The 12 Best Athletic Fit Dress Shirts for Men

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If you’re in good shape, the appeal of athletic-fit dress shirts is obvious.

As Winston Churchill said, “When you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

(Oh, did Churchill not say that? Weird, I could have sworn I saw a tweet to that effect from Ron DeSantis.)

But for guys with muscular body types, dress shirts can be deceptively tricky to get right.

On one end of the spectrum is a traditional, classic fit dress shirt, which tends to billow out and look way too bulky, hiding muscular body types beneath a sea of fabric.

On the other end are skinny- and slim-fit shirts, which often go too far in the other direction, making guys with a more muscular build look like a sausage stuffed into a casing.

Enter the Athletic Dress Shirt

The good news is that today quite a few brands offer athletic-fit dress shirts and button-downs designed with athletic guys in mind

In addition to a more tapered fit, they’re often made with stretchy performance fabrics that stretch well and wick sweat, making them perfect for guys with an active lifestyle.

Below I’ve rounded up the best performance dress shirts that flatter your physique and (this part is crucial) look handsome as hell.


Top Picks↓

You can learn (a lot) more about each shirt below, but here’s a quick summary of our favorites:

Overall Best:
State & Liberty Long Sleeve Dress Shirt
—–
Most Versatile:
Mizzen + Main Leeward
—–
Softest Feel:
Western Rise
—–
Best Lightweight Option:
Tapered Menswear
—–
Best on Amazon:
Van Heusen Ultra Wrinkle Free Flex Shirt
—–
Best Short Sleeve:
State & Liberty Short Sleeve Dress Shirt


Who Wrote This Article

Irreverent Gent Founder and Editor-in-Chief Dave Bowden has been a service journalist for more than a decade.

His style advice and menswear recommendations have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and Men’s Health, among many other outlets.

How We Created This List

Fit, Cut
& Taper

Fabric
& Material

In-Person & Online Reviews

The three main criteria we used to assess each shirt were their cuts/silhouettes; the quality of their fabrics; and the experience of real users who have worn each shirt.

In a few cases we were sent shirts for editorial consideration and independently reviewed product samples firsthand, so first and foremost we drew from our own personal experience in assessing each one’s quality and value.

The shirts we’ve tested firsthand bear our “Reviewed & Approved” badge below.

For those we couldn’t try ourselves, we did a deep dive into user reviews to find out what purchasers had to say after wearing them, then compared our research to their respective price points to try to determine how much value they provide for the money.

To learn more about how we rate and review products, check out our product review and round up policy here.


The Best Athletic Dress Shirts for Men

Breaking Down the Best Athletic Button Down Shirts & Dress Shirts for Fit Guys

Overall Best Athletic Fit Dress Shirts ↓

State & Liberty

State and Liberty Performance Shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: Polyester / spandex
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 50+
  • Specifically designed for ‘V’ body types
  • 4-way stretch fabric
  • Sizing goes from XS to 3XL

Why We Like It:

The best option for guys in great shape comes from a brand called State & Liberty, which makes what might just be the perfect dress shirt for men with an athletic build.

A lot of men’s dress shirts marketed as athletic fit shirts are actually just comfortable dress shirts—stretchy and sweat-wicking, sure, but not necessarily cut with an athletic body type in mind.

By contrast, State & Liberty’s shirts are specifically designed for men with a muscular physique.

They have enough room for broad shoulders and a strong chest up top, but taper down nicely to a slim waist, resulting in a classic v-shape that’s a lot more flattering than traditional dress shirts.

S&L offers a ton of different styles and patterns, including a spread collar option and a tuxedo shirt for formal occasions, and all their shirts are machine washable, so you don’t have to waste time or money on dry cleaning.

I have their “Fuller” shirt in a forest green gingham pattern, and I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the fabric feels.

It’s made from a spandex/polyester blend, which can sometimes feel plasticy and artificial, but it’s treated with something that makes it feel more like cotton.

Why Some Might Not:

State & Liberty’s marketing features really muscular men, so you might think you have to be jacked to make these look good.

But speaking as a middle-aged dad whose fittest days were (sigh) more than a decade ago, I think these are good dress shirts for most athletic men.

The tailored fit is a lot more flattering than the billowy classic style, but not nearly as restricting as slim fit shirts.

If you’re either really skinny or really round then this isn’t the right shirt for you, but if your body shape is anywhere in between, you’ll probably be fine.

