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How To Wear A Mandarin Collar Shirt With A Blazer

Mandarin collar shirts are pretty unusual, especially compared to the classic blazer. So, can you wear a Mandarin collar shirt with a blazer?

When wearing a Mandarin collar shirt with a blazer, avoid wearing a tie or bow tie and consider leaving the top button undone. Stick to the traditional shirt colors, like white and light blue. Choose your pants and shoes carefully. 

While that’s the gist, there’s much more to it.

Let’s dig deeper.

1. Leave The Top Button Undone

Leaving the top button of your Mandarin collar shirt isn’t so much a rule as an optional guideline.

Having said this, however, leaving your top button undone generally looks better than doing it up with this outfit.

This is because, typically, top buttons are done up to accommodate a tie or bow tie – something that you shouldn’t wear with a Mandarin collar shirt.

Furthermore, a Mandarin collar shirt with a blazer is pretty formal, so by leaving the top button undone, you’re subtly dressing down the outfit.

mandarin collar with blazer
While a done-up top button can work, leaving it undone would generally be better

Image From Deposit Photos

Leaving your top button undone is also considerably more comfortable than leaving it done up.

The comfort of your clothing is something that should be considered with pretty much any outfit.

Although, this is particularly true for shirts such as Mandarin collar shirts due to their top button.

As a general rule, if you’re not wearing a tie or a bow tie with your shirt, you can leave the top button undone. 

Wearing a Mandarin collar shirt with a blazer is no exception.

2. Stick To Neutral Shirt Colors

Mandarin collar shirts aren’t particularly common; they somewhat deviate from the norm.

So, when wearing a Mandarin collar shirt alongside a blazer, you should generally stick to neutral shirt colors. 

This is because the Mandarin collar shirt makes enough of a statement on its own.

Any further statements – specifically shirt statements – would appear overly excessive or flamboyant.

blue mandarin collar shirt
Image From Deposit Photos

Try to avoid any shirt patterns, colors, or extra details – sticking to a classic white or light blue shirt.

White and light blue are timeless classics, and you can’t really go wrong wearing them.

If you insist on wearing a shirt with a color different from white or light blue, make sure you keep it subtle.

Light, pale colors work best for your Mandarin collar shirt when worn with a blazer. 

It’s also essential to make sure your blazer is a dark, neutral color if deviating from the white or light blue shirt guideline.

mandarin collar with dark grey blazer
Image From Deposit Photos

3. Experiment With Your Blazer

Experimenting with your blazer isn’t recommended if your Mandarin collar shirt is a color other than white or light blue.

In fact, in this case, you should keep your blazer as conservative as possible – going for a navy, black, or charcoal one.

However, if your Mandarin collar shirt is white or light blue – as recommended – it’s possible to be a little more daring with your blazer.

This could include different colors and patterns. 

Light blue Mandarin collar shirts look especially good with light gray blazers.

White shirts, on the other hand, look good with pretty much everything. 

A white Mandarin collar shirt will go with pretty much any blazer, regardless of color or pattern.

This means that you could consider wearing a patterned or colored blazer with your white Mandarin collar shirt.

While block colors work best, patterns can look brilliant too.

If you do go for a pattern, try to keep it subtle and sophisticated.

It’s easy to go overboard when wearing a pattern with an unconventional shirt, such as a Mandarin collar shirt, but you should avoid doing so.

This is because both a patterned blazer and a Mandarin collar shirt are pretty unconventional, so when combined incorrectly, they can appear flamboyant.

By ensuring the pattern of your blazer is understated rather than bright and bold, you will eliminate the possibility of extravagance.

Here’s an example of a solid grey blazer layered over a white shirt. While the collar is Mandarin-esque, it’s not strictly a Mandarin collar shirt as it’s not a button-up. However, you should get an idea of what to expect.  

And here’s an example of a more daring red blazer layered over a white shirt: 

As you can see, both neutral, as well as brighter and bolder-colored blazers can work when layered over a neutral-colored shirt.

4. Avoid Ties And Bow Ties

Mandarin collar shirts have an incredibly unusual collar structure, not suitable for a tie or bow tie.

It’s widely accepted that you should only wear a tie or a bow tie with a traditional shirt collar.

This should be upheld when wearing a Mandarin collar shirt; avoid wearing a tie or bow tie.

First of all, it simply wouldn’t fit well. The neckband of a tie or bow tie typically lies underneath the collar. 

This works because of the structure and rigidity of the traditional collar – two factors that are lacking on Mandarin collar shirts.

Another reason you should avoid a tie or bow tie with a Mandarin collar shirt and blazer is that they look out of place.

Mandarin collar shirts have a unique appearance, whereas ties and bow ties are pretty generic. Because of this, the combination can look awkward. 

5. Choose Your Pants Carefully

When wearing a Mandarin collar shirt with a blazer, it’s important to choose your pants carefully.

Pairing this outfit with the right pants can be challenging.

Pants that are too similar to the color of your blazer can make the blazer-pants combination appear as a poorly matched suit.

Conversely, pants that are too bright or different from your blazer can look incredibly awkward or out of place.

Therefore, choosing the right pants is essential to looking good in this outfit.

Typically, dress pants work best with this outfit, as they maintain the formality of the blazer while being slightly dressed down by the more unconventional Mandarin collar shirt.

Don’t confuse dress pants for suit pants. Suit pants should only be worn as part of a two-piece suit, whereas dress pants can be worn with most formalwear.

Try to get dress pants that either color-match with your blazer perfectly or are slightly different – for example, charcoal and navy instead of charcoal and black.

It’s best to avoid jeans with this outfit. While jeans are often a good way to dress down a blazer, the Mandarin collar shirt does a good enough job of dressing down the outfit for jeans not to be necessary.

Chinos can work for a more relaxed look, as they are still generally considered slightly more formal than jeans.

Stick to the same guidelines as recommended for dress pants.

6. Shoes Matter Too

Like your pants, shoes are an essential part of the outfit to consider. This outfit is pretty versatile in terms of acceptable shoes. 

When deciding what shoes to wear with a Mandarin collar shirt and blazer, it’s important to consider the formality of the situation.

This is because shoes of varying formality levels can work with this outfit.

For occasions leaning toward formal, formal dress shoes such as Oxfords or Derbys are optimal. Monk straps can also work.

Alternatively, for events that are more semi-formal in nature, loafers can look fantastic. 

Typically, it’s best to avoid sneakers when wearing a Mandarin collar shirt with a blazer, as they are too casual.

Black shoes are your best bet for this outfit. They are versatile and go with pretty much anything.

On the other hand, brown famously clashes with black and similar dark colors. So, if wearing pants of these colors, try to avoid brown shoes.