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.