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Different Types of Shirts: Essential Guide

Have you ever wondered about all the different types of shirts? With every fashion show, it seems that there are more and more shirt types available to us, but is the shirt scene really constantly evolving or are designers just very creative in how they offer up old shirt types in new shirt styles?

Of course, each of the different shirt types we’ll be looking at here can be expanded into different styles by changing the sleeve type, sleeve length, collar style and more. But these are the most basic shirts to inspire you when making or designing them yourself!

Pssst. I have this post on the different parts of a shirt if you’ve ever wondered how shirts are made!

How Many Types Of Shirt Are There?

It’s hard not to love the classics like button-up shirts and t-shirts with prints on them but there are so many other shirt types too, and the difference beteen two could be as simple as a different collar type!

Learn all about the different types of shirts

Here’s a list of 19 different shirt types:

  • Aloha shirt – also known as a Hawaiian shirt
  • Baseball shirt
  • Blouse
  • Button-down shirt
  • Cowboy shirt
  • Denim shirt
  • Dinner shirt
  • Dress shirt
  • Gingham shirt
  • Grandad shirt
  • Guayabera shirt
  • Henley shirt
  • Oxford shirt
  • Poet shirt
  • Polo shirt
  • Rugby shirt
  • T-Shirt
  • Tunic
  • Tuxedo shirt

Of course this list can also be broken down into casual and formal shirt types as well as shirts for women and men! Here’s a quick overview of how the above list can be further broken down!

Types Of Casual Shirts

Casual shirts are more prevalent than formal shirts now. When it comes to casual shirts and men, it is said that they should be worn untucked, but it probably depends on how you really want to style your shirt to be honest.

Woman wearing a green and grey lumberjack shirt, holding a wood axe across her shoulders

The most common casual shirt types are:

  • Aloha shirt
  • Baseball shirt
  • Button down shirt
  • Denim shirt
  • Grandad shirt
  • Lumberjack shirt
  • Polo shirt
  • T shirt
  • Tunic
  • Rugby shirt

Types Of Formal Shirts

Formal shirts are the shirt types worn with tailored suits. Think tuxedo shirt and dinner shirt. Quite often, the formal shirt is quite standard, with the collar being the style differentiator more than anything else.

Formal shirts can also have bibs that are either:

  • Pleated
  • Pintucked
  • Ruffled

I have this great guide to the different types of collars that you might enjoy reading, if collars are your thing!

Women’s Shirt Styles

Shirt style’s loved by women include:

  • Blouse
  • Button down shirt
  • Denim shirt
  • Grandad shirt
  • T shirt
  • Tunic

Some women are also fans of polo shirts – I don’t think I have personally worn one since I was 16 because I associate them with sports during high school! – but they’re also a casual shirt style women can wear too!

Woman wearing a white grandad style type of shirt, open mid chest.

Men’s Shirt Styles

Shirt styles more specific to men are:

  • Aloha shirt
  • Cuban collar shirt
  • Chambray / Denim shirt
  • Dress shirt
  • Flannel shirt
  • Linen shirt
  • Office shirt
  • Oxford button down shirt
  • Overshirt

But that doesn’t mean these are off limits to us women! 😉 Now that you know the different types and styles are, let’s dig in a bit more on each of them!

Aloha / Hawaian Shirt

rail of aloha types of shirts.

The Aloha shirt is also known as an Hawaiian shirt and is one of the most famous types of shirts around today. It’s usually made with a brightly colored print fabric – you can get into the spirit of Hawaii without even visiting! – and have a shirt style collar and centre front buttons..

Popular with men going on holiday to warm locations – my other half has a handful that he pulls out each time we go away – they are a casual shirt type, worn untucked, with short sleeves, button front and casual shirt collar. Sometimes patch pockets may be added to the front chest, but not always.

They were first worn in the 1920s and 1930s, and became popular when military servicemen returned to the US wearing them after World War II. 

Nowadays, they are a popular item of clothing for tourists and some now consider a staple for any summer outfit!

Baseball Shirt

Young girl wearing a baseball type of shirt with pink background behind her.

A baseball shirt can be worn by anyone and is perfect for a casual summer day. They’re also great if you want to show off your favorite team! 

Baseball shirts usually come in team colors like the Yankees or Red Sox but they also come in different styles for everyday wear–that’s right we’re not just limited to baseball games anymore! 

They’re made from a heavy cotton fabric for breathability and durability, which is ideal if you’re going to be in the sun.

