Posted by menstyleqa on Apr 4, 2012 in Culture & Etiquette, Men's Shirts | 3 comments
I need shirts for work and some stores talk about “work shirts” and “business shirts” like separate things. What’s the difference?
Those are in fact two different things. The “work” that a “work shirt” refers to is more traditionally hands-on, blue-collar sort of work, while dress shirts are meant for business and office use. The differences aren’t that pronounced, but they are significant:
- Both are usually cotton or blended cotton, but work shirts usually have a thicker weave and a coarser surface. Denim, flannel, and twill are typical work shirts, while dress shirts are made from much finer cloth like broadcloth.
- Work shirts usually have two pockets with buttoning flaps. Dress shirts will only have one breast pocket (or none), and won’t have the buttoning flap.
- Work shirt collars are almost always button-down. Dress shirts tend to have non-buttoning collars, and in fact a button-down collar is really too informal to wear with a suit (although plenty of men make that particular fashion mistake, up to and including United State senators).
If you’re working indoors in an office all day, and especially if you’re wearing jackets/suits and ties, you want dress shirts rather than work shirts. If you’re outdoors or on a factory floor or the like, go for work shirts.
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We talk about the difference between styles of men’s shirt (polo, work, dress, and formal) in this RealMenRealStyle YouTube video:
Work shirts are more for people who are “hands on” like construction work. A lot of people I know who are construction workers wear plaid casual shirts for construction. I don’t think anyone would want to wear a nice dress shirt to do that stuff since they are going to get really dirty.
Dress shirts are more for people who are working in offices or in a “white collar” setting. Also, for interviews people usually wear a dress shirt, and not a casual plaid or checked shirt (depending on the work setting I guess).
In my opinion work shirts are more durable since they do get worn and washed more often as opposed to dress shirts, a lot of people wear them twice. Work shirts, if you wear it one day to go work outside for the entire day I don’t think you will want to wear it again the next day, because it will probably smell really bad.
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