Conquer any formal occasion in style with our guide on the top seven men’s dress shirts. Here we reveal that there’s more to smart than a simple white button-up.
Read more Men’s Style Guide features.
The dress shirt is a valuable asset in a man’s closet. Throw any formal occasion at it and it steps up to the challenge gracefully, transforming you from the urban man about town into a dapper gentleman ready to impress. For something as essential as a dress shirt, it’s good to know a little bit about the right fit and style for you. After all, it’s something you’re going to wear a lot, especially if you work in a smart office. Once you’ve found a few that suit you well, you’ll be set for any event.
- 1 What Is A Dress Shirt?
- 2 Dress Shirts
- 3 Best Dress Shirts
- 4 How Should A Shirt Fit?
- 5 Dress Shirt Details
- 6 How To Style A Dress Shirt
- 7 Matching A Tie To Your Dress Shirt
- 8 How To Tuck-In A Shirt
- 9 Your Quick Guide To The Top Men’s Dress Shirts
- 10 On That Note
What Is A Dress Shirt?
A dress shirt (or button-up) is a formal shirt that has a collar and is fastened up using buttons. It’s typically reserved for evening occasions or other sophisticated events.
The right dress shirt for you will depend on your height, body shape and how much you want to spend. We’ll take you through a range of styles and show you the best shirts for your budget.
Before we begin, here’s a handy tip to keep in mind when you’re shopping for dress shirts: Look for shirts made up of at least 80% cotton as the fabric will be far more breathable than synthetics such as polyester or nylon.
We all know that one of the most annoying things about formal shirts is when they’re uncomfortable and stuffy. Nothing destroys your super suave look more than a great big sweat patch. Knowing this little tip about fabric will help you avoid such problems.
Best Dress Shirts
We take you through the best dress shirts in fit, style and cost. Whatever shirt you end up choosing you’ll want something that fits well so it helps to know what size you are before you purchase.
Top White Dress Shirts
A classic because of its neutral colour, a white dress shirt is the most versatile of the lot. You can never go wrong.
Selected Mark Shirt White
We love this shirt by Selected for its attention to detail. The navy buttonholes add a hint of colour to the shirt, which brings a new element of co-ordination when matched with a sharp blue suit. Accessorise with a brown belt and shoes to finish off the look.
Vito Clive Sha Shirt
If you’re going for a more casual look, wear your white shirt untucked. Vito’s Clive Sha Shirt was made for this style with its curved hem, designed to be on show. Pair with some coloured chinos and roll up the cuffs on both your trousers and shirt for summer detailing. This is a great way to show off your footwear too.
Top Coloured Dress Shirts
When it comes to coloured dress shirts, it’s best to start with the basics. A subtle pink or light blue will add the hint of colour that you need without making it too difficult to style with other pieces. A navy shirt is less harsh than black and complements everyone’s skin tone.
The Idle Man Long Sleeve Oxford Shirt Pink
A pink shirt makes a nice change from the traditional whites and blues. Pair with light colours for a smart summer outfit or black jeans for a casual look.
Patterned Dress Shirts
A patterned shirt looks great at a casual event like a friend’s BBQ but they can also work for formal occasions as long as you go subtle. For a party, show off your style and personality by standing out from the crowd.
Edwin Standard Dobby Shirt Black/White
The pattern on this shirt won’t distract inappropriately but will set you apart from the safe choices around the room. A fine nod to style for a more formal occasion.
Edwin Standard Polka Dot Shirt Blue
Embrace the party spirit in this polka dot shirt by Edwin, for a man who’s confident in his style. Try pairing with a pair of ripped black jeans and you can’t go wrong.
Slim Fit Dress Shirts
Nothing looks sleeker than a slim fit shirt. It’s youthful, modern and flatters your body. The great thing about this fit is that it suits most people. If you’re trim, it’ll show off your shape nicely and if you’re bigger, it will actually work better at making you look slimmer than a baggy shirt would.
Selected Homme + Mark Shirt Navy
The slim fit of this shirt along with the slimming navy colour will suit any man. The colour of the blue really comes out when paired with camel or grey.
Short Sleeve Dress Shirts
If you’re after something slightly more casual or you’re looking for a more summer appropriate style, try a short sleeve dress shirt. Perfect in hotter months as you won’t end up as a sweaty mess!
Only & Sons Hagen Short Sleeve Shirt White
This shirt has it all. It can be dressed up or down and paired with almost anything in your wardrobe due its monochrome colour scheme.
Non-Iron Dress Shirts
How fantastic is a shirt that you don’t have to iron? Getting hold of a non-iron shirt can save a lot of hassle, not all of us have the time of skill needed to iron a shirt! If you aren’t the lucky owner of a non-iron shirt, here’s a quick video to demonstrate how to iron a shirt properly.
How Should A Shirt Fit?
Regardless of style, nothing’s going to look its best if it doesn’t fit you properly.
Take the following steps to ensure your shirt is suited to your body:
- Collar: There should be room for two fingers in the collar when buttoned up.
