Best shirts for men 2018: smart and casual shirts for your wardrobe

A stable of your wardrobe, look sharp with this selection of formal dress shirts, business shirts, and casual shirts

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Picking a shirt for work or a formal event, especially when pairing it with a suit and tie, is not so easy at first glance. But if you're an adult male chances are you'll spend most of the working week and weekend in a shirt, so feeling comfortable and looking sharp are certainly important. 

Knowing what to look for and how to wear it are the first steps to choosing the right work shirt. But where to begin?

First decide how big you’d like your rotation to be and what is currently missing from your wardrobe. 

Then look at how you’d like to pitch yourself through styling options. Are you looking for simplicity and comfort, or perhaps something to make a statement? 

Whether you’re hunting for inspiration or ready to step up your power dressing game, below is a round-up of the best work shirts for men.

How to choose the best shirt

First of all, you've got to decide what type of shirt you're after. We've selected the best formal dress shirts, business shirts, and casual shirts here, to cover you for every occasion.

Dress shirts are the most formal, intended to be worn with a tuxedo and black tie. Business shirts are perfect for the office, while casual shirts are ideal for more relaxed environments. 

We'll detail what to look out for in each section.

The best business shirts for men

There might be a dress code at your office or perhaps you’re free to choose what you like. 

With that in mind, the most basic type of work shirt is a simple white or blue long-sleeved shirt. You can’t go wrong with these. A simple long-sleeve will carry you through most professional environments and also carry to events outside of work.

Never be tempted by short-sleeve shirts. They may seem like a good idea when it's hot outside, but ultimately they make you look like a school boy. Instead opt for a lighter fabric, such as linen. 

Colour is an important consideration when buying a work shirt. At the very least, if you stock up on neutral colours like black, white and navy then you’ve got a versatile setup with shirts that can transition between seasons and events.

Going for a printed design can also change your style up. The aim with printed shirts is to add character to your ‘fit. 

While this can make matching with suits a little trickier, it’s worth the effort for a more vibrant look. But if you’re unsure, an easy workaround is to go for printed shirts with neutral colours.

1. Turnbull & Asser Light-Blue Striped Shirt

An smart and elegant shirt from this classic British brand

Reasons to buy
+Previously styled Bond and Churchill+Subtle stripe+Made in England+Finest materials

Shirt maker Turnbull & Asser was established in London in 1885, and has supplied many British icons, from Sir Winston Churchill to James Bond. Its men's shirts are made in England to the highest standards, using Italian fabric and mother-of-pearl buttons. This subtly striped shirt has been tailored slim from lightweight cotton-poplin and has a cutaway collar to accommodate larger tie knots. Perfect when paired with a navy suit.

2. Hugo Boss White Jilias Oxford Shirt

A sharp, modern white shirt from Hugo Boss

Reasons to buy
+Comes with cufflinks+Doesn't sag over time+Modern fit

This crisp white shirt epitomises Hugo Boss' modern, razor-sharp tailoring. It should be a staple of every gentleman's wardrobe. The Jilias is cut from pristine cotton Oxford, it has subtle darting through the back that ensures the slim shape fits comfortably and doesn't sag. 

3. Tom Ford Midnight-Blue Slim-Fit Shirt

Be dark, sexy and mysterious with this midnight-blue shirt

Reasons to buy
+Great brand+Luxurious finish+Works with dark and light suits

Tom Ford is the current king when it comes to ultra-luxurious tailoring, and this deep midnight-blue shirt is a perfect example of that. Tailored for a slim fit, this crisp cotton style has a lustrous finish that's complemented by iridescent mother-of-pearl buttons. It would pair well with a dark and light suit.

4. Hugo Boss Jenno Oxford Shirt

The entry-level business shirt

Reasons to buy
+Versatile+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks standout qualities

Here’s a classic from Hugo Boss. The 'Jenno' is a sharp, formal shirt that works well as a professional piece or for formal occasions. On the more affordable end of the scale, this shirt has removable collar stays and a slim fit that will hold its shape over time. 

5. Canali Double-Cuff Twill Shirt

For when you want to look sharp

Reasons to buy
+Double Cuffs+Suit-and-tie match
Reasons to avoid
-Better for formal situations

This classic shirt from Canali is cut from cotton twill and features double cuffs. Its slim-fit styling and details lend itself to more formal settings, so this is best worn when you want to look sharp. A good shirt to have to get your basics right, you should bear in mind that this is more of a suit and tie shirt, so you probably won’t be rolling up the sleeves too often.

