How many dress shirts does a man need? In this article you will discover the only 5 dress shirts you’ll ever need.
You want to get the most out of your purchases, be prepared for any circumstance, and do more with less.
However, there are so many options available, especially when it comes to dress shirts, that it can be challenging to determine which basic items are truly essential.
I usually emphasize versatility, so I’m going to explain the only five dress shirts that every man should have in this article.
People who have gotten to know me well over the past few years have observed that I typically wear the same five shirts.
I may occasionally mix things up with a different shirt, like a gingham shirt, but overall I don’t really go from the basic five dress shirts I have in my closet.
Building a wardrobe with versatility in mind is one of the things I believe in most. You want components that you can easily connect into a range of various settings.
When considering your dress shirts, there are two important considerations to keep in mind: the type of collar and the type of cuff you want.
A lot of everything comes down to personal style, and for me, the traditional collar and the rounded, one-button cuff are the best options.
However, if we’re talking about truly leaning into getting the most out of these shirts, a traditional collar and a one-button rounded cuff is a fairly safe pick. These aren’t the most distinctive styling details—you might even say they’re sort of dull.
To be completely honest, I enjoy turnback and French cuff shirts, although they have extremely different looks and feels. In a more casual atmosphere, you won’t be able to style a French cuff shirt.
However, a rounded one-button cuff transitions more easily between dressy, business casual, and casual settings.
The same is true for a spread collar shirt or one with a more assertive button-down collar. These have their place, but once more, if you only needed five shirts, the styling I recommend is a good way to go if you’re looking for maximum versatility.
By taking into account the fabric, we can extend the life of these shirts a little bit. I’ll particularly discuss the fabric choices as I go through each of these five shirts.
I think you’ll truly understand how far that will go to add versatility and range to the collection.
White Poplin Shirt
A white shirt made of poplin fabric by Thomas Mason is the first essential dress shirt. With a weight of 150 grams, it is made entirely of cotton.
Poplin weaves are a great option for thin, cool shirts because of how they are made. And it will continue to look solid.
Poplin is ideal for more formal or suited outfits because of its wonderful natural sheen, but it can also add a bit of refinement to an outfit when worn with, say, chinos or even jeans.
A dark navy suit with a light herringbone pattern is a good example of an outfit to highlight the poplin shirt in a traditional dressy and suited approach. Using a brown patterned tie will slightly reduce the formality. Simple brown Oxford shoes with a white pocket square.
I want to emphasize why I really appreciate the collar style I suggest after spending so much time discussing it.
And the main reason is that I adore the way the collar connects to the jacket’s lapel. You can’t see the point because of how long the collar is, but it still has a really clean, finished appearance.
Ice Blue Oxford Cloth Shirt
One of my favorites, an ice blue Oxford cloth shirt, is essential shirt number two. It weighs 180 grams and is made entirely of cotton by Thomas Mason.
With a traditional collar like this, you get the added versatility of being able to style it in a more dressed-up fashion. You often hear about the OCBD, or Oxford cloth button-down, which is undoubtedly a standard, more casual style shirt.
Combining it with a brown sharkskin suit is an example of an outfit. To keep it more in that in-between, not too formal, dressed-up styling, where I feel an Oxford shirt like this really shines, I chose a Prince of Wales check or a Glen Plaid tie.
Additionally, I’m anchoring this style with a pair of tassel loafers to keep things on the more casual side of dressed up.
Striped Oxford Shirt
The third essential shirt is an Oxford cloth shirt, but it has a stripe. It’s Thomas Mason fabric once more. With a weight of 150 grams, it is all cotton.
A striped shirt is a necessity, and I enjoy the size of the stripe in particular. It’s neither too wide or too thin, but it is distinctive enough while still being traditional, making it quite easy to style. I chose to pair this striped shirt with a hopsack suit since I usually consider stripes to be somewhat modern and to encourage a more laid-back attitude.
As you are aware, patch pockets and hopsack are excellent choices for a suit with a more casual feel.
I chose with a medallion tie in a lighter brown shade. In keeping with the easygoing atmosphere, avoid being overly formal and buttoned up.
The derby shoes I added are by Enzo Bonafe, and the sunglasses I added are by Oliver Peoples.
Grey Block Stripe Shirt
The fourth essential shirt is gray with what could be described as a reversed pencil stripe. It is made of Canclini poplin fabric. 100% cotton and only 110 grams in weight.
This shirt will be the underdog, sort of dark horse, in your collection. However, one that greatly broadens your collection and offers you a staggering amount of range.
I paired this shirt with the same dark blue suit with a modest herringbone pattern that I highlighted in the first look since, to me, it exudes understated elegance.
The richness of the gray with the addition of the stripe, although still more or less on the formal side, just has a whole different feel here, which is done on purpose despite the similarities in appearance.
And when we talk about versatility, that’s what we mean when a shirt has that ability to change the look of a suit.
A denim shirt is the fifth essential shirt. It is a Canclini fabric. Cotton only, 210 grams.
This is a fantastic sporty shirt to own, and one of my favorite things about it is how easily it can dress down a suit or more business casual outfits.
And in this outfit example, I’m going for business casual; I’ve paired the denim shirt with a brown sport coat made of Donegal tweed, a pair of navy cotton pants, a traditional pocket square, and some derby shoes, which are once more made by Enzo Bonafe.