Forget t-shirts and loungewear, long and short-sleeved shirts are making a big comeback as casualwear, and we're here for it. However, making sure you’re looking sharp and feeling comfortable in your shirt of choice is still super important – you just need to know what to look for when browsing online.
There are many questions to ask, but we're here to help. In our guide, we’ll explore all the different facets so you can take a look at our recommendations from Amazon, ASOS and John Lewis feeling much more confident. If you're also curious about other accessories, we've picked up a men's leather belt, recommended by fashion blogger, model and actor Billy Brayshaw, scroll down to the bottom to check it out.
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Table of Contents
The first thing to consider – which lots of men tend to overlook – is the fit. No, this isn't whether the shirt is a small, medium or large, but the way it has been stitched together. You see, ignoring the fit could leave you with baggy folds you don't like the look of, or worse, a shirt that's uncomfortable because it's too tight.
There are a few popular fits to consider, but nowadays, one of the most prevalent is a slim or tailored fit. This style will have a narrower body and sleeves and no back pleats. Though, of course, anyone can wear what they like, you might only want to go for this fit if you're happy to show off whatever's underneath.
Next up, you have a regular fit. Falling straight, this a safe bet overall as it works well on most body types. These shirts will also tend to have pleats in the back, which will add comfort by providing increased movement around the shoulders and arms.
Lastly, you have the oversized shirt. These have a cool, laid-back look, but they're certainly more casual than formal, so you won’t want to be rocking up to an important business meeting wearing one. That said, they’re a great summer option as they tend to leave a bit more space for air to flow inside them.
For a more casual look, try our Best Flannel Shirts for Men!
There are dozens of collar styles out there, but we'll introduce the three main shapes, which are the spread, the point and the button down. Within this, we have three other variables: the height or length, the spread and the distance between the two points.
It can be tricky to find measurements for these when shopping online, but checking out the images will always help. Regardless, the point is usually the more formal of the three. The spread is a style that works for both formal and informal events, while the button-down is slightly more casual – though you could still get away with it at work if you needed to.
In terms of short-sleeved shirts, which are more casual by nature, you have other collar options. One of the most popular modern options is the Cuban collar, which is much more open and exposes a bit of chest. This is perfect for those looking for a relaxing summery look, and if you’ve some jewellery you’d like to flaunt.
Another vital factor is the shirt material, of which there is one undisputed king: cotton. It leads the way because, frankly, it has everything one could want from a shirt. It’s durable, moisture absorbent, smooth and soft, plus, it's iron-friendly, meaning you can always look sharp. There are different variations, such as poplin, broadcloth and Oxford. If the company doesn’t stipulate which it is, then it is likely poplin.
There are other natural-fibre options to consider too, such as linen, which is light, breezy and breathable, resistant to stains and does not pill. However, it does tend to be a little on the expensive side, especially if you want 100% linen, and it's known to crease easily.
Then, stepping away from natural fibres, you have synthetics such as polyester, poly-cotton blends or viscose (which is a semi-synthetic, as it's made from wood pulp but still requires processing). These will be slightly cheaper, however, they’re just not as breathable and not as good for the planet due to their heavy chemical processing.
For more wardrobe staples, check out our Best Skinny Jeans for Men!
Depending on what you want from your shirt, you can opt for either short or long sleeves. Generally, long sleeves are a little more versatile as they work for more types of events and in varying weather conditions. So, if you’re looking to get the most for your money, we would recommend going for a long sleeve.
However, if you’ve already got a pretty good roster of long-sleeved shirts and you’re looking for a garment strictly for the summer months or a holiday, then a short sleeve could be the better shirt for the job. Of course, outside of warmer weather, the need for a shorter sleeve shirt is limited.
Lastly, the cuffs. As with collars, there are many different styles, from the two-button mitred cuff to the French round cuff. Granted, if you’re looking for a short-sleeve shirt, this isn’t going to be a consideration, so you can probably skip right past this.
Otherwise, one of the two most popular options you'll come across is the simple one-button barrel. This cuff is the classic. It’s understated and sharp, keeping your shirt in line effortlessly. With a height of between 2 and 3 inches, a person really can’t go wrong when opting for this style.
Secondly, we have the double cuff. This, as you’d imagine, is double the length of a traditional cuff, as it's folded bank upon itself and secured with cufflinks. It’s more complex and indeed more formal than a one-button barrel, so if your style is sharper in general, this is your pick.
Complete the look with our Best Men's Denim Jackets!
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Polo Ralph Lauren
Wardrobe Staple Oxford Shirt From Ralph Lauren
Gingham Casual Button Down Shirt
Short Sleeve Shirt for Al Fresco Dining
Only and Sons
Grandad Collar Shirt in Green
Smart Casual Shirt From Danish Brand Only and Sons
Abstract Print Short Sleeve Shirt
Abstract Print Monochrome Shirt
Tailored Fit Abstract Shirt
Patterned Long Sleeve Shirt for Nights Out
Super Oversized Revere Linen Shirt in Blue Check
Breathable Linen Shirt for Summer
Venice Relaxed Short Sleeve Shirt
Silk-Like Feel Without the High Price
John Lewis & Partners
Non-Iron Twill Double Cuff Tailored Fit Shirt
Tailored Double Cuff Shirt for the Office
90s oversized cord shirt in pink
The Perfect Outer Layer for Spring
B&T long sleeved overshirt
100% Cotton Casual Button Down
If you're looking for a shirt that'll get you the most wear for your money, then a white Oxford is your best option. Here, we have Ralph Lauren's take, which in our humble opinion, is one of the best around. It's just as perfect for days on the beach with the sleeves rolled up as it is paired with a nice blazer for work.
