15 Types of Shirts for Men, According to Style Experts


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Jul 24, 2023

15 Types of Shirts for Men, According to Style Experts

Our product picks are editor-tested, expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site. Why Trust Us? Yeah, there are quite a few—to know and own. UNDERSTANDING ALL of the different

Our product picks are editor-tested, expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site. Why Trust Us?

Yeah, there are quite a few—to know and own.

UNDERSTANDING ALL of the different types of shirts for men is paramount when it comes to stocking up your wardrobe. From formal occasions to casual outings, wearing the right shirt can make all the difference. Hence, we’ve spoken to designers from some of our favorite clothing brands to draft up this comprehensive guide on the 15 types of shirts for men.

From crisp and refined button-down shirts for formal dress codes to the laid-back comfort of casual shirts, we break down each type of shirt for men below by their characteristics, styling tips, and recommendations of tested products. There are types of shirts for men to suit every occasion, and our experts-curated guide to types of shirts for men will help you navigate through which ones you should be wearing.

“This is the apotheosis of all shirts, in my opinion—the king,” says Michael Bastian, Creative Director of Brooks Brothers, AKA the brand that invented the Oxford Cloth Button-Down (OCBD) shirt in 1900. Legend has it that Oxford creator John E. Brooks was inspired by English polo players, whose button-downs featured buttoned collars to keep them in place while riding. Another defining feature of the Oxford shirt is its thick, basketweave fabric.

Compared to dress shirts, OCBD shirts are softer, more durable, and more low-maintenance, though they are more casual than dress shirts, and certainly more versatile. “There’s a reason this shirt shares its name with the dictionary of record. To me, It’s the definition of a perfect shirt. Dressed up or down, work or weekend—it’s what I own most of,” says Matthew Congdon, the SVP of Design & Merchandising at Mack Weldon. Bastian also highlights the versatility of Oxford shirts: “It can be dressed up or down, looks great pressed or rumpled, ages beautifully, and is an icon of American style.”

Read More: Best Oxford Shirts

Today’s Oxford shirts are more comfortable and versatile than ever. They can be made with stretch or non-iron stretch, and come in a variety of finishes for different end uses. However, there’s always the classic, such as a classic blue. Brooks Brothers, for example, still undoubtedly makes the best Oxford shirt for the price. However, brands like Taylor Stitch also make great everyday-friendly, tailored Oxford shirt that is soft and durable

Dress shirts can be as basic as just any long-sleeve collared shirt with full buttons in the front, in any color or pattern variations. But today’s best dress shirts are no longer so stiff. “Just because it has the word ‘dress’ doesn’t mean it can’t be comfortable,” says Congdon. Now equipped with performance feats like moisture-wicking, breathability, stretch, and wrinkle resistance, dress shirts today are all the more durable, comfortable, and versatile—"The only rule is that they should be tucked in,” says Spencer Riley, Charles Tyrwhitt's Director of Product Design.

Regarding this type of shirt, there are a few more things to look out for. One, how the shirt fits properly at the neck and the sleeve length. “If the collar is too big, a tie will never look right; If the sleeves are too long or short, you won’t get that perfect ½ inch of cuff showing when you’re wearing a jacket,” says Bastian. Additionally, Riley says that dress shirts should feature a stiff brass collar— “an interlined collar with a patch for a perfect roll and presentation”—as well as taped seams that “ensure that the shirt maintains its form, fits the body well.”

Read More: Best Dress Shirts

We especially love Rhone’s Commuter dress shirt because it’s light, breathable, with four-way stretch, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and built with anti-odor. But if you’re on a budget, Calvin Klein’s best-seller on Amazon has a wrinkle-free, stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric that’ll get you through the day as well.

When a dress shirt feels too much and a t-shirt is simply not enough, polo shirts are your best and safest type of shirt to bet on. “For something that is essentially a t-shirt with a collar, I’m always amazed at how a polo can elevate any look,” says Congdon. The magic of the polo shirt flows from its versatility that meets halfway between casual and formal. Contemplating dressing up? Sport it with crisp chinos for a smart(er) office fit. And dressing down with polo shirts has never been easier, whether it’s over swim trunks or tucked-in jeans.

