The Difference Between a Dress Shirt and a Sport Shirt

From fabric type to fit, dress shirts and sport shirts vary significantly in the overall design. Offering a wide array of larger sizes, Mr. Big & Tall provides both sport shirts and dress shirts to fuller-waist, average and tall men. Get to know the subtle differences below and choose the right shirt for every occasion.


Fabric is one of the most noticeable ways dress shirts and sports shirts differ. Dress shirts are generally made of 100% cotton, created with higher thread count weaves and have cleaner lines. Popular dress shirt weaves include twills and broadcloth. This type of shirt often has a sheen to it, adding to the overall dressiness. In contrast, sport shirts are casual, with more rugged or lighter weaves. Linen, flannel, and chambray are just a few types of weaves commonly used to create sports shirts. Sports shirts also tend to come in a wider variety of colors and patterns and pair well with jeans.


Style is another easy way to spot the difference between a dress and sport shirts. A men's dress shirt is more conservative in style and color, while men's sport shirts are more casual and offer bigger bolder patterns and colors. Great for formal dressing, dress shirts have stiffer collars to accommodate neckties underneath and suit jacket lapels on top. Sport shirts have minimal to no interfacing, so they're much less stiff. If the collars aren't stiff, the shirt cannot accommodate a silk tie, but it can handle a knit tie. Common features of a sport shirt include buttons, pockets, button-down collars and other casual design elements.


Dress shirts are made to be tucked in, so they are noticeably longer than sport shirts. Accommodating for movement while maintaining a professional and polished look, a men's dress shirt stays tucked in. In contrast, men's sport shirts have shorter shirttails and lower side seams for an untucked style. Designed to be untucked, sports shirts should hit no lower than the bottom of a man's back pocket, and the front hem should drop no lower than the bottom of the front pockets. Dress shirts should provide enough length to securely tuck in and stay tucked in during minimal to moderate movement or activity.


Dress shirts have two measurements, the neck and sleeve length. For example, a 24-37/38 size indicates a 24-inch neck and 37/38-inch sleeve length. Sports shirts come in fixed sizes, such as L, XL and so on. Sizing is a quick and easy way to determine if a shirt is meant for formal or casual wear. However, the overall silhouette of a shirt should be the same whether it's a sport shirt or dress shirt. A properly fitting shirt accommodates the back and shoulders, tapers down the torso and hugs the hips lightly. A dress or sport shirt does not fit correctly if it billows out like a T-shirt or if closing the final button constrains the hip area.

Men's sport shirts and a men's dress shirt differs significantly. A sport shirt is casual in fabric and style. A dress shirt has a more conservative, stiffer design and look, accommodating formal elements, such as ties and suit jacket lapels. Keep the differences in mind and choose the appropriate shirt type for each situation. With a generous return policy, Mr. Big & Tall provides a variety of shirt types for every occasion. Offering tall sizes for men 6'3" and up, as well as alterations on-demand, Mr. Big & Tall provides a wide variety of men's sport and dress shirts.

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