The button-down collar might not be the most sophisticated of options, but unless you're meeting someone of the standing of Prince William, we reckon you'll be just fine. What's left to say? This is a classic, well-made, well-cut shirt that every bloke should have, so for those reasons, it takes our number one spot!
The Gingham shirt from Fred Perry is made from crisp, 100% poplin cotton. While it comes in a variety of different colours, we've chosen to go for the red as it adds a little touch of personality, and we imagine, will look good with a tan.
The shirt also adopts a button-down collar, giving it a touch more finesse than a Cuban option. Its slim fit, too, means it's ideal for those mild nights out eating al fresco as well as a Sunday pottering around a quaint local village.
Only and Sons are a Danish brand known for their signature take on classic knitwear, loungewear and denim. Here they've taken on the casual shirt, and we have to say, they've done a sterling job. 100% cotton is perfect for warmer weather, with the lightweight material remaining both strong and breathable.
Furthermore, both the grandad collar is perfect if you want to pull off smart-casual with a unique twist, making this a perfect pick for outdoor summer events. Plus, we reckon you could even get away with wearing it to the office if you needed to.
This casual piece from Warehouse all about the hours after 9 to 5. The design takes inspiration from abstract art and channels it into a vibrant shirt, regardless of its lack of colour. With a spread collar, it's not quite as casual as some summertime shirts, but it still keeps those vacation vibes.
Another factor worth mentioning is that the cotton used to manufacture the shirt is in line with The Better Cotton Initiative. This collective aims to promote better cotton production for those who grow the material and the environment it grows in, making it a solid choice if you're someone who supports sustainable products.
Paul Smith is a staple of British men's fashion, so we had to get one of his pieces in. The signature style of this brand is bright and colourful, and this abstract print is no exception! However, it sticks to just two tones, making it vibrant but easy to style.
This balance between subtle white and striking orange gives the shirt more flexibility, as it can be worn in a smart-casual way at a cocktail bar just as easily as for a pub grub dinner on a Sunday afternoon. Which is handy really, considering how much it costs.
From a formal option to arguably our most casual, this oversized shirt is ideal for the man who is looking to keeping the vibe very relaxed. The garment is made from a cotton and linen blend, so the breathability of both the material and the fit means it'll be great for holidays or summer heatwaves.
Again, the relaxing shirt has employed a Cuban collar, which furthermore accentuates the laid back vibe of the shirt. One thing worth mentioning is that you'll want to get your proportions right with this shirt. Paired with some skinny jeans, it could make you seem off-balance, so you'll need your whole outfit to have similar sizing.
AllSaints have been around since the mid-90s and are one of the country's leading menswear brands. Usually known for their dark colour palette, they've thrown that out of the window to produce this popping on-trend burnt orange number. There are two other equally as handsome options in pale pink and inky blue, if you prefer.
The shirt employs a Cuban collar and has a relaxed yet well-cut fit, so it's another good smart-casual choice. The garment uses 100% viscose, which has a similar feel to silk, but without the cost or handwashing required. The downside is that the material is still quite delicate when wet, so you'll have to be careful when cleaning and drying it.
This tailored offering is certainly for the man who likes to remain smart even when dressing down. It's from John Lewis's own brand, so it's affordable yet still good quality. However, the impressive part is that, as it's made from crease-resistant cotton twill, you won't need to iron it! You can rest assured you'll be looking sharp, even when you're in a rush to get ready.
The collar is a classic point style and the cuffs are the more traditional double cuff, so you'll easily be able to wear this to the office should you wish to. That said, if you're looking for something a bit more relaxing, then this probably isn't going to be the right option for you.
This offering from New Look is very on-trend. Firstly, the dusty pink colour is a fan favourite right now, and while wearing pink can be troublesome to coordinate, this specific tone is far more forgiving due to its more neutral nature.
Add to that the oversized fit, which gives it a very off-hand and laid-back vibe, and you've got a great outer layer to throw on on warm evenings. Bear in mind that this shirt is made from soft corduroy, so it could be a little warmer than regular cotton. This can be a positive or negative depending on how you would like to wear the shirt, however.
This is a great style in River Island's plus-sized range. The pale green colour is a classic that will slot into most blokes' wardrobes quite naturally. Plus, being made from 100% cotton, you know that it's going to be nice and breezy for the warmer months.
The shirt has a regular fit and a casual button-down collar, so it's flattering without being too tight. It might not be the most versatile of shirts, having a very summery feel to it, but if you're just looking to boost your sunny season shirts selection, this could be a brilliant option.
If you've always wondered how to choose timeless men's accessories that are versatile year-round, you're in luck! Fashion blogger, model and actor Billy Brayshaw has shared his ten favourite picks with us, including this goes-with-everything black Hugo Boss belt.
Check out the full article here and give him a follow on Instagram at @billyilliam for more inspiring fashion and lifestyle content.
Written and researched by Lewis Clark
No. 1: Polo Ralph Lauren｜Oxford Shirt
No. 2: Fred Perry｜Gingham Casual Button Down Shirt
No. 3: Only and Sons｜Grandad Collar Shirt in Green
No. 4: Warehouse｜Abstract Print Short Sleeve Shirt
No. 5: Paul Smith｜Tailored Fit Abstract Shirt
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