6. Paul Smith Pink Slim-Fit Shirt

Reasons to buy
+British designer+Brilliant colour+Rainbow-striped lining
Reasons to avoid
-Pink doesn't suit everyone

Showcasing a distinctly British vibe, the Paul Smith collection illustrates the designer's immaculate tailoring skills, faultless construction and brilliant eye for detail. Each considered piece fuses heritage craftsmanship with a distinctive, alternative edge. We love the shade of pink used in this shirt, and the rainbow-striped lining in the cuffs sets it off perfectly.

7. Polo Ralph Lauren White Shirt

If you must have a monogrammed shirt

Reasons to buy
+Polo monogram+Iconic Oxford+Preppy style
Reasons to avoid
-Monogram not for everyone

Polo Ralph Lauren is all about quintessential American style, and nothing exemplifies that better than this preppy Oxford shirts. It can be worn with a suit, or paired with chinos for a more relaxed look. Cut from crisp cotton-poplin with the brand's trademark button-down collar, it's embroidered at the chest with the iconic player motif.

8. Drakes Easyday Gingham Shirt

An essential shirt made in England

Reasons to buy
+Great brand+Made in England+Timeless design+Relaxed fit

Founded in 1977 and built around Mr Michael Drake's philosophy of 'relaxed elegance', Drake's 'Easyday' collection is filled with timeless designs. This shirt has been made at the brand's dedicated factory in Somerset from gingham-checked cotton-poplin and has a cutaway collar that's perfect for wider ties. 

9. Hackett Light-Blue Mayfair Shirt

A classic and affordable shirt

Reasons to buy
+Wide collar+Timeless design+Slim cut

Hackett's shirts are an affordable and reliable option. The brand's meticulous cuts, quality fabrics and classic palette ensure its pieces are truly timeless. The 'Mayfair' style of this shirt is cut slim from light-blue cotton-poplin and has a smart spread collar which can be stiffened or relaxed using the removable collar stays.

10. Kin by John Lewis Geometric Print Shirt

Stylish looks on a budget

Reasons to buy
+Geometric pattern+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Matching needs a little planning

This Kin by John Lewis shirt comes with a geometric pattern that lends itself well to professional styling. It’s constructed from cotton and features a point collar and mitred button cuffs for a clean-cut look that works with or without a blazer. However, this leans towards a more relaxed fitting overall.

The best formal dress shirts for men

If you're going to a formal event, with a black tie, or maybe even white tie dress code, you'll need something a little dressier than your usual business shirt.

Formal dress shirts are quite similar to white business shirts, but set themselves apart with stiff detachable collars, wing-collars, double cuffs, a front panel or "bib", and studs rather than buttons.

Although black tie is a semi-strict dress code, there are no required features from the list above, so you can chose which design flourishes match your style and the look you're going for.

Below is a selection of our favourite formal dress shirts.

1. Tom Ford White Wing-Collar Bib-Front Shirt

An ideal choice for formal warm-weather events

Reasons to buy
+Wing-collar and bib-front+Great for warm weather+Pairs perfectly with a Tom Ford tux
Reasons to avoid
-Wing-collar not for everyone

If you're looking to set off your tux, a wing-collared bib-fronted shirt is the ultimate companion for formal events. This shirt from Tom Ford is especially suited to summer formal occasions (such as weddings or summer ball) as it's cut from lightweight cotton-voile.

2. Dolce & Gabbana White Slim-Fit Tuxedo Shirt

An ideal shirt for when you don't want formal to be too formal

Reasons to buy
+Less formal than wing-tip+Black enamel studs+Streamlined fit+Piqué bib

Dolce & Gabbana's Italian-made cotton-poplin shirt has a smart piqué bib punctuated with black enamel studs. It's great if the dress code is black-tie, but you don't fancy the extra formality of a wing-tipped collar. The shirt is darted at the back to achieve a streamlined fit, and finished with a classic collar that's ideal for any tie of your choice. 

The best casual shirts for men

All rules are out of the window when it comes to casual shirts, you can pick whichever matches your style.

These can worn as a single layer, or paired with a t-shirt and left unbuttoned.

If you want to be bang on trand for SS18, opt for a camp collar, or bold patterned shirt.

