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The 12 Best Performance Dress Shirts

Much-needed material improvements for the traditional style.

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For the professional man with a proclivity for sweat, hope is out there. If you melt in traditional dress shirts, whether because they're too thick or simply too tight, there are other options available. Some trade their hefty cotton construction for a mix of breathable materials, while others simply add stretch so the shirts have a little give. But it isn't as easy as feeling whether the shirts stretch or not.

What Are Performance Fabrics?

Performance fabrics that were once exclusive to athletic apparel are now being made appropriate for business meetings and dressier nights out. These next-gen, high-tech shirts keep you cool and collected when the temperatures turn up, so while others keep a change of clothes close by, you’ll be dry, cool and unwrinkled.

Terms to Know

  • Performance: The "performance" denotation implies the fabrics used on this shirt were first used in athletic arenas. They'll likelier be better at moisture wicking, breathing and stretching.
  • Commuter, Traveler, Movement: Terms like these, which conjure long trips or busy commutes, imply the shirts they describe will be comfortable in these tight-quartered environments. Think of them as substitutes for terms like performance.
  • Stretch: Stretch refers to a shirt's ability to give to your body's natural movements. Maybe you lift your arms above your head to hold onto the subway rail, or your bike to work. Essentially, the shirt won't suffocate you — meaning you don't have to worry about it ripping at the seams.
  • COOLMAX: COOLMAX is a polyester-based fabric trademarked and sold by The Lycra Company. Although there are similar polyester blends out there, this one is a brand name. Look for it employed in the shirt's official name: like the Brooks Brothers Madison COOLMAX Dress Shirt.

    Materials to Look for

    • Spandex
    • Polyester
    • Lyocell
    • Modal
    • Nylon
    • Bamboo
    • Elastane

      The Best Performance Dress Shirts for Men

      Best Overall Performance Dress Shirt: Rhone Commuter Shirt

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      Rhone Commuter Shirt
      Rhone
      $118.00

      Rhone's Commuter Shirt saves those, as the name suggests, commuting — either cramped on a subway or slouched in the driver's seat — from the hassle of having to refresh themselves upon arrival. The shirt proves machine washable and interwoven nylon and elastane offer natural wrinkle release.

      Best Upgrade Performance Dress Shirt: Faherty Movement Shirt

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      Faherty The Movement Shirt
      Faherty
      $148.00

      Founded by Mike Faherty, a designer who rose through the ranks at Ralph Lauren, Faherty produces an array of staples inspired by sun and surf — and New England prep styles. Cut from a proprietary blend of cotton, lyocell, nylon and spandex, their Movement Shirt appeases both camps by guaranteeing a good-looking, albeit traditional, fit but with plenty of stretch at stress points. Pick from a few plaid colorways, several gingham patterns or your usual solids.

      Best Affordable Performance Dress Shirt: Gap Performance Poplin Shirt

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      Gap Performance Poplin Shirt
      gap.com
      $59.95

      Cut from a blended stretch poplin fabric with moisture-wicking CoolMax tech, Gap's Performance Poplin Shirt comes in two cuts and nearly a dozen colors. Plus, given the brand's inclination for ongoing sales, the shirt is usually under $50.

      Brooks Brothers Madison COOLMAX Dress Shirt

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      Brooks Brothers Madison Performance COOLMAX Dress Shirt
      Brooks Brothers
      $118.00

      This option is the best of a Brooks Brothers dress shirt crossed with an "athleisure" item. It's non-iron, courtesy of its broadcloth base woven from 120s Supima cotton. You can choose between fits, sleeve lengths and collar sizes, but this style only comes in one color — the white hue you see here.

      Bonobos Jetsetter Stretch Dress Shirt

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      Bonobos Jetsetter Stretch Dress Shirt
      bonobos.com
      $129.00

      Long flights guarantee at least a few wrinkles — and who the hell, in their right mind, would want to wear a dress shirt during one? (Writer David Coggins would argue otherwise.) Bonobos' Jetsetter option betters the experience by transforming the tailored shirt into a travel-friendly top. Cotton and spandex complement one another, and collar stays to ensure you'll stay intact.

      Mizzen and Main Lightweight Leeward Dress Shirt

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      Mizzen + Main Leeward Dress Shirt
      Mizzen + Main
      $125.00

      The Leeward Dress Shirt looks like your typical sheer suiting staple, but its 88 percent polyester and 12 percent spandex construction promises comfortability, super-fast drying, steadfast anti-wrinkle support and zero pilling. It's also available in an array of colors.

      Ministry of Supply Apollo Shirt

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      Ministry of Supply Apollo Shirt
      Ministry of Supply
      $128.00

      Cut from 57 percent polyester and 53 percent polyester infused with NASA's temperature-regulating Phase Change technology, Ministry of Supply's aptly named Apollo shirt offers the same performance abilities of athletic apparel with the look of something more formal. This iteration is slimmer through the body, moisture-wicking and boasts a curved hem you can wear tucked into pants under a blazer or undone — if you're striving for a more casual feel.

      State & Liberty The Springer Shirt

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      State & Liberty The Springer Shirt
      stateandliberty.com
      $95.00

      State & Liberty's shirts are made from the brand's proprietary Athletic Performance Fabric, a blend of polyester and spandex. But most are cut with an athletic fit, which flatters without being too form-fitting. Sure, a lot of NFLers wear this one, but you don't need to be built like one to wear it. The shoulders are tailored, while a hidden button collar stay helps keep it upright.

      Twillory Performance Closer Shirt

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      Twillory Performance Closer Shirt
      twillory.com
      $99.00

      While most performance dress shirts come in standard shirt sizing — XS-XL — you order your Twillory shirts like true made-to-measure ones: by selecting your fit, size and sleeve length. This makes for a more personalized fit, creating a shirt that's less universal and more true to just you. Every single one, though, comes made from a 4-way stretch fabric made with COOLMAX's moisture-wicking tech. Plus, this one has a non-iron wrinkle-resistant treatment so you'll never look too disheveled — even after a red eye.

      All Citizens The Lightweight Performance Dress Shirt

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      All Citizens The Lightweight Performance Dress Shirt
      allcitizens.com
      $68.00

      All Citizens' performance dress shirt — performance is in the name — is surprisingly affordable considering the tech employed. You can pick from two fabric types, Lightweight or All-Weather, which emphasize breathability or water- and wrinkle-resistance respectively. Both come with 360-degree stretch and a tailored body that lends itself to being worn tucked or untucked. But there's even further personalization available, too: You can pick your size, fit and sleeve length.

      Untuckit Wrinkle-Free Performance Shirt

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      Untuckit Wrinkle-Free Performance Shirt
      Untuckit
      $99.00

      Untuckit's most popular performance dress shirt comes in three colors, white, navy and black. No matter which you choose, it'll complement a solid pair of slacks or a two-piece suit. Plus, you won't overheat, and the shirt obviously won't wrinkle. It's made from nylon and elastane, so it stretches, and you can order it in five different fits.

      ESQ Angelo Bamboo Blue Dress Shirt

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      ESQ Angelo Bamboo Blue Shirt
      esqclothing.com
      $178.00

      Bamboo — yes, bamboo — gives ESQ's performance fabric dress shirt its softness and breathability. Over a decade of tailoring done at their Chicago shop informs the brand's cuts, which are classic yet flattering. Plus, not only does its composition — 48.5 percent bamboo, 48.5 percent microfiber and 3 percent lycra — prevent wrinkles but it also deters odors and wicks sweat.

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