Life might be riddled with sweats, but the best dress shirts will still make you look and feel like a million bucks. Worn by itself or part of an ensemble with a suit or sports jacket, some dress shoes, and a sleek leather belt, a well-fitting shirt Supermans an outfit, swooping in to save the day (or night) with its crisp lines and powerful aesthetic.
But in the world of proper shirting, there’s so much to know. If you’re used to alpha sizing (small, medium, etc.), making the translation into neck and sleeve sizing can be confusing. Also, what’s the best type of dress shirt collar for your face or body type? And furthermore, what’s the deal with collar buttons?
Features to Look for When Shopping for Dress Shirts
First, a quick style 101 before diving into the best dress shirts and how to find them.
Dress Shirt Collar Styles
It’s easy to distinguish the difference between a button-up shirt and a button-down shirt; the former has no collar buttons while the latter does. But the level of formality? That all ties back to the collar style where you’d knot a tie. From the vintage vibes of club collars to the expansive elegance of spread collars, dress shirts have many varieties.
While each has its situational merits, it’s best to stick to either straight collar or spread collar shirts. The points of a straight collar fall just outside of the button placket on both sides whereas those of a spread collar fall a little wider. Both are classic and versatile, which makes them easy to wear in a variety of situations. The button-down collar is a similar variation, and it’s a great pick for more casual looks. Once you have some straight or spread collar dress shirts in your rotation, try experimenting with cutaway, wing, and band collars. They’ll add some flavor to your wardrobe choices.
Dress Shirt Fabric Types
Traditionally, the best men’s dress shirts have been made from cotton, linen, or blends of those fabrics. With the advent of modern fabric technology, many brands have also started to utilize synthetic materials like polyester in their dress shirts. Here’s what you need to know about the various fabric options before buying.
Cotton, the perennial favorite for dress shirts, is lauded for its soft feel against the skin and its versatility. From high-powered boardroom meetings to leisurely Sunday brunches, cotton dress shirts strike the right style chord. Cotton gets a bad rap in performance apparel because it absorbs moisture and sweat, but this is less of a concern for dress shirts (though cotton shirts can show sweat marks if things heat up). It’s plenty breathable for day-to-day wear, and it has a naturally comfortable feel that synthetics just can’t match.
Linen, a quintessential summer fabric, is woven from flax and offers exceptional breathability, making it a top choice for warmer climates. The downside? It wrinkles easily—a potential issue if you’re aiming for a crisp, professional look.
In recent years, synthetic fabrics have entered the fray. Polyester, with its moisture-wicking properties, helps keep you dry, while elastane adds stretchiness for enhanced freedom of movement. If flexibility is the goal, these are the best dress shirts for you. But synthetics don’t quite match the premium look and feel of cotton or linen. Hybrids do exist, however, and can be very nice-looking.
Dress Shirt Cuffs Styles
There are two primary dress shirt cuff styles to know about. The single cuff (a.k.a. barrel cuff) features sewn-in buttons and is easy to roll up. The double (or French) cuff, an often-lauded symbol of wealth, has an extra swatch of fabric that folds back and fastens with cufflinks or studs. Though the double cuff has traditionally been an integral part of the classic tuxedo ensemble, many guys now lean towards the ease of a single cuff. Unless you really love cufflinks and dress formally often, opt for dress shirts with single cuffs.
How to Wear Men’s Dress Shirts
When do you break out the big guns and don the dress shirt? The obvious answer is when you’re attending formal events: weddings, galas, award ceremonies, and similar occasions. But don’t feel the need to limit yourself to stuffy black-tie affairs. While the 9-to-5 uniform has taken a casual turn, a crisp dress shirt (blazer optional) can still turn heads in the office or elevate your look for an upscale dinner.
Every man needs a few good dress shirts in his arsenal. With special consideration given to collar style, fabrication, cuffs, and today’s trends, these are the best dress shirts for men
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The Best Men’s Dress Shirts of 2023
Technically, this cotton-spandex blend dress shirt is like a fully loaded car. It’s stretchy, machine-washable, non-iron, and moisture-wicking. The slight sheen of the fabric creates a crisp, sleek look that looks great on its own and doesn’t distract from whatever neckwear, sports jacket, or other flourishes create the rest of the outfit. It comes in plenty of colors and is reasonably priced so you can afford to grab the basic white and powder blue and then some.
Fabrics: 96% cotton, 4% spandex
Sizes: 14”-18.5” neck, 32”-37” sleeve
Easy to care for
The combination of stretch fabric and slim fit can still feel restrictive
Despite the name, The Tie Bar isn’t just the ultimate destination for neckwear anymore. The brand now offers guys some of the best affordable dress shirts and polos around. The herringbone style, non-iron cotton shirt, inspired by one of Pantone’s recent colors of the year, is a Tie Bar bestseller. The shirt features a semi-spread collar that looks killer without a tie, a subtle textured pattern, and a shorter length that can be worn untucked.
Embrace the timeless elegance of Brooks Brothers with this non-iron dress shirt. Crafted from American-grown Supima cotton with a touch of elastane for added stretch, it’s finished with an Ainsley collar that measures four inches from point to point. With its signature barrel cuffs and pucker-free seams, this shirt sets the standard for quality construction and details.
Say yes to a dress shirt that works as hard as you do. Mizzen + Main’s Leeward shirt is wrinkle-proof, quick-drying, and boasts a four-way stretch fabric for ultimate comfort on warmer days. Plus, it’s cut to mid-zipper length for a clean drape when worn untucked.
