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The white dress shirt: a staple, the foundation of any wardrobe. Even in this period when men are wearing suits shirtless, flaunting their chests with abandon on the red carpet, the dress shirt is still the base of any formal fit. There are occasions that require ’em, scenarios where you need to keep up appearances, ones with prescribed dress codes. Sure, you can be subversive and throw the rules out the window (don’t let anyone deter you from what you feel is right at the moment), but if you’re a stickler for tradition, you’re going to want to reach for this tried-and-true topper.
Since the Gilded Age—and perhaps even before then—gentlemen worth their salt were required to wear a white dress shirt, a button-up with a collar and cuffs. From paintings by Seurat and Magritte to episodes of Mad Men to congressional meetings televised on C-SPAN, visuals of men of stature and notoriety are seldom without the style. It remains a standard. You need a tailored suit, tie, and white shirt to telegraph propriety and, depending on how you put your fit together, power.
Of course, not all white dress shirts are the same. The best options—or at least the ones that show others that you mean business—are sharp and streamlined. This doesn’t mean it has to be super fitted, but you don’t want anything baggy; you need to be able to tuck it into your pants without excess fabric spilling over. Speaking of the material, cotton is preferred, of which there is a variety: oxford cloth (which has a bit more heft) is the working man’s go-to, but there are also options enhanced with wrinkle-resistant and moisture-wicking technology that are ideal for traveling or standing in the sweltering heat at a summer wedding. And you also need to pay attention to the collar, the common styles being the cutaway and spread collar, and the cuffs, the usual suspects being the barrel cuff and (less often nowadays) the French cuff.
Basically, the best white dress shirts will help you look like the boss that you are, and we have 21 of them ready and waiting for you to cop.
Slim-Fit Traveler Dress Shirt
Van Heusen—a New York-based company named after a John Manning Van Heusen,a Dutch immigrant who invented a way to fuse cloth together—is one of the bigger players in the affordable dress shirt game. And there's a good reason its wares are so popular. This slim-fit white dress shirt, for example, is made of four-way stretch fabric that allows for maximum movement. The material is also quick-drying and doesn't require an iron, which makes it ideal for traveling.
Slim-Fit Dress Shirt
Calvin Klein, the brand that ushered in minimalism in the '90s, continues to offer styles that stay true to this ethos: styles with very little adornment that focus on sharp, flattering cuts. Over the years, the label started to engineer garments that prioritized function as much as form—including this slim-fit white dress shirt that's enhanced with moisture-wicking and wrinkle-resistant fibers.
Slim-Fit Ludlow Premium Fine Cotton Dress Shirt
The mighty J.Crew: We've pretty much already said all there is to say about this giant in the world of retail. From shirts and suits to board shorts and shoes, the brand's classic pieces, regardless of the trend du jour, are all-around best-sellers. And topping the list is the Ludlow, a slim suit introduced in the early 2010s (by then-menswear designer Todd Snyder) that, more than a decade later, has expanded to a full range of products and become the stylish professional's go-to. This dress shirt from the line, in 100 percent cotton with a streamlined French placket and subtle spread collar, more than lives up to the Ludlow reputation.
Commission Long Sleeve Shirt
Like J.Crew and Everlane, Lululemon's stuff is always up to snuff. The brand started off producing athletic apparel that took the category to new heights with premium fabrics and streamlined silhouettes—workout clothes for peeps that liked to show off at the gym. Over the past few years, the brand started to branch into office-ready clothing, offering the kinds of elevated basics—like this sweat-wicking, odor-regulating, four-way stretch white dress shirt—that are for people that like to show off outside the gym.
Stretch Madison Relaxed-Fit Dress Shirt
Brooks Brothers is the name to know in the world of white dress shirts. Since the 1800s, the brand, reputedly the oldest in the apparel industry, has been offering gentlemanly styles, particularly ones made of cotton. It has refined and perfected the white dress over the centuries, providing a selection of different cuts, collars, and weaves. And one of the greatest hits is the Madison, a relaxed-fit option (it's pretty roomy) made of Supima cotton with some elastane that's treated with wrinkle-resistant technology. It features a spread collar, French front placket, and barrel cuffs—the kinds of characteristics that'll work for all formal occasions.
Jetsetter Stretch Dress Shirt
Bonobos is an obvious go-to for most things menswear, and when it comes to the finer things, they still prevail as a superior option. At a very reasonable price, this white dress shirt is a simple, versatile classic that you can wear on its own, or with a tie, or with a suit jacket, or all of the above. Plus, it's quite stretchy, so you won't feel restricted in movement.
