9 tried-and-tested performance dress shirts that will help you stay cool in the summer heat

Insider Picks writes about products and services to help you navigate when shopping online. Insider Inc. receives a commission from our affiliate partners when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Amir on the Insider Picks team in a performance dress shirt — and literally not breaking a sweat.

caption
Amir on the Insider Picks team in a performance dress shirt — and literally not breaking a sweat.
source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

  • If you work in an office with a business casual or stricter dress policy, there’s a fine line between dressing appropriately for hot summer weather and wearing a suitable outfit for work.
  • Many menswear brands are now designing dress shirts with dri-fit technology usually used in athletic gear to help control sweating and keep you cool throughout the day.
  • We tried nine of these performance shirts and found that they’ll help wick away sweat without looking like you’re dressing for casual Friday every day.

For men in business casual office settings (or even stricter ones), summertime is not all about eating lunch outside, cold beers at Thursday happy hours, and fun in the sun. It means several months of yellow armpit stains, uncomfortably damp backs, and musty commutes.

In the past, the only solution to this problem was having back-up undershirts hidden under your desk and a few spare deodorants in your file cabinet.

But in a stroke of genius, many brands have utilized the fabrics and materials designed to wick away sweat in athletic gear and applied it to clothing more appropriate for a work setting. These may look like your typical dress shirt, but they’re designed to resist moisture, keep your body cooler for longer, and made of a stretchy fabric that offers enhanced movement and flexibility. While the prices are usually higher than the standard dress shirt, ending your day without Pig Pen-levels of stink-lines emanating from your body is most definitely worth the added cost.

Two of us on the Insider Picks team tried nine of these performance shirts around New York City and we can attest that it is possible to dress appropriately for our office in warm weather without ending the day drenched in a layer of sweat.

Check out our favorite performance shirts that will help you stay cool throughout the day:


Southern Tide Brrr Intercoastal Performance Sport Shirt

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

Mainstay Plaid Brrr Intercoastal Performance Sport Shirt, $125, from Dillards

Beyond wicking away sweat and moisture, the fabric in this shirt works to actively cool your body. I tested this shirt on one of the first warm days of the year, and beyond reducing sweat, the fabric really helped keep me cool throughout the day. The shirt is exceptionally stretchy, and is perfect for the transition from the office to happy hour.

Southern Tide has a reputation for being a brand more well-suited for college parties than a day at the office, but the Brrr Intercoastal Performance Sport Shirt can be relied upon as a go-to option for anyone in a business casual setting.

Danny Bakst, Insider Picks content producer


Twillory Performance Dress Shirts

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

Twillory Performance Dress Shirts, $99 each, two for $119, three for $175, or four+ for $54 each

Featuring a four-way stretch material made from cotton, Lycra, and the brand’s Cool Max fabric, Twillory Performance Dress Shirts are designed for men on the move. The material wicks away moisture to keep your body cool, and is very easy to maintain as it’s wrinkle-resistant.

What I like best about the shirt is the cotton lining in the sleeves and shoulders. It gives two areas that are usually very stiff and uncomfortable on dress shirts a T-shirt-like feeling. The brand offers three different fits – traditional, tailored, and extra trim.

While Twillory isn’t the stretchiest performance dress shirt you can buy, I’ve found it to be the best in value – especially if you wear a dress shirt every day and need to stock up. Since every man should definitely have more than one dress shirt in their closet, it’s well worth buying four or more for $54 each.

Read our full review here.

Amir Ismael, Insider Picks reporter


Mizzen+Main Kennedy Shirt

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

Mizzen+Main Kennedy Shirt, $125, from Mizzen+Main

Mizzen+Main is one of the leaders in performance dress shirts for good reason. It makes clothing that is equally effective in the boardroom and at the gym. While it’s not as actively cooling as Southern Tide, Mizzen+Main’s performance shirt still drapes the skin nicely and offers a comparable stretchiness.

However, unlike Southern Tide, Mizzen+Main has a wide variety of design options so you can choose whichever best fits your style, or stock your entire closet with different versions of this incredibly breathable and effective performance shirt.

The online shop also has a cool feature that helps you find the right size. I tend to hover between extra large and large for my dress shirts, so I used the tool to figure out the right size option for me. I just entered my measurements and the recommended large fit perfectly.