The collar usually has a contrasting color as well so it stands out when worn with other clothes. This can also help you identify teammates on the field – or your friends if you lose them when out for the day!

Baseballs shirts always seem to come with sleeves that are at least three quarters long – this keeps your arms protected from getting burned while giving off a casual vibe.

Blouse

A tunic is a longer type of shirt

A woman’s blouse usually features more decorative elements than a shirt, with ruffles and lace being favoured. Blouse sleeves can be long or short.

Two types of shirts - sheer blouses - hanging on a window rail.

Women’s blouses are typically made out of cotton, polyester or silk and they generally have buttons on the front.

These shirts work best when worn under suit jackets for formal occasions but you can also wear them as everyday casual clothes paired with jeans, leggings or a skirt, depending on what style you’re going for!

Button Down Shirt

A white button down shirt

Button-down shirts are the classic work shirt. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, but all have buttons on them which is what gives it its name. 

This type of shirt is typically worn with dress pants or a skirt for professional settings like an office environment.

A basic button up shirt is perfect for a casual day or when you’re just lounging around the house! They work well when paired with pants or jeans, and also look good if you want to layer over garments like leggings and a tank top in order to stay warm during cooler months.

Cowboy Shirt

These are perfect if you want people to think you’re tough or just love horses! The sleeves on these types of shirts typically have fringe sewn onto them which makes them stand out from other shirt styles.

I believe that cowboy shirts for women are very popular in the summer festival season – at least they are at the festivals I’ve been to!

Denim Shirts

A simple pale blue denim type of shirt hanging on a hanger.

Denim shirts were first worn by cowboys to protect them from the sun and dirt. They are also ideal for a laid-back, cool look. 

Denim shirts are made from rugged cotton so they can withstand some wear and tear. The material also has a tendency to hold its shape well, meaning that your denim shirt will still look good after years of wearing it.

Customising a denim shirt with patches, pins and other embellishments can personalise the shirt further, and I’ve seen many people distress the denim with sandpaper, or sprayed bleach over it, for an even more unique shirt!

Dinner Shirt

A dress shirt is a shirt type

A dinner shirt is a formal shirt primarily worn to an evening event, and is usually white in color. Other formal events they’re worn for include weddings and funerals.

Oftentimes you’ll find that dinner shirts have a cutaway collar!

Dress Shirt

A white button down type of shirt

A men’s dress shirt is the most common type of shirt. It can be worn with or without tie, making them popular in both work and casual settings.

This type of shirt has a shirt collar that could be a narrow pointed collar (great for anyone that wants to elongate their face!) or a spread collar (great for those who want to make their face look wider). They also come with buttons down the front of the garment and in many different colors too.

This kind of shirt is typically made out of cotton, polyester or silk and work best with pant or skirt suits though they do also work well as casual wear when paired with jeans or or shorts.

Gingham Shirt

Blue and white Gingham shirt

A gingham shirt is often seen as a very casual shirt, with it’s two colored square effect – this is created by weaving two colours to create the gingham pattern.

Shirts made with gingham work really well with denim – you can pair if under a denim pinafore dress or dungarees, wear an oversized gingham shirt with skinny denim jeans, or tie it at the waist with a pair of denim shorts or a denim skirt!

Do you get the feeling that I love a gingham shirt?

Grandad Shirt

A grandad shirt can be found at any department store, and is typically made of cotton. It’s a very plain looking shirt, with a front button down design.

The collar on a grandad shirt is not the same as a button down shirt – there is no actual collar on this shirt type, just a band collar to finish the neckline, much like a mandarin collar.

Guayabera Shirts

Close of detail of a white guayabera type of shirt!

Guayabera shirts are usually worn by men, though I say we women should definitely be able to rock them too right? They are loose fitting, often made with linen to be breathable and can also feature pockets on both sides!

The shirt is very popular in hotter climates – it’s very popular in Cuba and Mexico

I love the stripe effect that runs down both sides of the front of a Guayabera shirt – this detail can be as 10 thin pin tucks, a contrasting colour or an applique fabric like lace.

Henley Shirt

The  Henley type of shirt

A henley shirt is a great go-to shirt for everyday wear, it can be worn with jeans or trousers for a more casual look. The only downside is that they can come off as too casual for formal events, so it’s best to save them for the lighter occasions!

There is no collar on a Henley shirt, instead they have a placket with a smattering of buttons at the centre front.

Sleeves on a Henley shirt can be either long or short.

