From Cheap to Charvet, These Are the Best Dress Shirt Brands for Men

handsome man wearing bonobos blue shirt
Courtesy of Bonobos

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The jacket, dress shoes, and tie tend to get the most attention when suiting up. But it’s the dress shirt that truly sets the tone for the rest of the outfit, albeit in a more subtle way.

Take your best slim fit dress shirt, for example; a blue button-down Oxford sends a different message than a white twill shirt with French cuffs, even if both are worn with the same suit and shoes. That’s why even if you might not wear them often, it’s worth having a few proper dress shirts in your closet. If you only have one suit, you can make it feel fresh by swapping out the dress shirt.

Menswear designer and tailor Ségun Adelaja — who has 25 years of experience on the prestigious Jermyn Street in London — recommends that a man have a collection of ten dress shirts in their arsenal. Depending on their job, this allows for a week’s worth of shirts as a buffer when sending the previous set to the cleaners.

Additionally, having a variety of the best dress shirts will make your life much easier because you’ll be prepared for any occasion, from boardroom (or Zoom) meetings to weddings, and once part of your wardrobe, you will feel more obliged to slip into them to get your cost per wear.

Not sure where to start? Adelaja says every man should have a range of classic white and blues styles. As for patterns, a stripe (for example, Bengal) or micro-check is a great way to break the solid monotony of the plainness.

Before discussing our favorite dress shirt brands, it’s worth running down the fundamentals to look out for, so with the expert help of Adelaja, you can shop smarter and ensure you have the best dress shirt for every occasion.

  

The Collar

Shirt collars, jacket types flat line icons set. Formal clothing vector illustrations, classic white collar, tuxedo, polo. Outline pictogram for menswear store. Pixel perfect 64x64. Editable Strokes. Licensed from Adobe

The shirt collar is arguably the most crucial detail, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of room for error. With so many different shirt collar styles and sizes, it’s possible to end up with one that’s not the right fit for your suit and tie or that’s the wrong style for the occasion. Sure, deciding on the best dress shirt style for you depends on your personal taste and what type of outfit you’re wearing, because these often-overlooked details come in a variety of shapes, widths and lengths and could make you look out of place if you don’t pick wisely.

We can break down shirt collars to almost infinite detail with increasingly obscure names, but a few basic styles include classic, spread, cutaway and button-down.

As the name implies, the classic or straight collar is the most traditional style — it features no buttons and comes to a sharp but not severe downward point. Some might want to distinguish between a point collar, classic collar, and straight collar, but these collars can generally be grouped together. Spread collars flare outward, which is a more statement-making option. Button-down collars, like those most often found on Oxford shirts, are inherently more casual.

Other styles include club collars with rounded ends that some associate with Peaky Blinders. There are also band collar shirts, which are essentially button-up shirts without collars. Cutaway collars are more severe spread collars.

As for collar height, it’s best to go with your suit as a guide. A slim suit with a narrow lapel will generally work best with a shirt with a smaller collar, while a wide peak lapel suit should also have a proportionally large collar. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about breaking out the ruler and measuring your collars — looking in the mirror and seeing what does and doesn’t look right will be a good guide. The same goes for ties — stick with a tie that’s proportional in size to your shirt collar and jacket lapel.

The Bottom Line: Both a point or spread collar work well, and your collar should be proportional to your jacket and tie.

  

The Cuffs

Shirt cuffs types flat line icons set. One button, french cuff, turnback sleeves vector illustrations. Outline pictogram for menswear store. Licensed from Adobe

Essentially, shirts come in two main cuff styles — single and double. A single cuff, often referred to as simply a barrel cuff, has a sewn-in button or buttons that are easy to undo if you want to roll up your sleeves. Just about any casual long-sleeve shirt in your closet will be a single cuff style.

On the formal end of the spectrum is the double cuff, often called a French cuff, which has a teardrop shape when fastened. This style requires studs or cufflinks to keep it closed. For almost any setting, a single cuff will be appropriate. In recent years, the French cuff has fallen out of favor enough that tuxedo shirts, once only offered with this style, are available more and more with single cuffs. However, traditionally, French cuffs can be a good option if you really want to dress it up.

The Bottom Line: Barrel cuffs are more versatile than French cuffs.

