In sartorial terms, a dress shirt is defined as a long-sleeved, collared shirt with buttons down the front. In everyday life, it is the right shirt in your wardrobe. You take it out for the required formal occasions – when the dress code calls for a crisp, tailored suit – or you wear it more casually, layering it with jeans and white trainers for the weekend. With office events, weddings and social gatherings in the mix, you’ll want to keep a few of these versatile shirts on hand so you’re ready for anything.
For those who bristle at the thought of a tight collar putting them in a stranglehold, good news: the best dress shirts for men are cut from breathable technical fabrics that hold their shape but have enough stretch to move. with you. Styles have also softened considerably from the starched versions you might have owned five years ago. Now you’ll find modern collars, sophisticated prints and non-boring colors that elevate the men’s dress shirt from mere fashion filler to something much more interesting.
To zero in on the highest quality shirts for your spending, consider material, fit, comfort, and cost. Unless you plan to go the bespoke route, there are plenty of surprisingly reasonably priced options on the market with impeccable detailing to suit your fashion tastes. Whether you like stripes, spread collars or French cuffs, here’s where to buy the best dress shirts for your wardrobe.
Shop the best dress shirts for men
Best Men’s Dress Shirts Overall
Theory: Streamlined shirts that last
Costume Supply: Bespoke Looks at Unbeatable Prices
Best White Shirts for Men
Bloomingdale’s: whites that stay white
Best Casual Dress Shirts for Men
Lululemon: Comfortable and cooling premium fabrics.
Everlane: sustainable foundations
Best Budget Dress Shirts for Men
Uniqlo: wrinkle-resistant styles
Charles Tyrrwhitt: custom options
Best Button Down Shirts for Men
J.Crew: exceptional prints and patterns
Best Men’s Dress Shirts for Athletic Fits
Bonobos: fabrics that stretch
Mizzen+Main: flexible for broad shoulders
What to Consider When Buying Men’s Dress Shirts
- Material: The choice of fabric and the cut go hand in hand. “Material is one of the most important things when choosing your dress shirt,” says New York-based fashion designer Traci Franklin. She recommends cotton for everyday use on the go. In warmer weather, opt for a more breathable material like linen or a linen blend. To be worn under a suit, natural fabrics (cottons, silks and linens) do not trap heat, so you are less likely to sweat.
- Adapt: According to Franklin, one of the most common fit issues for men is thinking they’re bigger than they really are, so their clothes are a little too loose. Before committing to a shirt, do a quick test. First, “the shoulder seam should line up with your shoulder bone,” says personal stylist and image consultant Peter Nguyen. “If it falls off your shoulders, the shirt is too big.” Next, examine the necklace. After fully buttoning, it should leave enough room for two fingers. Next, check the sleeves. They should end where your wrist ends and the hand begins. Finally, you should be able to tuck the hem into your pants without the excess fabric spilling over your waist. Nguyen also finds that if there are lines of tension around the armpits or small gaps between the buttons, it’s too tight. Your shirt should be clean and close to your body, with some room to move.
- Care: “Prevention is the key,” says Nguyen. “To reduce stubborn stains, like the dreaded collar ring, rotate shirts often and don’t wear the same shirt back to back.” Pit stains and yellowing are often caused by a combination of natural sweat and unabsorbed deodorant. He suggests applying the deodorant before bed to allow it to be fully absorbed. For an extra layer of protection, wear underwear. Most dress shirts these days are machine washable, but to be on the safe side, check the label instructions, then remove the collar stays and treat areas that tend to get dirty quickly, such as the collar. To avoid creases, Nyugen prefers to hang up the shirts rather than put them in the dry cleaners. “Iron when almost dry but still a bit damp. This will make wrinkles easier to remove.