A white dress shirt is a staple in a man’s wardrobe, just as much as every woman needs that classic black dress. The classic white button down is incredibly versatile and can easily be dressed up or down. This makes it ideal for almost any occasion and a must-have for special events. But not all white dress shirts are ideal.
You need to find the right fit (so if you're slim check out these or for shorter guys these are great), style and comfort to get the best results. This is why it is important to understand what makes certain white dress shirts more desirable than others.
Top White Dress Shirts to own in 2020
Inspired by the moon’s roundness, the Crescent by Nimble Made is perfect for dressy and casual occasions. The bottom hem is curved to provide a shirt that can work tucked or untucked, and the sky blue accents add something extra to the overall look. Comes with free metal collar stays and featuring a semi-spread reinforced collar, this collar style allows you to go with or without a tie and look good no matter how you wear it. The broadcloth weave means minimal shine and texture, and gives a sleek and stunning look.
- 100% cotton broadcloth with minimal shine and texture
- Semi-spread collar and metal collar stays
- Sky blue accents
2. Smartcare Trim Fit Solid Dress Shirt
A great example of the classic white dress shirt, mixed with some new inventions, the Smartcare trim fit dress shirt by Nordstrom is a must. The material is 100 percent cotton and includes Smartcare for a wrinkle free experience. That means you can wear it all day without getting those dents and creases, and can be worn without ironing. This shirt also comes with a chest pocket, point collar, curved hem, split back yoke and adjustable button cuffs. You can also remove the collar strays and you can clean it in a washer and dryer.
- Wrinkle free wear
- Point collar
- Machine washable
You can look at their other white shirts here.
3. Traveler Collection Wrinkle Free Tailored Fit Dress Shirt
Another great option that is wrinkle free and provides that classic white dress shirt look is the tailored fit button down from JoS A Bank. As part of the traveler collection, this crisp white shirt is a button-up style with single button cuffs. This allows it to easily be dressed up or down and can even be monogrammed if you want. One of the best features is the pricing. You can get two shirts for a great price, as well as pay monthly installments if you are on a tight budget but still want to look good.
- Button down collar
- Can make payments
- Can add monogramming
Charles Tyrwhitt offers a slim fit white dress shirt as well that is made of 100 percent cotton and features a classic point collar. The shirt is mid-weight and made with a twill weave, which makes it great for all year wear. You get a discount for buying more than one shirt from the site, as well as receiving a six month quality guarantee with every purchase.
- Twill weave
- Classic collar
- 6 month guarantee
The Ludlow shirt from J. Crew is another classic point collar cotton button down, with some great additional features. The two ply shirt is made of cotton and elastane to make it semi-stretchy and create a more comfortable feel. You can use your washing machine, making care easy, and the material is designed to be wrinkle free. You can also get this shirt in a slim or classic fit.
- Point collar
- Machine washable
- Cotton and elastane material
How to choose a good white dress shirt?
To make sure you are getting the most out of your shirt, it is important to consider certain things.
Finding the Size that Fits You
Size is perhaps the most important part of guaranteeing your white dress shirt looks good on you. Dress shirts are not sold in the standard small, medium, large, etc. Instead they are sized by giving you the neck length and sleeve length.
To guarantee that the shirt is not too big or too small, you should always go in with your measurements. This is as simple as taking a measuring tape and wrapping it around your neck to get the circumference in inches. From that number, you should add a quarter of an inch to it. This will allow for some breathing room, without overcompensating. If your neck measurement is not on a clear inch mark or half inch mark, you should round it up to the nearest half.
Your sleeve length will also be measured in inches and can be done by measuring from the nape of your neck to the end of your wrist. For the best results, this should be done by standing with your arms lightly at your side and then have a friend or partner measure for you. You should round your sleeve length to the nearest inch.
Off the rack dress shirts will show you the neck size first then the sleeve length. For example, the tag may read “16 ½ 32-33”. The 16 ½ will be your neck circumference and the 32-33 measurement will be the sleeve length range.
If you want to have a custom dress shirt made, you will need to have more measurements, such as chest width or circumference, waist width or circumference, and even hips depending on the type of fit and how long you want the shirt to go. Most custom shirts will require you to be measured in store, so they will take the measurements they find necessary.
When it comes to the fit of your shirt, there are four main examples. The classic fit is designed to provide more room on the shoulders, creating a broader appearance. There is also some extra room for the chest and waist, as well as looser sleeves. This fit is ideal for those who don’t want their shirts too tight, and will also add the appearance to a broader chest and shoulders. This is overall, a very flattering fit for anyone.
The regular fit is also cut broadly across the shoulders and provide some extra room from the chest and waist. There is not quite as much room around the waist as the classic fit, but is not form fitting. The sleeves are slightly loose, but not as large as the classic size. This provides a slightly more tailored fit to show off more of your form, while making you still appear to have broader shoulders and chest.
Trim fit shirts are designed to be more form fitting and make the body appear more slender and give a crisp appearance to the shirt. The armholes are slightly higher than on the classic or regular fit, and is cut much more closely to the chest. There is still room left for movement so you aren’t going to be restricted by the shirt, but will aim to keep your chest and waist appear as true to size as possible. The sleeves are also trimmer to define arms and make it look smoother under a jacket.
