The definition of a good shirt depends on where and how it will be worn. If you're getting in a round of golf with some friends, then a Burberry, Lacoste, or Izod polo shirt is probably perfect. Office attire may demand a handsome Thom Browne oxford or perhaps a tasteful print from Emporio Armani. And if you are just hanging around the house on the weekend, a vintage plaid or two-tone from Campus or McGregor is probably as formal as you want to get.

That said, when it comes to a good dress shirt, there are a few things to look for. Turndown collars should have removable bones, the yoke or back of the shirt at the neck should be split (this is a particularly costly detail if a pattern needs to be matched), and the sleeve should be pleated where it meets the cuff. Cotton is the favored fabric, and weaving styles include poplin, Oxford, and pinpoint, which is a combination of the two.

For the best suits, well-dressed Englishmen head to London’s Savile Row. For the best shirts, Jermyn Street is their destination. Turnbull & Asser requires a minimum order of six shirts, with a delivery time of 12 weeks. New & Lingwood is famous for its brightly striped shirts. And while the tailors at Harvie & Hudson can make you a jacket and pair of pants, they are best known for their shirts.

That’s the formal stuff. For casual wear, perhaps the most collectible category of vintage men’s shirt is the Hawaiian shirt, particularly those made during the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Many were made of cold rayon, so-called for its cool, silky feel against the skin, but lots of Hawaiian shirts came in a more textural crepe de chine rayon, as well as cotton and silk.

Patterns ranged from vibrantly colored tropical floral prints to scenes of Hawaii to abstract, monochromatic designs. Vertical patterns that create a border at the buttons and buttonholes are especially prized, and collectible labels include Surfrider Sportswear, Catalina, Kahanamoku, Kamehameha, Kahala, Hale Hawaii, Royal Hawaiian, Duke of Hollywood, and (wait for it) J.C. Penney.

Rockabilly shirts from the second half of the Hawaiian shirt’s heyday are also sought after. Look for two-tone button-ups or pullovers, bowling shirts with the names of strangers stitched above the breast, or shirts in Mid-century Modern atomic-style prints.

Western shirts are cousins to rockabilly. Levi’s signature denim shirt from 1954 was called the Sawtooth, so named because of the jagged shape of the pocket flaps on the front of the shirt. With all dues respect to Levi’s, though, Rockmount Ranch Wear of Denver had been making similar shirts for years...

In fact, what Levi’s is to jeans, Rockmount is to the cowboy shirt. In addition to Sawtooth pockets, Rockmount also makes shirts with Quarter Horse pocket flaps and flapless pockets called Smiles, which should give you an idea of the shape. Rockmount is known also for the snaps on its shirts, which are mother-of-pearl in circles or diamonds, as well as its incredibly detailed embroidered shirts.

Like Levi’s, many Rockmount products are made out of denim. Chambray, which has that similarly blue, denim look, is also a favorite, as is gabardine and even traditional patterns and weaves such as tattersall. Other Western-style shirt makers include Wrangler and Dickies.

Of course some shirts are hot among collectors because they are favored by fashionistas. Robert Graham shirts, which have been around for barely a decade, took off when contestants wore them on “American Idol.” Shirts by motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson and venerable retailer Abercrombie & Fitch are always in demand, as are shirts by relative upstarts like Ed Hardy and Lucky Brand.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Black Tie Guide