However, Bastian has some caveats: “Polos seem easy to wear but they really can highlight problem areas like a belly or skinny arms if you’re not careful.” This is why polo shirts are best for guys in great, athletic shape. A perfect fit is thus key to finding the best polo shirts: a streamlined silhouette that's fitted but not tight can show off your upper physique, and a tapered short sleeve can let your guns breathe.

Read More: Best Polo Shirts

The OG polo shirt by Lacoste has a classic pique for structure and breathability, according to Congdon. If you’re dressing up in polo shirts, Gihan Amarasiriwardena, Co-Founder of Ministry of Supply, suggests a "polo with a sturdier ‘dress shirt’ collar, especially if you're wearing it under a blazer or sweater.” Polos also make great golf shirts, though golf-style polos often lack structured collars, he says. This performance polo from Peter Millar is one of our favorites: it looks dressy enough for the office but comes with all the performance feats needed for golf.

Invented in England, the rugby shirt still feels much like an American classic. This type of shirt often has a buttoned opening at the top like polo shirts except with a stiffer collar. Rugby shirts can be short-sleeved or long-sleeved, though our experts think the latter is generally more common and looks better. While rugby shirts were meant to get muddy on the field, today they are without style limits. Still, the fabric of rugby shirts is very sturdy and durable to keep up with the game.

The reason for the rugby shirt's winning style lies in its enormous range of colors and patterns. Since they were originally meant as sports jerseys, they came in a variety of styles to represent different schools. What started as a couple of wide horizontal or vertical stripes, turned into a kaleidoscope of hues and shapes. That deep variety of patterns meant a limitless supply of style applications, which also means they look great with just about anything in your closet.

Read More: Best Rugby Shirts

These are two of our favorites. The Nautica rugby shirt has that classic long-sleeve polo style, daring stripes, flattering fit, and soft, breathable fabric—all in all, great for retro, casual styling. Ben Sherman, an exemplary British brand, turned the polo style into an Oxford button-down that is great for layering or standing on its own.

Short-sleeve T-shirts are no doubt the cornerstone of most men’s outfits and a failsafe when it’s warmer outside. But when it gets cold, long-sleeve T-shirts come in to act as a perfect balancer between sweaters and tees. Equally stylish and comfortable, this type of shirt offers everything you fancy about your short-sleeve tees, but with coverage when it’s needed most. Not only do the longer sleeves keep the cold from creeping in, but they also protect your arms from scratchy outerwear like coats and jackets when you’re layering.

Like their shorter counterparts, long-sleeve T-shirts for men need to be made from premium materials (cotton, wool, and advanced tech fabrics) that ensure durability and long-lasting comfort. Embracing versatility, long-sleeve T-shirts will seamlessly transition from casual outings to semi-formal gatherings, making them ideal for everyday wear or layering. Tailored to perfection, long-sleeve T-shirts should also look well-fitted on your body to boost your confidence.

Read More: Best Long-Sleeve T-Shirts

Vuori's, for instance, is a fitted and fashionable long-sleeve tee, but also technical: it's got anti-sweat tech, quick-drying properties, and a four-way stretch, making it a great workout shirt. Mack Weldon's Pima long-sleeve tee is an everyday shirt made with one of the softest fabrics we've tested, looks great on its own or layered under outerwear.

Want to upgrade beyond your basic T-shirt? As a similar type of shirt, a henley takes your typical tee up a notch with its signature buttons that add an element of detail while offering a comfortable, effortless style. Henley shirts typically have 2-5 buttons, can come in both long-sleeve and short-sleeve styles, and are collarless. Today, there's such a great variety of henley shirts that offer comfort with great function with sweat-wicking and stretch technology. You can even purchase a sun-washed option for a lived-in look, without having to hunt down a vintage henley in your local consignment shop.

