The Ultimate Dress Shirt Shopping Guide

The Ultimate Dress Shirt Shopping Guide

There's no substitution for a high-quality dress shirt. Dress shirts are synonymous with men's formal outfits. If you're trying to create a formal outfit, such as a suit, you'll need to wear a dress shirt. With that said, you shouldn't purchase the first dress shirt that you come across. By taking the time to choose the right dress shirt, you'll get more value from it while taking full advantage of its benefits.

Different Fabrics

When shopping for a dress shirt, you should consider the fabric. Dress shirts are available in many different fabrics. Linen is commonly used in the construction of dress shirts. Linen is a lightweight and thin textile that comes from the flax plant. Dress shirts made of linen exhibit these same qualifies, making them ideal for the warm spring and summer months.

You can find dress shirts made of cotton as well. Cotton is a softer and fluffier textile. It's not as lightweight as linen, but cotton is a versatile fabric that allows for year-round usage. Some dress shirts are even made of Giza cotton. Giza is a type of premium cotton that comes from a specific variety of cotton plants.

Short-Sleeve or Long-Sleeve

Dress shirts are available in short-sleeve and long-sleeve styles. These two styles are fairly self-explanatory. Short-sleeve dress shirts have partial sleeves that extend to about the biceps or elbows. Long-sleeve dress shirts have full-length sleeves that extend all the way to the wrists.

Which sleeve style should you choose exactly? For warm weather, short-sleeve dress shirts are a better choice. For cool weather, long-sleeve dress shirts are a better choice. The only exception is when you are planning to wear a suit. If you're going to wear a suit, you should typically choose a long-sleeve dress shirt, regardless of the weather. Long-sleeve dress shirts are synonymous with suits. They offer a more formal and complete appearance than their short-sleeve counterparts.

The Cuffs

You should consider the cuffs when shopping for a dress shirt. All long-sleeve dress shirts have cuffs. Cuffs are the ends of the sleeves. The sleeves on a long-sleeve dress shirt don't feature a single piece of fabric that runs straight. Rather, they are designed with cuffs at the ends of the sleeves.

Some long-sleeve dress shirts have cuffs with built-in buttons. After putting on one of these dress shirts, you can fasten the buttons on the cuffs. Other long-sleeve dress shirts have buttonless cuffs. Without any buttons, you'll have to fasten the cuffs with cufflinks.

Cufflinks are button-like accessories that are used to fasten buttonless cuffs. They typically consist of an I-shaped piece of solid material, such as stainless steel or brass. Buttonless cuffs have precut holes in them. To fasten them, you can insert cufflinks through these holes. Keep in mind that cufflinks are only designed for use with buttonless cuffs. If your dress shirt already has buttons on the cuffs, you won't need to use them.

The Collars

Not all dress shirts feature the same style of collar. There are several different collar styles in which dress shirts are made. Whether you're planning to buy a short-sleeve or a long-sleeve dress shirt, you should familiarize yourself with some of the different collar styles.

One of the most common collar styles is spread. Also known as Windsor collars, spread collars offer a sleek and formal appearance. They typically measure about 3.5 to 8.5 inches between the two collar points. Another common collar style is point. Point collars are narrower than spread collars. You can usually find them on slim-fitted dress shirts. There are also sport collars. Sport collars are the least common. Originating in the 1950s, they are generally used for polo shirts and a few other types of short-sleeve dress shirts.

Pleated or Non-Pleated

There are pleated dress shirts, and there are non-pleated dress shirts. A pleat, of course, is a vertical section of fabric that's folded with the ends sewn together.

Most dress shirts are non-pleated. However, there are some dress shirts with pleats. The pleats are typically found on the back. You may discover two pleats on the back of a dress shirt. These vertical sections of folded fabric are designed to help dress shirts flex.

Pleats aren't restricted to dress shirts. Many trousers have them as well. In both dress shirts and trousers, pleated are vertical sections of folded fabric.

Don't Forget the Tail

Remember to check the tail when shopping for a dress shirt. The tail is a section of fabric that extends farther down the back of a dress shirt. Even if the front of a dress shirt has a clean and horizontal end that runs across your waistline, the back of the dress shirt will likely feature an extended section of fabric, which is known as the tail.

What's the purpose of the tail exactly? With a tail, dress shirts are less likely to come untucked. Most men tuck their dress shirts into the waistband of their trousers. For a formal outfit, you'll need to follow this same process by tucking in your dress shirt. A tail will help to secure your dress shirt inside the waistband of your trousers. Since the tail is lower, it will sit deeper into your trousers where it prevents your dress shirt from coming untucked.


Maintenance is something else to consider when shopping for a dress shirt. All clothes require maintenance -- and dress shirts are no exception. At a minimum, you'll need to wash them. Washing a dress shirt will eliminate stains while simultaneously protecting it from premature wear and tear.

Some dress shirts can be machine-washed. Other dress shirts, conversely, require hand-washing. There are also dress shirts that either require or support dry-cleaning. You can leanr more about the required mainenance of a dress shirt by checking its care tag. The care tag is a label with instructions on how to wash, dry and care for a dress shirt.