17 Types of Shirts for Men: The Essential, the Quirky, and the Terrible

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

My guess is that if an alien came down to earth to study men’s fashion and took a sample, they’d think there are just a few types of shirts: a dress shirt, and maybe a t-shirt with a graphic of a dog wearing a hat and drinking a margarita.

Truth is, most guys don’t care to expand out of their comfort zone and get stuck in a style-rut. 

But not you.

There’s so much variety, even in men’s clothing, and it’s important to know what options you have, especially for your shirts. After all, they’re usually the focal point of any outfit you’re putting together. 

There’s no need to get bogged down with just the basics. These are all the different types of shirts you need to know about. 

Make sure you read to the bottom, because we’re also including the types of shirts that just don’t make the cut. My goal is to have you looking like a stud—not a dud. 

14 Types of Shirts for Men

Basic T-shirt

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The foundation of every man’s wardrobe starts at the classic tee. Unfortunately, not many guys give much consideration to this humble shirt. And that’s a shame, because if you can find the right fit, a basic t-shirt looks damn good on dudes. 

Of course, finding the right fit isn’t as easy as it sounds. A lot of clothes are made for the average body type. Anything that’s trying to accommodate skinny guys, muscular guys, guys with more heft around their mid-sections—chances are it’s not going to be flattering for anyone. 

That’s why I recommend doing some soul-searching for your ideal t-shirt. And when you find a brand you like, pick up four or five shirts at a time. T-shirts are great on their own, and they can be paired underneath Oxfords, flannels, work shirts, etc. 

My favorite: I’m a huge fan of Fresh Clean Tees. Their shirts are affordable and have the best fit in the shoulders I’ve found. They’re basic and come in a variety of awesome colors. A good t-shirt should accentuate your chest and shoulders, and it shouldn’t swallow up your biceps. Fresh Clean Tees checks all those boxes for me, and for thousands of other guys, too. 

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Dress Shirt

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There are a few different versions of the common dress shirt: there’s the formal tuxedo version, and the kind you’d wear to work. I’m going to focus on the work-kind, since that’s much more common. 

A lot of times, we wear our dress shirts under our suits. I know I used to think that finding a slimmer, more tailored fit wasn’t as important, because I had a buttoned jacket over it. 

Well, we all make mistakes some time. 

Aim to find a dress shirt that looks good on its own. That ensures it’ll look incredible when paired with your tailored suit. 

A few other considerations when picking up your ideal dress shirt: it should have a space for collar stays, like our top picks from Million Dollar Collar—you want that collar to be nice and firm. Also, dress shirts often go by the measurement of the collar, but the best also ask for sleeve length and chest width. Having a tape measure and knowing how to measure yourself for the perfect fit is a skill worth knowing for every man. 

My favorite: This one’s tough. I really like Mizzen + Main because their shirts are super comfortable and the technical fabric makes them low-maintenance and ideal for travel. If you’re looking to stock up on a few for your office job, Mizzen + Main is my recommendation. 

But if you’re looking for a more classic, high-quality piece that stands on its own, I’d opt for Apposta. They’re an Italian brand that makes your shirt to order, based on measurements you provide. It’s a much more tailored fit and some of the fabrics they offer are outstanding. 

Mizzen+Main

The supreme comfort and wearability of Mizzen+Main's performance menswear will win over plenty of guys in search of the ultimate premium dress or casual shirt.

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Henley

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A henley is a lot like a tee, but it has a little extra flair from the added placket and buttons. 

Whenever you can wear a t-shirt, you can also wear a henley. Think of them as interchangeable. 

Short sleeve henley shirts have a bit of rugged vibe to them, especially when you leave the top two buttons undone. 

And in the fall and winter, a long sleeve henley is a fantastic base layer. I opt for brighter colors for my short sleeve henleys because I’m usually only wearing them in the spring and summer, but for my long sleeves, I pick up earth tones that match well with a fall and winter palette. 

