Are Dress Shirts Formal or Casual?

Are dress shirts formal or casual?
Dress shirts are the core of many outfits. Men and dress shirts are often seen together in the corporate world. Wearing a dress shirt is also globally linked with being perceived as a person of wealth and intelligence.
It is very easy to build a nice, classy look by pairing a dress shirt with straight pants and clean shoes. Throw in a blazer or a wristwatch to complete the easy and stylish look. It is clear that a dress shirt is one of the most versatile clothing pieces in a man's closet. So when is it suitable to wear a dress shirt, to formal or casual events?

A good dress shirt

A good dress shirt

The dress shirt has a number of unique qualities that make the shirt what it is today. The button-up closure and a folded collar are what separate the dress shirt itself from the crowd of other shirts. There are a lot of different styles of dress shirts; with and without pocket, short and long sleeve, stripes and plain color. What is great about it, all of the styles are always in fashion. Depending on what type of event you are attending, there is always a suitable dress shirt for it.

A good dress shirt should fit you properly in length (easy to tuck in), as well as neck shoulder and chest width. Long-sleeved shirts should have a proper arm length. While standing up with arms on the side, the sleeves should cover the whole wrist area and touch the beginning of the hand. To quickly figure out your size, check out our size guide. Depending on whether you want to have a little room or not, you can choose between slim, modern, regular and large fit, slim fit giving the least and large fit the most room.

Dress shirts are usually fairly easy to maintain. Most shirts, like ours, are machine washable. You should always let the shirt air dry, as using a dryer might damage or shrink the fabric. After washing the shirt, you can iron out the wrinkles and voila, the shirt is as good as new.

Formal or casual?

Dress shirts formal or casual

Majority of the time, dress shirts are used with suits and as an integral piece for the white-collar work uniform. There are a lot of different types and colors of dress shirts. The colors are for personal preference, white being the most common and "typical" color for a standard dress shirt. The types are usually a scale between slim, modern, regular and large, meant to best describe the fit of the shirt.

Dress shirts can be worn with both, casual and formal outfits. Although a dress shirt is more commonly seen with formal outfits, a casual style with a dress shirt is completely normal. Dress shirts are also often seen with the smart casual dressing style, making it the most versatile out of all shirts. Some dress shirts are so versatile, depending on your personal preference, they can be used with any of the three styles (casual, smart casual and formal).

Casual dress shirts

Casual dress shirts

Casual dress shirts are often paired with jeans or jean shorts. As a matter of fact, a dress shirt and jeans are one of the most iconic casual outfit combinations. Usually, a casual shirt is a bit looser and not skin tight. Regular fit is very common in casual dress shirts. Often times, casual style shirts have a chest pocket on one side. Oxford dress shirts are a great example of a good casual dress shirt with very soft material and a bit more relaxed fit. These are perfect for casual wearing and go great with a pair of jeans.

Common characteristics of a casual dress shirt:

  • Soft material
  • Colorful colors
  • Loose (not skin-tight) fit
  • A chest pocket on the left side
  • Shorter length for possible "out of pants" wearing (dress shirts should always be tucked in, but some casual shirts are designed not to be tucked in)
  • A soft collar that doesn't necessarily stay up

Formal dress shirts

Formal dress shirts for men

Formal dress shirts are made to fit, leaving no extra room between you and the shirt. The shirt is always tucked in the pants and should stay that way. Formal shirts have more plain colors and breathable material design. A chest pocket is usually missing from formal styles to make it sleeker. The material is harder than your casual shirt, making the ironing easier.  If you are looking for a nice tie to go with your dress shirt, don't miss out on our ties and bow ties.

Common characteristics of a formal dress shirt:

  • Hard, breathable material
  • Plain colors with minimal patterns
  • Skin tight, wrinkle-free fit
  • Usually no chest pocket
  • Longer length for easy "tucked in" wearing
  • Stay-up collar

Start with a versatile dress shirt

Where to find dress shirts

Knowing what type of shirt to wear at any specific occasion can be hard. Especially, if you are not familiar with wearing dress shirts and your closet doesn't consist of suits. Versatile shirts are an easy shortcut to looking good regardless of the occasion. If you want to save your money, you should get a dress shirt that will suit every event.

Versatile dress shirts

Versatile dress shirts are the perfect choice for lazy people. The shirts have characteristics from both, casual and formal styles. A soft, breathable material that is easy to iron. Stay-up collar combined with a chest pocket on the left side brings the needed class. The vertical stripes make you look sleek and the modern fit (between regular and slim fit) leaves a little room to move, while simultaneously giving the fitted look benefit of the slim fit dress shirt.

Versatile shirts are a great choice for people who want to save money and/or are new to fashion. Men with more knowledge of fashion and a long bank account might want to invest in shirts specifically designed for formal, casual, or smart casual outfits. Either way, the CMC Dress shirt collection is a great place to find what you are looking for. As a nice practical benefit, all of our dress shirts are machine washable.

Thank you for reading!

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