Formal shirts are for formal occasions, right? Correct. They’re the perfect choice for finishing off your tailored outfits, but they can also be worn more casually too. This guide gives you three ways to wear your formal shirt without a suit and tie.

What is a Formal Shirt?

Worn for formal events such as work or weddings, a formal shirt (or otherwise known as a dress shirt) features a button-through front with a stiff collar, long sleeves and either single or double cuffs. Made from a cotton mix or cotton woven fabric, they are available in a wide range of colours and styles, and are often teamed with a suit and tie.

What is the Difference Between a Formal Shirt and Casual Shirt?

While formal and casual shirts may share some similarities, there are a few ways you can tell the difference between the two.

Firstly, the collar on a formal shirt is firm and often curl-resistant. In comparison, casual shirts have softer collars such as the button-down. Secondly, formal styles are designed to be tucked in, so the length of the shirt will be longer than casual designs — which are usually left untucked.

Finally, a formal shirt will typically be made from high thread count textiles that are tightly woven from cotton, using weaves such as poplin, twill or herringbone. Formal shirt fabrics tend to lay more evenly, and have a rich and sometimes shiny look to them. Casual shirts are made from a wider range of fabrics like linen or cambric, and are often a little more rugged in texture and lack the sheen of their formal counterpart.

How to Wear a Formal Shirt Casually


Wearing a Formal Shirt With Shorts


A classic combination for your summer holiday or sunny weekends away, a formal shirt can be worn with shorts when heading for your evening meal or drinks at your favourite bar. However, before you reach for the shirt you usually wear to work, there are some rules you need to follow. Your formal shirt should have short sleeves and be in a classic colour such as white or light blue. When it comes to styling, neatly tuck it into your shorts and complete the outfit with a smart leather belt and suede loafers.

Wearing Formal Shirts With Jeans

To wear a formal shirt with jeans, you need to make sure that the jeans you choose are smart enough and fit well. To achieve such sartorial success, your jeans should be slim, dark and free of any detailing such as rips or fading. To finish the outfit, you can add a tailored blazer for evening occasions, or a V-neck jumper when heading to the office. 

Wearing Formal Shirts With Chinos 


Offering the perfect blend of comfort and style, wearing your formal shirt with chinos is a great way to adhere to your office’s smart-casual dress code. Don’t forget to tuck in your shirt, and team it with a cardigan and Chelsea boots or brogues to further emphasise the casual side of your look.

Top Tips for Wearing Formal Shirts Casually

  • Tuck in your formal shirt
  • Make sure the casual clothing you choose isn’t overly casual
  • Keep it simple. Classic formal shirts in white or blue are best for smart-casual outfits

Shop our full range of men’s formal shirts, or alternatively, find out what colour formal shirt you should be wearing.