My favorite: My favorite short sleeve henley is from Fresh Clean Tees. It has the same fit as their t-shirts, which is much more flattering than what I’ve tried from other brands. And I like that I can pick up a variety pack so it only takes a few clicks for me to land a solid foundation for a spring and summer wardrobe. 


Oxford Cloth Button Down (OCBD)

model looking at camera with black Frank and Oak oxford button down

The Oxford cloth button down is to shirts what chinos are to men’s pants. They’re super versatile, and a safe play for the office, dates, and casual wear. How many other shirts have that kind of versatility? 

Plus, you can wear an OCBD solo, or you can leave it unbuttoned with a t-shirt or henley underneath. The latter is absolutely casual, but it’s an excellent way to layer and add some depth to your outfit without overheating. 

A lot of guys make the mistake of not ironing or steaming their Oxford shirts, which is especially important in the collar. Even if you’re wearing your OCBD out to the park, it looks more grungy than classy if your collar is all bent out of shape. 

My favorite: I like Everlane’s Uniform Oxford. The cotton fabric is fairly thick, so the shirt drapes well and has enough structure to wear on its own. And when I leave it unbuttoned with a shirt underneath, the collar stays crisp and neat so the outfit doesn’t look sloppy. 

Everlane Uniform Japanese Oxford

With a slim fit and a regular fit option, this Oxford comes off the rack with a nearly tailored fit. Plus it's thick and durable so this shirt makes for a work-week hero.

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Polo Shirt

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This casual Friday go-to is a terrific option for when you get tired of tees and want something a little more structured, but want to keep the sleeves short. 

Polo shirts aren’t for everyone—I only have one myself, but it’s a necessary part of a well-rounded wardrobe. Why? Some situations call for a collared shirt: it’s not uncommon that restaurants and workplaces require a certain dress code

Some guys opt for several polos and actually wear them in the place of a basic tee, and that’s fine if it fits the style you’re going for. 

Polos look good paired underneath a blazer, though that’s still firmly in the business casual realm of style and doesn’t have the formality you want if you’re going to a wedding or Monday morning at the office (depending on how strict the dress code is where you work). 

My favorite: The Public Rec Go-To Polo is my favorite take on this iconic style. The fit is excellent and slimmer through the torso. I also like that the collar stays wrinkle free and doesn’t flatten out or curl up. 

Regular cotton polos tend to lose their color and shape after just a few washes, but the added performance fabric in the Go-To Polo helps it stay colorfast and crisp, even after several months of regular wearing and washing. 

Public Rec Go-To Polo

Whether you're hitting the links or you're in for a long one at the office, the Go-To polo has the comfort and breathability you want for marathon days.

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Cuban Collar

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The Cuban collar shirt is fairly common, but not a lot of guys take advantage of the laid-back summery style. Also known as “camp” shirts, a good Cuban collared shirt can become a style-staple through spring and summer. 

They’re often made with lightweight and breathable fabrics, and are most often full button ups. 

I’d look for something in a light or neutral color as darker colors can veer a little too close to “bowling shirt” territory. 

I like to pair my Cuban collar shirts with light wash denim and white dress sneakers for a balance of chill, sophisticated, and refined style. 

My favorite: I wear my Frank And Oak Resort Shirt far too often when the flowers start blooming and I put my boots away in favor of sneakers. Honestly, I’d wear more Cuban collar shirts if I had them, but this one tends to get two wears per week. I have no regrets about that, either. 

Frank And Oak Resort Shirt

The relaxed fit of the Resort Shirt keeps things on the casual side, so it's perfect for pool-side sitting or warm Los Angeles mornings at the cafe. Your choice.

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Chambray

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Chambray shirts are like the lighter, more breathable cousin of the denim shirt. They’re an excellent choice for transitional weather, and also a stylish play for summer nights. 

Because of the rich color and denim-like look, chambray works particularly well layered. Traditionally, chambray shirts are worn dressed-down in more casual outfits, paired easily with chinos. 

If you’re pairing with jeans, make sure the colors aren’t too similar—otherwise it looks like a strange Canadian Tuxedo. But black jeans and an indigo chambray shirt is a smart take and doesn’t look too “denim-on-denim.”

