At this point you know that you don't have to wear a dress shirt with a suit, and that seems to have made the people who make dress shirts a little nervous.
According to a study by the NDP Group, a consumer market research firm, young men just aren't buying as many dress shirts as they used to, even though they're buying more tailored clothing than ever before. In fact, while sales of suits and sport coats have gone up 2% over the past year, dress shirts are down 3%. It sounds like a minimal loss until you consider that on their own, dress shirts are a nearly $3 billion industry, and even a small loss can mean hundreds of millions of dollars missing from the bottom line.
So while stylish young guys find new things to wear with suits (like simple T-shirts, sweaters, and sportier shirts) dressier shirt makers are trying to figure out ways to direct the flow of men's money back in their direction.
So what are guys buying when they go dress-shirt shopping? "We've seen a big infusion of patterns and prints such as dobbys, micro-geometics, and neats," said Eric Jennings, the men's fashion director at Saks, in an interview with WWD. "We've moved past the stripe and gingham phase."
We're the last people who'll tell you to buy more dress shirts, but we do endorse a good printed shirt any day of the week.
—Details associate online style editor Justin Fenner.