  

The Color

Men shirts in different colors on hangers in a retail clothes store Licensed from Adobe

White and light blue are the most classic, versatile shirt colors, with pale pink coming in a close third. Striped and patterned shirts are also great additions to your wardrobe. In general, a dress shirt should be a lighter color than the suit, and it should contrast enough to stand out from the jacket and tie. It’s a more advanced move, but you can mix patterns by following the shorthand rule of varying the prints’ scale. For example, a shirt with very thin pinstripes works with a wider striped repp tie — as long as the stripes aren’t going in the same direction. The riskiest dress shirt color is black, and unless you’re Johnny Cash, it’s best to avoid it.

The Bottom Line: White and light blue dress shirts are can’t-fail options.

  

The Fabric

fabric dress shirt Image Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Broadcloth? Poplin? Oxford? What’s the thread count? It’s easy to get in over your head when it comes to fabrics, but it’s probably best to keep it simple. Adelaja recommends gravitating towards a good quality Poplin as it’s best for everyday wear. When looking at thread count, 100 is good, and 120 is even better because the higher the thread count, the more likely it will retain its shape, not crease, during the day.

While Oxford cloth, which doesn’t apply to the thread count rule, is more of a dress-down Friday, out of office, and weekend wear kind of vibe because it’s more of casual material, hence the use of it in popular button-down styles such as plaid.

Maintenance

There is no such thing as overwearing a shirt, right? Well, actually, because if you overwear and wash a shirt, it can kill the shirt, so it’s important to allow it to rest after wearing and cleaning it, Adelaja tells us.

Also, if you can’t afford to send your shirts to the dry cleaners regularly, no sweat; as Adelaja says, a good quality poplin and Oxford are durable and low maintenance. As long as you wash it on a short, cold cycle, it will come back as new. Just don’t forget the iron.

The Bottom Line: Broadcloth is classic, twill is comfortable and Oxford is casual.

  

The Fit

dress shirts for men fit Image Courtesy of Bonobos

The fit of a shirt is essential, and most dress shirt brands offer slim-fitting shirts in addition to more traditional styles. But when you’re looking at shirts on the rack, you might be confused by the size. While some brands give you a simple letter size, most dress shirts are sized using two numbers. It may seem not very clear at first, but it’s not that different from most men’s jeans. The first number is the collar size, and the second is the sleeve length. A medium roughly translates to a 15.5-inch collar.

In a nutshell, Adelaja says if you are a bigger guy, go for a classic fit because it will give you more room. If you are comfortable and want something more streamlined, try the slim fit, and if you don’t want a shirt to sit on your skin and feel on the fence between the classic and slim fit, then try the regular fit. Regardless no matter what fit preference you go for, he emphasizes you should always wear your proper size. If you are a man with more stature, going bigger will add more bulk and volume to your silhouette. Conversely, if you are smaller or want to show off your muscles, going down a size will only pull on the fabric creating an unflattering ill fit.

The bottom line: Get a tape measure or go to a tailor. Or, if you’re shopping in person, ask the associate. There’s no real shortcut for finding out your shirt size.

We realize that all of that information might not actually help you pick a dress shirt, which is why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite dress shirt brands for men, which range from iconic high-end shirtmakers to affordable mall brands. That way, you can find the one that suits your needs, whether you suit up once a year for a special occasion or every day at the office.

  

1. Charvet

​​BEST OVERALL

Charvet makes ties, pocket squares, and socks, but the Parisian brand is iconic for its shirts. Established in 1838, the brand has been able to sustain an international reputation with a noteworthy client base that includes prominent members of royalty and is favored by presidents. It’s no wonder, as they still make all their shirts in Paris, one of the fashion capitals. This cotton shirt from Charvet has a spread collar and French cuffs, perfect for adding a touch of sophistication with personalized cufflinks.