My favorite: I tend to wear chambray shirts looser, and usually on top of shorts. If I’m going pool side and plan on having my shirt off for most of the day, but need something to throw on quickly for some al fresco dining, chambray is my top pick.

To keep that relaxed nature, I go with the J.Crew Indigo Chambray Work Shirt. J.Crew almost always has some deep discount going on, and you can get a good deal just about any time of the year. 

J.Crew Indigo Chambray Workshirt

The laid back washed chambray shirt has options in slim, regular, and tall. Check the pocket details---chambray has the same workwear vibes as denim, but it's much lighter.

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Flannel

Tom Beckbe with vintage gentlemen damascus knife 1

Flannel isn’t for everyone. But it should be. Some guys are put off by the criss-cross pattern of most flannels, but you don’t have to go that route if you don’t want to. 

Flannel is really just a thick, combed cotton that’s ideal for fall layering, and makes a solid base of most winter outfits. 

You can find flannel shirts lined with fleece that basically act as a jacket themselves, or you can pick up something much more lightweight to throw on underneath a heavy coat. 

Not every guy is an outdoorsman, but every outdoorsman reading this should consider having at least one great flannel in their wardrobe. I can’t think of any better shirt to bring on a camping trip. 

My favorite: I’ve been loving the Tom Beckbe Flannel Shirt. The cotton is super thick and the collar is a button down so it stays crisp and neat. It’s heavy enough to keep the chill out just fine for North Carolina fall evenings, and when winter hits, it makes for an incredibly comfortable base layer under a field jacket. 

Tom Beckbe Flannel Shirt

It's the details that separate this flannel from others. Made with combed cotton and extra thick button closures and collars, this flannel is perfect as an outer layer on brisk spring fishing expeditions or as a mid-layer on frosty early morning fall dove hunts.

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Work Shirt (Shacket)

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A good work shirt will accomplish one simple mission: helping you look super masculine. This type of shirt goes by a few different names: work shirt, shirt-jacket, shacket, overshirt—basically, any button up shirt made with thick fabric that straddles the line between jacket and shirt qualifies. 

This is one of my personal favorites, as it can easily be styled year-round (though they can be a bit thick for the height of summer). Like the Oxford cloth button down, you can wear one solo, open with a tee underneath, or under a thicker jacket, depending on the weather. 

The best work shirts have a lot of structure to their fabric—it shouldn’t feel too soft, and the collar should stand tall. You can opt to roll the sleeves, but keep the roll below your elbows. 

My favorite: I’ve been jamming on the Heavyweight Overshirt from Everlane. It’s made with thick 8 oz twill cotton, so it basically acts as a jacket on chilly fall evenings, and is an ideal base layer for winter. 

I picked mine up in black, so it’s not quite as versatile as their navy or olive offerings. Either of those colors would do well March and April when there’s still a touch of winter chill in the spring air. 

Everlane Heavyweight Overshirt

Everlane's Heavyweight Overshirt is made with thick-gauge cotton and has a nice, rich texture. While it's most obviously suited for colder winter months, it also works as a great summer-night beach layer.

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Short Sleeve Button Down

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The short sleeve button down is the summer-party king. Take your time finding a good fit on this type of shirt, because when you do, the look is so crisp, relaxed, and speaks of confidence. 

I like a button down collar as well, but that’s just personal preference. But regardless if there’s buttons on the collar or not, make sure there’s structure around the neck. Yes, the short sleeve shirt is a casual piece, but the true power of this kind of shirt is that it’s a “dressed up” addition to your chill weekend vibe. 

There’s hardly any limit to what you can pair your short sleeve shirt with: chinos, jeans, and shorts are all on the table. 

My favorite: I love the fit of State & Liberty’s short sleeve button downs. The brand has a very tailored cut, and my favorite part about their short sleeves is that the arm openings aren’t too wide. Guys with buff arms look great in just about any shirt, but if you’re on the leaner side, too much fabric at the arm opening will run the risk of making you look like a noodle-arm. 