Check Price ➤


Most Versatile Athletic Dress Shirt ↓

Mizzen + Main Leeward

Mizzen + Main Leeward dress shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: 88% polyester, 12% spandex
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 29
  • Available in trim or classic fit
  • Also available in two lengths: regular or tall

Why We Like It:

The Leeward topped our list of the best dress shirts that are non-iron and wrinkle-free, and it’s also one of the best shirts for fit guys.

While they’re not specifically marketed toward muscular men the way State & Liberty’s shirts are, they have a lot of elements that make them great for fit guys.

They’re made from a stretchy and sweat-wicking blend of poly and spandex, and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

But what’s nice about Mizzen + Main is that their shirts also come in a variety of fits.

In addition to choosing either a classic or trim silhouette (which is basically their version of a slim fit dress shirt), you can also select from two different lengths, tall or regular.

The range of options makes it easy to get the right fit without having to shell out for made-to-measure shirts.

Why Some Might Not:

While the range of fit options will work well for most athletic body types, bodybuilders and really muscular men might have trouble finding the perfect fit at Mizzen + Main.

If your definition of an athletic fit is really more like a muscle fit, then you’ll probably prefer either the State & Liberty shirt above or the one below from Tapered Menswear.

Check Price ➤


Softest Feel ↓

Western Rise

Western Rise Limitless Merino shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: 53% Australian Merino wool, 47% polyester
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 5

Why We Like It:

Button-downs offer a decidedly more casual look, but are great options for business-casual environments that don’t call for a full suit and tie. 

This one from Western Rise is made with 53% merino wool and 47% polyester, making it soft, stretchy and comfy as hell, while still offering easy care.

(I’ve had one for years and have seen zero wear or tear after washing it on the “hand wash” setting many, many times.)

I love it because it nicely hugs my shoulders and torso, showing the general outline of my V-shape, but it’s not so tight that it looks like I’m showing off.

(Which I appreciate even more today than I did a few years ago, because while my body has become less V-shaped as I age, you wouldn’t actually know it when I wear this shirt.)

Why Some Might Not:

If you’re looking for the best white dress shirt to wear with a suit, this isn’t it.

The combination of a button-down style and merino wool make this a more casual option that’s great for every day wear and business casual offices, but not appropriate for formal events.

The other knock is that It’s only offered in standard sizes, as opposed to numbers based on your chest measurement.

But with that said, I found the size chart on the website accurate and had no problem choosing the right size, so this isn’t really a deal breaker.

Check Price ➤


Best Lightweight Athletic Fit Dress Shirt ↓

Tapered Menswear

Man wearing white athletic dress shirt from Tapered Menswear

Notable Features:

Why We Like It:

Another brand that’s focused exclusively on muscular guys with well-built bodies, Tapered’s dress shirt is modeled after the v-shaped upper body of the Golden Ratio (which I explain as it pertains to suit-fitting here).

It’s tailored specifically to the male form and features a 10″ drop from the chest to waist, which accentuates your physique and all but eliminates the billowy bagginess that often accompanies regular-fit shirts.

In terms of material, the shirt is made from a blend of 96% cotton and 4% elastane, giving it a nice mix of softness and stretch.

Why Some Might Not:

Like State & Liberty, these ones are best suited to muscular guys with broader shoulders and a strong chest.

If you’re athletic but on the skinnier side, you might find that there’s a little extra room through the chest and back.

The other thing about these ones is that their cotton/elastane blend makes them lighter weight than some of the other options on this list.

So it’s a great shirt if you need something light to wear under a summer suit, but not the best if you’re looking for a warm base layer in the month of January.

Check Price ➤


Best on Amazon ↓

Van Heusen Ultra Wrinkle Free Flex Shirt

Man wearing Van Heusen Ultra Wrinkle Free Flex Shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: 66% cotton, 31% polyester, 3% spandex
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 43

Why We Like It:

Made from a blend of cotton, polyester and spandex, this shirt from Van Heusen has just enough stretch to make it form-fitting, without looking like it’s painted on. 

It comes in Van Heusen’s slimmer cut, with higher arm holes to accommodate your lats and tapered sleeves that will help accentuate the guns. 

Plus it’s one of the cheapest options on the list and it’s on Amazon, so you get free next-day shipping if you have Prime.

Why Some Might Not:

This is their slim-fit model, and the pictures online make me suspect that it might be more of an extra slim fit.

If you have a smaller waist and like a tight fit, that might not be a problem.

But if you want a little more room at the bottom, Van Heusen also makes this shirt in a regular fit that actually still looks pretty tapered, and might work better.

(I wonder which one Todd Packer wore?)