Courtesy of Mr. Porter

 

  

2. Buttoned Down

BEST NON-IRON

If you’re looking for a shirt you can buy in bulk and never have to worry about, this selection of classic colors from Amazon’s Buttoned Down is going to be your best bet. Available in slim-fit as well as regular, the size offering is impressive (up to a 20×38) and the color choices offer enough variety without being overwhelming. If all this weren’t enough, you can’t beat this price for the quality you get.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY!
amazon buttoned down dress shirt Courtesy of Amazon

  

3. Bonobos

BEST FOR PATTERNS AND PRINTS

If you like to have a little pattern and color, Bonobos is a good place to look. Conceived initially as a direct-to-consumer online brand, Bonobos focuses on stylish yet simple designs for modern officewear. The Jetsetter dress shirt is made from breathable stretch cotton, ideal for a man on the go, and there are tons of prints to choose from.

bonobos dress shirt Courtesy of Bonobos

  

4. J.Crew

PREPPY CLASSIC

J.Crew is probably the number one go-to of stylish men who need to suit up on short notice — their Ludlow shop is always stocked with a variety of suits, dress shirts and ties. Their premium Ludlow shirts are made from two-ply 100s yarns in 100% cotton for a higher-quality feeling and a shirt that will last a long time.

J.Crew Ludlow Shirt Courtesy of J.Crew

  

5. Turnbull & Asser

BEST INVESTMENT

Turnbull & Asser is an English brand known for its rich history and exquisite quality, and because you are a man with excellent taste, your shirt of choice should echo that. This double cuff shirt is designed in a regular fit for everyday comfort without forcing you to lower your standards. Also, as it comes in white, pink, and blue, you are covered for any occasion.

T-A-White-Double-Cuff-Cotton-Shirt-only Courtesy of Mr. Porter

  

6. Brooks Brothers

BEST STAPLE

The Non-Iron Ainsley is created from American-grown Supima cotton dobby and is currently available in a soft color palette of blues, lavender, and pink for when you feel like injecting some color to your sea of white shirts. Also, it comes in a plethora of fits, from extra slim to relaxed, so you can stand tall in comfort, whether you are in a three-piece suit or slacks and a knitter sweater.

Brooks Brothers Ainsley Dress Shirt Courtesy of Brooks Brothers

  

7. Paul Smith

BEST STRIPE

Sometimes you wake up, and you just fancy a change, and that’s where the Pearlescent cotton-poplin shirt comes in. Designed by Paul Smith, the man who loves details, this lightweight striped shirt will have you stand out from the crowd and get people reading between the lines.

Paul Smith Pearlescent Shirt Courtesy of Matches

  

8. Ralph Lauren

BEST OXFORD

Ralph Lauren is known for its extensive Oxford shirts collection, which comes in various colorways and fits, including big and tall. This particular style from the Polo range, with contrast buttons, detail on the collar, and down the body, is great paired with jeans in the day and chinos at night.

Ralph Lauren Oxford Shirt Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

  

9. Paul Stuart

BEST FOR ON-THE-GO

Picked from the Traveler Collection, this popular Paul Stuart Traveler shirt will get you in the mood for traveling in style. Designed in breathable and soft Italian wrinkle-resistant cotton, this shirt will last you for many seasons to come but will feel as though you just bought it yesterday.

 

Paul Stuart Traveler Shirt Courtesy of Paul Stuart

  

10. Nordstrom

BEST AFFORDABLE

Sometimes you can’t decide the blue or the white, and with Nordstrom smartcare currently at an affordable price, why don’t you invest in both. The classic-fit piece with curved hems and work-appropriate pointed collar will work well with your black, navy, or charcoal gray suit.

Nordstrom-​​Smartcare-Classic-Fit-Solid-Dress-Shirt- Courtesy of Nordstrom

  

11. UNTUCKit

BEST COLOR

UNTUCKit is a fan-favorite because it puts size inclusivity at the forefront when designing shirts and comes in at an affordable price point. The wrinkle-free Gironde was made for every day and the holidays as its moisture-wick, has generous stretch and give, and spread collars – so you can never be too under or overdressed in this one.

UNTUCKit Gironde Shirt Courtesy of UNTUCKit

  

12. Ministry of Supply

BEST SUSTAINABLE

The Aero Zero Carbon Neutral Shirt, yes, carbon-neutral, is made from 100% recycled fabrics, comes in standard and slim fit, and is naturally wrinkle-resistant, so now you can look the part in either their plain, grid or check shirts without guilt.

Aero Zero Carbon Neutral Shirt Courtesy of Ministry of Supply

  

Keep Those Dress Shirts Fresh with the Best Undershirts