The Ultimate Guide to Men’s Dress Shirt Styles – Nimble Made

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The Ultimate Guide to Men’s Dress Shirt Styles

Men’s Dress Shirt Styles

There are several different styles of men’s dress shirts. Of course, there’s the typical long-sleeved button-down look, but do you know about the different style choices for shirts?


If you want to be in the know when it comes to style so you can get the award for Sharp Dressed Man, then this article will tell you about which dress shirts to wear for different occasions. You will learn the different styles and how they should fit on your body. 

3 nimble shirts

Which shirts are considered dress shirts?

Of course, in order to discuss men’s dress shirts, the first thing to know is what is necessary for a shirt to be considered dressy. It’s obvious that tee shirts aren’t dressy. Although polo shirts have come to be acceptable in many workplaces, they are also not dressy, so save them for the golf course or situations where business casual attire is acceptable. 


For those of you living in really hot environments, a lot of places may let you get away with short sleeve button-downs as dressy shirts. These are considered acceptable attire in many business environments now, and even some weddings.  However, this does not qualify them formally as dress shirts. Long sleeves are mandatory for a shirt to be considered a dress shirt. 


This begs the question of what else is necessary for a shirt to be considered dressy if it isn’t related to style or culture? In short, a men’s dress shirt is a long-sleeved, button-up shirt with a collar. The shirt needs to be able to accommodate a tie and be worn under a jacket, even if the occasion doesn’t require either of them.


Can dress shirts have pockets?

Be careful when flirting with pockets because they have a massive impact on how people perceive your outfit. The most formal dress shirts never have pockets. This is because gentlemen never needed pockets in the old world. Pockets were for working-class people. 

sport shirt with single pocket

Having 1 pocket renders a shirt less formal, but recent fashion trends have suggested it may still count as a dress shirt. Just avoid a single pocket shirt in the most formal occasions, because it will reduce the formality a bit. 

double pocket green sport shirt

Shirts with 2 pockets are not actually dress shirts. Regardless of the collar, sleeves, and buttons, a double pocketed shirt is perceived as less formal. You can thank the old culture again for this. Chest pockets on both sides of a shirt are extremely informal, and generally were only used by blue-collar workers, on safaris, and by the military - groups that could actually make use of the 2 pockets.


Fit: How a Men’s Dress Shirt Should Look on Your Body

The fit of a shirt is just as important as the accouterments when it comes to formal versus casual shirts. A sloppy shirt will quickly drag down even the nicest of dress shirts. Most men don’t wear shirts that properly fit their bodies, because they don’t have each of their shirts tailored. Off the rack, clothing is quick and convenient, so the fit won’t always be perfect. Just make sure it’s within decent parameters. 


Your Torso Fit

A dress shirt should never be loose or baggy. It should fit your torso like a glove, with the buttons laying flat on your chest. Don’t wear a shirt with buttons that are struggling to open and showing skin.

On the other hand, don’t wear a shirt where the buttons are loose and the shirt is bagging up around your waist. The right fit on a man’s dress shirt will allow your buttons to lie flat and give you enough room to breathe and stretch without sagging material which are issues our shirts resolve. See below for a perfect fitting shirt:

Fabian in pink with pool stick


The Right Sleeve Length

The sleeve length and cuff style will vary based on the type of shirt you’re wearing and whether or not you need to add a jacket to your look. A lot of dress shirts have 6 buttonholes instead of 4 to accommodate changes in arm lengths and cuffing. Your cuffs should never extend past your wrists, no matter what you wear over the shirt. You want those cuff links to be visible accessories, not obstructions to handshakes. 



Collar Styles and Cuff Pairings

The most visible style variances in men’s dress shirts are in the collars. Each type of collar is appropriate for different occasions, so you need to make sure your tie, cuff, and collar match the event you’re attending. 


Forward Point Collar forward point collar dress shirt graphic

Point Collar

One of the most formal type of collar is the forward point collar, which is commonly referred to as the straight point collar. This is also the most traditional collar type. It has a very narrow collar and looks best when worn under a suit with a tie. The collar point is long and the tips are very close when compared to other shirts. 

