A white formal shirt has probably been around from the time shirts were first worn and it will probably be around at the end of time! The reason it has endured is because there is nothing else that serves as a canvas to showcase either a tie or jacket. There is nothing that conveys seriousness, formality or even strength quite as well as a white shirt. You can however soften the severity by adding a pure silk tie in multiple colours. White formal shirts need not always just be plain, they can be textured. Royal Oxford or Herringbone formal shirts are perfectly acceptable alternatives to a plain white shirt.
You can never have enough blue shirts! And blues come in many tones. The right tone is a matter of personal choice. If you feel a plain white is too severe for some occasions a blue shirt is the perfect alternative. A blue pinpoint oxford is an appropriate blue shirt that appears to be solid blue but exhibits a little surface texture and lustre when seen up close. Equally apt is a blue Royal Oxford, the interplay of white and blue creates a slightly iridescent effect that never becomes boring. For the slightly more adventurous, a Herringbone Twill in blue will be appropriate. For the colder months, where a bit of warmth is preferred, a Herringbone fabric will suit perfectly. A pink plain is also something that must be considered a must. Royal Oxford, End on End and pinpoint are some options that must be tried
Bengal stripes are typically a colour stripe with white of equal width. A stripe shirt in general and a Bengal Stripe in particular offers a lot of versatility in use. Take a Royal Blue Bengal Stripe, pair it with a blazer, add an appropriate pure silk tie, and you are ready to go to most any smart social do. The same shirt, with the sleeves rolled up and the tails taken out, and you are well on your way to a nice evening at your favourite local. The finer the stripe, the more formal is the look. Broad stripes can work well when paired with plain jackets.
Checks can work well for formal shirts. An ideal pattern is the small gingham, which looks almost plain but has subtle white highlights. A single-coloured check in a fine pattern, serves as a very formal pattern that is never out of place, no matter the occasion. Another option could be a Bengal check, stylishly understated but also formal when suitably attired. Most checks will be perfectly fine when the sleeves are rolled up and the tie is removed for when you want to wind down after hours.
The Multicolour check
If you are feeling a little bit adventurous, but still want to be stylish the Prince of Wales check fits the bill perfectly. It is sufficiently subtle but appropriately flamboyant, stylish but not loud. This is one style that is the perfect embodiment of traditional British style. It makes sense to maybe pick up more than just one colour. They usually have a subtle flash of colour on a base grid. An alternative to this will be a 2-colour check, ideal combinations are really most colours, but always one in blue.
The fancies are as the word says, fancy. A large gingham, a stripe that has a dobby, 2 colour stripe in multiple widths, a broad Bengal. All these are essential to lift your wardrobe from the staid to the contemporary.No matter the choice of the fabric patterns, care should be taken to choose the right shirt. A double cuff maybe a good option to add some jewellery. A classic fit maybe more appropriate than a slim fit depending on the body shape. Most importantly the shirt should be well made!