Bastian thinks that henley shirts will look great on the right guy since they “draw attention to your pecs and neck”: the way the buttons make for a flattering fit for athletic guys who want to show some chest and arms all in one. A short-sleeve henley shirt is also a good summer option—“Slightly dressier than a crew neck t-shirt but not as ubiquitous as a polo shirt,” says Bastian.

Read More: Best Henley Shirts

“A great staple, both on its own or layered,” Congdon also says in regard to Henley shirts. “I love a henley under a flannel shirt, especially if it’s in a classic waffle.” He also recommends sticking to slimmer fits but not too tight and doesn't cling to your mid-section—just like how you’d wear T-shirts.

Whether you're dressing for casual outings, office meetings, or weekend adventures, short-sleeve shirts are a summer wardrobe staple that offers a perfect blend of versatility and comfort. Usually in the form of button-ups, this type of shirt should not lack in style and performance. The best short-sleeve shirts should be made from breathable, lightweight materials such as cotton, nylon, and linen to keep you cool in warmer climates. Short-sleeve shirts should also provide unbeatable versatility for a wide range of dress code settings and activities. Lastly, short-sleeve shirts need to be well-fitted to achieve a sharp appearance. Overall, as an integral part of men’s summer clothes rotation, short-sleeve shirts will bridge the gap between casual and formal to be worn all summer long.

Read More: Best Short-Sleeve Shirts

Since the greatest asset of short-sleeve shirts is their versatility, styling them comes with endless possibilities. We tested and particularly liked these two options. The Bonobos one has some stretch to it for movement with ease and comes in four fits—slim, tailored, standard, athletic—as well as three lengths, and it looks great enough for office days. The Lululemon one uses both polyester and nylon to boast its moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and four-way stretch capabilities, making the shirt one you will wear from office hours to happy hours to weekend hours.

For men’s summer wardrobe essentials, there’s perhaps no type of shirt that’s as ready for all those balmy days as a Cuban collar shirt. Also known as a camp collar shirt, these laid-back, easy-to-wear button-up short-sleeve shirts make an impression through their signature open, notch lapel-like collar that lays flat against your upper chest to create a V-shaped neckline. Unlike regular collars, Cuban collars have no structure for more airflow. Other than that, Cuban collar shirts have a relaxed, boxy fit and are as ready for vacation as they are for daily life in warm weather.

Read More: Best Camp Collar Shirts

Even though they carry a degree of nonchalance, camp collars are so versatile that it’s almost impossible to imagine how not to wear them. And thanks to their lightweight fabrics like linen, silk, and cotton, if you want to survive summer’s sizzling day, camp collar shirts are a must for your rotation. For a minimalist, everyday-friendly starter, Buck Mason's vintage-inspired, lived-in camp collar shirt looks casual but still elevated, making it easy to dress up and down. On the other hand, Abercrombie's given all kinds of summer-friendly prints to its Cuban collar shirts—talk about casual wardrobe staples.

In cold weather, no garment is better than a cozy flannel. As a fabric, flannel has two key properties: You want it to be soft and you want it to be warm. The best flannel shirts are also made to age gracefully as they wear to your unique patterns of movement. Flannel shirts also come in different weights. “Heavy flannels make great early fall outerwear, light flannels are great for everyday casual,” says Congdon. And it’s a common misconception that flannel has to be plaid: Flannel shirts can be any color, solid or textured (it just so happens that flannel became popular in various tartan plaids, so the two were lumped together). But Congdon recommends sticking to classic colors and plaids that “aren’t too Paul Bunyan”.

Read More: Best Flannel Shirts

Additionally, flannel shirts are quite flexible. “Where I grew up (upstate New York), these could almost be used for everything, including as a casual dress shirt,” says Bastian. "My Dad wore a flannel shirt, knit tie, 5-pocket cords, and a navy blazer to work almost every day in the winter. To add, a solid black or navy blue flannel shirt is a great piece to have because it can be styled with practically anything. Of course, you do want to have some plaid flannels as well—“Nothing cooler than a well-worn classic tartan flannel shirt,” says Bastian.