Oxford Shirt

An Oxford Shirt is a type of dress shirt, and was originally used for riding horses since they were so durable.

They differ from a regular button down shirt as they have a button down collar, but they’re also made from a specific type of fabric – Oxford cloth! 

Nowadays, these shirts are worn all year round in formal settings such as weddings and funerals. They come in many different colors now too! 

Poet Shirt

A poet shirt has a feminine look to it with smaller sized collars and cuffs. They’re usually made of or a light cotton silk, which makes the fabric feel great against your skin!

The shirt overall is loose fitting and the sleeves are often bishop sleeves with gathering at the cuffs – they are also often called pirate shirts!

Polo Shirt

A simple yellow polo neck type of shirt worn with blue denim jeans.

It may say “polo” but the polo shirt was actually created by legendary tennis player Ralph Lauren who wanted his own version of golf attire.

These are now one of the most casual types of shirts around today with some even swapping out buttons at the collar for embroidery instead.

This type of shirt has short sleeves with three buttons on each sleeve near the cuff and they can be worn as formalwear or casualwear; they come in so many different colors, patterns, and fabrics that a polo shirt can easily be considered a dressy item now!

Polo shirts typically have short sleeves and are perfect if you’re looking for something quick that will keep you cool but still give off an air of professionalism.

They also come in long sleeved versions which is always nice when it starts getting cold again!

I quite like the look of a polo shirt tucked into my jeans for a more stylish look! 

Rugby Shirt

A brown and pink rugby type of shirt

The rugby shirt originates from Rugby School in England. 

The rugby shirt is a classic and timeless staple for any wardrobe, typically made from 100% cotton making it good for layering under other clothing items or just wearing on its own!

It can be worn with jeans, shorts, trousers or even a skirt to complete a casual look.

Types Of T Shirt

A simple white jersey t shirt is a popular type of shirt for women.

T shirts come in all shapes and sizes, with long sleeves or short sleeves, collars or bands.

They can be cropped or long length, but the one thing they all have in common is that t shirts are almost always made from a 100% knitted cotton fabric – though many will have extra stretch fibre added in for a closer fitting tee.

In more recent years, a women’s t shirt made in woven fabrics has been gaining in popularity, and can look fab as a more casual evening wear item when made from silk or other interesting fabrics and paired with skinny jeans, trousers or a pencil skirt!

In the home sewing community, t-shirts do get sewn in woven fabrics, but I believe that these are actually ‘tops’ that have some t-shirt detailing.

A classic t shirt is great for days where it’s too warm to wear a button down shirt. They can be dressy or casual depending on the fabric it is made from and what you wear it with.

The most basic form of a t-shirt is still one of the most popular types around today. It’s largely due to its simplicity yet has become an iconic piece!

A basic white t shirt is a popular type of shirt

T-shirts are often the shirt of choice for work out routines or any other type of activity that might make you sweat, they’re made from cotton and spandex which makes them stretchy without becoming too tight.

An athletic t-shirt can be worn at the gym or out with friends, they are lightweight so your body gets enough air to cool down.

Traditionally t shirts have been made with a short sleeve, though long sleeved versions are also popular.

Crew Neck T Shirt

A crew neck t shirt is a popular type of shirt

A crew neck t-shirt is a classic article of clothing that’s perfect for casual wear. They’re also great for sports and fitness!

They can be worn underneath another shirt to keep you warm during colder months or on their own if it’s hot enough outside!

Women’s T-Shirt

Women’s tees are made of a thicker cotton material than men’s tees, and usually feature short sleeves in order to allow for more mobility during physical activities such as sports.

They can be worn underneath other garments or on their own if the weather is warm enough, and you’ll find tons of different designs when it comes to sewing patterns that will suit your tastes!

Vintage Tees

Another favourite are vintage tees which have been around since before many of us were born – yet they still happen to be one of my favorite types of shirts because you never know what slogan  or print might catch your eye!

Tunic

This blue tunic style top is a type of shirt

A tunic style shirt is the perfect thing to wear on a hot day because they are typically made from airy and light fabrics like cotton or even silk.

They’re usually loose fitting – occasionally with an elastic waistband – so they’re not too tight around your stomach!

Tuxedo Shirt

The tuxedo shirt is a formal type of shirt

This type of shirt can be worn with a suit to give you that crisp, sharp look. They are typically made of finer fabrics and come in much more expensive price tags than t-shirts or button-down shirts.

While tuxedo shirts are expensive, they’re perfect for formal events.

