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Don't Treat Your Sport Shirts Like They Are Dress Shirts

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Just because a particular shirt may look like a dress shirt, that doesn't mean it is. Sport shirts have become increasing popular with the corporate casual dress code taking over the American work place. As a result, there are lots of shirts out there posing as dress shirts when they are really sport shirts. Allow me to clarify the difference between the two.

Sport shirts can be long or short sleeved, they can be made of cotton or polyester and everything in between, and they can be solid in color or have wild prints. Sport shirts are great because they can be worn with blazers, with jeans, under a v-neck sweater, etc. In general, they are versatile and allow guys to be expressive with prints and colors. However, they shouldn't be treated as a proper dress shirt.

So how do you know the difference between a dress shirt and sport shirt? The biggest difference between the two is the fit. Sport shirts are more loosely fitted while dress shirts are more tailored and meant to be worn with a tie and under a suit. Simply put, dress shirts should fit you like they were made for you. They also tend to be more expensive. Why is this you ask? Dress shirts have better construction, better detailing and are typically made of better quality cottons.

So how should your dress shirt fit? Here four helpful tips to follow when looking for your dress shirt.

  • Go to a men's store or reputable department store to get properly sized if you haven't already. Just ask a sales person, that is what they are there for.
  • Sleeve length should be about one inch below your wrist bone and allow about a quarter inch to be seen from the sleeve of you suit.
  • The shirt collar should fit snugly around your neck but allow you to put two fingers inside.
  • You may want to refer to my article on Tailoring Your Shirt to Look Made-to-Measure once you have picked up your dress shirt.

What kind of collar should you choose? Here are three shirt collars you are most likely to come across and I would suggest avoiding any others that aren't mentioned here.

  • A shirt with a spread collar is more dressy and meant to be worn with a suit and tie. This is not the type of shirt you would wear casually without a tie.
  • The oxford button down as it is known is not quite as formal as a spread collar and is great with khakis and a blazer.
  • A point collar is dressier than a button down and not quite as formal as a spread collar. It's the most versatile and common of three since it can be worn open without a tie or with if you so choose.

And what about color? Every guy should have a white and blue dress shirt. You may want others that have a pattern or in another sold color. See my article on 7 Tips Men Need to Know About Wearing Color.

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