The Most Stylish Men’s Dress Shirts Colors

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Choosing the best men’s dress shirt color is surprisingly (and sometimes rather annoyingly) tricky.

The problem is that even when they genuinely want to look sharp and stand out, most guys find themselves facing the realization that they just don’t know much about fashion or style.

As a result, they don’t really know where to start when it comes to choosing something as specific as a shirt color.

Further compounding, when guys do start learning how to dress better, they usually focus more on fit, and give little (if any) thought to color.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a fashion designer or a personal stylist to know which colors tend to look best on men, and which ones work best for dress shirts.

In this post I’ll lay out the most stylish and essential men’s dress shirt colors, explain what makes each color so strong, and show you where to buy dress shirts that come in both the fit and color to help you look sharp.

A Quick Word on Shirt Styles:

The colors listed below are the best options for dress shirts, but they’d work just as well for more casual shirt styles, like a button down or short-sleeve button up.

As a rule of thumb, any colors that can be dressed up – i.e. the colors that work well for dress clothes and formal attire – can also be dressed down, because infusing more casual clothes with formal colors lends them a certain sophistication.

But more casual colors and patterns – like, say, a baby-blue Hawaiin shirt infused with orange and green – are often harder to dress up. (It’s not impossible, but it’s fairly advanced, so I don’t often recommend it.)

So, keep in mind that the colors below aren’t limited to proper dress shirts, and can work with a pretty broad range of styles.

OK, preamble over. Let’s fucking get to it already look at some stylish colors!

The Best Colors for Men’s Dress Shirts

Want your shirts to look sharp? Stock up on these timeless must-have colors.

White Shirts

Man wearing white dress shirt
[image: Mizzen + Main]

Number one with a bullet. White is the classic, go-to color for men’s dress shirts for one incredibly simple, but inescapably sound reason:

They’re versatile.

No matter the color of your pants, your sweater, your shoes or the rest of your clothes, a white shirt will always look sharp, which is why white dress shirts are so popular that they’ve become ubiquitous in the world of menswear.

How You Should Wear It:

You can wear a white shirt with a blue suit, a black suit, a white suit, or (if you’re Ryan Gosling on a red carpet) a burgundy suit.

White goes with literally everything, so you can basically wear a white dress shirt with pretty much any get-up or combination.

Light Blue Shirts

Man wearing light blue dress shirt and tie
[image: Rhone]

Once you’ve got a few good white dress shirts hanging in your closet, the first actual color you should add is definitely light blue.

While note quite as versatile as white, light blue complements a lot of other colors (think greys, khakis, whites and browns).

Starting with a light blue dress shirt means you still have lots of options when deciding what to pair it with.

And like white, a light shade of blue looks great on any skin tone. If your skin is on the darker side, then a white shirt will serve as a nice contrast that makes your face’s dark features pop.

If, like me, your skin is on the pasty light pink side of the spectrum, then light blue is great because it downplays any redness that your skincare regimen hasn’t yet eliminated.

How You Should Wear It:

Other than black, you can rock a light blue shirt with almost any color.

Throw it on with a pair of khakis or white pants for a great summer look, under a grey or blue suit at any time of year, or layer it under a sweater in cooler months.

Medium Blue Shirts

Man wearing medium blue dress shirt
[image: Bonobos]

Think one shade of blue is enough? Think again, my friend.

In addition to a good light blue shirt, you should also consider adding a medium blue shirt into the mix.

How You Should Wear It:

While light blue gives off a decidedly airy and easy-going vibe, a darker shade of blue is a bit more serious, making it more appropriate for business settings, and colder seasons like fall and winter.

(Or, if you live in Canada like me, fall, winter, spring, the early parts of summer and the late parts of summer.)

Army Green Shirts

Man wearing green dress shirt
[image: RW & Co]

So-named for the shade of green used in army uniforms circa WWII, army green (which is similar to the shade that’s often called “olive”) is a medium green that gives off a casual, but decidedly masculine vibe.

How You Should Wear It:

There are two important things to keep in mind when choosing this shade for your dress shirt color.