Check Price ➤


Best Short Sleeve Athletic Fit Shirt ↓

State & Liberty

Man wearing State and Liberty short sleeve athletic fit dress shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: Polyester / spandex
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 9
  • Specifically designed for ‘V’ body types
  • 4-way stretch fabric
  • Sizing goes from XS to 3XL

Why We Like It:

Not surprisingly, the company that makes the best men’s dress shirt for athletic guys also makes the best athletic-fit short sleeve dress shirt.

State & Liberty’s short-sleeve options have all the best features of their main shirts, including the V-shaped cut and stretchy, moisture wicking material, making them a natural choice if you prefer short sleeves.

Why Some Might Not:

There aren’t nearly as many color/pattern options for the short-sleeve models yet, so you don’t have quite as much choice as you do with the long sleeves.

Check Price ➤


Related Resource:

The Best Athletic-Fit Suits

Stylized image of man wearing athletic-fit suit
Once you’ve got the right shirt, why settle for a sh*tty suit?

Finding a shirt that complements your build is great—but it won’t do you much good if you wear it under a suit that fits like sh*t.

Check out our round-up of the best athletic-cut suits to find a full kit that complements a strong, muscular, and fit physique.

The Best Athletic-Fit Suits ➤


Lululemon New Venture Shirt

Man wearing Lululemon New Venture Shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: 52% elastomultiester, 34% recycled polyester, 14% nylon
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 5
  • Anti-odor treatment helps reduce BO

Why We Like It:

Lululemon practically invented the athleisure category, and while they’re still better known for their women’s clothes, they’ve been making a pretty serious push into menswear over the past few years.

And while they might not be the first place you think to turn for formalwear, they actually make a number of stylish, stretchy and high-quality dress shirts.

Their New Venture model is our top choice for athletic and/or muscular guys because it comes in a great fit that’s slim but not too skinny, providing room for a strong chest and back but tapering nicely toward the waist.

It’s made from the same stretchy fabric you’d expect to find in a good workout shirt, but looks like a standard cotton dress shirt, making it easy to pull off in business and formal settings.

Why Some Might Not:

While a number of brands offer 10 or more color/pattern options, this one’s only available in five, so the choice is a bit limited.

Other than that, the only real disadvantage of this one is that you have to say “Uhhh, it’s Lululemon” if someone asks where you got your shirt.

Check Price ➤


Rhone Commuter Shirt

Man wearing Rhone Commuter Shirt

Notable Features:

Why We Like It:

Rhone’s Commuter is a great dress shirt from another athleisure brand that’s moved into the dressier, smart-casual space.

At first glance it looks like the kind of classic white shirts you’d get at Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers or another legacy brand. 

But it performs a lot better thanks to the extra durable flex-knit fabric, and a hidden collar button that keeps your collar from flapping about aimlessly. 

Plus, Rhone allows you to choose not just the right size (small, medium, etc.) but also the right style: 

They offer both a classic and slim version, which makes it easier to find the best fit for your body type. 

Why Some Might Not:

This is another one that I haven’t tried yet, but the trunk/tail of the shirt looks a little short to me.

That makes it a great option for wearing untucked with slim fit jeans (or athletic fit jeans, if you haven’t been skipping leg day), but maybe not the best for tucking in and wearing with a tie.

Check Price ➤


Mizzen + Main Monaco

Man wearing Mizzen + Main Monaco

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: TK
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 20
  • Available in trim or classic fit
  • Also available in two lengths: regular or tall

Why We Like It:

Another option from Mizzen + Main, the Monaco is basically a lighter weight version of the Leeward shirt listed above. 

It might just be your best bet for guys who live in warmer climates, or for guys in places like New York or Chicago or here in Toronto, all of which tend to get muggy in the summer.

Why Some Might Not:

Some reviewers have said that the Monaco runs a bit larger and has a slightly looser fit than the Leeward.

If you’re not picky about the weight of the shirt then you might want to consider the Leeward.

Or, if you’re specifically looking for a lightweight athletic-fit option, the one from Tapered Menswear above is probably your best bet.

Check Price ➤


Ministry of Supply

Man wearing Ministry of Supply athletic fit shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: 100% post-consumer recycled polyester
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 8
  • Available in slim or standard fit

Why We Like It:

In addition to offering great stretch and a better fit than standard off-the-rack dress shirts, Ministry of Supply’s Aero Zero shirt is the best choice for those who are environmentally conscious.

It’s made from 100% recycled material and milled under solar power, making it way less impactful on the environment than custom shirts, which end up wasting way too much extra fabric in their construction.  

Why Some Might Not:

This one’s not as tapered as some of the other options listed above.

