How Many Dress Shirts Should a Man Own?

men in party wearing dress shirts

Whether your everyday life calls for business attire, or you only don a dress shirt when a special occasion calls for one, you've likely wondered how many dress shirts a man should own. The simple answer is, the more often you wear dress shirts, the more dress shirts you will need. Your job description, how active your social life is, and your personal style preference will all play a role in figuring out the ideal number of dress shirts you should own.

Check Your Calendar

man in a dress shirt checking calender

Before you stock your closet, you should check your calendar. Roughly how many days of the year do you wear a dress shirt? Do you work in an office or business setting where dress attire is the daily standard? Perhaps you are able to dress more casually for your job, but you have an active social life with events that call for dressing up.

If your occupation requires you to wear a dress shirt every day, take a look at one month. To avoid repeating the same dress shirt and suit combinations, you'll probably want enough dress shirts to get you through the month. Keep in mind that having more dress shirt options will make your dress shirts last longer, assuming you rotate through them all, regularly.

man choosing dress shirt in closet

So, figuring there are roughly twenty workdays in a month, you won't have to worry about being the guy who always wears the same shirt if you have about twenty dress shirts. This number will allow you to play with some color and patterns, too, which will help make getting dressed a little less monotonous.

If your job's dress code doesn't call for business attire, think about what one year looks like for you. Do you typically have a lot of events? Do you frequently go out on dates? Are you at the age where all of your friends or cousins are getting married? Maybe events are few and far between for you, with a random wedding, dinner, or unfortunate funeral coming up every once in awhile.

folded dress shirts in a drawer

For men with active social lives, whether it is a season of your life or how you choose to live, having around five to ten dress shirts will give you a good selection. This will allow you to mix things up, especially when you are seeing a lot of the same people at social gatherings within your family or circle of friends.

If you rarely attend functions that require dress attire, you can probably get away with owning as few as three or four versatile dress shirts, for weddings, dates, special dinners, family photographs, interviews, and funerals. If you simply like wearing dress shirts as a daily outfit staple, the sky is really the limit, or at least the size of your closet. As long as you are actually wearing the shirts that you purchase, and can afford them, the world is your oyster.

Color Theory

casual colored dress shirts

Color can be overwhelming when selecting dress shirts. There are so many colors to choose from, all with an infinite variety of shades and tones. Some can make you look bright and healthy, while others can wash you out or clash with your skin tone. There is also a lot of psychology behind the power of color and the impression it makes on people.

You can't really go wrong with a classic white dress shirt. If you are stumped, white is usually going to be your best bet. Having a few white dress shirts is a good idea, because it is so versatile and traditional. It is also easily stained, so having some backups will keep your wardrobe looking fresh. But white isn't the best choice one hundred percent of the time, and it can get quite boring if that's all you ever wear.

man wearing cream dress shirt and jeans

White can actually look too formal and make you appear unapproachable, depending on the situation. Consider trying a version of white that is a little warmer, literally. An off-white, like cream or ivory, has a very subtle effect that makes you appear a bit more relaxed, while still looking professional. This shade of dress shirt is a great choice for situations where you want to come off as welcoming, like at parties or meetings with potential clients.

Unless you are required to dress formally, color can be an option for the professional and the casual man, alike. If you haven't worn a lot of color before, you will want to start slow and not just buy that bright green shirt because you like the color. Muted colors, like pastels, are a great place to begin, and are common in the professional world of business.

man choosing dress shirt to buy

Light blues are very popular and versatile, almost like a classic pair of blue jeans. But don't be afraid of trying other colors you may have avoided, historically. A lot of men tend to shy away from pink, but it can brighten your complexion and give you a healthy glow. Peach has a similar effect. The trick with color is to make sure it compliments your skin tone.

Before you start buying dress shirts, get some advice and find out if you have warm, cool, or neutral undertones. Skin with warm undertones has hints of yellow, peach, or olive, so warm colors are the way to go. If you have cool undertones, your skin will have hints of pink, red, or blue, which means that cool colors will compliment your skin tone. Neutral undertones can be a mixture of warm and cool colors, and people with neutral undertones can typically get away with wearing a wider range of colors.

man looking at his dress shirts

If you wear a lot of dress shirts already, you probably have some variety of color in your closet. Think about which of your colored dress shirts tends to be your favorite. It's likely that you reach for it again and again because you feel like you just look better in it. It might be because the color of that shirt compliments your skin tone. Look for variations of this color, first, when you are ready to branch out and try deeper or brighter tones.

If you are the sort of man who only needs a handful of dress shirts for specific occasions, make sure you have the right shirts for those occasions. You will definitely want at least one or two white dress shirts, a black or light gray dress shirt, and a blue one, for flexible variety, that is still classic. If you need or like to wear more dress shirts than that, diversify as much as you would like with different colors, and even add in some small patterns or pinstripes.

Of Shirts and Men: Style

men in style while walking in the street

So, we've talked a lot about dress shirts for business and formal occasions, but dress shirts have become a popular staple in the average man's wardrobe. Just like color, there are loads of different styles of dress shirts to suit every man's personal style, and lifestyle. You will want to consider your own style when selecting which dress shirts you decide to own, even if you are wearing them because someone else is telling you to.

If you do tend to dress more professionally, you will need to consider your suits, jackets, slacks, and ties. Make sure you can tuck in your shirt without it coming untucked with regular movement, or making you look sloppy with too much fabric blousing at the top. Ensure that there is enough room under the collar for your tie to fit properly. Consider a classic button-down style of collar if you are overwhelmed by collar style choices.

men wearing a light green dress shirt with tie sitting in a coffee shop
For more casual styles you won't have to worry so much about tucking or wearing a tie. You will want your shirt to have a tailored hem that is meant to look clean when left untucked. Make sure the shirt is long enough to keep you covered when you bend over. Typically, the hem of an untucked shirt should hit around the middle of your back pocket. You can play around with louder colors, patterns, and prints, like brights, plaids, and larger floral prints, with casual looks, too.

Fabric is another important feature when selecting your dress shirts. If you move around a lot throughout the day, or live in a hot climate, lighter, breathable fabrics, like cotton, will keep you comfortable. Colder indoor or outdoor settings call for heavier fabrics. Be careful when selecting your fabrics, though. Linen is a great hot weather fabric, but it is very casual. Flannel, which is suitable for colder climates, is often used for casual shirts.

man in a white dress shirt with laptop

Overall, when it comes to figuring out how many dress shirts you should own, you need to consider things from several angles. Think about how often you wear your dress shirts, what purpose you wear them for, what the rules of any dress codes you must follow are, what colors work best for you, and what your personal style is. The average man will wear dress shirts for a combination of work-related business, formal events, and social gatherings, so a closet stocked with at least ten different dress shirts, in varied colors and styles, is ideal.

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