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7 Formal Shirts Every Guy Must Own!

Formal shirt and tie on black table


Formal isn’t boring anymore!

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Be it for those Zoom meetings (that could be emails) or for presentations IRL, formal shirts are a must-have for men. With all its different avatars, shirts are definitely one of the most versatile pieces in a guy’s wardrobe. As life is slowly crawling back to normalcy, some of us have started going to the office at least a few times a week while the rest are still WFH! No matter where you are working from, it is important to look your best. With so many options available, it can be quite confusing which ones to stock up to have all your bases stylishly covered. Worry not, Man’s Life has rounded up to get you started…


Believe us when we say that there’s nothing sexier than a man in a crisp white shirt! Do not underestimate the power of a well-fitting white shirt. A white shirt is undoubtedly the most versatile piece of garment in anyone’s wardrobe, making it an absolute must-have! If you could only buy one item of clothing or spend big bucks on, make sure it’s on this! 

EDITOR’S TIPS: You can wear it with—a suit, a blazer or jacket, chinos, pleated trousers or even a pair of light or dark denims. You simply can’t go wrong in one!


The OG of formal shirts, this timeless piece can be used as a sartorial foundation for a range of dress codes. Named after the specific weave of the fabric called—the Oxford cloth—this shirt’s basketweave structure, makes it a popular fabric for a dress shirt. It’s button-down-style collar eliminates the problem of flopped or flat collars—which disappear underneath a jacket’s collar. The Oxford button-down shirt looks great on all kinds of body types. Due to its heavier fabric and weave, Oxford shirts are very resilient and durable, unlike their non-weaved silk or silk blend counterparts!  

EDITOR’S TIPS: Button the cuffs, wear a tie (or not) and use it as base to build your formal look with a suit or blazer. Or wear it open collared with jeans, corduroys or chinos if you want to dress it down. Just make sure to roll up the sleeves. Canvas sneakers with denims and Derby shoes with suits will nail the look!


A linen shirt is a hot-weather essential, especially in a tropical country like ours. Sure there are many other kinds of summer shirts, but on days when the weather Gods are against you, this is the breezy answer to sweaty armpits. A linen shirt’s light, airy and lets your skin breathe. In addition, they’re a great way to incorporate pastels into your workwear. 

EDITOR’S TIPS: Team a linen shirt with a pair of jeans or chinos. For a lunch date/meeting wear a linen suit with brogues or monk straps. For weekends, roll up the sleeves and team them with a pair of chino shorts, sneakers or espadrilles and sunglasses


Everyone’s beloved onscreen spy James Bond sure has an enviable collection of these! The classic full-dress shirt commands a military-like formality with a stiff and simple bosom made from plain linen, plain cotton or cotton piqué (typically Marcella in the UK). This bib-shaped thick layer of fabric is heavily starched to give menthe appearance of a firm, flat torso, regardless of their actual physique. 

Despite menswear becoming increasingly casual, every man needs a decent dress shirt hanging in his wardrobe for weddings and events. Dress shirts are the oldest style in the game, dating back to the 1800s. Of course, they were a little more dramatic back then!

EDITOR’S TIPS: You may prefer a modern take on this classic—with spread or cutaway collars. Having said that, there’s a new feeling of flamboyance in menswear—so experiment with ruffles the next time you wear a tux or suit up!


You can experiment with both vertical and horizontal stripes, and play around with the thickness and colour of the stripes! The only thing to keep in mind is your body type. A vertical stripe shirt makes you appear taller, more like there’s an Olympian swimmer’s body hiding underneath: It offers slimming qualities as the vertical line draws the eye up and down creating a lengthening effect. Horizontal ones on the other hand, create the opposite illusion. So, a person with a short and heavy body type can ideally choose a thin vertical-striped shirt and vice versa.

EDITOR’S TIPS: Pair it with chinos and pleated trousers for a business-casual look. Wear it under a suit and dress shoes for a formal look. Go the smart casual route by teaming a vertical striped shirt with denims or shorts.


More popular than ever, printed shirts are a great way to add a cool, modern edge to a formal look. Small-scale geometric prints are a great place to start if you want to keep things subtle, but it’s 2021 guys: Try something bolder—like a floral print one! It’s an easy and fun way to inject a bit of personality to your personal style!

EDITOR’S TIPS: Pair it with a slim dark suit and penny loafers or dressy leather sneakers for cocktail parties, weddings or a night out!  


For those who like to keep things simple yet not boring, a chequered shirt is your best bet! There are countless kinds of checks—but a tiny chequered shirt is perfect for those who like to steer clear from bold or loud patterns. 

EDITOR’S TIPS: A small check can look quite smart, while a large one is more casual. Wear it with a suit, a plain tie and Derby shoes for sophisticated occasions. Mix and match with tailored separates—like a blazer and chinos—for a semi-formal look. 

Most guys will have at least a few or more of these shirts listed above. If you don’t, you know what to get the next time you go shopping! These versatile pieces can be used to create more looks, thereby, maximising your wardrobe! 


[Image Credit: Shutterstock]