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What are Different Types of Dress Shirts?

By Greer Hed
Updated May 21, 2024
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Men's dress shirts come in many different styles, usually determined by the shirt's fit and what type of cuff or collar it has. A basic dress shirt is a collared shirt, traditionally with long sleeves ending in cuffs, that buttons up the front. Fit may be tailored or standardized if the garment is ready made. The two most common types of cuffs on a dress shirt are the button or barrel cuff and the French cuff, while the more common collar styles on dress shirts include the point collar, the spread collar, and the button down collar. Other elements that contribute to the individual style of a dress shirt include what type of fabric is used to make the shirt, whether or not the shirt has breast pockets, and what type of buttons are used to close the shirt.

The most common and least formal cuff to see on an off-the-rack dress shirt is referred to as a button or barrel cuff. This type of cuff wraps around the wrist and closes with either one or two buttons. Another common type of cuff is the French, or double, cuff, which is considered more formal. A French cuff is folded over and held in place with a cuff link rather than a button. The most formal type of cuff is the single cuff, which is fastened with cuff links like the French cuff.

A popular collar style seen on dress shirts is called the point collar, which is cut so that its points are close together. Dress shirts may also have spread collars, which are considered more formal and elegant to wear. A spread collar is wider than a point collar, with its points spaced further apart. Button down collars, introduced by the American men's clothier Brooks Brothers in 1896, are collars whose points are held down with buttons. This type of collar was reserved for casual sportswear, such as polo shirts, until the 1950s, when it became acceptable to have a button down collar on a dress shirt, as well.

Dress shirts are also available in the contrast collar style. Contrast collars are usually made from white fabric that forms a stark contrast with the colored fabric of the rest of the shirt. This type of collar is frequently detachable and is fastened onto the dress shirt with studs. Contrast collars are often accompanied by contrast cuffs, also usually made from white fabric, and also frequently detachable.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By BarbaraAdler — On Oct 17, 2018

Thanks for sharing the great read.

By Denha — On Feb 02, 2011

Many clothing brands also make shirts for women using similar styling. In women's shirts one of the major differences is that the sides taper in more, allowing the shirts to better accent curves.

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