What is a Men's Dress Shirt?

Ken Black
Ken Black
Men typically wear dress shirts with a tie and suit.
Men typically wear dress shirts with a tie and suit.

A men's dress shirt is a shirt that is usually worn with a tie or with a suit and is considered an essential part of a more formal wardrobe. It is characterized by having a distinguishing, fold-down collar and buttons down the front which bring the two sides together. While there are short-sleeve men's dress shirts, to be considered truly formal, the men's dress shirt must be long sleeved.

Long-sleeved men's dress shirts also have distinguishing cuffs at each of the wrists. These cuffs are set apart from the rest of the sleeve usually by a change of direction in the stitching and any design that may be featured. The cuffs also come together with a button and the opening for the cuff may extend back past the cuff into the sleeve, where another button may be present.

Men's dress shirts are commonly worn with suits. However, other types of shirts, such as pullover shirts with collars, or even T-shirts, may be used with suits as well. Still, for those who are wanting to maintain a formal presence, the standard is to still wear a dress shirt with a suit.

The collars for a men's dress shirt are varied, but most commonly come in one of two styles -- the point and the button down. The point shirt has a straight edged collar that comes to rest on, or near the front portion of the shirt just below the collarbone. The button down men's dress shirt also comes down to the same point, but is held there by a pair of very small buttons, one on each side. The button down is considered somewhat less formal the point.

Men's dress shirts can come in a variety of colors and patterns. The most common patterns usually feature vertical stripes. While the most common color for dress shirts is white, there are many different colors to choose from and those who wear the shirts regularly will likely have a wide variety of colors in their wardrobe.

One reason why the prominent color of a men's dress shirt is white is so that the tie can be featured in the wardrobe. A white men's dress shirt typically makes the best background for a tie, simply because it makes it stand out and offers no competition with the tie for attention. Also, every tie matches with a white shirt, which further helps provide some flexibility with the wardrobe.

Discussion Comments


@MrSmirnov - I think if you can convince your wife to pick up some simple men's linen shirts that you should be OK. The fabric is lightweight and I find it moves with your body really well.

Another option is to go with 100% cotton and see if you can convince her that some men's short sleeve shirts that look a bit dressy are an OK alternative to being completely covered up. I think most women just really want you to look neat and tidy. From my experience I can tell you that t-shirts and ratty jeans are just asking for trouble at family events.


My wife is set on outfitting me with some men's long sleeve shirts that have a dressy feel, even if I am not doing anything formal. I don't mind wearing button down shirts but are there any dress shirts that are guaranteed to be comfortable?

I have always found men's dress clothing to be too restrictive for my tastes, and while I will wear a suit when need be I shudder a the thought of wearing dress shirts to things like family dinners. Are there any fabrics I can ask my wife to get that might make long sleeves a bit more comfortable. I do want her to be happy with my look at social events.


@dfoster85 - My husband likes those wrinkle-free broadcloth shirts, too. But my father insists that they are just not as crisp and have a rough feeling. He gets the old-fashioned kind (they're hard to find) and sends them out to a laundry service. He likes the very formal kind - always white, white French cuffs. ( These are the long cuffs that turn up and have to be fastened with cuff links. I have short arms and he showed me how to do the same thing with button cuffs to make them shorter!)

I was reading recently that you can get custom-made shirts online for less than a hundred dollars (you have to take your own measurements or have them take by a tailor). Sounds like a good deal - but only if they come in wrinkle-free! We can't all afford a laundry service.


My husband and I used to argue (not seriously, of course) because he wouldn't wear wrinkle-free Oxford cloth dress shirts to work but insisted on broadcloth, which at that time had to be ironed. He said that the Oxford cloth was just too thick and made him sweat.

Enter wrinkle-free broadcloth! How did we ever get by without it? It's all he's allowed to buy now. He does not have to wear a tie to work, so he gets a lot of nice, bright colors and we're both happy.

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    • Men typically wear dress shirts with a tie and suit.
      By: Cello Armstrong
      Men typically wear dress shirts with a tie and suit.