Casual Shirts for Men: A Beginner’s Guide

Blue Casual Shirt worn by a model

Buying shirts for men used to be a pretty easy thing. But nowadays, with such a vast selection of styles, fits, and fabrics, it’s become a little more difficult for newcomers to negotiate. The subtle differences between formal, business casual and casual shirts for men have led us to a place where sometimes, we run the risk of stepping out with the wrong look altogether. 

A major part of the problem is that there are just so many options, so many choices, causing confusion when shopping for a casual shirt. But that’s where we come in. In this article, we’re going to simplify the whole process and address some key things you should think about when buying casual shirts for men. 

Think of the occasion

In other words, where and when do you see yourself wearing your casual shirt? Your eye might have been caught by that loose fitting, tropical number, but if you’re based in London and it’s the middle of winter, is it going to fit the bill? It’s a simple little question to ask yourself before buying a casual shirt, but thinking about where you’ll wear it is a great way of figuring out if it’s the right one for you. 

Consider the versatility

This ties into the above point, but ideally you want a casual shirt or two that can serve a variety of purposes, from dressed down cafe meetings to lazy afternoons by the coast. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have the off standout casual shirt, but it’s much more economical to have at least one or two multi-purpose shirts too. 

Fabric & weight for casual shirts

It’s common to overlook fabric & weight selection when discussing casual shirts for men, but these factors make all the difference when it comes to comfort. Cotton is always a top option, since it’s so breathable and comfortable, and can help keep you both warm and cool. Then of course there are the likes of jute, flannel linen, and denim—all great options for the right occasion but these are often less dress-code versatile. 

Casual shirts for men, particularly those made by “fast fashion” merchants, are often made with synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. The use of these fabrics allow them to be cheaper, and they can look good for a while. But they don’t last as long, and they’re nowhere nearly as comfortable. 

As for the weight, this simply indicated how heavy or light the shirt is, which in turn indicates the time of year it’s best suited for. It’s quite simple: lighter weight in warmer weather, heavier weight in cooler weather!

Always feel comfortable

It doesn’t matter how good something looks on you. If it’s not comfortable, it’s not right. We often observe that the most stylish people are those who look the most comfortable in their own skin, and in their own outfit. There are a range of factors influencing the comfort of casual shirts for men, from weight and fabric, to fit, to colour and pattern. If you try something on and it makes you feel comfortable and confident, that’s the one for you. 

Know your ideal fit

We’ve written a short guide to knowing the best fit for you, so feel free to read that in more detail when you get a moment. But here are the main points: Casual shirts for men tend to come in 4 main fits—skinny, slim, regular, and relaxed. The ideal fit for you is down to your own personal taste, and in many ways by body type. Slim fit shirts gently hug your body and accentuate your form, while skinny fit shirts do this to a much stronger degree. Thus, they’re better suited to people with a leaner, more slimline body. 

Conversely, regular fit shirts hang a little more loosely while still complimenting your figure, and can be a good option for men who carry a little more muscle or bulk. 

Relaxed fit shirts don’t follow the contours of the body at all and hang away from the skin. They’re often worn by larger men, but can also look great on slimmer guys if worn in the right style. In fact, 1990s style relaxed fit suits and shirts have been making a comeback to runways in the recent past. 

Do take note though, that while relaxed and skinny fit shirts can both look great for leisurewear, they’re not a great choice for business casual dress codes.  So for the office, casual shirts for men are most suitable in slim or regular fit. 

Keep a few different casual shirts on rotation

Just as with any garment, we’d always recommend keeping a few different options which you can rotate to fit any occasion. With that in mind, you don’t have to fret too much about which colour of casual shirt you ought to buy. While solid, reliable  colours—whites, blues, greys and navies—are great for business casual environments, feel free to liven it up a bit in a more relaxed environment. Think of a nice pastel for a summer’s day, a versatile stripe for any season, or a solid red or olive green to stand out a little. The great thing about casual shirts for men is the huge range of freedom you have when choosing one for you. 

A final word on buying casual shirts for men

You can simplify the whole process to avoid the extensive choice being overwhelming. Think of your perfect fit, think about what makes you feel both comfortable and confident, and think about where you’ll wear it. By considering these couple of points when buying your next casual shirts, you won’t go wrong. 

Thanks for reading our guide to casual shirts for men. Check out our related articles and style guides below, and when you’re ready, check out the Nickson Shirts Collection.

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