My husband is quite a clothes horse and loves to dress well at all times but still thinks of his shirt as either a shirt or a t-shirt. And here I am, trying to convince him that a shirt is not just any shirt.
A shirt is a shirt is a shirt, what is the difference, he asks. And I say, just like a dress is never simply a dress for a girl – it is slip dress, wrap dress and some 50 odd other types of dresses, a shirt also can be categorised into many different types.
And here are some of the different avatars of the so-called simple shirt
This is a casual, loose fit, button-up shirt with colourful prints that you see worn on the beaches of Hawaii. It has a straight flat hem and is usually worn untucked and falls to the hip in a casual easy going style. The distinguishing features are a convertible collar and big breast pockets and bright colourful prints and patterns.
The patterns in these Hawaiian Aloha shirts are inspired from the island staples like hibiscus flowers, palm trees. This shirt has a very happy go lucky style just right for vacationing in the beaches
2. Baseball shirt
This is the kind of overshirt that you see baseball players wearing – with no collar and a simple button opening. Another shirt that seems to be named the same is the simple button-up shirt without a collar, in a raglan style – its sleeves come in a contrast colour and will extend completely to the collar in one piece.
3. Camp shirt
This is a casual, half sleeved, full-length front button closure, boxy cut shirt with a simple one-piece collar with no collar stand (This has a characterized front opening and is called a camp collar). The shirt usually has a flat hem, side vents (Split hem) and is worn without tucking into pants. The camp shirts usually feature left chest pockets. This is a style that gives you that casual easygoing vibe of the tropics.
It is very similar to the Aloha shirts, the difference being that the bright patterns are absent, as well as the camp collar. Other names for this shirt are cabin shirt, cabana shirt, and lounge shirt.
4. Casual Shirts / Sports shirts
Casual shirts refer to a style of shirt which is easy going, carefree but at the same time presentable, even as a work wear. Casual shirts have a loose carefree fit and will be made in a lightweight but textured fabric. A denim shirt is the quintessential casual shirt. Think smart, cool and casual.
The sports shirt style has nothing to do with sports. But it has everything to do with sportiness. A sports shirt refers to a style of shirt which is casual and laid back as opposed to the dressier dress shirts – synonymous with casual shirts. It will be shorter than the dress shirt so that it can be worn untucked as well and is made of fabrics which are more varied than that of the smoother shinier dress shirts.
5. Dress shirt
These are button-up shirts, typically worn under suits and jackets to formal and semi-formal occasions – a wardrobe staple of almost all fashion conscious men. You can call an ensemble with a dress shirt, tie and jacket a semi-formal one.
The dress shirts are made of high-quality fabric mostly in a solid colour and are neatly tucked into the pant waist and are sleek and well fitted. A dress shirt will have full-length sleeves with single /french cuffs, stiff folded collar. Cufflinks are used to fasten the cuffs, to make it the dressiest
A button down dress shirt refers to a shirt with the collar points buttoned down.
6. Epaulette shirt
This is a shirt style characterised by a special shoulder styling – the shoulder will have militarily inspired shoulder straps
7. Flannel shirt/Lumberjack shirt
Another name for this shirt is “Plaid shirt” As the name indicates the shirt is named because of the material it is made of – lightweight casual flannel which at the same time is warm. The rugged looking checkered flannel fabric is the distinguishing feature of this shirt type. Other features are convertible collar, patch pockets . It is worn on its own or as a jacket over a singlet or t-shirt and has a very outdoor aura which is appealing to all men.
8 Granddad shirt
This is a full front button up shirt with a band collar. It is usually made of high-quality cotton or linen. It originated in Scotland, where a linen version is known as a Sunday shirt. Contrary to its name this shirt is a hit with the youngsters. Granddads also.
9 Golf shirts
Shirts in a knit fabric with a short placket with two or three buttons and a collar. A golf shirt has a loose fit (better for you to take that golf swing) and elbow length sleeves and a double-stitched collar ( which makes it lie flat) with loose double-stitched sleeve cuffs (banded sleeves), and sometimes a left breast pocket
10 Henley shirt
This is a knit shirt with a short placket and round neckline and no collar at all.
11 Ivy league shirt/Oxford shirt
Ivy league look is a clean-cut, smart, casual clothing style that came out of the old private Northeastern university-preparatory school campuses in the USA – you may know it as the preppy look . The ivy league shirt has a button down collar which distinguishes it from other shirts.
An Oxford shirt is almost the same as the ivy league shirt – just that ivy league shirt is nowadays made in other fabric than the oxford fabric with which the oxford shirt is made of – oxford fabric is a thick but soft fabric made using a unique basket weave, which originated in Scotland during the 19th century. The resultant shirt is a casual one trying hard to be formal, and succeeds at being a little of both. It is usually in solid colours.
12 Jersey shirt
When you say ‘jersey’ in clothing it typically denotes the uniform of an athlete. But in fashion terms, a jersey shirt refers to a shirt made from stretch jersey fabric ( or a cotton/linen blend ) which is super soft and comfortable. Just right for casual weekend outings, a jersey shirt is synonymous with casual daywear
13 Night Shirt
This refers to long (Calf length) loose fitting shirts worn as nightwear.They are made of breathable cotton fabric
14 Western shirt
This shirt typically worn by the Cowboys (also called cowboy shirt) has a high stiff stand collar, front and back shaped yoke, breast pockets with flap, sometimes embroidery/piping
15 Polo shirts
Very similar to a Golf shirt (shirts in a knit fabric with a short placket with two or three buttons and a collar) ; the difference being that polo shirt is Shorter-sleeved (sleeves that end midway down the biceps) than that of a golf shirt and the shirt is more fitted and the collar can be made to stand up to protect the back of the neck; They are also called Tennis shirts
A loose collarless pullover type of shirt with long sleeves made of a thick soft and absorbent material like wool ; It is almost like a sweater but it is worn during athletic activities. A sweatshirt with a headcover is known as a Hoodie
T-shirts need no introduction. I would think a t-shirt can be declared ‘the clothing of this century and beyond’. Even the remotest corner of the earth will have a man in a t-shirt. The most famous tech billionaire I know is seen every single day in the same coloured t-shirt – as if he cannot afford all the dress shirts in the world.
A t-shirt is usually made of a thin inexpensive knit fabric and is the most comfortable of all clothes. Crew neck t-shirts are the most popular though U neck and V neck ones are not far behind.
But that is not the end of it. There are many variations to your simple T-shirt. Here is the post that explains this – 15 different types of T-shirts.
Interesting reading: Why I wear the same T-shirt every day – Mark Zuckerberg.
18 Tunic shirt
This is a long-sleeved, hip-length or longer shirt with a loose fit and a slit neckline, placket and or a Chinese collar. A crisp and comfortable fabric like cotton or linen or even silk is the preferred fabric for tunic shirts.
19 Tuxedo shirt/ Formal shirt
This is a formal occasion wear shirt typically worn under a tuxedo jacket and has a yoke which is styled like a built-in bib with pintucks. This will be the visible part of the shirt under the jacket. This shirt is mostly paired with bow ties and formal ties
This is a long, knit, sleeveless shirt which is fitted and worn under other shirts. It features a U or V neckline. I do not know if it qualifies as a shirt as you will not see anyone wear it on its own anywhere in public. But they are worn by a lot of men under their shirts for their warmth as well as sweat absorbing quality. And once it is a habit, nothing can separate a shirt and an undershirt