Dress shirts are an essential component of menswear. However, we’re all guilty of occasionally treating them as an afterthought. While we try to choose the right shirt for the occasion, most men will just opt for the most affordable ones available.
Therefore, this guide will provide you with the ultimate resource on men’s dress shirts. Not only will you learn about their history and how to wear them, but you will also discover the best men’s dress shirt brands on the market.
- Top 10 Best Dress Shirt Brands For Men
- Shirt History
- Shirt Formality Guide
- Components Of A Dress Shirt
- Dress Shirt Sizing & How A Shirt Is Supposed To Fit
- How To Recognise A Good Quality Dress Shirt
- Caring For Your Dress Shirts
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all!
Best Dress Shirt Brands
More Shirt Guides
Shirt Fitting Guides
Top 10 Best Dress Shirt Brands For Men
In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about dress shirts. We’ll cover their history, their construction, and how to properly care for them. First, we’ll walk you through some of our favourite brands to give you an idea of what to expect.
Currently, we recommend the following shirtmakers in no particular order of preference:
- Eton Shirts
- Black Lapel
- Hawes & Curtis
- Turnbull & Asser
- Charles Tyrwhitt
- The Tie Bar
Feel free to use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to discover them all!
Although founded as recently as 2016, Apposta is laced with authentic Italian heritage. The brainchild of Gianmarco Taccaliti and Gianluca Mei, it provides discerning gentlemen with the opportunity to order elegant Italian-made custom shirts.
Gianmarco’s family founded and has operated the Camiceria Taccaliti shirt manufacture since 1911. Meanwhile, Gianluca is a digital marketing specialist. Together, they combined their expertise to create an intuitive website for customising their shirts from over 4,000 fabrics.
We have covered Apposta in a detailed review and we were very impressed. If you’ve been yearning to scratch the made-to-measure itch, you won’t be disappointed by its elegant craftsmanship.
"True Italian elegance and an authentic custom experience at a surprisingly unbelievable price given the craftsmanship and fabric quality."
Modern problems require modern solutions. While most traditional shirtmakers focus on techniques that have withstood the test of time, Twillory has taken an altogether different approach.
Its core range retails formaldehyde-free non-iron shirts, which is a typical by-product when shirts are treated to reduce wrinkles. Alternatively, you can opt for the Performance shirts, which are made with moisture-wicking coolmax. In either case, they’re beautifully crafted with details like metal collar stays and toughened plackets for a neat finish.
Additionally, the shirts fit perfectly and taper nicely without any excess material. They’re available in a variety of patterns of colourways with different collar and cuff styles.
Shirt prices start at $99 for all the ranges. However, Twillory offers automatic bundles where two shirts will cost $125, three are $180. Furthermore, if you buy four shirts or more, they come to just $56.99 each, which offers extraordinary value!
While traditional shirtmakers are usually associated with Jermyn Street in London, Eton is a renowned Swedish brand that has been in operation since 1928. As a premium brand, they take great care in where their materials are sourced.
Using only cotton from Egypt and California, the fabric is woven by Albini in Italy being before finished in Switzerland or Germany. Following that, the shirts are cut and assembled in Estonia. The result is a refined yet hard-wearing shirt that lasts many years without showing any signs of wear.
While Black Lapel is best known for its high-quality made-to-measure suits, they also produce premium custom shirts. Starting at $99 for their more casual styles, refined Savoy Line dress shirts cost around $160.
Everything can be customised from the collar and cuff styles as well as the placket. You can even add a monogram to the shirt on a location of your choice. Depending on the fabric of your choice, the cotton used varies. However, some fabrics have been sourced from well-known Italian mills like Tessitura Monti.
Whatever your choice, the result will be a shirt that is made specifically for you and nobody else.
Like Black Lapel, Indochino is one of our favourite made-to-measure suitmakers who also excel is producing custom shirts. However, their made-to-measure shirts are more affordable by being offered at a lower price point.
There are also a number of deals available. For instance, at the time of writing this guide, you can save $90 when you buy 5 custom shirts using the code “BUNDLES” during checkout. There’s no need to supply your measurements multiple times either. Once they’re on record, all orders are made just for you.
A heritage shirtmaker from Jermyn Street, London, Hawes & Curtis offers an attractive balance of quality and value. Typically, their dress shirts retail for around $75 each but there are often sales where you can pick up 4 for under $200.
Since it was founded in 1913, Hawes & Curtis has received four Royal Warrants. In fact, it was such a popular destination of the English aristocracy that they are said to have turned down Fred Astaire as a client!
Founded in 1885, Turnbull & Asser is a Jermyn Street shirtmaker that continues to produce its shirts in Gloucester, England. Furthermore, Turnbull & Asser was appointed one of the current Prince of Wales’ first Royal Warrants in 1980.
Offering bespoke and made-to-measure services, it also retails ready-to-wear dress shirts. Needless to say, they are sold for a premium as they’re still proudly made in England. Nevertheless, you’d be hard pressed to find a more authentic heritage Jermyn Street brand today.
Compared to other Jermyn Street brands, Charles Tyrwhitt is a young start-up. However, it makes up for it with its ambition. Founded by Nick Wheeler when he was in university, his vision was the produce a competitive shirt brand that offered unparalleled quality.
