How to Buy A Dress Shirt | Ultimate Guide to Getting the Perfect One

How to Buy A Dress Shirt | Ultimate Guide to Getting the Perfect One

Shopping may not be everyone’s forte; some may just want things to be over with so they can move onto something else in their life or perhaps they’re not too picky about what clothes they buy. Maybe they’d rather have someone else shop for them.

However, we know that shopping is a big deal. It’s not as simple as grabbing the first item off the rack or shelf. You need to know everything about what it is you’re buying so you’re making the most out of your investment.

For instance, clothing is a huge topic for shoppers. We see outlets and retailers everywhere. You’re always going to need clothing because they go through wear and tear and humans tend to change or grow physically, so your outfits need to adapt as well. 

One type of clothing, in particular, is the dress shirt. 


What’s the Big Deal?

mens dress shirt how to buy

Dress shirts are a crucial part of everyone’s wardrobe. You need them for your meetings, business, and formal occasions such as weddings or balls. Even kids would start to wear dress shirts. They’re always used for more casual environments too such as charities, fundraisers, lunches, etc.

Finding the best dress shirt will truly benefit your comfort when you need to be presentable and formal. In these situations, you not only want to look good, but feel good as well. The perfect fit is important because you don’t want to wear anything that will feel too tight or too loose. It will also let others know that you’re capable of finding great quality clothes for yourself to look and feel professional, impressing your peers. Here's a separate guide if you're thinking "should I get my suit tailored?"

Dress shirts aren’t everyone's choice of clothing for everyday purposes, but they’re typically a symbol that represents an individual who’s out to achieve great things and has a higher purpose in their objectives, so we would advise you to invest more time and research to look for your perfect dress shirts.


Things to Look Out For

Now when it comes to shopping for dress shirts, what are the things you should look out for? You should definitely keep these in mind if you haven’t already. 

The Fit

mens fitted dress shirt

One of the most important aspects (if anything, it’s the most important.) is how should a dress shirt fit on you. If you’re not comfortable wearing the dress shirt, why are you even purchasing it then? If the chest diameter, collar, shoulders, or sleeves are too tight or too long, you know you need to find another size shirt. Typically, there are three types of fits for dress shirts. 


The regular fit for dress shirts is usually the most relaxed, because the purpose of a dress shirt is to look more sleek, rather than baggy. They will usually sit a bit looser in the shoulders to spread down some comfortable room for your arms, torso, and waist. If you're not sure what waist measurement entails, here's a guide on how to measure your waist. This is usually the fit for most folks and people who have a bit of muscle on them. 


The slim fit is the best option for a skinny fit especially if you're looking for short men dress shirts. These are the recommended fit for people who are athletic or naturally more slim and want something that doesn’t look baggy. In these cases, even the regular fit would be too boxy around certain areas. Don't forget to check out our article on best dress shirts for athletic men and browse these dress shirts for short men


The Fabric

Another crucial foundation for dress shirts is the fabric that they use during production. The material affects every aspect of the dress shirt from the fit, feel, design, cost, and maintenance of the shirt too. 

Some fabrics are thicker and better for winter or outdoor activities. Some material like fine cotton is great for office, business conventions, or summer environments since they’re usually thin and work well in spaces that have air conditioners. Some dress shirts may be a bit more firm or stiff, so it’s harder to move around, but looks crisp.

Also, some fabric may need more effort when it comes to ironing and cleaning your shirts. For your everyday outfits, it may be best to go with easy iron material so it’s faster to prepare. Also since you may be wearing your dress shirt for long periods of time, it’s important to have comfortable fabric that won’t irritate your skin.


The Collar

the collar of a dress shirt

One of the aspects of dress shirts that stand out is the collar. There are a few different types of collars and they work with different types of tie knots and pairs with different face shapes. Here’s a list of several:

  • Classic

The classic collar will match most face shapes since it’s the most common collar you’ll find on dress shirts. It has about four to five centimeters of collar length, so it works great with the classic four-in-hand tie knot. It’s super versatile that will work for both casual and formal occasions. You have probably seen this collar on most button-up dress shirts.

  • Standard

The standard collar is not so far off from the classic collar: it has a slightly longer and bigger collar point, so it will fit better with faces that are bigger or wider. Needless to say, it works great with plenty of different tie knots, like the four in hand.

  • Spread

This collar has a bigger spread and has a shorter point length, so it doesn’t drop down as much. This collar keeps the focus on the tie that you wear. It’s the right style for Windsor knots or other wide or fuller knots. This works well with people who have flat faces.

  • Semi-Spread

The semi-spread is not as wide as the spread collar, but retains the longer collar point length so it suits better for people who have slender faces or longer necks. This type of collar is also great for big tie knots too. Here is a guide on how to measure neck size.

  • Tab

The tab has a high collar, so it works great for people who have long necks. It also has a very small and thin fixed tab at the center. The tab is always worn with a tie since the collar point length is quite long and presents a rectangular edge instead of your usual triangle collar points.

  • Italian Spread

The Italian spread covers a wider area, so it’s even better for larger and wide tie knots or ties that are more thick and wide. This also allows for some of your tie lengths to be visible around the neck, so it adds an accent to your outfit. Generally works well with people who have flatter faces.

  • British Spread

On the other hand, the British Spread is a collar that flatters people with a narrow face. It has slightly longer collar points and you can definitely play around with different tie knot sizes. 

  • Button-down

The button-down is another basic collar that is suitable for any face shape. It’s both for casual and formal settings, but definitely more casual and it can be worn with or without a tie. If you do wish to wear a tie with this collar, it helps hold down the tie so it doesn’t move or come loose as easily. The button itself acts as an accent to your outfit as well.

