Every man needs a good selection of shirts in his wardrobe. That much is clear. What’s not so clear is the exact form those shirts should take.

There are so many different species of shirt out there that it’s possible to arm yourself with a pretty eclectic selection and still get it completely wrong. If, for example, your current lineup consists of a tasselled cowboy shirt, a Chandler Bing-esque bowling shirt and a flame-print short-sleeve version à la Guy Fieri, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board. Fast.

The solution, as it almost always is, is to stick to the classics; the tried-and-trusted shirting staples that have never gone (nor will ever go) out of fashion. Doing this will allow you to build a capsule shirt collection that has you covered for every conceivable occasion, looking your best at all times.

Whether you’re heading for a wedding or sipping cocktails by the poolside, these are the key shirt styles you’ll always find yourself reaching for.

The Classic OCBD

What is it?

The Oxford-cloth button-down shirt (OCBD for short) is a type of casual shirt cut from a basketweave fabric known as Oxford cloth. It gets the other half of its name from the buttons that hold the collar in place. It’s thicker than a classic formal shirt with a more textured look and feel, making it perfect for bridging the gap between smart and casual.

Why you need it

It’s the glue that holds your wardrobe together.

How to wear it

The OCBD is so versatile that it would be quicker to tell you how not to wear it. Suffice to say, it’s difficult to get wrong, but as a frame of reference, we’d advise against wearing it with anything more formal than soft tailoring and anything as casual as sportswear. Within those limits, pretty much anything goes.

The Camp-Collar Short-Sleeved Shirt

What is it?

This summery staple is the key type of short sleeve shirt that should be hanging in your wardrobe. It features a spread collar for a relaxed, breezy look and can be either plain, patterned or sometimes decorated with an intricate all-over print.

Why you need it

If you have to ask, you’ve obviously never sauntered along a Mediterranean beach while wearing one unbuttoned to half-mast as it flaps gently around your torso in the breeze.

How to wear it

As a rule of thumb, save your camp collar shirts for summer and spring. They’re great with shorts and can be worn either open over a T-shirt or singlet, or loosely buttoned up and worn on their own. Team one with cuffed jeans or cropped trousers and loafers in the evening, or even layer under a summer suit in place of a regular shirt for dressier warm-weather events.

The Cotton Twill Overshirt

What is it?

Falling somewhere between a shirt and a jacket, this evergreen essential is made from thick cotton twill and usually features a button fastening and several patch pockets to the front. It’s a longtime workwear staple and is among the most versatile garments in any wardrobe.

Why you need it

It’s one of the few garments that will have your back no matter the season – a true layering hero piece.

How to wear it

How you style your overshirt will depend largely on the season. In summer, it’s great for throwing on as a light jacket on cooler evenings and looks great worn open with the sleeves cuffed over a well-fitting white tee and chino shorts.

During the colder months, it becomes a stylish midlayer. Try wearing one over a roll-neck jumper and raw denim jeans, topping it off with some winterproof outerwear and sturdy leather boots.

The Flannel Shirt

What is it?

It’s thick, it’s warm and it’s ideal for layering up when the weather starts to bite. The flannel shirt is a casual classic and a must for your autumn/winter rotation. Woven from wool or cotton, flannel fabric is soft and slightly raised, making it comfortable and great for insulation in colder temperatures.

Why you need it

For keeping the chill at bay in style. Also, for making you look a little bit more lumberjack-esque, which is rarely a bad thing.

How to wear it

Flannel shirts can be either plain or printed, which will influence how you wear it. For classic checked versions, however, jeans and leather boots are the obvious way to go. That said, part of the flannel shirt’s appeal is its versatility, meaning it will go just as well with chinos or even dress pants if you style it with the right footwear. But one thing you should always steer clear of is pairing it with tailoring – this is strictly a casual garment and should be styled as such.

The Denim Shirt

What is it?

Unsurprisingly, a denim shirt is pretty much any shirt cut from the same stuff as your jeans. It’s robust, great for layering, and if you go for raw denim, it will take on a rich patina and unique fades as it ages and moulds to your body.

Why you need it

It’s one of the simplest ways to add a dose of texture to your weekend wardrobe.

How to wear it

Denim shirts have a reputation for being difficult to style. In our experience, this tends to stem from the fact that jeans are the world’s default casual legwear and wearing both together can result in some pretty unsightly looks. But that’s only if you get the shades too close. Ensure there’s enough of a contrast between top and bottom and you can’t really go wrong. Think white jeans and a dark blue denim shirt, for example – double denim done right.

The Linen Shirt

What is it?

A linen shirt is the perfect antidote to unsightly sweat patches on hot summer’s days. The fabric is light, airy and breathable while still looking reasonably smart. It’s a solid option for vacation evenings or summer weddings and something well worth having in your collection.

Why you need it

See Camp-Collar Short-Sleeved Shirt.

How to wear it

A linen shirt is the type of garment that should only come out when the sun is shining. Reserve it for holidays or sunny weekends. It’s best worn slightly relaxed – unbuttoned a bit with the sleeves loosely cuffed – and can work well with either shorts or trousers.

Wearing it with tailoring isn’t out of the question, though. In fact, it can be a good substitute for a regular formal shirt as summer weddings. Just make sure the suit is laid-back enough to pull it off. Unstructured styles in light colours will work best.

The Dress Shirt

What is it?

The term ‘dress shirt’ will have different definitions depending on who you ask, but in this context it’s a formal shirt designed to be worn with black tie eveningwear. It will usually feature a cutaway collar, French cuffs (folded back and requiring cufflinks), and a bib.

Why you need it

Because sooner or later, you’re going to have to squeeze yourself into a tuxedo. It’s bad practise to wear one shirtless.

How to wear it

This one’s easy: with a tuxedo. In fact, there’s no other time this shirt should venture out of your wardrobe unless it’s being dry cleaned. Features like the bib to the front and the cutaway collar make it specifically suited to being worn with evening dress and that’s the way it always should be.

The Formal Shirt

What is it

A typical formal shirt will be crisp, clean and cut from a tightly woven, smooth cotton fabric like poplin. It will usually be cut longer at the back and the front so that it can be worn tucked into the trousers without coming loose when seated. Barrel cuffs with buttons are the norm and detailing will almost always be minimal, with no pockets, hanger loops or logos.

Why you need it

If you work in the corporate world, it’s your daily uniform. If not, it’s something to fall back on for special occasions.

How to wear it

Formal shirts are made to be worn with tailoring. If you’re wearing a suit, nine times out of ten, this is what you should be wearing with it. Colour-wise, it’s best to stick to either white or subtle pastel shades like light blue and pink. If you need to add a dash of personality, this can be achieved with a pocket square or tie, although these two things should never match too closely.