Businessmen and corporate workers alike know all too well the importance of looking good when on the job. An impeccable suit and tie combination can often make the difference between closing a deal, agreeing on a contract and signing on the dotted line. The base layer for any suit, no matter how good, is a premium business shirt.
Business shirts, fortunately, don’t need to be confined to just being worn with a suit to the office, as their formal versatility means they can be used for other occasions such as date night or a wedding, to give a couple of examples. For situations such as these, a basic white cotton shirt from a run of the mill brand simply will not suffice. For exemplary quality, softness and durability you really should be investing something a little more expensive.
When looking to fill your wardrobe with a fresh array of business shirts, you’ll do well to check out some of the most prestigious dedicated shirtmakers and suitmakers around for the last word in quality and branding. Business shirts and dress shirts share much of the same DNA, although you’ll soon find that you can get away with slightly lower quality materials for the office than you can formal events, along with a greater array of colours. Dress shirts tend to stick to a classic white colour.
If you can’t find what your office is looking for at a dedicated shirtmaker (which will be a surprise), some luxury and premium brands will be your next best bet. Ultimately, you want to end up with shirts that fit well – you don’t want any billowing fabric that makes it look like you’re wearing a tent – and have a stiff collar to accentuate your importance.
But which brands should you be checking out exactly? Fret over that question no longer, as we’ve rounded up the best business shirt brands available right now that will have you earning the employee of the month accolade in no time.
You’ll find crisp white shirts for the nine to five, or soft chambray pieces to wear outside the office. They also offer long and short cuts, in addition to their regular, slim, and extra slim blocks. If that’s not enough, you can design your own online, picking one of several collars, cuff options, and personalised embroidery. Their fabric selection is more limited than Tailor’s Mark but for everyday business it’s hard to beat.
That includes business shirts, although Rhone likes to refer to its Commuter shirt as a dress shirt – and the most comfortable one ever at that, guaranteed – but since it can be had in a range of colours besides white, will happily look at home in the boardroom.
What makes Rhone's business shirts so good is that they've been designed from an athletic standpoint, meaning the fabric used is stretchable and moisture-wicking, meaning sweat marks under your arms will be a thing of the past. The all-important stiff collar is easy to achieve too thanks to a hidden button to keep it standing up straight.
Hugo's business shirt collection is primarily facilitated by the Boss label, as opposed to Hugo, with an array of colours and patterns to be found. What you can expect across the board, however, is undisputed quality. Not only are materials reflective of the price, but Hugo Boss knows how to cut a shirt so it fits perfectly.
You can also expect to find plenty of crease-resistant fabrics, again, reflective of the type of man who will likely find himself draping the German label across his shoulders.
Turnbull & Asser
Their shirting is characterised by fastidious production – using 34 pieces and 13 mother-of-pearl buttons – and premium cloths from Egypt and Italy. They offer three RTW house blocks, a variety of colours, and the odd unusual pattern or splash of colour, so they are by no means a stubbornly traditional retailer that doesn’t appeal to a younger audience.
Turnbull & Asser have the enviable (and well earned) privilege of a Royal Warrant, bestowed by HRH Charles, and they outfitted the stylishly brooding Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. They know their business. As a result, they are an aspirational brand for most of us and charge for the premium they know they deserve. They do, however, run a cheeky sale here and there so keep an eye out.
Aside from crisp business shirts, look out for their popular Red Fleece collection and sporty variations of their classic button-downs. While much of their manufacturing is now outsourced to reduce costs, they’ve reinvested in local production and thus you’ll see Made in America labels on more of their kit going forward.
Launched in the UK in 1984, Thomas Pink are known for traditional Jermyn Street shirting: premium cloths in classic, understated patterns, and the quiet confidence to rely on tradition and custom over trendy innovations.
They offer easy-care Traveller shirts for those of you who don’t have time to iron, or never grew out of getting your mum to do it. Their shirting will fit in comfortably with most office dress-codes, so you can bank on some serious longevity. However, there’s a price for the privilege to wear Thomas Pink, as most of their shirts start well over one hundred bucks.
CT collections boast easy-care shirting for the daily grind, but they also offer superfine two-ply cotton shirts and dinner shirts if you need to dust the tux off. They run four cuts – classic, slim, extra slim, and super slim – across a range of patterns. Charles Tyrwhitt are accessible for both the well-heeled and those just starting out. A plain white dress shirt will set you back $69 and if you buy four in most varieties, you’ll be paying $220 or less.
Their business shirts are 100% cotton and constructed in various weaves to suit the season. You’ll find heavier Oxford cloth shirts for winter, and lighter linen numbers for the scorching November to March period.
Check out their floral shirts in their spring/summer collections and make sure you get a few of their easy-iron white shirts to pad the work wardrobe. M.J. Bale offer various multi-buy packages – between $180 to $240 – so their value for money is highly competitive.
In addition to the slick tailoring that begets their name, SS offers custom shirting that allows you to select the usual specifications – collar, cloth, embroidery – in concert with their in-house blocks. They do require measurements in-store for this reason, and shirts start at $175. You can find Suit Shop in Crossley St, Melbourne, and in both the Strand Arcade and Chifley in Sydney.
J Crew doesn’t discriminate based on a precise aesthetic; you can find lively patterned shirts next to sombre, plain numbers. Furthermore, their Tall range accommodates hard-to-fit body shapes and you can choose between a couple of different cuts otherwise. Shirts retail from around $99, but there’s plenty to choose from for tightarses in the clearance section of their online store.
Van Heusen's Australian range of shirts is specific to the market, with a range of cool and breathable fabrics to ensure you don't remain hot under the collar alongside some stretchy shirts that allow freedom of movement.
A selection of Hamilton shirts can be found from US menswear designer Todd Snyder, with the two collaborating to produce an enviable range of dress shirts that are suitable for both the boardroom and those more formal events where you need to be looking your absolute best.
H & M shirts offer great versatility, from plain white business shirts to short sleeve floral resort shirts, and at around 30 bucks per shirt, they’re an absolute steal. If you need a last-minute job interview shirt or something to thrash for the grand final weekend, H&M is the ticket.
Incredibly affordable yet with an extensive selection on offer in a multitude of sizes, Uniqlo's shirts are praised for their breathability and wrinkle-resistance. They're ideal for packing into an overnight bag or carry-on suitcase then for those all-important business trips, without having to worry about ironing them at the other end, or if they get damaged during transit.
Their floral camp collar shirts are a popular favourite, recalling retro 60’s styles. They’re made from 100% breathable cotton and are cut to a slimline that still leaves a little bit to the imagination. While these are definite party shirts and not for the office, they’re not cheap – don’t go too hard and you might get away with wearing it more than once.