1. MAISON KITSUNÉ Oxford Shirt

Preppy Oxford shirt from this stylish French brand

Reasons to buy
+Cool monogram+Great depth of colour+Roomy feel

If you want that preppy look but don't want to go with the obvious Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, Maison Kitsuné's classic shirt is the ideal alternative. It is made from cotton that's crafted in an end-on-end weave for greater depth of colour. It's cut for a slim fit but a box pleat at the back creates a more roomy feel.

2. PRADA Camp-Collar Shirt

Be a fashion cowboy with this Western-inspired shirt from Prada

Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Camp-collar+Great details

Camp-collar shirts (collars which are made from a single piece of material) are very popular right now, and we love this example from Prada, printed with Western-inspired details. The scene features cacti, tepees and Native Americans in full headdresses riding horses. The shirt is made from lightweight cotton-poplin, it's cut in a boxy silhouette and has lustrous mother-of-pearl buttons. We'd suggest you wear these with smart trousers or to a barbecue with shorts. 

3. HARTFORD Slam Camp-Collar Printed Cotton Shirt

Perfect for the summer holidays

Reasons to buy
+Retro print+Camp-collar+Breathable cotton

Another camp collar shirt, this time from Hartford. It's printed with painterly shots of glamorous summer hotspots Cap Ferrat and Menton, and is cut from breathable cotton and has plenty of room in the sleeves and body to keep you cool.

4. CLUB MONACO Palm-Print Cotton Shirt

Ideal whether you're headed to a tropical island or a BBQ

Reasons to buy
+Bold print+Can be worn in summer or cooler months+Lightweight

This bold palm-print shirt from Club Monaco is cut for a slim fit from lightweight, breezy cotton and looks cool buttoned up or left open over a tee. The dark background of the pattern makes it feel appropriate for the cooler months, too.

5. ORLEBAR BROWN Travis Shirt

Going on holiday? You'll need this shirt from Orlebar Brown

Reasons to buy
+Great brand+Patch pocket+Adsorbent cotton-terry

Orlebar Brown's striped 'Travis' shirt is ideal for a cool, relaxed holiday outfit. Inspired by styles from the 1960s, it's cut from soft, absorbent cotton-terry and has white stripes flecked with turquoise and blue threads. Store your debit card and room key in the patch pockets on trips to the poolside bar. Pair it with a pair of Orlebar Brown trunks for the ultimate holiday outfit.

6. POLO RALPH LAUREN Oxford Shirt

Reasons to buy
+Classic preppy style+Affordable+Mélange fabric

Polo Ralph Lauren's Oxford shirts are the epitome of preppy style – the brand started making them back in the 1970s and they've hardly changed since. This grey mélange shirt is woven from cotton and cut slim with a classic button-down collar.

7. OLIVER SPENCER Clerkenwell Linen Shirt

A linen shirt for when the summer get really hot

Reasons to buy
+Cool fabric+Can be dressed up or down+Tab collar and gusseted sides

When summer gets scorchingly hot (like we've experienced so far in 2018) there is only one fabric you should be wearing - linen. This Clerkenwell shirt from Oliver Spencer is is easily dressed up or down, and made from linen to keep you feeling as cool as possible. It's cut with the brand's signature tab collar and gusseted sides.

8. BURBERRY Checked Shirt

The Burberry check, but not as you know it

Reasons to buy
+Empty List
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

Looking for a checked shirt? Burberry's 'London check' is iconic - and when rendered in other colours (such as red and navy) becomes a little more subtle, yet still recognisable. You can wear this smart cotton-poplin piece with dark jeans and sneakers on dates or at smarter weekend events.

9. NORSE PROJECTS Anton Button-Down Collar Denim Shirt

A smarter denim shirt with MoP accents

Reasons to buy
+Rich colour+Develops patina+Mother of Pearl fastenings

Norse Projects' 'Anton' shirt is twice indigo-dyed for a really rich colour; it'll take on a subtle patina over time, so the fabric will only get better the more you wear it. Detailed with a relaxed button-down collar, it's got elegant mother-of-pearl fastenings that'll keep it looking sharp.

10. Carhartt WIP Madison Shirt

The pre-eminent work shirt

Reasons to buy
+Rugged design+Versatility
Reasons to avoid
-Less formal styling

This relaxed but rugged madison shirt from workwear brand Carhartt WIP is a great all-rounder. Shown here in understated dark navy, this is a staple shirt that is affordable and works in a variety of work contexts. Comfortable and with a more loose fit, this is one shirt that won’t be going out of fashion. Best worn with jeans and boots or trainers.