Today, Charles Tyrwhitt is rightfully recognised among the great Jermyn Street shirtmakers. It has a similar price point to Hawes & Curtis and retails its shirts for around $100. However, you can benefit from their multibuy programme and pick up 4 shirts for less than $200!
Like Nick Wheeler, Fokke de Jong started Suitsupply as a student in 2000. Today, the Dutch label is one of the world’s most famous menswear brands. As a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, their fabrics are sourced from historical Italian mills including Vitale Barberis Canonico.
Suitsupply’s shirts vary in price and can cost between $89 and $229. However, critics argue that their quality easily rivals that of designer brands.
A one-stop shop for the sartorially-minded, The Tie Bar sells it all. From socks to ties and other accessories, it’s catalogue of shirts is equally wide. We’re very fond of The Tie Bar and its exciting range, which allows us to be a little more adventurous in our purchases.
Thanks to its large collection of accessories, purchasing items from The Tie Bar is easy. Therefore, it’s a convenient space to work on various ensembles by pairing your ties, socks, and shirts in a single spree.
A Brief History Of Men’s Shirts
It’s said that shirts first got their collars around the year 1300. They were built into the shirts themselves and came up as high as the jaw and opened outwardly in a riffled pattern.
As you might imagine, this was excess cloth at the time. Given its expense and lack of utility outside the battlefield, it was mostly worn by noblemen but was also built into soldiers’ armour at the time.
Up through the nineteenth century, white linen dress shirts were considered to be the epitome of male elegance. All shirts at the time were made from linen, and this term has carried over into the tailoring world. For example, it’s important to show “half an inch of linen” below your jacket sleeve when suited.
This is also where we get the term “white collar”, which denotes office and administrative professions that require an education. They could afford to wear white collars because they didn’t dirty them by doing manual labour.
At a time when most of the population lived in poverty, wearing white indicated success, a “good” family background, and gentility.
Where Do White Collars & Cuffs Come From?
Over the course of the years, it has become fashionable for men to wear dress shirts with different coloured collars and cuffs.
You’ve like realised that collars and cuffs tend to be the first parts of a shirt to show wear and eventually break down. Meanwhile, the body of the shirt could last nearly forever.
During the 19th Century, it became common for the collars and cuffs to be detachable. As a result, laundering the most worn areas became easy and helped further maintain the lifespan of the shirt’s body.
In fact, as higher classes would change their outfits several times during the day, a single shirt would be worn several days before being cleaned. As for the collars and cuffs, they were typically cleaned every day.
More affluent men of the period would have their collars and cuffs heavily starched. This resulted in a brilliant shine as well as a hardened material that didn’t crease. Similarly, it allowed the shirts to endure far longer.
This style has recently been popularised thanks to period dramas like Downton Abbey and Peaky Blinders.
It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that shirt collars were attached to their shirts as they are nowadays. As mentioned above, Van Heusen was one of the brands that helped introduce this with their soft folding shirt collar.
White was the collar of choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, white collar indicated status as we described above. Secondly, starch is white so it wouldn’t stain the collars. Finally, even in those days, people knew that white went with anything!
Where To Buy Shirts With Different Colour Collars & Cuffs
Shirts with contrasting collars and cuffs are still widely available and most of the brands above have their own versions. Alternatively, Black Lapel and Indochino include this as a free customisation option so you can have it done with any of the shirt fabrics.
Meanwhile, collarless shirts or “tunics” are a little rarer but not impossible to find. As these are still used by both priests and barristers in the UK, a number of Jermyn Street brands produce them. For instance, TM Lewin sold these shirts at very competitive prices.
However, its future is uncertain so the style is a little more challenging to find today. Meanwhile, Brooks Brothers launched a limited edition tunic shirt to celebrate its 200th anniversary!
As for detachable or “stiff collars”, you can often find vintage ones on Etsy or eBay. We have a number of these, which we thrifted ourselves! Alternatively, Darcy Clothing specialises in period garments and has a plethora of affordable styles. Some are even machine washable so they don’t need laundering!
Finally, when it comes to starching collars, very few launderers still do this. However, we have often used the Barker Group’s mail laundry service with a lot of success. It costs just over £2.50 per collar and if you want extra shine, you can ask for their Toastmaster service, which is a free option.
Additionally, click here to benefit from a £40 complimentary laundry collection so you can test them for free!
How Formal Is A Dress Shirt?
Shirts play a large role in determining an outfit’s level of formality. We can easily break this down into what we’d like to refer to as the three Cs: colour, collars, and cuffs.
Firstly, collar formality is determined by two main factors: its firmness and its “spread,” which refers to the distance between the collar points. Firmer collars are more formal than softer ones, and wider spread collars are more formal than those with minimal spread (sometimes referred to as a “point” collar).
Similarly, collar styles each have their own levels of formality. For instance, a button-down collar is very casual. Meanwhile, a round collar is something of a grey area. Being a heritage style, it denotes class. However, it was historically worn by workers and schoolboys!
