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In praise of the white shirt

   

It figures in the male and female imagination as a really indispensable item in the wardrobe, the real stalwart of a cutting-edge look and also of those impeccable outfits that comply with the most intransigent canons of elegance.
This garment, selected on the basis of countless variables including comfort, weight and the sheen of the fabric, has also captivated the female audience: women now see the white shirt stolen from the male wardrobe as a status symbol, raising the bar of its popularity. To give an example:  how could we forget Uma Thurman’s dance scene in the iconic 1994 film, Pulp Fiction, wearing a man’s-style white shirt and black trousers already used by Ingrid Bergman as a cultural statement, making this practical, austere garment both a great classic and non-conformist at the same time, and anyway never out of place.  


Following the rules that define the aesthetic canons of a well-constructed white shirt,  this garment can feature an Italian collar (a great classic, perfect for more formal occasions and often combined with narrower tie-knots), a French collar (definitely more contemporary, selected for slightly more informal situations and created to be worn with a more structured tie-knot such as the Windsor knot), or a wing-collar for special occasions and cuffs with cufflinks, nowadays loved by many not just for extremely formal events, but also to complete less serious looks requiring a touch of style.

It is the materials that really make the difference in the choice of a white shirt, and the characteristics of these vary in terms of weight and shine.
Starting from the one that’s most popular with men throughout the world – the timeless Oxford shirt: this is the most versatile and the one which also meets requirements for comfort, with its basketweave effect.  It’s a favourite for more sporting occasions, too, and second only to its more refined sister, the Royal Oxford shirt:  with its fine threads, both in the warp and the weft, this has a shinier, more satin appearance to the eye, making it highly suitable for business and more formal situations.
For those who prefer more hard-wearing, matt-finish Oxford fabrics, the ones most sought-after are the pin point – definitely a safe choice – along with poplin, which has a smooth, compact and wear-resistant finish due to its weave using double warp threads compared with the single-ply weft thread, to give a fabric that is used especially in the spring season.

The twill shirt is a happy medium between a matt-finish fabric and the shiny types which are certainly more suitable for very elegant occasions. The twill weave gives the fabric a diagonal, ribbed feature that holds its drape well.
If you are looking for a shiny white, then Supima and Giza cottons from Albini are two success stories for Xacus: their great quality is a unique, optical white. The former comes from California and owes its whiteness both to being grown in fields that are completely free of pollution and to mechanical harvesting, while Giza, which is Egyptian, has an exceptional fineness and gains in shine at every wash.
Comfort and flexibility meet the needs of those who are reluctant to give up a white shirt even in their leisure time and, with its exceptional yarn, Albini’s stretch poplin is the result of a special treatment giving the fabric a natural elasticity, without needing to resort to synthetic components.


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