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What You Need to Know When Buying Dress Shirts

by Kevin Yapjoco
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

Having a good set of dress shirts is an essential part of every man's wardrobe. It serves as the backdrop to your neckties and complements your suit or sport coat. When buying dress shirts it's important to know what you already have and build on that. If you're not content with what you already have you can always start over. Here's how.


Collar styles play an integral part in how people perceive your face. For people with long and narrow faces a collar that has a wider spread is ideal. For those with round faces a collar that doesn't spread wide and has long points will offset the roundness.

The trend these days is a smaller collar; note, though, that these do not pair well with neckties. Neckties are usually thick and when put under a small collar will stick out. To be safe choose collars that are standard in size so you will not have problems when using neckties.

When buying dress shirts do not forget to button the collar to check if you fasten it without feeling constricted. As a rule of thumb you should be able to fit in two fingers while the top button is fastened. Remember that the constant washing and drying these shirts will undergo will make the collar shrink a bit over time so make sure to buy them with room to shrink.

Colors and Patterns

The holy grail of shirt colors are white, blue and pink. The last two colors should be of the pale variety to maximize versatility. If we look at these three colors you will notice that they will more often than not pair with almost any color or style of necktie out there. These three colors also work well with navy or gray suits. Common patterns such as narrow vertical stripes and small ginghams are good options for variety.


Dress shirts are worn tucked in therefore should be long enough that it covers the buttocks. Shirts that are short in length are only a nuisance as one needs to constantly tuck them in throughout the course of the day.

The sleeve length is something most men forget to check. It doesn't matter from the beginning but when one starts to wear suits and sport coats later on sleeve lengths will matter. Half an inch is the recommended amount of shirt cuff that should be visible when wearing a coat so the shirt should cover at most an inch past your wristbone. Here's a tip: Flex your arms to see if the sleeve stays in place. If it stays in place then you've got an ideal shirt sleeve. If you feel any pulling it's not a good fit.

Overall Fit

A good dress shirt should be comfortably snug. It should be cut close to the body yet allow for freedom of movement and comfortable to wear all day long. Important areas to check for tightness are the shoulders, chest and waist. If these areas are too tight, consider sizing up. Consider going to a tailor if you can't find a well-fitting shirt off-the-rack.