Summer heat is no excuse for not meeting the sartorial demands of the office, that job interview or a summer wedding. But don’t just accept that you’re going to be sweaty in every button-down you own during the hottest months of the year. That’s where performance dress shirts come in.
Performance dress shirts have surged in popularity over the past few years, as designers and brands have created stylish and comfortable options for the guy on the go. The best performance dress shirt keeps you looking great and feeling cool even in the stickiest situations.
What Is a Performance Dress Shirt?
Think of a performance dress shirt as a traditional dress shirt with additional capabilities. Whereas a classic dress shirt is usually made of 100% cotton, performance dress shirts incorporate materials like elastane, polyester or nylon to add durability and stretch. Performance dress shirts also rely on moisture-wicking materials more commonly found in workout clothes than a traditional dress shirt.
Note that because of these tech materials, performance dress shirts may be pricier than straightforward dress shirts.
Choosing the Right Performance Dress Shirt
Fit should always be top of mind. A performance dress shirt should be neither skin-tight nor billowy — think nicely tailored. While old-school dress shirts use neck and sleeve measurements, performance dress shirts usually rely on Small, Medium and Large sizing.
When in doubt, refer to a brand’s sizing guide to dial in your perfect fit. Next, consider color and style: Do you tend to need lots of white dress shirts in your rotation? Do you prefer colors like light blue, lavender or pink or is a subtle stripe or pattern more your style? A performance dress shirt can be every bit as stylish as classic dress shirts.
With those keys in mind, read on for SPY”s picks for the best performance dress shirt — or two, or three — to beat the heat.
1. Rhone Commuter Performance Dress Shirt
Wearing a performance dress shirt can serve a dual purpose. Sure, it keeps you cool in the heat and helps you stay comfortable at the office, but it can also work well when you want to look a bit more polished every day — even when on the road. Rhone’s take on the style was designed to do just that, featuring lightweight Italian stretch fabric and a range of colors.
2. Bonobos Tech Button Down Shirt
Some dress shirts end up reserved solely for formal affairs, but not Bonobos’ Tech Button Down. This performance dress shirt pairs easily with chinos, slim dress trousers, linen pants or even shorts, all because you can customize both the fit and the length to easily wear it tucked or untucked.
3. Mack Weldon 37.5 Oxford Shirt
BEST OXFORD PERFORMANCE SHIRT
If your line of work doesn’t require suiting up or wearing a blazer with a tie on the daily, you can get away with a crisp, classic Oxford shirt. Named for the traditional Oxford cloth used in the first editions of the shirt, the timeless classic gets an update in the hands of Mack Weldon with sweat-fighting 37.5 technology and underarm sweat guards, plus a stylish selection of wear-with-anything colors (and a length you can rock untucked).
4. UNTUCKit Wrinkle-Free Performance Short-Sleeve Fortia Shirt
Yes, it’s still possible to stay both polished and comfortable when wearing a short-sleeve shirt this summer — just look for a performance dress shirt that merges the best of both worlds via a blend of nylon and elastane. Note that the short-sleeve design is more casual, so save this shirt for a laidback Friday at the office or, better still, a BBQ where you want to stay cool behind the grill.
5. David Donahue Trim Fit Solid Performance Dress Shirt
When the occasion calls for it — say, an outdoor summer wedding or the chance to dress up for a big-time presentation — you can’t go wrong with a crisp white dress shirt. Better still is the fact that this wicks away moisture and uses a blend of nylon, polyester and elastane to help you stay cool under pressure (literally and figuratively). The white colorway also makes it easy to wear a patterned tie.
6. WRK Trim-Fit Performance Dress Shirt
Mixing patterns and colors into your tailoring rotation is always a welcome change of pace, and seemingly no one offers more options than WRK. This pattern is subtle but eye-catching, easy to wear with navy cotton trousers or tan chinos and made with an antimicrobial, moisture-wicking polyester and spandex blend. In short, it checks all the boxes for a performance dress shirt.
7. Mizzen+Main Monaco Dress Shirt
Along with throwing some patterns into the mix on occasion, a crisp plaid pattern can serve as a nice style swerve from the ordinary. Mizzen+Main gets all the details right with this trim-fit dress shirt, which just so happens to be wrinkle-resistant and made with a curved hem, so you can rock it untucked at the right length. It’ll look best tucked in, but try sleeves rolled up and styled with dress trousers for your next business casual affair.
8. Ministry of Supply AeroZero Carbon-Neutral Dress Shirt
Sustainability is more than just the name of the game these days in the fashion world, but it’s still a pleasant surprise to find a performance dress shirt that walks the walk. This shirt is made from 100% recycled fabric using solar power. The fact that the fit is nicely tailored and the color options are cool is just icing on the cake.
9. DXL Synrgy Performance Dress Shirt
BEST BIG AND TALL
The bigger guys among us need options aplenty in the world of performance dress shirts and DXL has the hook-up. This stretch dress shirt comes in neck and sleeve sizes, not to mention some vivid solid colors for when you want a dress shirt to pop underneath a suit or blazer. Plus, the price is a nice bonus.
10. Twillory Closer Performance Dress Shirt
BEST TO WEAR WITH A SUIT
When dressing for the summer heat and perhaps an outdoor wedding, staying cool is crucial. This light blue stretch dress shirt looks super-sharp beneath everything from a blue seersucker suit to a lightweight khaki cotton suit. Its three fit options — plus the choice to pick neck and sleeve measurements — are critical points, too.
11. The Men’s Store at Bloomingdale’s Stretch Dress Shirt
When you want reliable performance from your shirt, it pays to have options you can trust like a regular-fit stretch dress shirt in a classic solid color. At the right price, you can make wearing a comfortable performance dress shirt a daily reality. This Bloomingdale’s shirt is available in multiple color options, making it high time you picked one up.
12. Western Rise AirLight Buttondown Shirt
The idea that you can wear a performance dress shirt for more active pursuits, like biking to work or getting out and about in the park and on the town, is a tough concept that few brands have perfected — except Western Rise. The AirLight Buttondown Shirt is designed to resist water and stains, and the two-way stretch makes it easy to wear on the go. The hidden button-down collar is a polished-but-casual touch, too.
13. State and Liberty Bellamy Business Blue Dress Shirt
If you’re a guy with a more athletic body type or a larger build, finding a dress shirt that works for you is still of the utmost importance, and you might say that nobody does it better than State & Liberty. Founded by two ex-college hockey players, the company solves that problem quite handily as far as dress shirts for more athletic body types are concerned. It’s all the better that they do so using a comfortable, breathable polyester and spandex fabric blend for the ultimate in a performance dress shirt.