Merino Wool Rocks helps you find the merino wool clothes you need, whether to conquer the outdoors or find premium daily wear.

Review of Merino Wool Shirt and Button Downs

Best Merino Wool Dress Shirts and Button Downs Recommendations

Merino wool dress shirts are revolutionary for a couple of reasons:

  1. They don’t wrinkle (seriously, no ironing needed to look good)
  2. They don’t smell even if worn a few days in a row
  3. They feel soft and comfortable compared to cotton

The lack of wrinkles alone will be a huge time saver if you’re travelling for business.

It used to be quite difficult to get your hands on merino wool dress shirts with most manufacturers focused on outdoor base layers or t-shirts.

However, in recent years that’s all changed, as direct-to-consumer brands came on the market offering dress shirts and button downs.

First, I’ve summarised a couple of things to consider when choosing a merino wool shirt. Below you will see I’ve tried out shirts from some of the leading brands on the market and I’ve scored them according to a variety of criteria.

It’s not just the shirt pattern that will give your look a certain level of formality. Customisations around the tail, the collar, the buttons, the cuff, the existence of pockets or not will also influence formality. It is all in the details!

Merino Wool Rocks shirts patterns and formality

The color and pattern
The color of the shirt will play into the level of formality. A plain white shirt is the classic highest level of formality. Merino wool doesn’t do white very well, so you won’t find any tuxedo shirts in merino wool. However, a plain color such as blue might do the job.

Patterns such as hatches or lines are also considered slightly less formal. The thinner the more conservative the shirt is, so they can be a good alternative to solid blue or white shirt if you’re aiming for smart business casual.

As a general rule, the wider the stripe, the bolder the statement. And if you lean towards a bolder choice, the more simple the rest of your look should be. Therefore, consider if you are planning to wear the shirt on its own or with a jacket when choosing a pattern.

The collar
The collars are very important when it comes to shirts. A “button down” collar is the least formal of all shirts. Such a shirt will often be worn alone as casual business wear.

More formal collars will be suitable for wearing with a suit in more formal situations.

The tail
Also, whether you prefer to tuck your shirt or not also has an impact. A shirt designed to be tucked will have a curved hemline, whereas a shirt that is designed to be left untucked will have a straight hemline.

The pockets
If you are wearing a tie with your shirt, you’ll be advised to go for the sleek look of a shirt without pockets.

However, if you are looking for something less stiff, pockets are a great way tone down the formality. It gives a sporty look to your outfit.

There are three typical shirt cuts: the classic fit which is pretty wide and therefore great for movement, as it also has larger arm holes. However, some people find that the baggy feel around the waist and the extra fabric around the handles when the shirt is tucked in are unattractive.

So brands such as Wool & Prince, Hardvark and Wolk typically offer a standard fit as well as a slim fit version for a more fitted look. Obviously, your personal preferences and body type play a role here.

Sometimes, you will also find a modern fit and even a tailored fit which would be somewhere between the normal fit and the slim fit. Best is really to check the measurement as we have found some difference from a brand to another. A typical measurement for shirt is the neck size.

Pick your size as you normally would. I have never noticed any schrinking as long as I have followed the care instructions.

In terms of fabric, you’ll do well with a quite lightweight in terms of merino wool at 120 – 150 grams per square meter. Heavier fabrics can look more draped and smooth, rather than textured, but may be too warm for heavier climates.

Practically all the options provided below are made of 100% merino wool. Which means that they never smell. If they do, hanging them in fresh air makes wonder to them.
But yeah, I eventually wash them sometimes 🙂 All the options of this article can be washed in the wash machine, which is convenient. It is typically enough to put them on the cold option of your wash machine at 30°C.
In Europe, I tend to wash on the normal cycle. For some reason, I find american wash machine harsher, in which case, I tend to go for the delicate program to preserve my clothes.
In terms of ironing, most of the shirts would be fine on low heat or wool option. But I don’t own a iron so I don’t really bother. I simply hang my shirts well and enjo the wrinkle free properties of the merino wool.

The best gingham merino wool shirts

This pattern will give you a semi-casual professional look. The thinner the stripe, the more professional the look. Other details such as the existence of pockets or the cut as a button down or button up shirt will move the shirt on the formality scale.

  • US brand
  • Material: 100% merino wool
  • Wool weight: 17.5 micron (the lower, the softer)
  • Construction: 130 g/m²
  • Made for: Casual business wear
  • Fit: Slim, Regular
  • Care: machine washable, gentle cycle on cold
  • Price: $128

The button-down feature a left breast pocket with a curved cut hem. The material is quite thin coming in 130 g/m².

I love this Navy and Red Check pattern. Easy to pair with some Chinos pants, I often wear the shirt on its own without a jacket as the material is thick enough. My work colleagues in tech gave me tons of compliments for the casual business look I maintain even while joining meetings via video call from exotic warmer remote locations.

See on Wool & Prince


Also great:

The best thin striped merino wool shirts

  • Material: 100% merino wool
  • Wool weight: 135 g/m²
  • Made for: Business wear
  • Fit: Modern (between slim and regular)
  • Care: Machine wash at 30-degrees Celsius (cold) on gentle cycle
  • Price: £115

This shirt is a dressier option with no pocket that is designed to be wearable year-round, in all climates. It’s made in Italy and feels the smoothest. Personally, I find that it’s an excellent option if you travel a lot for business and want a shirt that stays wrinkle-free and smell-free for days.

See on Hardvark


Also great:

Wolk Alex Merino Shirt black Stripe

The Wolk Alex Merino button down

  • Material: 100% merino wool
  • Wool weight: 17.5 micron (the lower, the softer)
  • Construction: 135 g/m²
  • Fit: Slim, Relaxed
  • Made for: Casual business wear
  • Care: machine wash cold at 30°C on delicate program
  • Price: 145€

A soft twist on the classic aqua stripes shirt. Wolk also offers a Europe-friendly option, even though the Belgian company ships to the US in just a few days.

See on Wolk

Solid color merino wool shirts

  • Material: 100% merino wool
  • Wool weight: 16.5 micron (the lower, the softer) at 130 g/m²
  • Features: Hidden placket, one pocket, 3 color options
  • Made for: Trendy wear, Business wear
  • Care: Hand wash or machine wash cold, dry flat or tumble dry low
  • Price: $225

Outlier pull out all the stops for their products. This Italian woven fabric uses exceptionally fine merino wool. Personally, I find Outlier has a bias towards slimmer, longer fits, so bear that in mind when selecting sizing.

See on Outlier


Also great:

The best work shirts in merino wool

  • Material: 100% merino wool
  • Wool weight: 200 g/m²
  • Made for: Casual wear
  • Price: $180

I often wear this shirt together with a t-shirt, leaving the buttons undone. It has quite thick fabric made of fairly coarse wool compared to other brands, making it better as an outer layer rather than a next-to-skin layer.

See on Icebreaker | See price on Amazon

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