Choosing a Dress Shirt for a Suit


A suit is something that every man needs to own. Even if your job doesn’t require you to wear one, there will be other occasions in your life that calls for one. Whether it’s a wedding, jury duty, etc., you will eventually need to wear a suit.

In addition to a suit, though, you’ll also need an appropriate dress shirt. After all, no suit is complete without a matching dress shirt. You can buy a high-end suit, but it’s not going to offer any real benefit unless you pair it with the right shirt. Unfortunately, most suits aren’t sold with dress shirts, so you’ll have to buy this item separately — and this is where many people mess up. They choose the cheapest shirt they can find, only to realize later that they should’ve invested a little more time and energy into the process. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, keep reading for some helpful tips on how to find the right dress shirt for a suit.

Which Fabric Should I Choose?

One of the first things to consider when choosing a dress shirt is the fabric from which it is made. Contrary to what some people may believe, cotton isn’t the only choice for men’s dress shirts. Granted, cotton is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, fabrics for constructing dress shirts. It’s soft, lightweight, readily available, easy to care for, and inexpensive. With so many attractive qualities, it’s no wonder why why cotton dress shirts are the preferred choice among many men. But you can find dress shirts made of other fabrics and materials as well, including linen, silk, twill, poplin, Oxford and more. Feel free to experiment with some of these alternative fabrics to see what works for your suit and what doesn’t.

Keep in mind that heavier fabrics offer greater thermal insulation and protection from the warmth. At the same time, however, they can also make you hot when worn during the spring and summer months. Being that we’re still in the fall-winter months, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you plan on wearing the dress shirt next spring and/or summer, it’s best to stick with a lighter fabric.

Don’t Choose the Same Color as Your Jacket or Coat

I know this probably sounds like common sense to most fashion-forward men, but it’s still worth mentioning that you should avoid wearing a dress shirt in the same color as your suit jacket or coat. If your suit is all black, for instance, don’t wear a black shirt. The black-on-black design creates a bland appearance in which your coat and shirt seemingly blend together as one. From afar — and even up close in some cases — wearing the same color shirt and jacket makes it look like you are wearing a one-piece jumpsuit. Conventional wisdom should tell that a one-piece jumpsuit isn’t necessarily attractive, nor does it compliment your style.

A smarter approach is to choose a shirt in either a slightly different shade or an entirely different contrasting color as your jacket. Rather than a black shirt, perhaps you could wear a white shirt. A white shirt with an all-black suit jacket and trousers is the perfect combination. And as previously stated, you could always choose a shirt in a slightly different shade than your suit jacket. These are both perfectly acceptable options.


Consider the Necktie

Don’t forget to take into account your necktie when choosing a shirt. If you plan on wearing a necktie, which most men do, you’ll need a suit that matches and flows cohesively with it. Wearing a black shirt with a brown necktie, for instance, is a poor combination that will ultimately hurt your efforts to create a stylish look. Your shirt should flow cohesively with your necktie, creating an appealing look that compliments your outfit.

But what if you aren’t sure what necktie you’ll be wearing? Well, you can always choose a basic white shirt, which generally goes well with all colors and styles of neckties. Another idea is to go ahead and choose your necktie before selecting a dress shirt. If you have a closet full of neckties, select one that you’d like to wear, after which you can begin shopping for a new dress shirt. This should help you find the right dress shirt that matches your necktie and suit. Doing it vise-versa, on the other hand, could prevent you from finding the right shirt.


Arguably, the single most important factor to consider when choosing a dress shirt for a suit is quality. Is the shirt well made? Does it contain manufacturing flaws or imperfections? Is the stitching hidden from plain sight? Who made the shirt? Does the maker stand by their products with a satisfaction guarantee? These are all questions you should try to answer when shopping for a new dress shirt. While you can expect to pay more for a high-quality dress shirt, most people will agree that it’s well worth the cost. A high-quality dress shirt can offer countless years of use, all while helping you achieve a high-end, stylish appearance.

Slim Fit

You really can’t go wrong with a slim-fit dress shirt for a suit. Slim fit shirts live up to their namesake by featuring a slimmer, more form-fitting design. This eliminates excess fabric while helping to define your own body shape. Long story short, it enhances your look, more so than “relaxed” fit shirts.

Of course, slim fit dress shirts aren’t for everyone. If you’re a Big and Tall man, perhaps you should stick with a regular fit dress shirt.

By following the tips listed above, you should be able to find the perfect dress shirt to wear with a suit. Just remember to consider the following: size, fabric, necktie, quality and fit. Far too many men focus strictly on price, turning a blind eye to these factors. As such, they end up with a poor-quality dress shirt that offers little-to-nothing in terms of aesthetics.