A great dress shirt is arguably the most versatile piece of clothing any man can own. It can be worn under a suit jacket or sports coat, on its own as a business casual summer shirt, or with the sleeves rolled up as casual wear.
Below, we’ve listed seven tips to help you get the most from your dress shirt, from preparation tips to the best fabrics and wear ideas:
- Iron your dress shirt properly. Dress shirts look best when they’re properly ironed, with creases in the right places as opposed to the wrong ones. Ironing your dress shirt will help emphasize your physique and let you avoid looking poorly groomed. This video covers how to iron a dress shirt to avoid unwanted wrinkles and maintain a great silhouette.
- Pick a fabric that suits your climate. Not all dress shirt fabrics feel the same. Linen dress shirts breathe well and suit warm, humid climates, while cotton dress shirts work the best for all-purpose temperate areas with distinct seasons.
- Make sure your collar fits. You should be able to fit two fingers into your dress shirt’s collar when it’s fully buttoned up. Any tighter and it will pull on your neck when you turn your head; any looser and it will hang off your neck and shoulders. The Art of Manliness has a good guide to choosing a dress shirt that fits.
- Get your shirt’s sleeves tailored. Your shirt’s sleeves should hang just below your wrist with your arms by your sides. If they extend onto your hand, they’re too long. If they pull too far up your forearm when you hold your arms out horizontally, they’re too short.
- If you don’t like to iron, choose a mixed man-made/cotton fabric. While men’s fashion gurus might not like synthetic fibers, they do make it far easier to maintain your dress shirt. If you don’t like to iron your shirts thoroughly every time you wear them, choose a mixed cotton and man-made fiber fabric.
- Get white first, then blue, then other colors. Stick with a white dress shirt for your first, then go for light blue. These two colors are the most versatile and work well in any situation. Other colors might look great, but they just aren’t versatile with as many outfits. Stripes and other patterns should come after you have the first two solid color shirts.
- Wear undershirts sparingly. If your dress shirt is made of a very thin cotton or linen, there’s a chance that your nipples could show through it in certain lighting. This is more common with white and light blue dress shirts than with other colors. There are two ways to fix this. The first is to wear a very light, fitted tank top. The second is (seriously) to use nipple concealers like these. Both will prevent anything unwanted from showing through your shirt.