The slim fit is still pretty flattering on most body types, but if you’re looking for one that will hue closely to your muscles, I’d go back to the S&L or Tapered Menswear options.

Check Price ➤


Calvin Klein

Man wearing Calvin Klein athletic fit dress shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: 96% cotton, 4% spandex
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 8
  • Available on Amazon

Why We Like It:

Made from 96% cotton and 4% spandex, this one has a great blend of softness and stretch, and a svelte, trim cut without too much excess fabric.

It’s another one that’s available on Amazon, so you know the ordering, shipping and customer service should all be pretty easy and straightforward.

Plus, the sizing is pretty precise, because instead of just choosing from small, medium or large, you can select both the neck size and sleeve length that best fits you. 

Why Some Might Not:

While it’s called a slim fit, it leans a little more skinny than slim.

So guys with strong shoulders and chests who also have a bit of – ahem – “muscle” in the midsection, might find it a bit of a squeeze.

Check Price ➤


The Tie Bar

The Tie Bar Pinpoint white dress shirt

Notable Features:

  • Fabric Blend: 100% Cotton
  • Colors/Patterns Available: 2
  • Available in either standard or trim fit

Why We Like It:

The Tie Bar has long been known as one of the best places to get accessories like ties, socks and (duh) tie bars. 

But they’ve also introduced a line of actual clothes that’s more than worthy of your attention. 

The only shirt on this list made from 100 percent cotton, their Pinpoint shirt is specially treated to be non-iron and wrinkle free, offering the perfect mix of comfort and practicality.

Why Some Might Not:

It’s not cut quite as trimly as some of the slimmer fit options on this list.

That actually might make it more appealing for bodybuilders and other bigger guys who need a little more room for their muscle mass, but if you’re on the slimmer end of the spectrum it won’t be the most flattering.

Check Price ➤


FAQ

So, umm, stupid question: What does athletic fit dress shirt actually mean?

That’s not a stupid question at all! (And anyone who tells you otherwise is, in fact, the stupid one.)

An athletic fit dress shirt is one that’s designed to provide a more tailored, fitted appearance for guys with an athletic or muscular build.

Defined by broad shoulders, a tailored waist and high armholes, they help eliminate the baggy or loose appearance that can occur when strong guys wear standard-fit shirts.

Is athletic fit the same as slim fit?

The differences can sometimes be subtle, but no, athletic fit and slim fit shirts aren’t the same.

Athletic fit shirts are designed for those with a muscular or broader upper body, with a wider shoulder structure and more room in the chest and upper body.

Slim-fit shirts, on the other hand, are designed with a slimmer overall cut, including narrower sleeves, and work best for guys with a leaner physique.

Is modern fit the same as athletic fit?

No, athletic fit is different than modern fit too.

A “modern” fit is more versatile, but for most guys it’s less form-fitting. It’s designed to work with a range of body types and offers a roomier fit than either athletic- or slim-fit shirts.

Is athletic fit bigger than straight?

This is a common misconception, but no, athletic-fit shirts aren’t actually bigger than straight-fit shirts.

They’re tailored to provide a more fitted and contoured appearance for guys with an athletic or muscular build, while straight fit shirts offer a more uniform and relaxed fit throughout the body.

So straight-fit shirts can actually make you look bigger and bulkier (and not in a good way) than a good athletic-cut shirt.


The Recap ↓

The Overall Best Athletic-Fit Dress Shirts for Men

Dave Bowden

Summary

The best option for guys in great shape comes from State & Liberty, which makes what might just be the perfect dress shirt for men with an athletic build.

They have enough room for broad shoulders and a strong chest up top, but taper down nicely to a slim waist, resulting in a classic v-shape that’s a lot more flattering than traditional dress shirts.

4.5

More Resources ↓

More Men’s Shirts Advice From Irreverent Gent:

More Advice on How to Look Good & Live Well:

About Dave Bowden

Dave Bowden

Founder, Irreverent Gent
Author, Man in Command and Stop Doubting, Start Dating
Writer, Really Wordy Author Bios

Dave Bowden is a style blogger, menswear expert and best-selling author (in Canada—but still!) whose advice on how to look good and live well has been featured in New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Men's Health and more.

When not obsessing over style and self-improvement, he can usually be found spending time with his wonderful wife and two amazing sons, indulging in a hoppy craft beer, or sobbing over the woeful state of Toronto's sports teams.

Check out Dave's Style Story to find out how a chance encounter with his friend's step-dad taught him the value of looking good and living well (don't worry—it's less creepy than it sounds!), or email him at [email protected] if you want to get in touch.

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