When you know you have to layer up but still want to keep it casual, light, and easy instead of puffy, overshirts come in clutch. AKA shirt jackets, this type of shirt is a deft blend of shirts and jackets in one simple, versatile article. They’re designed to be worn as an outer layer and are typically constructed with slightly thicker materials than a regular button-down, Oxford, or dress shirt to provide warmth without being as heavy as a full-fledged jacket, making them the perfect choice for transitional weather.

Read More: Best Shackets

Whatever your style, you will need some overshirts in your closet. Some overshirts are so versatile that they can even be worn on their own. Outerknown’s iconic Blanket shirt, for instance, truly feels as cozy as your cuddle blanket against your skin or over an undershirt. We also love the Fusion Overshirt from Ministry of Supply since it’s built with stretch, moisture-wicking, breathable, and thus versatile for traveling, lounging, or even outdoor adventures.

Linen shirts should be your go-to summer shirts since the fabric itself is soft, naturally lightweight, and highly breathable to maximize airflow, keeping you cool and dry. Better yet, this type of shirt will do more than keep you dry upstairs—they’ll add a dash of unflappable finesse to any look. And yes, we’re taking linen’s penchant for wrinkling into account: a crumpled linen shirt in a relaxed setting is a total vibe. “Embrace the wrinkle—linen should look like linen,” affirms Congdon. "It’s all about relaxation in this shirt.”

Read More: Best Linen Shirts

For styling, Congdon says that linen shirts will do more than just for that all-inclusive resort look. Riley adds that linen shirts, as causal as they look, are great for dressing up. “For a smart and lighter pastel appearance, these shirts pair excellently with relaxed tailoring, creating a more comfortable summer-in-the-city look.” This is especially true of a linen shirt made in the style of dress shirts or Oxfords. “On more casual occasions, consider wearing them with shorts and casual slip-on shoes, or even leave them unbuttoned over a tee shirt for the ultimate in stylish comfort,” says Riley.

Whether you’re tucked into an air-conditioned office all day or hammering away at a blue-collar job site, work shirts, also known as utility shirts, are up to the task. This type of shirt is ready to go the distance for a full eight-, ten-, or (god help you) even 12-hour shift. From the office to the job site, the right work shirt will help you tackle the toughest workdays in style.

Ideally, you want a work shirt that’s durable and comfortable with a dash of style to boot. Unlike traditional dress shirts, purpose-built work shirts typically go a step further with more versatile designs, tougher fabrics, and better performance that keep you ready to move seamlessly from the office or job site to the bar or dinner table effortlessly.

Read More: Best Work Shirts

Line of Trade’s corduroy shirt, for instance, is warm, soft, and rugged to last, in a classic Oxford button-down profile that’s great for dressing up nonetheless. Howler Bros' work shirt is made from heavyweight cotton with durable stitching to ready you for the job site.

Compared to jeans, denim shirts for men are much less appreciated, despite possessing all the same properties that make jeans so beloved. Denim, as a fabric, is durable and can hold up after a long day at the factory or ranch. Like jeans, denim shirts are soft, and the beautiful fading textures of denim’s unique layering process will come through in denim shirts.

Regarding denim shirts, Bastian says that every guy should own one. “If you pick a well-made classic shirt, you could be wearing it your whole life, and it only gets better with time.” Hence, denim shirts should be the ultimate go-to button-down shirt for guys to fall back on for an easy-to-layer, easy-to-style fit. And because denim shirts are technically any type of shirt made of denim, they can thus come in styles such as Oxford shirts, work shirts, or even dress shirts.

Read More: Best Denim Shirts

Levi’s, for instance, makes a classic western-style denim shirt that’s as good as the brand’s jeans while being capable of anchoring any outfit. On the other hand, Polo Ralph Lauren intermingled denim and formalwear with a masterful touch in this oxford-style denim shirt that is the ultimate way to match denim with elevated clothing.