- Shoulders: The shoulder seam should sit directly on the edge of your shoulder. If it comes up towards your neck it’s too tight. If it falls past your shoulder, it’s too loose.
- Torso: A shirt should have no more than three inches of room at the torso and the button stand should sit flat with no gaping.
- Sleeves: The edge of your shirt cuff needs to sit directly at your wrists for the perfect fit. Your cuffs should also be tight enough so that they need unbuttoning in order for you to slip your hands through.
Dress Shirt Details
Shirts may all seem the same when you look at them from afar but if you’re paying attention you’ll notice some subtle changes in style. Here is the lowdown on shirt collars and cuffs.
The three basic collar types are:
- Pointed: Probably the most common style of collar. The shape of the point slims down your face so it flatters most men.
- Windsor: The Windsor or spread collar has points that sit further apart. This type of collar is well suited to wide ties or bow ties as there is more space in between the points. If you have a particularly slim face, this collar will help make your face appear wider.
- Button Down: As the name suggests, this collar’s points are buttoned down onto the shirt. Originally created for men riding horses, the fastening helped keep the collar points in place. For regular wear it is more of a style detail.
The three basic cuff types are:
- Button: This is the most traditional type of cuff made up of a single wrap that buttons at the wrist.
- Cocktail: The cocktail cuff folds back on itself, essentially creating a turned-up edge. This design detail can be seen in many a Bond film.
- French: The French cuff is a double layered cuff that is fastened with cuff links.
How To Style A Dress Shirt
So, you’ve acquired your top dress shirts, now what to wear them with? Read our guide for some great styling tips.
Smart Dress Shirt Outfit
This is what the dress shirt was truly designed for. A smart occasion where your most sophisticated clothing gets a chance to shine. Formal events are not really the place to go too bold in your style choices so keep it simple with classic colours and pieces. Pair your dress shirt with matching smart trousers and a tie. Depending on the formality of the occasion, opt for a bow tie and jacket.
Casual Dress Shirt Outfit
For a casual look you have a few more options. A pair of chinos is great for smart-casual events. Wear navy, grey or beige chinos and team with a patterned shirt to give the outfit a bit of an edge. If you’re going really casual, then your shirt can even be paired with jeans. The simplest way to achieve this look is by sticking to a white shirt as you won’t have to worry about colour matching.
Black dress shirts look great with light grey jeans – we’d avoid blue in this case. Or if you want to be bold, this is a great time to bring out your patterned shirt. Wear with black jeans to be on the safe side or look for jeans that match a colour within your shirt’s print.
Summer Dress Shirt Outfit
In the summer you’d be forgiven for not wanting to wear a tie with your shirt. If you’re off to a formal occasion, keep your look smart by wearing with buttons done all the way up. The less formal the occasion, the more buttons you can undo.
Another great tip for wearing shirts in the summer is to roll your sleeves up. Undo the cuff and turn-up until your sleeves sit just below your elbows. You can always leave your shirt untucked but make sure it fits right. The hem should sit just below your hips. Any longer and it could look a size too big. Lastly, stick to light coloured pieces to avoid overheating. Dark colours absorb more sunlight whereas light colours will reflect the rays away from you.
Matching A Tie To Your Dress Shirt
For some, this can be a tricky business but at some point most us will need to match a tie with a dress shirt. Check out our guide to find the best shirt and tie colour combinations.
How To Tuck-In A Shirt
Tucked-in shirts can look really messy when done wrong. Whether yours looks too baggy or just keeps un-tucking itself, this insightful video will show you a quick fix.
Your Quick Guide To The Top Men’s Dress Shirts
A few things to keep in mind when shopping for the best dress shirts:
- Look for shirts made up of at least 80% cotton as the fabric will be far more breathable than synthetics.
- Ensure a good fit by checking that the shoulder seam sits directly at the edge of your shoulder, the cuff sits directly at your wrist, the button stand sits flat and that there is no more than three inches of room at the torso.
- To elevate a simple classic white shirt, the key lies in the details. Look for interesting finishes, buttons, stitching and hemlines.
- A subtle pink or light blue shirt will add the hint of colour that you need without making it too difficult to style with other pieces.
- A navy shirt is less harsh than black and complements everyone’s skin tone.
- Formal dress shirts are worn to smart occasions so when it comes to pattern you want to go subtle.
- Nothing looks sleeker than a slim fit shirt. It’s youthful, modern and flatters your body.
- For a more casual or summery look try a short sleeve dress shirt.
- Pair your dress shirt with smart trousers and a tie or chinos for a more casual look.
- In the summer, roll your sleeves up and wear untucked in light colours to keep cool whilst looking smart.
On That Note
You should be feeling pretty confident in finding a great dress shirt for yourself. Remember to keep in mind the fabric type, colour and style as well as that all-important fit. If you stick to these general guidelines you’ll have no trouble at all and will be well on your way to nailing the smart, formal look.