Fabrics: 88% polyester, 12% elastane
Sizes: S-XXL; trim & classic fit; regular & tall cut
The Jetsetter Stretch Dress Shirt from Bonobos is a dependably comfortable, well-fitting dress shirt made from premium stretch fabric. With its huge range of original patterns and colors and four fit options, this shirt is a versatile wardrobe staple that can work for just about anybody.
Fabrics: 95% cotton, 5% elastane
Sizes: 15/32-17.5/36; slim, tailored, standard, & athletic fit
J.Crew’s Ludlow suiting collection is always a hit. This dress shirt is crafted from a 100% cotton fabric with a super-soft hand feel and a featherlight drape on the torso. The French placket (a button placket style that doesn’t “fold back,” unlike the standard front placket) and spread collar add an extra dash of dapper.
Inspired by the brand’s early days in Bristol, this Charles Tyrwhitt non-iron dress shirt converges traditional menswear with the modern man’s desire for comfort. Added stretch allows you to flex, whether you’re in the classic, slim, or extra slim fit offered in the Clifton Weave fabric dress shirt. While it comes in core colors like white and light blue, the oatmeal presents the option to venture into the world of earth tones—a raging trend not just for fall, but anytime outfits, recently. If opting for a tie, the brand recommends a classic Windsor to complement the spread collar. Otherwise, unbutton a few to chill the vibe.
Like denim, chambray is a cotton fabric, but where the former is thick and stiff the latter is light and soft. This chambray shirt from J.Crew is made from 100% organic cotton and hits the classic American notes that you expect a J.Crew shirt to hit. It’s vaguely inspired by workwear with subtle dressier touches like a button-down collar, with the end resulting in a nice balance of casual and formal.
Fabrics: 100% organic cotton
Sizes: XS-XXL; classic, slim, slim untucked, tall & relaxed fit
Five year wash won’t fade in the laundry
Leans too casual for truly buttoned-up occasions
Available in five different fits, including slim untucked
This Oxford is a bestseller for a reason. It’s made from all-organic cotton that’s been ethically farmed and is free of nasty chemicals. It also offers a more relaxed fit. It’s a great choice for more casual occasions and pairs well with khaki pants, light-wash denim, and a good pair of sneakers.
The Untuckit brand has been built in the chasm between the casual and the dressy, and the Gironde is perhaps the dressiest that a shirt designed to be worn untucked can look. The nylon-elastane blend is stretchy and wrinkle-resistant while the reinforced collar stays crisp longer than most. It might not be the shirt you’d wear with a full suit, but it is a way to look polished and put together in business casual settings where a classic dress shirt isn’t the move.
Fabrics: 92% nylon, 8% elastane
Sizes: S-XXL; regular & slim fit
Available in lots of sizes (that do tend to run small)
Can’t be worn tucked in due to the shorter hemline
Best way to look put together with an untucked collared shirt
L.L. Bean’s pinpoint Oxford dress shirt promises a crisp, ironed look without the hassle of actually ironing. It’s made from a wrinkle-resistant cotton fabric that is, in a word, convenient. With a relaxed fit through the chest, sleeves, and waist, this shirt is all about comfort and ease.
Don’t ruin a suit by pairing it with a subpar dress shirt. Grab a well-made, semi-tailored shirt like this one from Suitsupply. It features a slim fit through the waist for a flattering look, and the all-cotton fabric resists wrinkles, too.
Fabrics: 100% cotton
Sizes: 13.5-18; regular & long cut
Added fabric in cuffs and collars for comfortable feel
This brand exists to make properly fitting clothes for short men, those 5-foot-8 and under. That means this dress shirt, available in classic shades of white and light blue, has a shorter body length that keeps it from looking baggy on smaller torsos and sleeves that are tighter and shorter for a more flattering look on smaller wingspans. We’re also fans of the semi-spread collar—wide enough to support a tie without looking like something out of the ‘70s.
Fabrics: 100% cotton
Sizes: 14-17.5; slim & standard fit
Fits short guys so much better than other off-the-rack options
The danger with colored dress shirts is going too bold (and ugly). The subtle shade of pink of this Boss shirt avoids that fate; it’s pink enough to add visual interest without veering into tacky territory. Elastane means there’s a bit of stretch to this shirt, which also features a spread collar. It might not be the kind of shirt you want to wear every day, but it’s a great way to break up your regular rotation of blues and whites.
Fabrics: 97% cotton, 3% elastane
The perfect amount of pink
Expensive, particularly for a less versatile color
Supima is the brand name of extra-long fiber American cotton, a material known for its softness and durability. This shirt comes in a quartet of rich tones, each with a bit of shine and texture that sets them apart from the competition. All certainly represent a big departure from the whites and light blues typical of dress shirts, but that’s why they’re worth your money. These dress shirts from David Donahue are especially good for fall—the Supima feels cozy while the rich colors, like hot apple cider and crunchy leaves, are unmistakable autumnal.
Each garment from Ministry of Supply, a tech-focused menswear brand founded by former MIT students, is as engineered as it is designed. The “engineer’s notes” on this handsome shirt specify that the material is moisture-wicking, stretch-woven, and both 100% recycled and milled using solar power. The thoughtfulness in the composition doesn’t end with the material, as it’s also just a nice-looking dress shirt, particularly for the office, and one of the best dress shirts for warmer environments
Fabrics: 100% post-consumer recycled polyester made from plastic bottles
Sizes: XS-XXL; slim & standard fit
Built-in collar stays are as brilliant as they sound