For a slimmer body type, you may want to consider an extra-trim fit. This will provide you with a shirt that fits close to your body, preventing you from looking baggy if you have a skinnier body. The armholes are high to keep the shoulders and armpits tailored to you, and the chest and waist is cut slim to avoid extra fabric. The waist and sleeves are both narrow and will fit very smoothly under a jacket.
Picking the collar
Not all dress shirt collars are the same and it is important to find the right one for you. There are two main types of collars, and then many different subtypes. The standard ,or point, collar makes up around 95 percent of all dress shirts and is the classic look. The collar’s edges are pointed down at a 60 degree angle and leaves very little space between the panels. These collars are ideal for those who want to create a more elongated look to their face and draw the eye downward.
A spread collar is designed to look more youthful and less formal, while also showing off a tie if you choose to wear one. The collar points down at a 90 degree angle and helps to promote the eyes being drawn to your face. Spread collars are also associated with a younger style and can add some fun and quirkiness to your style.
Another popular style of collar is the button down. This collar is sports and preppy, making it ideal for a casual or dressed down outfit. It is not designed to be worn in a business setting, but instead for events with a more lax dress code.
There are also many other collar types including the club, mandarin, pin, tab, spear, square, cutaway, band and wing. They all vary in height and stiffness, and are designed for various occasions.
You will also need to consider your cuff, color, and pattern.
Your cuffs on a dress shirt can be simplified into two categories: buttons and cufflinks. Buttons are much more casual and easier to dress down. While cufflinks add a little extra to the outfit and work well in business or formal events.
Colors and patterns may not seem to mean much when you are looking for a white dress shirt, but there are actually a lot of options. You can opt for the plain white shirt with no pattern, a white shirt with light stripes, or even a white shirt with a pattern on it. You will also need to consider whether you want to go with a white, off white, ivory or any other version of white that they may have. While it may not look very different on the rack, you will see the difference when wearing it.
You should also consider the material and care instructions of your dress shirt. For example, cotton is a very breathable material and is also more often than not able to be machine washed. This means you can care for your shirt with less maintenance or cost to you.
Tips to Consider
If you are ready to purchase a dress shirt, following these tips can help make the process go smoother.
Consider the Occasion
You should always consider where you are going to be wearing the shirt and what the dress code will be. If you will need to be in a suit, you should make sure you are buying something that is not only comfortable, but will be able to fit under a suit. For more casual occasions, you may want to go with a button down collar, and a less fitted style. If you will be tucking your shirt in, you should make sure it will both stay tucked as you move, and not create unwanted lumps and bulges from the extra material. Untucked shirts should be longer than the top of your hips, but not too long to make it look like a “dress” shirt.
Check the Stitching
Just like with any other clothing, you should always check the stitching before purchasing or removing the tags. Loose threads is a sign of low quality work and can be a good indication that the shirt will not last long. You should look for well done stitching, quality thread and even seams. If they are not there, you should return the shirt for something better.
Always Try It On
You should never go out wearing a dress shirt that you haven’t properly tried on. This isn’t just to see if it looks good in a mirror, but to make sure it will handle movements well. You should lift your arms over your head and circle them around, bend forward, sit down and try to recreate as much of the movement in your daily life as possible. If the shirt can move with you without being in the way, or riding up, then you have found a good one.
Have A Backup
Great dress shirts can be hard to find. To help save you time, and avoid being stuck without one if something happens, you should always have a backup. This will keep you looking good and avoiding having to call it a day or rushing to find a replacement if your original gets damaged.
Warnings and Reminders
The right dress shirt can make you look sophisticated, stylish and really enhance your physical form. But the wrong dress shirt can make you look like you don’t know what you are doing and do nothing to flatter your physic. To avoid a fashion faux pas, it is important to avoid making some common dress shirt errors.
Don’t Go Too Big or Too Small
The right fit can make a man look like a red carpet celebrity. But the wrong fit can make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. If you go with a shirt too big for your body type, you can end up looking like a child wearing their father’s clothes. You should be wearing the shirt, rather than it wearing you, and it should not look like you are borrowing the shirt from someone else. While you do want some extra room for movement, too big just looks unprofessional.
A dress shirt that is too small can accentuate any problem areas, no matter how small, and make you look awkward. You should always make sure you have enough room for movement and avoid being stiff and almost robotic in your shirt. If you want the extra-trim fit, you will want to still keep enough extra room to avoid being skin tight and looking like you are bursting out of it.
Make Sure It Is Long Enough
As a rule of thumb, you should get a dress shirt long enough to tuck into your waistband. But you should also make sure that it will stay there as you move. Properly tuck the shirt and then move your arms around, lift them up and bend over. If the shirt remains tucked as it should, it is long enough for you.
Avoid Allergic Reactions
Some companies will use chemicals, dyes and additives to make their shirts stand out and look more appealing. But they can often have negative effects on your skin, including allergic reactions. You should always check the tag and do your research to make sure you aren’t going to end up a blotchy, red mess at your next important event. You should also always wash your shirts first before wearing them to make sure you remove anything that may be still in it that could irritate your skin.
Whether it is business, casual, formal or a combination, you may be surprised how well a simple white dress shirt works to fit your needs. This classic piece works with nearly everything and can make even the most clueless man look like a stylish and chic fashion follower. So whether it is with jeans, dress pants, or the full suit, dress to impress with the right white dress shirt.