The Black Tie Guide

Peter Marshall became an authority on formalwear out of necessity — he needed a tux to wear on the maiden transat… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Mens Wwii Us Army Denim Pullover Collectible ShirtVintage Arrow Chevella Rayon Shadow Plaid Button Up Shirt, Deadstock Nwt, MediumRare Vtg 50's Towncraft Penney's Shadow Plaid Rockabilly Shirt M Chevella RayonVintage 1940s 50s Salt & Pepper Work Shirt Sears Pacemaker Sanforized MediumAntique Man's 3-button Front Cotton Work Shirt New Old Store Stock C1910sRare Vintage Polo Ralph Lauren 1992 Sportsman Canvas Shirt M Pwing Stadium BearVtg 70s Rugged Pendleton Buffalo Plaid Wool Unisex Boyfriend Jacket Shirt Coat MVintage 1950s Arrow Chevella Shadow Plaid Rayon Shirt XlLot Of His And Hers Vintage Rayon Gabardine Embroidered Western Shirts H Bar CL@@k Vinatge 50's Black Print Rayon Rockabilly ShirtVintage Penneys Loop Collar Shadow Plaid Rayon Shirt Sz-l1975 Waylon Jennings 3 Vintage Concert T-shirts 2 Men Xl 1 Ladies SmallVintage 1950s Rayon Gab Mens Crazy Shirt Multi Color Block SVintage 1979 Devo Duty Now For The Future Concert Tour ShirtVtg Nos 1950's "brent" L/s Rayon Shadow Plaid Rockabilly Shirt M Chevella StyleFreewheelers Japan 1910s 20s Vtg Style Chinstrap Work Shirt Sz 15 *no Reserve!*Freewheelers Made In Japan Vtg 20s 30s Style Popover Wool Shirt *no Reserve!*Vintage 1980 Joe Jackson Ringer Concert Tour Shirt Jersey. Look Sharp!Freewheelers Japan 30s Style Single Pocket Shell Button Shirt Sz15 *no Reserve!*Vintage 50s Green Plaid Chevella Arrow Rockabilly Shirt L 16 16 1/2 Rayon Vintage 1970s Levis Cotton Denim Chambray Orange Tab Contrast Stitch Shirt LargeL@@k Vinatge 70's Yvon Chouinard Patagonia Hawaiann ShirtBeastie Boys Fight For Your Right 1987 Tour Original Vintage Shirt M Ex Cond !!Vintage 1910s Cotton Shirt Edwardian Collarless Harry Berger MediumLot Of 30 Vintage Western Shirts Levis Wrangler Ely Miller Dc Flying R Lots MoreVtg 50s Xl-plus Ivory & Black Rayon Bowling Shirt 10 Strikes Ichiban EmbroideredVintage 1991 Dire Straits Mark Knopfler Concert Tour ShirtGianni Versace Vintage Men's Shirt 100% Silk Black & Gray Sz 52Scorpions World Tour 1984 Original Vintage Concert Shirt Xl Deadstock Rare!Vintage 1950s King Louie Red Rayon Atomic Diamond Rockabilly Bowling Shirt Xl Vintage Rick Springfield 1984 Concert Tour Shirt JerseyRare Vintage 50s Madewell Wool Cpo Shirt, Button-up, Gussets, Made In Usa Men's 1950's Wool Plaid Shirt Jacket~rat Pack~vlv~rockabilly~blue/gray~exc.condFreewheelers Japan 1910s 20s Vtg Style Chinstrap Work Shirt Sz 14 *no Reserve!*Nos Unworn 1960's Men's Size L Short Sleeve Shirt Brown W/multi Color StripeVintage Mens 40s 50s 101 Embroidered Western Shirt Rainbow StitchPendleton Wool Shirt Size Large Loop Collar Dark Blue And Light BlueVintage 1985 Australian The Church Heyday Concert Tour Shirt Paper Thin!Vintage Hand Embroidered Western California Ranchwear Shirt Of Los AngelesFreewheelers Made In Japan Vtg 30s Style Spread Collar Shirt Sz 14 *no Reserve!*Vintage Mens Hippie Shirt 70s Size XlNos Unworn 1960's Men's Size L One Pocket Sport Shirt Gray W/ Brown Horse HeadsVintage 1950's Wool 'weather Wise' Shirt/cruiser Jacket*mediumVintage 50's H Bar C Ranchwear Western Embroidered Black Rayon Shirt Sz M MedimVintage 80s Deadstock Harley Davidson 3d Emblem Shirt Eagle Has Landed 2 SideVintage 1983 Eric Clapton Concert Tour Shirt Screen Stars XlRare Vtg 90's Mambo Loud Hawaiian Hawaii " Australian Beer Tree" Rayon ShirtThree Flannel Men’s Shirts, Large Tall, Worn (v-p)Rare Vintage 40s 50s Wool Flannel Baseball Jersey Mets Uniform Shirt Sewn Letter1950's Vintage H Bar C Grey Gabardine Western Snap Shirt With Embroidery L XlHarley Davidson Vintage 3d Emblem Motorcycle Atlanta Dealer Shirt Small 1987 80sVtg 70s Levis Orange Tab Chambray Denim Buttom Up Shirt Small Levi Usa Hip Scully Vintage Western ShirtVtg 50s 60s Waikiki-wear Hawaiian Shirt Rockabilly Elvis Blue Hawaii Mens XlVintage Willis And Geiger Hunting Cotton Shirt Sz 42 Wow!!Rare Vtg 90's Mambo Loud Hawaiian Hawaii " Lobster" Viscose Rayon Shirt XlHawaiian Vintage 70's Jersey Shirt Mesh Ringer Beach Print Athletic Tourist Vintage 1980 J Geils Band Love Stinks Rare Concert Tour ShirtVintage 70s Chambray Gas Station Attendant Work Shirt Usa Mens XlRare Vintage 1977 Peter Frampton New York City Concert Tour Shirt