Staple #18: The Winter-Weight Casual Button-Up Shirt
While it took little to no convincing to get men to upgrade from their graphic T’s to a simple, well-fitting T-shirt, many of you are still hesitant about jumping on the casual button-up bandwagon. I’ve already addressed the difference between dress shirts and work shirts and how to wear them if you want them untucked.
The biggest thing men need to change when upgrading their default casual wear from a T-shirt to a button-up is their mentality. Yes a T-shirt is more comfortable, but a man’s top priority isn’t comfort – it’s utility.
I can’t count how many times I’ve bumped into important people when I was least expecting it. It may be a key client, your boss’s boss, the investor you met with a few weeks back, or the future in-laws,the fact of the matter is that we all live in relatively small worlds. We shop at the same grocery stores, make deposits at the same banks, and usually eat at the same restaurants. At any time in our lives there is a strong likelihood we will cross paths with someone important when we’re not expecting it.
A button-up shirt should be your new default.
Just like other Staples, the casual button-up is made differently for different seasons. We may live in a climate-controlled world but it’s still going to be uncomfortable to have on a linen shirt in the dead of winter.
The most common winter-weight option is flannel. It was originally made from wool but has been expanded to include cotton and other materials as well. It’s a thickly woven material that keeps in the heat and has been metal brushed so it’s soft on your skin.
In order to avoid looking like you stepped out of a Pearl Jam video from the mid 90′s you’ll want your flannel shirts to be nice and trim. Short enough to be untucked but long enough to tuck in as well.
Casual button-ups also allow you to embrace more, brighter, and larger patterns. These are necessary for a lot of men to get the right contrast they need and can provide a pop of color in an otherwise monochrome winter wardrobe.
Pro Tip: This is called a button-up. A button-down refers to a button-up shirt with a button-down collar.
Pair these shirts with any other staple I’ve mentioned up to this point for a solid casual or High/Low look that will represent you well regardless of who you run into on the street.
The question now is where to get them. The two I have on in the pictures above are from a company called Frank & Oak. They are Canadian based and have a seasonal rotation with quite a bit of variety. I had heard of them from a few different places and decided to contact them and see if they’d let me try some stuff out.
I’ve had these two shirts for over a month now and have been pretty pleased. To be honest though, my wife has worn the red and green plaid more than I have. She’s in love with how soft it is and she’s always had an affinity for wearing my clothes.
The softness is great for keeping them comfortable because they wear pretty warm. It may not be the best in a temp-controlled room but I’ve really appreciated the extra heat when I’ve been outside in this ridiculously cold Utah winter.
There are two slight problems I’ve had:
First, I had a button fall off one of the shirts within a couple of weeks. Thankfully it was while I was at home and I got it back on pretty quickly. This is normal but usually takes a bit longer than a week or so after making the purchase.
The second is that they run a bit small (I’ll admit that my size is tough to fit because I’m on the tall and skinny side). I’ve had to wash these cold and let them air dry to avoid any shrinking. Otherwise, while they’d still fit great in the shoulders, they’d be too short in the torso and sleeves.
This is not end-of-the-world stuff by any stretch of the imagination and those were the only problems I’ve encountered. The fabric has held up great through a lot of wear (from two different people) and the colors are rich after repeated washes. Frank and Oak keeps things on the slim side so you’ll want to check out their sizing guide before placing any orders as they are an online-only company.
Speaking of online-only, F&O are membership based. The membership is free but you do have to sign up before you can access their catalog. They stock a whole lot more than button-up shirts and everything is priced very well. I’ll be ordering from these guys in the future.
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