Under Armour Tide Chaser Shirt

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

UA Tide Chaser Plaid Long Sleeve Shirt, $65, from Under Armour

Under Armour is well known for its dri-fit, weather-resistant sporting gear. It converted this technology to be used in an office environment with the UA Tide Chaser shirt. As part of its HeatGear line, the UA Tide Chaser offers excellent breathability in warm weather and the fabric actively prevents the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Plus, the shirt is rated UPF 30 score, so it’ll also protect you from sun damage.

My favorite part of the shirt’s design are the underarms because of the mesh, jersey-like material that helps reduce moisture build-up and increase flexibility. For only $65, the UA Tide Chaser offers the best features within the performance shirt category in a comfortable, stylish, and affordable package.


Tommy John Stay-Tucked Dress Shirt

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

Tommy John Stay-Tucked Dress Shirt, $148 each, two for $270, or three for $375

One of the most annoying things about wearing a dress shirt is when it doesn’t stay in place. Even with extra-long flaps at the hem, your shirt inevitably rises up as you move and becomes untucked. However, Tommy John addresses that annoyance head-on.

Featuring Tommy John’s Invisigrip Snap Technology, the shirt has a stretch elastic band below the waist (so the fit feels a bit more contoured to your body) and three snap buttons at the bottom of the shirt for extra security. The design takes some getting used to, but after just one day of not having to constantly re-tuck my shirt, I loved it.

The only thing that could be looked at as a downside is that this shirt must be worn tucked in. If you like to wear your shirt tucked for work and untucked for after-work activities, this isn’t the one for you.

At $148 for one or $125 each for three, these shirts are on the expensive end of the performance dress shirt spectrum, but in my opinion, it’s the best fitting.


Everlane Air Oxford Shirt

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

Everlane Air Oxford Shirt, $58, from Everlane

Technically, the Air Oxford doesn’t have the active wicking, stretchiness, or cooling technology included in these other performance shirts. It’s still lighter and more comfortable than your standard dress shirt and is made from 100% cotton, but in terms of reducing sweat stains, the shirt doesn’t match the enhanced fabric included by other brands.

After a day of wearing it in the office and walking around New York City afterward, I did have sweat stains under my armpits. But if you’re not a heavy sweater like me and don’t feel like spending more than $100, the Air Oxford can definitely keep you cooler than standard, stiffer dress shirts at a reasonable price.


Chrome Stretch Chambray Workshirt

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

Chrome Stretch Chambray Workshirt, $79.99, from Chrome

This performance shirt from Chrome feels closer to the Everlane’s cotton on your skin, but it has some distinctive features that add to its breathability and flexibility.

Most notably, Chrome installed a vent in the back of the shirt specifically designed to allow enhanced movement for biking commuters, but the vent also helps increase airflow to help cool your overall body temperature.

And even though the shirt does feel similar to Everlane’s 100% cotton fabric, it has a small amount of spandex so you can stretch without feeling like you’ll Hulk out of your shirt.


Arc’teryx Elaho Shirt and Skyline Shirt

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

Arc’teryx Elaho Shirt, $99, from Arc’teryx

Arc’teryx Skyline Shirt, $99, from Arc’teryx

Arc’teryx is built on excellent athletic gear for climbing and hiking. The brand has converted its super lightweight and flexible fabric for everyday use with the Elaho and Skyline shirts. Both of these shirts have moisture- and wrinkle- resistant technology embedded into the fabric, making them a great option for biking or walking commuters.

Beyond the almost-rubbery feel of the shirts, which is on the opposite end on the fabric spectrum compared to the Chrome and Everlane shirts, the most notable feature are the snap-on buttons, both in the middle of the shirt and on the cuffs.

The Skyline shirt will camouflage more effectively as a standard dress shirt than the Elaho, but the latter comes with a few additional distinctive features. There’s a small pocket on the sleeve right below the shoulder, which feels a little awkward to have something as heavy as your phone in there, but at least it’s an easily accessible storage space for credit cards and cash. The shirt also has little hooks that help keep rolled sleeves in place.


UNTUCKit Wagner Performance Shirt

source
David Slotnick/Business Insider

UNTUCKit Wagner Black & White Performance Shirt, $98, from UNTUCKit

While UNTUCKit is mainly known for its fashion-forward innovation, its foray into performance dress shirts is equally as impressive. In addition to keeping you cool and dry throughout the day, the UNTUCKit Wagner shirt also helps you look fresh and pulled together with its wrinkle-free technology.

I tried both large and extra-large sizes of the Wagner performance shirt, and ironically enough the large wound up being uncomfortably short for my build while the extra-large draped down to the middle of the zipper on my jeans as intended.

If you’re someone who hovers between different sizes, I’d recommend choosing the larger option.