  • Hidden Button

The hidden button is essentially the same as the button down, but the button is hidden, so it gives more of a focus to the tie that you wear with it. Obviously, this means this collar is mostly worn with a tie, but other than that it has the same function as a button-down.

  • Two Button Collar

The two-button collar stands true to its name: it has two buttons on the collar instead of your usual one. It pairs well with people who have a more narrow face. You have the option of wearing a tie or not and it’ll still be presentable with this collar. 

  • Wingtip

The wingtip collar is a unique collar that has collar points that appear folded behind the button tab or center front, or the points are just super short. It would appear to be like wings. The button tab is more prominent and this is the style of collar that’s usually pair with tuxedos or for black or white tie events. 


The Buttons

Not only are the buttons themselves able to have different options, but the placket, or the strip of the fabric where the buttons reside can have modifications as well. Buttons can be made from your cost-friendly plastic, pearl shell casing, or wood materials. This can provide a wide range of accents for your outfit.

The placket can be designed to cover the buttons as well or have no placket at all, so it’s all smooth with no visible extra layers. 


The Cuffs

Dress shirt cuffs are a quality of the shirt that sometimes isn’t given enough spotlight. They are the part of the dress shirt that’s visible when you’re wearing a jacket or when you’re shaking hands or doing a presentation and you’re moving your hands. Cufflinks are a thing too.

There are a few different varieties of cuffs, such as the standard button cuffs, barrel cuffs, and french cuffs. They are made for different styles and fashions.


The Color/Print

mens dress shirt color options

One of the most obvious details to notice about choosing a dress shirt is the color and the print on it. It is judging a book by its cover, but at times the color and pattern are what decides your outfit depending on the occasion. Like white for weddings.

There are definitely occasions where you shouldn’t have some sort of extravagant print or even words or logos that’s easily visible on your dress shirts. For instance, you don’t want to go to a job interview with a dress shirt that has the name of the company’s competition.

You can definitely rock patterns and prints for more casual events. Just make sure they match your outfit.


The Price

Lastly, you can’t forget about the cost of the dress shirt when you’re shopping. Some are cheap, but that might mean their quality isn’t the greatest, so it’s not durable or comfortable. A few can be really expensive, so it may not be worth it unless you have the capital.

You definitely need to find the balance between quality and the price of dress shirts. Quality should be more of a priority, but depending on the urgency of the need to purchase a dress shirt and your budget, you’ll probably only need to grab one shirt and not multiple. 


Our Recommendations

After all this talk about how to buy a dress shirt, you probably want to start shopping right? Well, we do have some recommendations that you can start with.

Top Pick: Nimble Made

nimble made best dress shirt to buy

Our number one brand to recommend, and we are a little biased here, is Nimble Made. We’re an Asian American brand that started their project because it was difficult to find comfortable fits that are appropriate for the slim Asian builds.

Our dress shirts have a custom size chart that can be found here. Their fit is definitely slim, so if you don’t like a nice fit and prefer baggier clothes, you’ll want to shop somewhere else. However, the skim fit shirts here are a great fit for most men because it strikes the perfect balance between skinny and regular fits. You won’t be too relaxed, but also not too uncomfortable if the shirt is skin-tight.

Nimble Made dress shirts have specific qualities that are done right for your comfort. Reinforced collars, trimmed chest, shoulders, and back, fitted sleeves, and proper sleeve and shirt lengths for a balanced, slim fit that’s almost like it’s been custom-tailored. You can check them out here.


Classic Blue Dress Shirt 

One of the most classic and professional dress shirt options you can go with is the classic blue dress shirt. This one is slim fit throughout and features a subtle herringbone weave for a sleek look and comfortable fit. At first glance it looks blue, but upon closer inspection you will also see discreet pink highlights in the fabric for an additional upgrade to a classic look. 

Like all Nimble Made professional dress shirts, this features trimmed shoulders, chest, and back for a close fit, reinforced collars so it doesn’t wrinkle and look sloppy, fitted sleeves, the proper sleeve length for professional meetings, and the perfect shirt length for you to tuck into your pants without worrying about bulk. Check out our full guide to the best blue dress shirts for men.



Dark Blue Dress Shirt

On the other hand, you can buy a dress shirt that is more casual for those workspaces that are casual or business casual. This features a short, semi-spread collar and can be worn with khakis or jeans, depending on the occasion. 

Since it’s more casual, it features a heather pattern and is 100% cotton for more versatility. This is also a slim-fit dress shirt and has rounded cuffs and white buttons that pop against the darker blue material.

You can easily find your size by entering your height and weight. On Nimble Made’s site, you can enter your details and they will automatically recommend a size to make things easier for you.  


Final Thoughts

Take a look at the Nimble Made site to see what you can try on today. You can take a look to see what types of styles suit you the best, and don’t be afraid to branch out and try something different. Fashion is all about expressing oneself, and a dress shirt is one of the most dynamic ways you can showcase your personality--even in a business setting. 

In addition, Nimble Made has in stock the basic and standard colors so you’ll be able to replace your entire closet. They also have flannels and casual dress shirts in their stock, so you have multiple options for your wardrobe. In addition, there are classic t-shirts and v necks for you to browse as well. 

Furthermore, they have plenty of accessories in their inventory, such as tie clips, ties, and dress socks. They also have great customer service and can exchange any sizes that may be a little off when you first try them on. Nimble Made definitely has great quality dress shirts and is well worth adding to your closet.

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