The point collar is also one of the more versatile collar types. It can fit equally well in a business meeting or black-tie gala. For this collar, small or medium tie knots and round or angled cuffs look best. 


Short Semi-Spread Collar

short semi spread dress shirt collar

Short Semi-Spread Collar

If your shirt has shorter points that are wider apart, you’ve got a semi-spread. This is a more casual look, but thanks to changes in social trends it can still be worn during formal occasions. This is a great option for long-necked men. 

This look works well with a Windsor knot on the tie. Because of the wider spread, you can get fancy with larger tie knots. Pair this shirt with rounded or angled cuffs.  


Cutaway Collar

cutaway dress shirt collar infographic

Cutaway Collar

One of the smallest collar point lengths can be found on the cutaway collar, so if you don’t like tips then this is the collar for you. The tips are short and spread really wide. This shirt has become very popular among modern gentlemen because of the sophisticated look, but it’s not ideal for workwear if your office is extremely formal because you will be able to see some of the collar underneath the tie. 


This shirt compliments angled faces because the sharpness of the band will soften your edges. Pair this shirt with large knots like the Windsor for a more traditional look, but If you want to play into the sophistication of the shirt then try a Trinity, Balthus, or Eldredge knot instead. This shirt should only be worn with straight cuffs.  

Spread Collar

long dress shirt spread collar

Long Spread Collar

If you want to wear a dress shirt in a casual or work setting, then the spread collar is your best bet. It’s not super formal and isn't disqualified from being worn at work. It’s a modern and elegant look that is commonly seen in many work environments today. The collar is versatile enough to work with nearly every tie knot you choose. 

white dress shirt with black coat, model in front view

This collar is well balanced and versatile. It can be worn in nearly every situation, and by nearly any facial type. You can use straight or rounded cuffs with it.  


Long Button-Down Collar

long button down dress shirt collar

Button-down Collar

This collar makes for a less formal dress shirt. Again, this is a great shirt to wear in more casual situations for a sharper look than just a t-shirt. The tips of this collar have button holes that fasten them to the shirt. Originally, this look was developed for sportswear, but thanks to changing societal trends it has now found a home among casual and informal business outfits and is extremely popular with young men. 


This look is almost never paired with a tie because of its casual nature. Pair it with a sports jacket or a tailored blazer if you want to dress it up a bit. Angled cuffs work best with this sporty collar. 



Short Button Down

short button down dress shirt infographic

Short Button-down Collar

Young men and teenagers who need a dress shirt might enjoy the short button-down shirt. The tips of this collar are very short, but still button down. This medium collar looks great on Oxford shirts because it blends classic and modern styles. 


This shirt should be paired with a jacket or blazer. Avoid wearing a tie with it unless necessary. The angled cuff is still the right choice for this shirt.  


Round Collar

club collar dress shirt collar infographic

Club Collar

A popular 1920s style that is seeing a resurgence in popularity is the round collar. This collar features rounded tips, which is where it gets its name. Another name for it is the club collar. This collar was an exclusive look for wealthy English school uniforms. 


Men with long faces will look great in this collar, but if you’ve got a rounder face, steer clear. This shirt goes well with very thin ties and knits. To make this shirt more casual, leave the collar open or wear it under a sweater vest. Rounded cuffs look best with this.  



Band Collar

band collar dress shirt collar infographic

Band Collar

If you want to give a nod to Eastern fashion, then consider a band collar. These don’t have any points. These shirts have a 3cm high band around the neck with a front button. Because of its minimal design, it can be worn for special events, whether or not you include a jacket. This shirt requires rounded cuffs and cannot be worn with a tie. 



Wingtip Collar

wingtip collar type dress shirt infographic

Wingtip Collar

The wingtip collar is the most formal style of men’s dress shirt available and was designed to be worn with tuxedo shirts. The point lengths are very short and don’t even reach the bottom of the collar. Although this originated as a business shirt, today’s culture sees it used almost exclusively in black-tie galas. This style is paired with a tailcoat or tuxedo. 


The style of the shirt is designed for use with a bowtie only. Trying to wear a tie with this shirt will look silly. The French cuff is the only cuff for this shirt because of how formal it is, but you can choose between double or rounded styles. You must wear cufflinks.