Whether you look at a men’s fashion magazine from 2023 or 1953, you’re sure to find a men’s dress shirt. They’re traditional, transcendent of any style era and come in a Rolodex of options.
Pairing well with your best pair of dress pants, the finest, polished tops will have that standard silhouette — a collar (though there are many; more on that below), button detailing and a sleek, comfortable material.
“Fit and proportion are the most important factors; a classic dress shirt should follow the shape of the body and should be trim without being tight,” Justin Berkowitz, seven-year men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s, told the New York Post. “A good rule of thumb is that if there’s a bunch of extra fabric billowing out at the waist when you tuck it in, it’s too big; if the placket and buttons pull at the chest or belly when it’s closed, it’s too tight.”
Berkowitz answers more FAQs about men’s dress shirts below, along with our edit of the 12 best styles to choose from.
The other element to focus on is the collar shape and size. “The shirt collar should be proportional to jacket lapels,” Berkowitz adds. “Slimmer and smaller collared shirts should be worn with jackets with a narrower lapel, and the reverse for larger collars to wider lapels.”
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The different materials of dress shirts, explained by our expert
From cotton to polyester, all dress shirts — more or less — can begin to look the same. Berkowitz explains each one to a T.
“The most classic dress shirts are made of cotton in a variety of weaves, but most traditionally with a clean finish in a poplin effect or in a twill,” he details. “They pair best with suits made from natural fibers like wool and cotton.”
On the other hand, some more modern dress shirts can incorporate some stretch for enhanced performance properties, and in the last several years, true performance dress shirts have come to the forefront. “These are made entirely of synthetic fabrics like polyester, and they are focused on temperature regulation and ease of mobility.”
Not only that, but they’re great for travel and, when paired with a suit — also in a performance fabric that has similar properties —generally look best without a tie.
What are the best brands for men’s dress shirts?
Though we have a buffet of options to choose from below, Berkowitz has some he recommends looking into.
“Eton does a great job on their dress shirts; they’re fairly widely available and are a great quality for the price,” he notes. “If you have a slightly tougher or more individual fit, STANTT has a great variety of options.”
How to style a men’s dress shirt, according to an expert
Maybe you’re trekking to your 9-to-5 office job. Or perhaps, you’re en route to a dinner date with your partner. Whatever your MO, Berkowitz highlights a fashion look-book worth pulling some pages from.
“For the office, I would pair a dress shirt with a softer collar with an unlined sport coat or over-shirt, a five pocket pant, and clean white sneaker,” he advises. “For a spring or summer wedding, I would focus on a stiffer collar option in a solid color -either white or soft pastel like blue or pink, with a seasonal suit in linen or tropical wool, and a suede lace up shoe or loafer.”
The different types of collars on dress shirts, explained by our expert
Something that can become amiss on your cheat sheet of what to look for in a dress shirt is, undoubtedly, the collar type. However, they’re an important factor to consider when keeping your full ensemble in mind.
According to Berkowitz, straight point collars and spread or semi-spread are the most common, though point collars tend to feel a bit more modern.
“Spread and semi-spread collars tend to feel a bit more traditional and pair well with Italian-inflected tailoring,” he adds. “Wing collars are also often used for formal occasions for more traditionally styled looks, but point collar shirts can work for a more modern look.”
2023 men’s dress shirt trends, according to an expert
Of course, classic solids and small patterns are truly evergreen when it comes to your top-of-the-line men’s dress shirt. However, the classic style, over the years, has been paired with a bit of flair, according to Berkowitz.
“We’re in a fairly back-to-basics cycle in terms of true dress shirts at the moment,” he explains. “Most bolder patterns have been the focus of sport shirts especially in updated, more fluid fabrics.”
Best Men’s Dress Shirts
1. Eton Signature Twill Shirt, $260
As recommended by Berkowitz, Eton has phenomenal dress shirts. Namely, its Signature Twill Shirt is worth every penny, much ado to its single-cuff design, wrinkle-free fabric and structured fit. Not to mention, it pairs well with one of the best ties we rounded up.
