Right at the start of 2022, I got invited to a wedding in Italy. Between hotel deep dives, Skyscanner deals, and daydreams of a Campari or two, I started thinking about what to wear. I already had a linen and cotton-blend suit from J.Crew that had been perfect for an Italian wedding in 2019, as well as suede loafers (and a drawer full of Compeed plasters for the inevitable blisters). The only thing left was the perfect wedding-guest shirt.
I already own a vast expanse of shirts, most from my days as a sales assistant at Ralph Lauren. Some are past their best and I can’t bear to throw them away. Others are far too small now. They wouldn’t do. Luckily, in early April, I started to notice my Instagram filling up with people attending weddings, and I started DM-ing friends for their advice.
The first results were disappointing. Most people said they’d just pulled out whatever shirt hung at the back of their wardrobe, and even the best-dressed were wearing things I was familiar with (Ted Baker, Paul Smith). Two friends tipped me off to shirts that I hadn’t considered before, however — one got his from Sunspel, who are better known for beautifully made T-shirts. Another suggested Officine Generale, his “new go-to place for shirts.” The shirt in question was made from Japanese cotton but felt as light as linen, and though the French brand is based in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, they have a London store on Beak Street, in Soho.
Both options were appealing, but expensive — around £150 each. Then, my friend Sam reminded me of a shirt that would be perfect for weddings: the button-down Oxford from Uniqlo. He wears his with vintage Armani. We’ve already featured Uniqlo’s Oxford shirts in the Strategist’s guide to the best pieces from Uniqlo, as recommended by two stylish men. Griffin Funk, a designer at Apple, said he prefers this shirt to the Maison Margiela Oxford he also owns, while writer Alex Frank says that Uniqlo has perfected the “starched-white-shirt look” and that he always reaches for it when he’s trying to look professional. I recalled owning a couple when I was interning at a men’s magazine, donated when they no longer fit.
I decided to pick one up in this striped pink colour; something to evoke a sort of insouciant preppiness in Italy, without making me look like I’d got lost on my way to a Vampire Weekend covers band rehearsal. Unlike Cuban-collar shirts, or collar-less options you might see on the more peacock-like wedding guests, a well-constructed Oxford won’t go out of style any time soon. Crucially, this one is inexpensive enough that, should you slop a generous glug of pinot noir down the front during a particularly heady encounter on the dance floor, it’s hardly going to be the end of the world. It’s also available in white, as well as a looser fit in various colours, below. Italy, I’m coming.
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