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The Best Women’s Dress Shirts

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We haven’t gone on a hunt for the best dress shirts for women in a long time — so let’s take a look, ladies! Which are your favorite spots to check first if you’re looking for a classic, button up dress shirt, whether for interviews or beyond? Do you prefer a crisp dress shirt (like the ones we’re featuring in this article), or do you prefer a silkier dress shirt? A few older articles may be of particular interest in this discussion: a) if you prefer silky button-fronts, check out our Hunt for that one, b) if you’re busty, check out our guide to specialty shops for busty blouses, c) one of our all-time top posts: 10 ways to wear a button-down shirt, and, finally, d) as a laundry tip, I’ve had great success with putting the shirts in the dryer for no more than about 15 minutes and then hanging them up to air dry. Oh, and I’m on Team White-Camisole-Beneath-White-Shirt–but many others are on Team Nude Camisole; you can check out our discussion here.

Pictured at top, clockwise: blue / blue / white

First, some of our Hall of Fame styles — these are the best-selling, classic styles that have been around for years and are always highly rated:

Pictured above: pink / stripey / blue / white / blush

And, before we get to our featured styles for today, here are some of special interest categories for women’s dress shirts:

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Curious for older roundups? Here’s our last roundup of the best button-down shirts for women.

And, on to the featured styles of women’s dress shirts for today!

Uniqlo is always a great spot for basics, and this simple supima cotton dress shirt is only $29 and looks fabulous. It’s available in white, black, light blue and light pink, sizes XS-XXL, for $29.90. Supima Cotton Stretch Long Sleeve Shirt
Stretch Cotton Women's Dress Shirt: New York & Co | CorporetteI’ve pictured this New York & Company shirt here, but I’d include Express’s Essential Shirt in a very similar category — these are made from stretchy cotton, and come in a broader size range (e.g., XS-XL rather than 2-16), so they rely more on the stretchiness of the cotton for a good fit.  The New York & Company option, the Madison Stretch Shirt, comes in a zillion different colors, as well as tall and petite sizes, for $23-$54 today — the Express option is $59 (buy one get the one 50% off) and is available in regular and petite sizes XXS-XL. (In my experience these are pretty easy care without all the chemicals involved in most non-iron or “wrinkle free” shirts, but I’m curious what others’ experiences have been.) Pictured: Madison Cotton Stretch Shirt
Foxcroft blouses are super popular — they win rave reviews at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s in both regular and plus sizes, and they always have a nice variety of prints and patterns.  We’ve pictured the non-iron plus-size version of their classic shirt, but note that it comes in regular and petite sizes, as well as regular cotton versions. Foxcroft Non-Iron Fitted Shirt
Plus Size Dress Shirt: Universal StandardIf you’re size 10-28, Universal Standard looks like it has a great option in the Elbe shirt. As they note, “lot of thought has gone into the engineering of this top to allow maximum freedom of movement, an amazing silhouette, invisible built-in stretch, and everything you could want in your new favorite shirt.”  Nice! (The Ebro shirt also looks nice.) The Elbe shirt comes in black and white, for $80. Elbe Shirt
Fun Women's Dress Shirt: Boden's Classic Shirt | CorporetteHooboy is this an ugly print. Still: I’m choosing this particular picture to show you how nicely fitted Boden’s “classic’ shirt” is. It’s available in white and light blue, and an ever-revolving group of patterns, including (ahem) medals. It’s $80, available in regular and petite sizes 2-16, at Boden. Boden Classic Shirt
Stretch Cotton dress shirt for women: Hugo Boss blouse | CorporetteHugo Boss’s stretch cotton dress shirt has been around for ages, and it is still racking up good reviews. It’s available at Nordstrom, Hugo Boss, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue. (Also in this price range: this Thomas Pink women’s dress shirt, which has also been around for ages.) Pictured: Bashina Blouse

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!

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Pictured below, clockwise from top left: one / two / three / four.

The Best Women's Dress Shirts for Work | Corporette

best women dress shirts

Comments

  1. I love the white dress shirts; but for fun, I love to wear my SO’s white dress shirts around the house as they are very big on me, but very cute. My SO appreciates them on me so much he often comments how much prettier I am wearing them than he is! I told him he was handsome, not pretty.

  2. Anonymous :

    I wore a school uniform for 7 years – button down shirts just scream ugly uniform to me. To get around this, I love popover blouses (buttons only half way). I find they also fit my giant boobs better, the cut is more forgiving.

    • No uniform history here, but I agree re: popovers. I also prefer silk blouses to cotton or non-iron, since I can’t layer the cotton or non-iron ones without feeling lumpy and stiff.

    • Coach Laura :

      +1 Gave them up forever ten years ago. Will occasionally wear popovers though.

    • Oh, that would be better for my giant b**bs too, any popover blouses you recommend?

      • I’ve amassed quite a collection from JCrew over the years. There’s not a ton available now, but I bet there will be more options as the spring rollout continues.

