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There are thousands of places to buy men’s dress shirts online, and this essential piece of formal wear should be chosen with great care.
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 exact same suit and shoes. So even 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 10 dress shirts in their arsenal. Depending on his job, this allows for a week’s worth of shirts as a buffer when sending the previous set to the cleaners.
Additionally, owning a variety of dress shirts for men will make your life easier because you’ll be prepared for any occasion, from boardroom (or Zoom) meetings to weddings. The best men’s dress shirts will ensure that you’re always dressed for the occasion, and there are some surprisingly affordable options if budget is a concern
Not sure where to start? Adelaja says every man should have a range of classic white and blues styles. As for patterns, a stripe or micro-check is a great way to break the monotony of solids.
Before discussing our favorite dress shirt brands, it’s worth running down the fundamentals so you can shop smarter and ensure you have the best men’s dress shirt for every occasion.
Understanding the Men’s Dress Shirt Collar
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 wrong for the occasion. Deciding on the dress shirt style 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.
Understanding the Men’s Dress Shirt Cuffs
Essentially, shirts come in two main cuff styles: single and double. A single cuff, often referred to as 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, French cuffs are traditionally a good option if you really want to dress it up.
The Bottom Line: Barrel cuffs are more versatile than French cuffs.
The Best Dress Shirts for Men: Colors and Patterns
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.
If you prefer dress shirts with check patterns or stripes, then you’ll need to be careful when selecting a tie. To make sure your outfit doesn’t clash, check out our visual guide to matching dress shirts and ties.
The Bottom Line: White and light blue dress shirts are can’t-fail options.
Understanding the Fabric of Men’s Dress Shirts
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 and not crease during the day.
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 a more casual material, hence the use of it in popular button-down styles such as plaid.
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 like new. Just don’t forget the iron.
The Bottom Line: Broadcloth is classic; twill is comfortable; and Oxford is casual.
Understanding the Fit of the Best Men’s Dress Shirts
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. The best dress shirts for men come in a variety of measurements (not the typical small, medium or large), so you’ll need to know your measurements to shop for dress shirts properly.
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.
The Best Dress Shirts for Men
Charvet makes ties, pocket squares and socks, but the Parisian brand is known for its shirts. Established in 1838, the brand has sustained an international reputation with a noteworthy client base that includes prominent members of royalty and presidents. This cotton shirt from Charvet has a spread collar and French cuffs, perfect for adding a touch of sophistication with personalized cufflinks.
- High-quality fabric
- The shirt has the perfect amount of stretch for mobility without sacrificing the silhouette
- Can be used for both black-tie and corporate occasions
- An investment
- Requires accessories like cufflinks to reach its full potential
BEST FOR EVERYDAY
A crisp dress shirt isn’t limited to black-tie affairs and it behooves a gentleman to have a collection of dress shirts ready to go when the occasion calls. Whether for office wear or a dinner date, Nordstrom’s Non-Iron slim fit is one of the most reliable shirts available. Made with a shape-retaining and wrinkle-resistant finish, stock up on a few of these shirts to prevent last-minute scrambling.
- Standard look, making it extremely versatile
- Great selection of styles and colors
- May lack in comfort or softness
BEST FOR PATTERNS AND PRINTS
Who said dress shirts must be solid? For those looking to spice up a collection of dress shirts for men, take a look at Bonobos. Initially conceived as a direct-to-consumer online brand, Bonobos focuses on stylish yet simple designs for modern office wear. The Jetsetter dress shirt is made from breathable stretch cotton, ideal for the man who plays as hard as he works.
- Extremely breathable fabrics
- Fun patterns that are outside of the norm
- Reserved for more casual occasions
- Styling is limited to casual chinos, jeans or dress pants
For those with an affinity for the classic, preppy Americana aesthetic, it only makes sense that J.Crew would be the place to shop for dress shirts. Not only is the brand rooted in a rich history, but it also boasts high-quality shirts that last for a very, very long time. Plus, the shirts are wrinkle-free and stretch to provide maximum comfort. Whether you opt for the sleeker blue and white or go bold with a plaid, this option is a no-brainer.
- High-quality shirts for a fair price
- Range from casual to semi-formal events
- May be restricted from formal events if not in white or black
5. Tom Ford
It’s no secret that Tom Ford, a beaacon of charm and luxury, ranks high as one of the best shirts in which one could invest. Forged from crisp cotton poplin, shaped in a slightly slimmer fit and finished off with mother-of-pearl buttons, this shirt will surely crown you as king. Can you ask for more out of an investment?
- Unquestionable premium quality
- Sharp fit with pristine cuffs and collar
- Your investment shows in the quality of shirt
6. Brooks Brothers
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 into 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 knit sweater.
- Offer a large range of colors
- Extremely versatile
- Might be too casual for some occasions
7. Banana Republic
For those interested in channeling a nautical summer vibe with their dress shirts, try Banana Republic’s poplin striped shirt. As opposed to solid-colored dress shirts, white stripes against a blue shirt adds a bit of dimension and excitement to a look. It leans more to the casual end, but this shouldn’t be a problem when you’re sailing in St. Barths or strolling around the park.
- Fun design that can bring excitement to your wardrobe
- Not too flashy, yet shows the perfect amount of personality
- Extremely comfortable
- Stripes may be tricky to style
8. Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren is known for its extensive Oxford shirts collection, which comes in various colorways and fits, including big and tall. The shirt is extremely versatile and comfortable, perfect for both days out on the country club or days spent near the sea.
- A timeless look that will always be in style
- Can be used for most occasions
- Lacking pristine fit and should not be tucked in
9. CHARLES TYRWHITT
BEST GRID CHECK
Englishmen certainly know the codes of dapper dressing well, and dress shirts are no exception. For those looking to add a bit of excitement to their dress shirt collections, opt for Charles Tyrwhitt’s grid check shirt. Not only will it make you look like the smartest person in the board meeting, but it’ll also give a slight casual air of to your wardrobe.
- Inexpensive but boasts high-quality material
- Checked pattern offers a smart, business look
- Should be left out of formal events
10. Abercrombie and Fitch
That’s right: Abercrombie and Fitch’s dress shirts are of premium quality. This Oxford shirt is definitely worth stocking up on since it marries comfort and class with ease. Pair with their signature denim jeans or a nice pair of chinos.
- Premium quality that boasts comfort
- Fabric is breathable and ideal for warmer months
- Lacking slim silhouette
BEST STATEMENT SHIRT
If you haven’t noticed by now, dress shirts aren’t reserved for dapper dandies. For those who take to the nightclubs or are looking for a shirt that makes a statement, ASOS is, of course, the hub to check out. This satin shirt will make you feel like the king of cool and unlock your suave inner self.
- A subtle statement
- An elevated choice for a nightlife science
- Wrinkles easily
12. Ministry of Supply
The Aero Zero Carbon Neutral Shirt 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.
- Eco Friendly
- Loose fit, perfect for warmer weather
- A bit pricier than the average