Tank Tops

Tank tops are the best option when you want something light and airy. These types of shirts have no real sleeves – they’re just straps on the shoulders! – and when made from a knit fabric with stretch factor, will fit closely around the torso without any extra fabric!

If you’re looking to draw attention to yourself and show off your shoulders then opt for a tank top! Tank tops can be casual or dressy and made from knit or woven fabrics!

Some Notes On Fibres

White and yellow spun silk is a natural fibre type

Shirts made from natural fibres are more comfortable and breathable making them perfect for hot days. If you make a shirt from synthetic fibre, it will keep you warm on cold days, but is not ideal for hot weather because of the lack of breathability. 

Polyester, nylon and spandex are the most common synthetic fibres used for shirts while popular natural fibres are cotton, linen, silk and more recently bamboo and modal, which is technically a man-made fibre but created from beech tree cellulose which is a natural material.

Polyester, nylon and spandex are the most common synthetic fibres used for shirts while popular natural fibres are cotton, linen, silk and more recently bamboo and modal, which is technically a man-made fibre but created from beech tree cellulose which is a natural material.

If you want to learn more about fibre types, I cover the differences between man made fibres vs natural fibres vs synthetic fibres here!

Flannel shirts

A flannel shirt will always be a go-to for fall, and the cooler months to come. They’re thicker than your average shirt, so they’ll keep you warm while still being lightweight enough to move around in comfortably.

Flannel fabric also tends to be very soft, which is a plus.

Fleece Shirts

Fleece shirts are perfect for those who live in cooler climates and still want to go outside! They provide warmth while also being easy enough to wash.

I do not like the feeling of fleece so this is not something you’ll ever see me wearing!

Linen Shirt

Linen is a natural fibre made from flax and loosely woven too.

Shirts made from linen can be cool and comfortable in the summer months.

Modal Shirts

Modal fibre is a man-made fibre created from natural materials and is becoming more popular in the production of shirts. 

It is often used in a blend with cotton, polyester and rayon because it provides durability to the garment as well as warmth without being too heavy or bulky.

A modal shirt typically has a soft and lightweight feel, as well as being breathable, quick drying and easy to care for.

How To Pick The Right Shirt For You

If you’re looking for something more casual, then you might prefer a T-shirt or Henley shirt. These are perfect for those days where you’re not wanting to dress up but want something a little more comfortable.

If you need something for the office, then try pairing your shirt with a blazer and some nice trousers or skirt – this will give you that professional look without being too formal.

A button down shirt is perfect if you are heading out in the evening because it can be worn casually with jeans or dressed up with a skirt and heels.

A sleeveless shirt can be great tucked into a pair of summer shorts or a skirt.

And my favourite of course is wearing an oversized long sleeved shirt with a v neck jumper over the top for a slightly preppy – and warm! – look.

Popular Shirt Sewing Patterns

This wouldn’t be an epic guide If I didn’t include some of the best shirt sewing patterns out there right?

So, here are my top five shirt sewing patterns!

1. Kalle Shirt by Closet Core Patterns

One of my absolute favourite shirt sewing patterns, the Kalle Shirt by Closet Core Patterns is available in three lengths so you can choose the perfect shirt length for your needs!

It’s listed as an intermediate pattern, though I think find it to be a very easy make.

2. Stella Raglan Shirt by Named Clothing

I love a raglan sleeve and the Stella Shirt from Named Clothing has just the right kind of raglan!

3. Unisex Camargue Cowboy Shirt by Liberty Sewing Patterns

How AWESOME is this cowboy shirt from Liberty Sewing patterns? I cannot stop drooling over it!

4. Tropicana Shirt by Wardrobe by Me

I made a pair of shorts last summer from Wardrobe by Me and they were super comfy with great directions. This tropicana shirt pattern will be perfect for making your own version of a Hawaiian shirt!

5. Rio Ringer T-Shirt by True Bias

This list would not be complete without a t-shirt pattern. While there are many t-shirt sewing patterns out there, this one from True Bias has caught my eye as an easy make!

Final Thoughts On Shirt Types

Phew – that’s a lot of shirt info!

No matter what you’re looking for, there is the perfect shirt out there for you! All these different types of shirts will help to make your wardrobe more versatile so that whatever mood you are in can be matched by an outfit.

If you loved this guide to the different types of shirts, do check out my other guides too! I have a guide to different dress styles here, a guide to skirt types here and then there’s also a guide to the different types of sweaters too!

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