A Brief History Of Men’s Dress Shirts

A Brief History Of Men's Dress Shirts

The old saying goes that “the clothes make the man”, and while a man should be judged on his own personal merits, dressing well certainly doesn’t hurt any, either! Sometimes men need to dress for success, and that means having a complete wardrobe at his disposal that can cover any situation!

Among the most important items of clothing hanging in a successful man’s closet are his dress shirts, they are the first thing he may put on in the morning, and they need to look sharp all day long! While white is always the most important colour to have on hand, having a variety of patterns and shades gives a man some versatility, and a well-planned look can really set him apart! 

History Of Men’s Dress Shirts

Considering the dress shirt’s importance to a man’s business and social life, let’s learn a bit about how this iconic and elegant item of clothing came to be! We will now journey back through time to discover its origins:

16th and 17th Century – Back in the old days, shirts were mostly used as undergarments or bedclothes. They were made of linen or wool, and were cut to be loose-fitting and comfortable for sleeping in. Some shirts were used as the protective foundation for fancier outer garments, a practice that lives on in the form of undershirts, worn to soak up perspiration before it could stain the outerwear! Over time the shirt made the transition from undergarment to a fashionable piece that could be worn proudly out on its own.

18th Century – This is when everything changed for men’s shirts and they went from being underwear to fashion statements! The refined and sophisticated gentleman wore shirts sporting fashionable ruffled cuffs and fronts, which came to be a symbol of high social standing. The 18th century was an extravagant era when the affluent favoured luxury and style, and can be considered to mark the birth of today’s high fashion. These fancy, frilly dress shirts were constructed from finely spun cotton and silk, materials that only the wealthy could afford, and had no real practicality beyond making the wearer look important and well-to-do! 

19th Century – This is the era in which the formal dress shirt’s French cuff was developed for, and made popular by France’s elites, and cuff links became a standard accessory. This is also when the button-down collar shirt came into popularity thanks to the British polo players who invented it to keep their collars from flapping in their faces as they rode their ponies around chasing a ball with long sticks. The concept spread beyond the sporting ranks and rose to become a common dress shirt style that is still popular today!

20th Century Onwards – The times changed, and so did dress shirts. Mass production helped to make them more streamlined with no frills, fostering the sleek, clean looks of today. No longer the sole province of the rich, men’s dress shirts are now worn by men from all walks of life, from store clerks to the CEOs of big business! 

The bigwigs may pay more for theirs, but they aren’t all that different from the common man’s, now anyone can look sharp in their dress shirts!

Magazine Union

About Author

Magazine Union, from the bustling US city, is a talented storyteller. With a creative writing degree and imagination, Magazine Union writers tackle complex social topics and human emotions. Poetry and keen analysis are our signature styles in short stories and novels. Magazine Union draws inspiration from nature, photography, and human stories when not reading. Magazine Union will demonstrate its commitment to producing heartfelt stories in the following short story collection.

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