First, because it’s more rugged, it’s also considered more casual. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear it at the office or in other dressed up settings – you can and absolutely should – but leave it at home when you’re going to a wedding or other more formal occasions.

Second, because it’s so closely associated with the military, you should make sure you don’t have much green or brown in the rest of your outfit when you’re wearing an army green dress shirt.

Trust me when I say that I understand the temptation to get decked out like the cast of Band of Brothers; also trust me when I say that unless you’re shooting a major motion picture, wearing too much army green will make you look more like a cosplayer than a commando.

Red & Black Plaid/Check Shirts

Oh, you didn’t think red plaid was a color/pattern you could wear as a dress shirt? Try telling that to Timothy Olyphant and GQ:

Timothy Olyphant wearing red plaid shirt
Photo via GQ; enviable jawline and perfect hair via Timothy Olyphant’s parents
How You Should Wear It:

You should literally wear it exactly like Olyphant is here: in a slim fit and paired with a dark tie, dark pants and a glowering stare that could cut a hole straight through a man.

Grey Shirts

Man wearing grey button down shirt
[image: Western Rise]

Grey dress shirts make for a great alternative to white, which is ubiquitous but can also start to feel a little dull sometimes.

The key with a good grey dress shirt is to keep the shade of grey light.

Darker grey dress shirts (as with dark shirts of any color) can be tough to pair with jackets, sweaters and other layering pieces.

How to Wear It:

A light grey shirt looks especially sharp under a navy blue blazer or suit jacket.

Grey also works well with burgundy, so consider throwing on a pair of navy chinos, a grey dress shirt and a burgundy shawl collar cardigan for a look that can take you just about anywhere (except to a beach party, for which you’d be woefully over-dressed).

Light Green Shirts

Man wearing light green dress shirt
[image: Mizzen + Main]

Along with red plaid, this is probably the most out-of-left-field color on this list, but a good light green dress shirt can do a lot for you.

As much as I love blue and swear by the blue-and-brown combo, it’s definitely possible to have too much of a good thing.

A good light green shirt helps you mix up your color game, without being too fashion forward, or so “out there” that you don’t feel comfortable in it.

How to Wear It:

One great move is to pair a light green shirt with a medium-grey suit and a dark green tie for a look that’s dressed up and dapper, but still conveys a light-hearted and (dare I say it?) fun (I did, I did dare) aesthetic.

Black Shirts

Man wearing black dress shirt
[image: Fabletics]

As a self-respecting style blogger, it would be professionally negligent of me not to start by issuing a stern – and absolutely imperative – warning:

Never wear a black shirt with a tie. 

That’s right: never.

Not with a black tie.

Not with a white tie.

Not with a bolo tie.

Not while listening to Ty Dolla $ign.


With that rejoinder out of the way, having a good black dress shirt in your arsenal is a smart move if you know how to wear and pair it properly. Speaking of which…

How to Wear It:
George Clooney Nespresso ad
Image via Nespresso; smug look via a lifetime of dating models and a tequila investment that really panned out

The best way to wear a black dress shirt is to channel your inner Clooney and pair it with a grey suit.

Keep in mind that when you’re going for the grey-on-black look with your shirt and suit, you should extend the theme to all of your other accessories as well:

To complete the look, make sure your belt, watch band, brief case or messenger bag, and any other leather accessories are also black.

To be extra safe, you shouldn’t even put milk in your Nespresso. (That’s really more of a Danny Devito move, anyway.)

Related ↓
You’ve got the right shirt color.
Now don’t f*ck up the pants pairing…

Man choosing shirt with illustrated thought bubble
Incorrect. (Nothing looks good with red pants.) Read this please.

Now that you know which shirt colors are the most essential, you’re well on your way to out-dressing the other guys and improving your overall appearance.

But once you choose the perfect shirt color, the next thing you need to know is how to pair it with a pants color that will complement (rather than clash with) your upper half.

Fortunately, you don’t have to look very far. Check out my round up of the best men’s pants colors to find out how to look just as good below the belt as you do above it.

More Style & Color Advice from Irreverent Gent:

Banner Image Credits:
Photos: Suitsupply / Shutterstock
Illustration: Irreverent Gent

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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