Secondly, colour plays an important role. This is apparent when considering black or white-tie events. In both cases, white is the colour of choice, which indicates that it’s the most formal colour for shirts.
The same rules apply in a professional environment. We wear white shirts to job interviews, and it’s rare that we see a sitting President in anything but a white shirt.
As shirt colours get darker or begin to include patterns, they get incrementally more casual. You can complicate things even further by referring to the twill or weave of the shirt, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Finally, cuffs can indicate formality or a lack thereof. A barrel cuff is not necessarily casual and they can be worn with a suit. Yet, aside from short-sleeves, they’re the least formal option. Meanwhile, cuffs that require cufflinks -single and double- are definitely more formal.
As an aside, the single cuff wing collar shirt in white is exclusive to white tie and is thus the most formal shirt of all. However, double or “French cuffs” are usually considered to be the most formal in most typical settings.
Clothing is an art as much as it is a science. Therefore, it’s important to remember that a shirt is the sum of its parts, which don’t exist in a vacuum.
For instance, a brightly-coloured, boldly-patterned shirt is casual. However, if it features a spread collar and double cuffs on it, it’s formality is somewhat increased. Conversely, a plain white shirt would typically be quite formal until you slap a button-down collar and two-button barrel cuffs on it.
Components of A Dress Shirt
As described above, all men’s dress shirts have two major components, which are the collars and cuffs. Since you now know a little about how they affect formality, let’s explore the various different styles.
Different Dress Shirt Collar Styles
As we mentioned above, a dress shirt’s collar is key formality indicator. Below is a graphic representation of the most common dress shirt collars that men see:
There’s quite a bit to discuss as it relates to shirt collars, including how to make collars work with your face shape (you can identify yours with our face shape guide). To that end, we’ve created a guide to shirt collars that we invite you to take a look at.
Different Dress Shirt Cuff Styles
As explained above, shirt’s cuffs are another component that helps establish your level of desired formality. The three main styles for men’s dress shirts are barrel, single, and double/French. All of these are represented graphically below:
Like collars, there’s much to know about shirt cuffs. As such, we created a separate page on dress shirt cuffs with all the information you need.
How Do Dress Shirt Sizes Work?
You’ve probably seen terms like Slim Fit, Athletic Cut, and Tailored Fit in addition to S, M, L, XL, and even numerical measurements. It’s confusing, and there’s good news and bad news as it relates to this. We’ll start with the bad news.
The bad news is that there’s not a whole lot of standardisation around men’s shirt sizing outside of using actual numerical measurements. The good news is that we can help you navigate this minefield.
Note that all the information below is specifically for for off-the-rack shirts. When buying made-to-measure shirts, about 15 measurements will be taken off of your body and used to construct a shirt that fits perfectly. Seeing as not all of us have a tailor nearby to do this, we’ve included the info below to help you as you shop in a store or online.
Numerical Shirt Sizes
More traditional and / or higher-end men’s clothiers will use a numerical sizing system for their shirts. There are two measurements that are used:
- Collar (ranging from as small as 13″ to as large as 20″)
- Sleeve Length (ranging from 30″ at the short end to 38″ at the long end)
Most of the Jermyn Street brands listed above will produce shirts with different collar and sleeve lengths, which is convenient for getting the right fit.
Meanwhile, the majority of brands will only base it off collar size. The upside to this system is that numbers are numbers, and if you know that your neck measures at 15.5″, you can pick up a 15.5″ collar shirt and know it will more-or-less fit.
The downside is that our arms don’t necessarily get longer as our necks get larger, nor do our bodies enlarge. If you have an atypical body type, then you might want to opt for a Jermyn Street brand at the very least. Alternatively, you can instead order made-to-measure shirts from either Indochino or Black Lapel.
Many low-to-mid-tier retailers will sell dress shirts sized like t-shirts or sweaters: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and so on. Any brand’s website will often provide a sizing guide wherein these sizes correspond to collar, sleeve, and even chest sizes.
This is great if you’re loyal to one brand whose shirts you love. However, there’s literally no standardisation for this across brands, and while you might be a Medium at XYZ store, you could easily be a large at ABC Company.
While this approximate fitting would probably be fine for some casual shirts and garments, we believe that it isn’t quite appropriate for dress shirts. Therefore, try to opt for brands like the ones we’ve featured in this guide for a better fit.
Shirt Cuts (& Your Body Type)
Further muddying the waters is off-the-rack retailers’ terminology around shirt cuts. Some terms you’ll typically see are listed below, and comparing them to your body type can actually be quite helpful (we’ll get into that below). For now, that a rule of thumb
- Extra Slim
- Tailored Fit
While all of us understand what the words “classic” or “slim” mean in the abstract, these terms only mean something in relation to the company’s other offerings. Slim can only be slim in relation to something like “Standard” or “Classic.”
The two terms that we find most useful are Tall (meaning that body and sleeve length have been increased for a given size, but not the overall body size) and Athletic (chest and shoulders are cut larger, but waist is still tapered).
To make things even more confusing, some brands use entirely arbitrary terms in lieu of words that might actually describe how a shirt fit. Though they frequently change, J.Crew has a “Ludlow” and “Crosby” fit, and