Stop the lies: Chambray is not denim! This type of shirt is much lighter, softer, and more breathable than jeans. Still, chambray shirts are rugged—"they come from true workwear roots and they are a workhorse in my wardrobe," says Congdon. (Think miners and cowboys, you know, rugged dudes.) The modern iterations of this classic generally carry a more casual connotation but feel much more versatile. Many chambray shirts also look sleek enough for business casual attire, and you can certainly dress it up in a handsome way, such as with the J.Crew button-down chambray shirt. "This material makes a button-down a bit more casual, playing perfectly into this aesthetic," says personal stylist Grace Thomas.

On the other hand, we love this western-style chambray shirt from PACT. You can wear it on its own or as an overshirt. Pair it with chinos and your favorite sneakers for a perfectly put-together look or with your go-to sports coat and dress pants to make it more formal.

Undershirts are the first layer of defense in your outfit to keep you feeling and looking your best. No matter what your style is or what the occasion calls for, so long you’re layering up, undershirts will help absorb sweat to prevent overheating and any unsightly stains from bleeding through your dress shirt or button-down shirt. Overall, undershirts will make you feel calm and collected as you go about the day in layers.

The best undershirts for men are the ones that you’ll forget you’re in fact wearing. I.e., they should be made from high-quality, breathable, moisture-wicking materials that are soft and smooth to keep you cool and dry throughout the day. In addition, undershirts need to have a fit that stays in place without bunching up or restricting your movement. Lastly, undershirts should be versatile enough to be worn on their own or look invisible beneath outer layers.

Read More: Best Undershirts for Men

These two tried-and-true undershirts are hard to beat. The classic Hanes undershirt is light, stretchy, wicks sweat off your body, and dries off quickly. The Tommy John one is made with modal to feel like your second skin, and its nice stretch coupled with the stay-tucked design makes it pretty much bunching-up-proof.

Choosing the right shirt for men involves considering the occasion, fit, fabric, and personal style. For formal events, opt for a well-fitted dress shirt with a classic collar or Oxfords, while casual outings call for comfortable denim/chambray shirts or versatile Henleys. Lounging or relaxing, on the other hand, only needs undershirts or simple long-sleeve tees. For summer, ditch any long-sleeves and go for polos, Cuban collar shirts, or classic short-sleeve shirts. Pay attention to the fabric as well: breathable cotton, linen, or activewear blends are great for warmer weather, whereas cozy flannel shirts, overshirts, and workshirts are typically made for colder seasons. And know your body type before choosing a fit—slim, regular, or relaxed—that complements your physique.

Some types of shirts are just more liked, popular, and perennially-favored than others. For instance, anyone with an office job has a dress shirt with sharp collars. On a more relaxed note, casual Oxford button-down shirts are a ubiquitous versatile option for both laid-back outings and smart-casual events. The iconic polo shirt is a summer icon for dressing up and down, while Cuban collar shirts are your resort must-have. In winter, flannel shirts become the default shirts to wear. Meanwhile, long-sleeve T-shirts and henley shirts are popular because they easily adapt as standalone pieces or under layers.

Notably, overshirts or shackets, have been gaining popularity for their versatility as a layering piece that can also be worn on its own. Cuban or camp collar shirts have been making a comeback in warm weather because they have a laid-back and vintage-inspired aesthetic, and their bold prints are a surefire for vacations. Polo shirts have also undergone a revival, reformed from those boxy ones from your dad’s days to something more flattering with distinctive design details or fabric innovations; in particular, knitted polo shirts, sweater polos, and buttonless polos are trendy right now, thanks to stars like Christ Evans and The Rock wearing them.

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Maverick Li is the Style & Commerce Editor of Men’s Health, where he covers clothing, footwear, watches, and grooming. He was previously the Assistant Commerce Editor at Esquire.

Christian Gollayan oversees e-commerce content for Men's Health and Women's Health. Previously, he was the Associate Managing Editor at TheManual.com. Christian's work has also been featured in Food & Wine, InStyle, the New York Post, and Tatler Asia.

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