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How to Buy a Men's Dress Shirt

Collars, and cuffs, and fabrics -- oh, my! Picking out the right dress shirt can be confusing -- unless you have our cheat sheet.


  • Step 1: Consider the fabric, especially if you're planning to don a tie. Cotton and pima cotton are lightweight and work well with silk and linen ties. Brushed twill and broadcloth are heavier and pair better with thicker neckwear; they're also more casual.
  • Step 2: Check out the buttonholes: on a well-made dress shirt, they're all cut and sewn vertically into the placket -- except for the one at the collar and the last one, which are both horizontal.
  • FACT: Swedish shirt maker Eton celebrated its 80th anniversary with a men's shirt featuring diamond studs that cost $40,000.
  • Step 3: Go with the basic one-button barrel cuff for everyday wear. For dressy occasions, consider the two-button barrel, the two-button turnback, or, the most elegant of all, the French cuff.
  • Step 4: Choose a collar style. The button-down is most commonly worn with business suits, and also looks good with a bow tie. A straight-point collar is flattering on a round face or short neck, and a classic collar is, as the name suggests, a good all-around choice. If you prefer Windsor tie knots, a spread collar is a perfect choice.
  • TIP: You should be able to fit two fingers between your shirt collar and neck.
  • Step 5: Pick a cut. A full cut provides a loose fit and is best for larger men; an athletic cut, also known as "slim" or "tailored," offers a tapered fit, and a regular cut is somewhere in the middle. Any shirt that's unmarked is a regular cut.
  • Step 6: Know your neck and sleeve size. Measure your neck, just below the Adam's apple, rounding up to the nearest ½ inch. Then, add up to an inch. Have someone measure your sleeve length: keep your arm at your side as they bring the tape measure from the middle of the back of your neck, across the top of the shoulder, and down to your wrist. Add an inch.

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