2. STANTT ESSENTIALS Contemporary Fit Dress Shirt, $50, original price: $149
Also recommended by Berkowitz, STANTT ESSENTIALS has a wonderful array of dress shirt options, like its Contemporary Fit Dress Shirt that’s just $50 at Nordstrom Rack. Its micro houndstooth pattern not only adds a layer of sharpness to the overall look but its soft supima cotton makes it oh-so-comfortable.
3. Van Heusen Regular-Fit Dress Shirt, $45
With nearly 30,000 rave reviews on Amazon, the Van Heusen Regular-Fit Dress Shirt is, undoubtedly, one of the retailer’s best-sellers. It comes in a classic catalog of colors (virtually every one under the sun) and features a 100% cotton, relaxed fit.
4. Calvin Klein Slim-Fit Performance Point Collar Dress Shirt, $80
Meet the men’s dress shirt with the most reviews on Macy’s.com: the Calvin Klein Slim-Fit Performance Point Collar Dress Shirt. Its regular-cuff design can be worn with or without a tie and is clad with a non-iron performance make, so you can simply put it on and go.
5. Unlisted by Kenneth Cole Slim-Fit Dress Shirt, $21
The Unlisted by Kenneth Cole Slim-Fit Dress Shirt is another top-tier Amazon option, thanks to its lightweight, breathable fabric and machine-washable design. Not to mention, its classic array of shades is perfect for work or after-dinner drinks alike.
6. Joseph Abboud Twill Egyptian Cotton Dress Shirt, $60
Joseph Abboud’s Twill Egyptian Cotton Dress Shirt is one of the best value options on this list, especially for being made with (1) Egyptian cotton and (2) sharp, handsome color options. For just $60, we’re recommending this to just about everyone we know.
7. J.Crew Ludlow Premium Fine Cotton Dress Shirt, $98, original price: $128
When in doubt, J.Crew is our go-to retailers for dress shirts. The retailer truly puts the “C” in classic, especially with its Ludlow Premium Fine Cotton Dress Shirt. It’s crafted with two-ply 100s yarns in 100% cotton for that smooth, silky finish you’re looking for.
8. lululemon New Venture Slim-Fit Long Sleeve Shirt, $118
Yes, lululemon newly carries men’s dress shirts — and we’re obsessed. Its New Venture Slim-Fit Long Sleeve Shirt comes in a slew of moody tones that are versatile enough to wear to your next formal party or conference meeting. It’s a thoughtful, well-made splurge that checks our boxes.
9. Bespoke Slim-Fit Dress Shirt, $54
If you’re looking for exceptional value but don’t want to spend more than $75, we have the men’s dress shirt for you. The Bespoke Slim-Fit Dress Shirt is a show-stopping option, thanks to its mixed cotton material and machine-washable design. What’s more, it even comes with a matching tie and pocket square, making it the perfect bundle.
10. Express Slim Geo Print Stretch Dress Shirt, $40, original price: $68
For a quality dress shirt with unique designs, look no further than Express. The brand’s Slim Geo Print Stretch Dress Shirt is just $40 right now and uniquely features a moisture-wicking fabric that some others on this list don’t. Plus, you’ll appreciate its point collar.
11. Bonobos Jetsetter Stretch Dress Shirt, $129
If you want to feel like a kid at a candy shop, direct your cursor to Bonobos’ online shop, a full-fledged suite of men’s dress shirts. We love the Jetsetter Stretch Dress Shirt especially, thanks to its myriad patterns, crisp button-front detailing and matching Stretch Weekday Warrior Dress Pants ($119) to tie the whole look together.
12. David Donahue Micro Stripe Royal Twill Trim-Fit Dress Shirt, $116, original price: $155
Splurge on a dress shirt that comes in deep handsome tones with the David Donahue Micro Stripe Royal Twill Trim-Fit Dress Shirt. Specifically, it boasts double-button barrel cuffs, a spread collar and a 100% cotton make.
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