Spread Collar Poplin Dress Shirt
Todd Snyder is taking the traditional route in collaboration with Thomas Mason, a shirtmaker dating back to 1796. If it's not broken, why fix it? This is a classic, simple shirt—small, subtle buttons, a spread collar, and a perfect fit.
Relaxed Poplin Shirt
I have some very good news—you can get a white dress shirt for under $100. Everlane's version is just a bit more relaxed than a standard dress shirt, but it's poplin, so if you throw a suit jacket on, no one will know. Plus, the move these days does tend to be mixing suiting and slouching, so this is a fantastic, modern option.
Perfect Oxford One Pocket Shirt
It's in the name, really—this is a perfect Oxford. Oh, and it has a pocket. There's not too much going on here, making it a great, functional base for the rest of your fit.
A crisp white shirt done to perfection, Theory's option is everything a suit needs. Clean lines, smart tailoring, and no obvious branding? Sounds good in my books. Grab one while they're on sale.
Premium Linen Long-Sleeve Shirt
Uniqlo does basics like no other, and in this day and age, a white dress shirt is absolutely a basic. This one is perfect for summer events (like weddings, galas, or meetings) because of its lightweight linen fabric. But don't be put off by the material: it retains a sense of classiness with smart, sleek tailoring.
Slim-Fit Long-Sleeve Oxford Shirt
If you're in a time crunch and need one (or several) dress shirt on a budget, go with Amazon Essentials. They're cheap, ship fast, and, really, who will be able to tell the difference when you have a tie and blazer on anyway?
Trim Fit Royal Oxford Dress Shirt
With a thick, durable fabric and trim fit, this is the ultimate go-to shirt. You might not even have to iron it, honestly; the fabric is so wrinkle-resistant, it'll hang perfectly in your closet.
Hank Slim Fit Dress Shirt
For a slim option of a slightly lighter material, BOSS has a white dress shirt sans bells and whistles, plus clean, classic tailoring.
Minimal Tailored Shirt
Keep things minimal with a shirt that you don't have to think twice about. Cos does all the work for you, giving you a basic white slate upon which the rest of your outfit can reside in harmony.
Slim-Fit Paisley-Print Cotton-Poplin Shirt
Luxurious and modern, Etro's dress shirt gives timeless elegance and cool classiness. The cotton-poplin fabric is at once soft and sturdy, so you can wear it year-round.
Double-Cuff Cotton Tuxedo Shirt
With a double cuff, Tom Ford's white dress shirt is for the fanciest of fancy occasions. Wear it with a tux or with a suit jacket and don't even worry for a second about not being dressed up enough—with this on, you'll be confident you are.
Plain White Cotton Dress Shirt
The name may say "plain," but ain't nothing plain about Turnball and Asser's shirts. The English brand, for over century, has outfitted Winston Churchill, Prince Charles, and two men that held the mantle of 007: Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. It employs the finest tailors to meticulously construct shirts—usually made of Egyptian cotton or Sea Island cotton—that feature ethically sourced mother-of-pearl buttons. The collars and cuffs (there are two that are signature to the label) are always razor sharp, and the silhouette is always streamlined. If looks could kill, this shirt definitely has the license to do so.
Aston Dress Shirt
The world of Ralph Lauren is steeped in the red, white, and blue, displaying collections that celebrate American style. And with its Purple Label, the brand honors the glitz and glam of the '20s, the world of Jay Gatsby and the extravagant parties he threw, where men were outfitted in tailored, swoon-worthy fits. Capturing this vibe is the Aston, a white dress shirt that features a shirttail hem, barrel cuffs, and spread collar that'll pair nicely with a black suit, tie, and all that jazz.
Regular-Fit Dress Shirt
We've said a lot about Italian tailoring already, but when it comes to the subject, we'd be remiss not to mention Ermenegildo Zegna. Since 1910, the Milan-based label has been making the spiffiest menswear, from knits to leather goods. But it really excels when it comes to suits and the things that go with them. For generations, the brand has been producing blazers, trousers, and, of course, white dress shirts that are practically faultless. It doesn't skimp on quality or cut, making sure that its styles are made of the finest cotton and are expertly constructed to fit like a dream. This shirt, with its elegant French cuff and precise made-in-Italy construction, is no exception.
Basic Solid Point-Collar Dress Shirt
Charvet: the Mac Daddy, purveyor of the best white dress shirts out there. The brand is the oldest categorical shirt maker in the world, holding court at a six-story townhouse on the Place Vendôme in Paris for well over a century. During this time, the premier label has dressed kings, presidents, poets, and artists—the kind of names that are tacked on mood boards. It has trumped competitors throughout the generations by prioritizing quality. Yes, we've said that about many labels, and deservedly so, but Charvet, on cachet alone, is a cut above the rest.
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