How to choose a men’s shirt

A shirt for every occasion

It’s a vast topic and before you ask yourself how, you should ask yourself what you want the shirt for.

Cos there’s a time and place for everything: you’re not going to turn up to work in a going-out shirt or vice versa. Don’t bother trying to copy those guys who just untuck their work shirt from their trousers when they go out in the evening – they’re just stupid. But whatever you do, do go for a shirt without pockets!

The ‘business’ shirt

A suit shirt is a suit shirt, whether you tuck it in to your trousers or not. If you choose to wear one with jeans, you have no choice but to tuck it in. Indeed, suit shirts are far too long to leave untucked – you’ll look like you’re wearing a nightshirt!

If you wear your shirt tucked into jeans, you have to go for a belt (even if your jeans are already tight enough). Choose wisely because a belt is very often an eye-catching accessory. Choose a chunky one to go with jeans, with a strong buckle. Leave ‘slim belts’ to the fashionistas wearing Cheap Monday – trust me, you’ll make their day.

One last favor: you know those dark shirts (black, dark blue…brown)? STOP! As for the stripe overdose…DITTO!


NO, NO, NO, NO, NO aaand NO!! (horrible cut, ugly stripes, too dark and to top it all off…what about a pocket?!)


Here are – FINALLY!!– some ACCEPTABLE stripes!

The ‘casual’ shirt

Let’s move on to other shirts now, precisely those that you can wear untucked… The length of the shirt is essential and it should come about halfway down your thighs, no further…any longer and you’ll go back to looking like you’re wearing a nightshirt.

Don’t get your hopes up for finding such cuts in cheap mass market retailers stores. Or at least, not if you’re not prepared to have a really good look for them. Only H&M and Zara have shirts that aren’t too expensive and are nicely cut (think around $25-30).

No-Go Areas: scribbled painting effects, slogans that don’t mean anything, rough materials…


Small checks for afters

The not-so-little details

One detail that should definitely not be overlooked when you buy your shirts is the collar. A good, stiff, straight collar will give your shirt a lot more presence and elegance than a floppy collar without whalebones (that little thing inside the collar that makes it stiff).

On the same note, if you can find a shirt that also has stiff and chunky cuffs, it’s a bonus. Once again, you’re going to have to look at higher-end brands to find one…(having said that, there are sometimes some in H&M). NB: the cuffs on your shirt should come down to somewhere between the end of the wrist and the first bone in your thumb when your arms are dangling loose.


A good length of sleeve + a stiff collar + a material that cries out for you to touch it = a beautiful white shirt

The quality of a shirt’s material

One more thing when it comes to choosing THE shirt: the material! Nothing could be easier – it has to make you want to touch it. Out with shoddy, rough fabrics. But, as always, you can’t pay with peanuts when you want a lovely, soft shirt with accentuating patterns that catches the light in all the right places…

To give you an idea of what a good material really is, have a walk round a luxury store. And then when you see something of the same quality at a better price – buy it! (there are some gems out there when you know what to look for!)


A nice quality of chambray brings a casual shirt to the next level (kind of like selvedge vs regular denim)

And we saved the best til last: the cut!

Last but not least, ALWAYS choose a fitted shirt, like the one in the photo. As far as possible, keep your distance from all that is straight-cut (unfortunately this is apparently the most popular design amongst shirt fabricants!) – the parachute effect? Don’t go there!

Shirts : the brands we recommand

Formal and Casual Shirts

  • H&M (15-40$): very good basic shirts for small prices. Not forgetting COS, the higher-quality range of H&M,
  • J-Crew 65-100$
  • Gagliardi ($80) made in Malta, these shirts have a nice Latin vibe and fits well

Formal Shirts

  • Charles Tyrwhitt : typical english shirts, 100-200$, actually on sale with shirts starting from 35$
  • Finamore, very Italian with a lot of details on finishing touches 200$

Casual Shirts

  • Naked and Famous : 110$ – 160$
  • Paul Rose : high-end with extreme high-quality details 180$
  • Welcome Stranger : 120$

If you’re going to try some Made To Measure shirts have a look at the brand Manuel Racim. Their shirts are very high quality and have all the finishing touches you expect from high-end shirts. (it’s made in France but this is just a detail, doesn’t mean it’s always great).

Your comments,

Between these two shirts…


1) The formal shirt


2) The Casual shirt

Which one would you wear ? and why ?

Tell us in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this how to guide, share it with your friends.

  • Luca says:

    Hi Nicolas,
    I would definitely go with the casual shirt (2).
    Although, it has a pocket and a button-down collar… Is that okay ?

  • Hi Luca,
    No worries, on a casual shirt it’s really okay to have an understated pocket and a button down collar.
    Have a good day, Nicolas.

  • Jo says:

    Just a question: In your 3 part series you write we should avoid H&M and now we should buy shirts there?

    I would also opt for 2, but for 1 if work would require it.

  • Hi Jo,

    Thanks for your comment, indeed I can make this more understandable.

    In part 2, I wanted to say, take some time to get used to high quality fabrics and cuts in luxury stores.

    Later on, when you know how the difference between a nice fabric and a bad one, same goes with cut, you can shop anywhere.

    You can find some really great stuff at H&M but you can not rely on them fully. It’s very often that guyz well dressed mix a lot of high-end and average colthes quality.

    When shopping at H&M , you can find a few great quality/price ratio, but you need to be able to distinguish them from all the other low quality items.

    Have a good day, Nicolas.

  • AH says:

    Could you possibly write an article about quality and in what clothes to look for with certain quality? My vague idea of quality is if the fabric is thick, that it is worth buying.

  • Hi AH,

    that would make a great post, I’ll think about it.

    Actually it’s more complicated than that. Thick usually mean robust, but you don’t want to dress in a coat made of a potato bag or an army tent.

    Unless your lifestyle requires that you wear robust fabrics most of the time, you may buy some thinner fabrics too, especially for summer.

    There is this concept of “fabric hand” that describes the feeling you get from touching it.

    “The quality of a fabric assessed by the reaction obtained from the sense of touch”

    That’s why I’d advise to go try on high-end shirts. Because after that simple exercise you’ll know what it feels like. You’ll have a sense of what is a good fabric.

    If you can, meeting a tailor, will be a good opportunity to get this explained while getting hands on different fabrics.

    Thanks for your question,

  • Jonas says:

    The second one because I love the texture and it looks more fitted just my opinion

  • Hi Jonas,
    Thanks for giving your opinion, it seems to me that both are rather fitted. In any case, you’ll have to try these on to see if its your body.
    Have a good day, Nicolas.

  • BetaTheta says:

    Hi, I was just wondering where you got the picture for the Chambray. I love that shirt and would love to try it out at a store.

  • Hi BetaTheta, this one is from J-Crew, available at Mr Porter where I took the picture from.


  • Adrian Valencia says:

    Hey Nicolas,

    Love the articles and tips and was wondering if you would consider making an article for us shorter men, maybe some tips for a shorter torso and what looks best for us. I have problems when tucking in my shirts (self conscious) just think it looks funny, definitely not as attractive as longer torso’d men. PLEASE HELP!

  • Hi Adrian,
    Thanks a lot for your kind words.

    That’d be very interesing indeed. On the topic we only have this article about suits and your body type :

    The expert on this subject is Brock over at :
    Have a look there 🙂

    Have a good day, Nicolas.

  • comment fair de l argent facile says:

    Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading
    through this post reminds me of my old room mate!

    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article
    to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

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