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Sports Shirts vs Dress Shirts

Take a close look at sports shirts and dress shirts to determine the best pick for your event, showcasing how to properly wear them, length and their fabric material.

A man golfing wearing a blue sports shirt.
  • When and how to wear a Dress shirt
  • When and how to wear a Sports shirt
  • The fabric in a Dress shirt Vs the fabric in a Sports shirt
  • The length of a Dress shirt versus the length of a Sports shirt

Are you one of those men who walk around wearing a tie wrapped around a sports shirt? Well, I am here on this day to tell you to Stop! Just because a sports shirt possesses a collar and buttons running down the front does not make it appropriate to wear a tie.

The main factor to look out for when distinguishing a Sports shirt from a Dress shirt is to explore the shirt’s collar. A Dress shirt will have a rigid collar and a conservative style. A sport shirt will have a gentler collar, and they have more patterns and are bolder.

There is still so much more that you NEED to know about Dress shirts versus Sport’s shirts. Read on, and you will be able to make a fashion statement the next time you dress!

When and how to Wear a Dress Shirt

Van Heusen Men's Poplin Fitted Solid Point Collar Dress Shirt, White, 15.5" Neck 32"-33" Sleeve

Yes, there is a time and a place for a Dress shirt, and then there is also a time and a place for a Sports shirt. Too often, I have seen men try and start a new trend by mixing and matching Dress shirts styles with Sports shirt styles. Call the fashion police because it’s time to put an end to incorrectly worn shirts!

Did you know, Dress shirts originally was considered an “undergarment.” It was a hidden shirt that was usually simply found in white. Oh, how this undergarment evolved! Today it is a fashion must-have in your closet, from “undergarment” to “stand-alone shirt.”

The Dress shirt was created originally for men who had to wear Dress shirts every day to the office. When wearing a Dress shirt as an “undergarment,” it absorbs sweat and grease from the body to protect the suit jacket.  Wearing a Dress shirt symbolized “status.” Nowadays, Dress shirts are a symbol of formal attire.

A dress shirt is strictly worn for formal/business occasions. Perhaps you work in an office; a Dress shirt should be chosen over a Sports shirt. If you are attending a wedding/a black-tie event, a dress shirt should be chosen over a Sports shirt.

Always wear a tie; after all, the collar was created rigid about placing a tie underneath it. A quick fun fact, the term “interfacing” is what makes cuffs, front plackets, and collars rigid.

When and how to wear a Sports shirt

Under Armour Mens Performance 2.0 Golf Polo , Steel (035)/Black , X-Large

Before the early 2000s, the term “Sports shirts” was any shirt category that was only worn at sporting events. In our times, Sports shirts are worn outside of sporting events and can be worn informally or formally.

Now men, I know have noticed many of you wearing suit jackets with Sports shirts and jeans. Wearing suit jackets with a Sports shirt is an example of incorrectly matched attire. “Appropriate matching” is a real thing.

If a man is going to wear a suit jacket, it needs to be worn with a Dress shirt and suit pants instead of jeans. If you want to wear a Sports shirt formally, you do not need to wear a suit jacket with it. When dressing a Sports shirt formally, you can wear jeans with it; however, your jeans and your Sports shirt need to lean more towards darker tones.

Sports shirts can be dressed down or dressed up; they are versatile shirts that every man should own. Sports shirts can have short sleeves or long sleeves. Sports shirts can be worn to parties, on dates, ext.

The fabric in a Dress shirt vs the fabric in a Sports shirt

adidas Men's Club Tennis Polo Shirt, Collegiate Navy, Large

There are times when you will glance at a man’s Sports shirt from afar and think it is a dress shirt, especially when a man is wearing an oxford Sports shirt; as you get closer to the man, you will notice that it is a broadcloth Dress shirt. Do not allow Fabrics to deceive you!

Distinguish a Dress shirt from a Sports shirt by investigating the fabrics used. When it comes to Dress shirts, it is all about sheen! Sports shirts do not have a sheen to them. Dress shirts have sheen because the fine yarn is tightly woven in the creating process; hence, the sheen is created.

Sports shirts, on the other hand, will not have a sheen. Sports shirts will, however, contain bolder textures.

The length of a Dress shirt versus the length of a Sports shirt

Amazon Brand - Buttoned Down Men's Tailored Fit Spread Collar Solid Non-Iron Dress Shirt Blue 16" Neck 32" Sleeve

Looking back fifty years ago, when the function of a Dress shirt was only an “undergarment,” men would wear it tucked into their pants. Currently, I have seen men wear Dress shirts untucked. I cannot stress enough how this is considered the biggest fashion crime a man can commit!

The length of a Dress shirt is supposed to be long enough to reach over your gluteus maximus from the back. From the front, the length of a Dress shirt should reach over your crotch. So, when men walk around with these untucked Dress shirts, it can turn a formal shirt into a sloppy mess.

If you do not want to tuck your shirt in, then a Sports shirt is the right choice for you. I have met several men who complain about tucked-in shirts.  Many of these men have stated that tucked-in shirts sometimes cause irritations.

The difference between wearing a Dress shirt or a Sports shirt is that Sports shirts are shorter in length.

Sports shirts have been specifically designed to be worn untucked. However, there are certain and rare occasions when a man is required to tuck in a Sports shirt. Sports shirts should only be tucked in if the shirt at the back is longer than “the bottom of your pants pocket.”

Sports shirts are worn untucked if the shirt is no longer than “the bottom of your pants pocket.”


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