise crisp, lustrous, premium-grade, high-thread-count, and superior-quality cotton? The quality of the fabric can significantly impact the level of formality or informality exuded by the shirt. Typically, premium-grade cotton is linked with more formal attire, whereas cheaper fabrics tend to generate a more casual vibe.

Must read: Pros & Cons of Different Fabrics For Dress Shirts

The Collar

The second important feature is to identify the collar. One must scrutinize whether it is of a robust make, exhibiting a defined shape, or is it of a softer variety. It is worth noting that a collar that is hard tends to exude formality referring to formal shirts for men, whereas a collar that is malleable is considered a more laid-back, casual look.

The Color and Pattern

One must consider the color and pattern of your branded formal shirts as a crucial aspect to determine their formality. Does the hue of your shirt lean towards a paler tone, or is it the type of color that is suitable for professional settings? The pattern of your shirt is also worth considering, whether it features pinstripes, elaborate stripes, simple Jacquard, or a printed design. Typically, muted hues and patterns that are appropriate for corporate environments are more formal, while vibrant and bold patterns are more informal.

The Fit of Your Shirt

The final characteristic to identify is the fit. Some fits are loose, semi-tailored, or classic, while others are body-fitted. The fit of your shirt can also affect how formal or casual it looks. Loose or semi-tailored fits are generally more casual, while classic and body-fitted fits are more formal.

Dressing Down a Formal Shirt

If you have a high-end formal shirt with qualities such as crisp, 120-count cotton, a light color, a classic collar, and a semi-tailored or classic fit, then generally, it needs to be dressed down. One classic method to dress down such a shirt is to wear it with a pair of jeans, a suede or woven leather belt, and a pair of suede shoes or boots. This creates a classic but casual look that adds a touch of class while maintaining symmetry with the shirt.

Woven belts, in particular, are a great choice for dressing down formal shirts, especially high-end woven belts with expensive buckles. These belts are woven like ropes and add a touch of casualness to the outfit while still showing off your defined taste.

For a more formal but still casual look, you can also wear your high-end formal shirt with a pair of Bermuda shorts (preferably in a twill Guff finish) and a semi-formal belt. Bermuda shorts are cotton shorts that fall within the semi-formal category and can be paired with a tucked-in formal shirt for a dressier yet casual look. This works well for shirts with fancy stripes, herringbones, or jacquard finishes.

Dressing Up a Casual Shirt

If you have a shirt made of low-count cotton, fall or Guff shirt, a bomb wool cotton shirt, or a shirt with a soft collar and darker printed patterns, it falls within the category of a semi-formal casual shirt that is becoming more common in the workplace especially if you're an architect, self-employed, or an assistant and still want to look presentable and professional. Although these can be challenging to dress up, you can still dress to impress with these loose-fitting casual shirts.

One of the best ways to dress up these casual shirts is to pair them with khaki pants or "peach twelve pants," available in a few basic colors such as light khaki, dark khaki, and navy blue. The basic fall of the shirt and the basic fall of the pant must be common. This way, you can wear them at the office as well. But remember, not in a very, very corporate environment.

Moving on to the color of your pants. It is imperative that the trouser color be darker than the shirt itself. This will create a nice contrast and make you look more put-together.

Adding on shoes, Oxford shoes or any lace-ups would be recommended to be worn with these shirts and trousers. Why? Because the formal or lace-ups usually will dress up such a combination. You should not forget to wear your socks with these combinations.

If you are wearing a belt with your casual shirt. Instead of a woven belt, it is recommended one must wear a plain belt. This adds formal elements to your shirt or your combination and dresses it up.

Now, let's talk about ties. The ties of these shirts are very specific, though. They will not be very high-end ties with high-end silk, but very often woven ties and ties which are slightly thinner, which nowadays commonly are also worn with button-downs.

Sometimes, often during meetings, these shirts can also further be dressed up with a semiformal jacket or blazer. If you want to add more flair to your outfit, you can wear a semiformal jacket or blazer. But keep in mind that this cannot be a high-end lightweight cool blazer. Instead, it should be something that would be a woollen blazer, heavier set, with a little more casual finish and lesser interlay. The fall of the jacket would be similar to that of the shirt and the trouser.

So, there you have it! Some tips on what to wear to look professional even in a non-corporate environment. With these tips, you'll be ready to impress.