But with that slimmed down opening, the fit is flattering. Plus, State & Liberty uses technical fabrics, so their shirts are really flexible, breathable, and exactly the kind of thing I want to wear on the weekends. 

State & Liberty Short Sleeve Button Downs

Featuring a button-down collar, The Barry is made with a lightweight fabric blend that wicks sweat, stretches four-ways, and still looks crisp and clean. This is a good shirt to add to your travel bag because it refuses to wrinkle. 

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Linen

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You know you’ve always wanted to run barefoot on the beach, wind blowing through your locks, shirt open, Salma Hayek for some reason also running next to you. And maybe there’s a horse in the distance. 

Well you can have it all. Except for Salma. She’s probably pretty busy at the moment doing other cool things. 

The best place to start is with a linen shirt. Because linen is so lightweight and breathable, stick with lighter colors, or even white. Linen should come out in late spring, and it’s welcome all summer long. But it simply doesn’t work in fall or winter.

You can go a few different ways with linen: either a button down, short sleeve, or pull over. I dig the beachy vibes of a pullover linen shirt, and I reserve the full button plackets for my Oxfords and dress shirts. 

That said, if you’re a big linen fan or really want to beef up your summer wardrobe, picking up a variety of linen shirts is a sure-fire win. 

My favorite: The Luca Faloni Forte linen shirt is my favorite for beach days. When I visited Pacific Beach, San Diego for a week with my wife, I wore it basically the entire time. It’s laid back enough to lie in the sand, breathable enough to wear for a bike ride and fish tacos, and it’s smart paired under an unstructured navy blazer for that summer date night.  

Luca Faloni Forte Linen Shirt

This linen shirt has a band collar, and nothing screams long walks on the beach like a laid back band collar.

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Tank Top

Best Tank Tops for Men Muscular Asian Man with Tattoos Working Out In a Gym

Tank tops require self-awareness. They’re not the most stylish pieces, and I certainly don’t recommend wearing one to the office next casual Friday.

But muscle tees and tank tops are excellent for pumping iron, runs, hikes, and days at the beach. They’re more of a utility shirt, rather than a style-forward choice, so keep that in mind if you’re in the market for a tank. 

There may come a time when tank tops come around and are back in style again, but for today, let’s keep one or two stocked for hot summer workouts and leave the rest on the rack. 

My favorite: The Vuori Strato Tech Tank has the look of a standard cotton tank top, but it’s made with performance fabric that wicks sweat and offers UPF protection. Here in North Carolina, the humidity can be rough when the only time to work out is five in the afternoon. So getting a breeze in through the sleeves is critical when pushing for a personal record. 

Vuori Strato Tech Tank

The Strato Tech Tank has the look and feel of a classic, comfortable tank top, but it's made with performance fabrics that wick away moisture, keep you cool, and offer a bit of protection from the sun, too.

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Denim

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I rarely see guys wearing denim shirts, which is strange because all my favorite brands seem to offer one. Denim shirts are a thicker, older brother to the chambray shirt, and can be worn in many of the same situations. However, because denim cotton tends to be a bit thicker, it’s really best suited to fall and as a bottom layer in winter. 

Denim shirts pair best with chinos. If you pair your denim shirt with jeans, make sure there’s a drastic difference in the color; i.e. blue denim shirt and black denim pants, or white denim shirt with blue denim jeans. And unless you’re putting together a joke outfit, or really trying to make a statement, don’t go denim jeans, denim shirt, and denim jacket. 

A rich indigo shirt will look incredible against burgundy, mocha, olive, and orange tones, so feel free to copy the maple trees in October and go full autumnal. 

My favorite: The Everlane Denim Shirt is my go to. I like the chest pockets and the utilitarian vibe it has. While there are more classic options available, I prefer the unique styling of this piece. 

Everlane Denim Shirt

Some denim shirts come with snaps, some have no pockets at all. The Everlane Denim Shirt has classic work-wear style pockets with a single button closure.

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Aloha

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Aloha shirts used to be synonymous with older guys wearing fedoras, smoking cigars, and losing too much money at the gambling tables. 

