why your white dress shirt is your best friend

The lost art of dressing is our topic for this week’s post.  Even when casual dressing, your white shirt is your best friend and I might say that your white shirt is possibly a better friend to you when dressing casually.   In conversation this week with a friend of mine, Gabriel Zeller, who is a Brooks Brother’s Master Specialist, we spoke about men’s casual dressing and the art of it.  What has been misplaced in the era of dressing casually is that dressing well takes thought and that often times men without the compass of a suit go astray.  Ask any woman you have gone out with, as beautiful as you look in your suit, when you pull something together for a Saturday night date or dinner with friends, it does not show you at your best.  Of course, it is when you are dressed casually that we spend the most time with you.



Paul Newman


Upon looking up the definition of casual on http://www.merriam-webster.com, casual is defined as;

1: subject to, resulting from, or occurring by chance. 2 a: occurring without regularity : occasional.  3 a  (1): feeling or showing little concern : nonchalant.  (2): lacking a high degree of interest or devotion  (3): done without serious intent or commitment. b  (1): informal, natural   (2): designed for informal use.  Synonyms see accidental, random.

Gabriel remarked, “The issue being that even Webster views dressing casual as synonymous with accidental and random.  Lets avoid some accidents out there.  Casual is  an opportunity for being natural and relaxed, and being comfortable.”   So from our conversation, what we came up with is a man needs a casual uniform the way he leans on his cadre of suits as his professional uniform.


Steve McQueen


The key is to keep it simple and elegant.  This is where we get to why your white dress shirt is your best friend.  “Not only is it one of the most understated and elegant ways to be appropriate and taken seriously, it is as simple as it sounds.  An understated white dress shirt,  with a white undershirt, will be a perfect choice from work transitioning into dinner on Saturday night. Pair it with a cleanly pressed chino or untucked with dark jeans for the more casual outing.”  I know many men prefer khakis or chinos, my vote is for jeans with an untucked white dress shirt.



Robert Redford


Gabriel had a long conversation with me about the custom fit shirt.  He feels that when a man walks down the street in a shirt that is properly fitted, you know it and it defines the man.  “I’m a big supporter of the ‘your shirt should fit you’ club. Not all men have the same build and not all shirts are made the same either.  More and more clothing companies are becoming aware that fit matters.  From the multiple fit options ready made at Brooks Brothers, (traditional, luxury and slim) to the best in show, made to measure or custom made shirting.”



Daniel Craig


Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

And no matter what, be sweet to your sweetheart!


Jeff Koons ‘Hanging Heart’


dale b. cohen

new york city


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3 Responses to “why your white dress shirt is your best friend”

  1. susan sobo... Says:

    Bravo! The white dress shirt is not only a perfect ‘uniform’ for men but also for women…at last count, my closet housed over 20 crisp white shirts in all cuts and styles.
    From tuxedo casual (cufflinks optional) to Chloe sensational, w/ puffy pirate sleeves no jacket or sweater would dare try to cover, to a gap cotton sateen button down w/ a little stretch, perfect for under a suit or cardigan, and, of course, my favorite white linen blouses that go from a dinner party to the beach over any summer weekend…
    The white shirt is one thing, among many, that I am happy to credit my mother with enlightening me too its versatile necessity in my closet!

  2. Gwen Cohen Says:

    Nice touch, Dale.

    This no-nonsense approach to making casual dress less “random” with just a little planning allows us to be less stressed about what we wear–more relaxed and confident with our choices, and we can more completely enjoy ourselves and those we treasure.

  3. andrea pliner Says:

    Love this article! and of course the picture of Paul Newman- that is a fabulous white shirt!

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