    • No ironing rule :

      After 12 years of catholic school with button down blouses and dress shirts, I have no oxfords and no ironing rules. Express has had some great popover blouses that I have had altered to close keyholes and bring up the neckline.

  3. Sydney Bristow :

    Honestly, I’ve given up forever. Even when I’ve found ones that fit they are still just not flattering on me. Sometimes I see one that looks cute and have to resist the urge because I’ve been disappointed so many times.

  4. I have some that fit but the collars always seem to pop up and rub against my chin getting makeup on them. It’s irritating, too. Not really a fan.

  5. Has anyone tried Mira Dry? I’ve done some research and it seems to work for a lot of people. But I’m also reading that it is now considered best to use a level 5 setting and tumescent numbing, which apparently all providers don’t do, or if they do, they haven’t been doing for very long.

  6. Anonymous :

    The Barton shirt from MM La Fleur is the first button up shirt that has worked for me in a LONG time. I’m a busty size 12; I ordered the 14 in MM. It drapes nicely and I haven’t noticed the buttons pulling, though of course I’ll wear a cami underneath just in case.

  7. I just hate the way button-downs look. Untucked, it’s too “wearing my boyfriend’s shirt” and tucked, the buttons create this bulge at the front that I can’t stand. Plus even though I’m flat chested (34A) I still feel a deal of inadvertent flashing danger wearing them. Really, not a fan.

  8. In high school/college I wore a lot of vintage button-ups and would safety pin or sew the plackets to prevent gapping (and just pull the shirt on over my head). These days I don’t like any of them enough to tweak them to fit well. Silky blouses all the way.

  9. Anonymous :

    I don’t wear button-down shirts very often, but the only ones I’ve ever really loved are the Riley fit shirts from Banana Republic. They have a nice tailored (but not too tight) shape, enough room in the shoulders to move around comfortably, and they never gape at the chest. I have that shirt in at least 5 colors, and I’m pretty sure it’s the only type of button-down currently in my closet.

  10. button-up h8r :

    I forget what movie it was (Sully, maybe), but Katie Couric was interviewing someone and the buttons on her shirt in the closer-to-the-waist region were creating these gaping openings b/w the buttons.

    1. It was in a movie, so why didn’t someone notice and fix on the spot (fashion tape, y’all!) or edit / crop it out?
    2. It was totally distracting.

  11. JuniorMinion :

    I’ve only ever had good luck with the silky lightweight type button downs (Express Portofino). I am a 32DD, I have accepted that traditional button downs are just not going to work for me.

    • anonymous :

      Hmm. I’m also a 32DD, and I really like the look of button downs on me. I sewed it together between a couple of the buttons where gaping normally happens and pull it over my head. Right now I have a few from Banana Republic

      • Also love the Express portofinos. Very flattering and comfortable. And no ironing needed!

        • I love the fit of the Express Portofino blouses but I HATE the polyester! They get stinky and discolored after a few wears.

  12. I’ll wear a cute button down shirt casually, but there’s no way I’d wear a work version. They look awful on people with any kind of cleavage at all (and I have a lot). I don’t need to wear what is essentially men’s clothing to look professional.

  13. Tall ladies,

    Highly recommend you shop abroad from British shirtmakers. TMLewin and Hawes and Curtis are the way to go. They also carry cusp sizes up to 18 and have really lovely silk shirts too.

  14. Diana Barry :

    I just got a rayon blouse that buttons from Uniqlo and I like it a lot better than any of the regular button-ups I’ve tried. I got rid of all of those and don’t miss them!

  15. Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

    Unless it is hot, I nearly always wear a button down shirt under suits. I like how they look-crisp and simple. I like the ones from Thomas Pink, Brooks Brothers, and even Banana Republic shirts for this.

  16. Never too many shoes... :

    I hate button up shirts with a passion. I would never willingly wear one but have to wear one to court under the robes (with a stand-up collar no less). Ugh. It just makes me feel like a constricted, lumpy frumptastic mess…I seriously do not know how men stand those shirts every day.

    • TorontoNewbie :

      Can you wear a silk one?

      • Never too many shoes... :

        I have never seen or heard of a shirt like that in silk. Let’s see what the internet has to say…

    • Seattle Freeze :

      I also hate button-up shirts and own not a one – always coming untucked, gaping at the waist or bust, and never, ever enough room for my broad, square shoulders. Drapier, softer fabric was better, but then there were care issues. Feh!

  17. anonymous :

    Does anyone else have trouble with the arms of button up shirts being too tight. Once I get them to fit elsewhere, I they are too tight in the arms. Get the arms to fit and they seem too big elsewhere.

  18. CJ banks. Their wrinkle resist are awesome.

  19. I don’t love how dress shirts look on me. Anything tucked looks horrible on my short torso, and most dress just look frumpy untucked. I’m curious what alternatives people are wearing that look nice and professional

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