While you certainly can still lose as much as you’d like playing craps, the Aloha shirt is no longer the exclusive uniform of the mid-life crisis. 

In fact, guys are embracing the loud colors and unique patterns of the Hawaiian shirt. And why not? All around the animal kingdom, the male of the species is the brightest and most colorful. So why should we restrict ourselves to khaki and black? 

The key to rocking a Hawaiian shirt and not looking like you’re one bad day away from cashing out your 401(k) to buy a Ferrari is to get the fit correct. You can opt for oversized, which is a relaxed look to its own. Or you can pick up a slimmer, more tailored fit—similar to what you might get with a short sleeve button down. 

I like the more oversized look myself. Hawaiian shirts are for party-time, so I go full casual and skip the fitted look. Plus, whenever there’s an aloha shirt around, there’s usually beer flowing, too. And in that situation, the more room I have around my torso, the better. 

Last note: aloha shirts can take a dangerous turn quickly. Absolutely no logos, and there shouldn’t be any other sort of pattern than what’s on the fabric. Any sort of additional stripes or a mismatched breast pocket, and you have a recipe for style disaster. 

My favorite: Chubbies hits a nice balance of hey, look at me now please and classic style. They have a wide variety of fun patterns, many of which fall into the aloha shirt category. Some are straight heinous, but I trust you’ll identify those right away. 

Chubbies Year Round Summer Shirt

Made with 100% Rayon, this shirt is lightweight, sweat-wicking, and oh-so cool. It's the kind of thing you want to be wearing while you drink from a pineapple.

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3 Types of Shirts Men Should Avoid Like the Plague

Epaulette Shirt

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You may not even know what an epaulette shirt is, and honestly, that’s ok. You know those shirts that have random straps on the shoulders? Yeah, that’s an epaulette shirt. 

And you shouldn’t get one. Unless you’re an airline pilot. 

Epaulette shirts originated in the military and are useful in uniforms (like pilots) because they allow an easy way to identify rank right on the shoulder. 

Some brands have tried to take the men look sexy in uniform sentiment and put straps on the shoulders of shirts for no reason. If it’s not part of an official uniform you have to wear, avoid the epaulette. 

Graphic Tees

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There are some graphic tees that are within bounds. But for the most part, graphic tees are best left in middle-school. 

Far too many guys rely solely on the graphic tee, and it’s not doing them any favors. That’s why I just say cut them out altogether. A Star Wars shirt doesn’t express your personality (trust me, I’ve worn plenty—I’d know). 

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If you own any shirts in the I do all my own stunts category, it’s time to let them go. I suggest a viking burial, where you light them on fire and send them down a river. It’s poetic, and ensures no one else can wear it either. 

Deep V-Neck Shirt

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In defense of the deep v-neck shirt, I do think they look pretty cool if you’re just getting back to society after being stranded on an island or lost in the desert for several days. You know what look I’m talking about? 

But otherwise, they’re just kind of weird. Regular v-necks are fine, or if you’re in the mood to show off your sternum, get something a little classier like a linen shirt and leave the top few buttons undone. 

Shirt Up

See? There’s a whole world of shirts out there, and any guy would do well to expand their wardrobe to include several of these varieties. 

Some options, like the t-shirt, Oxford, and dress shirt are really necessities. Others, like the denim and linen shirts are seasonal powerhouses. And specialty shirts like the work shirt or the aloha shirt are nice to have for an appearance here or there. 

So which ones are you going to get? 

FAQs

What are shirts with longer backs called?

Shirts that come down further in the back are called longline shirts or extended hem. They offer more coverage for your backside.

How many shirts should a guy own?

It really depends on how adventurous your style is, and how often you like to switch up styles between seasons. Having a stable or three or four t-shirts and henleys, four dress shirts, and a mix of six to seven other types of shirts for casual wear and seasonality is a solid starting point. In total, 15 shirts in different styles and varieties can possibly cover you through all different style situations and seasons.

What are 3/4 sleeve shirts called?

Raglan shirts are often made with 3/4 length sleeves.

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