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How Should a Dress Shirt Fit?

Finding the perfect dress shirt in a department store might be a hassle. After all, not all bodies are the same. Although most brands strive to offer you different variations of their shirts, these will not always fit to perfection.

Don’t panic though. There are many things you can do when looking for the right dress shirt.

First of all, you can keep in mind certain measurements which will give you the proper fit. Now, if not all measurements are right, you can always take your shirt to a tailor for adjustments.

Finally, there’s always the option to get a custom-made shirt, which is a common service nowadays. Let’s figure out what to look for when buying the right dress shirt.

Collar Fit

how should a dress shirt fit collar

This is probably one of the most important measurements you should care about when buying your dress shirt.

The collar must touch your neck when buttoned closed, and you should be able to place two fingers between the collar and your neck, without feeling any discomfort.

If you can barely breathe and you can’t place any fingers between your neck and collar - too tight! If you can squeeze in several fingers and your neck doesn’t touch the collar - too loose!

Shoulder Fit

How should a dress shirt fit shoulder

The shoulder seams should rest just at the edge of your shoulders. Additionally, you should be able to move your arms comfortably.

If it is too tight, the sleeves might end up on your shoulders, and this will restrict your movement. If it is too loose, the shoulder points will be resting on your upper arm, and you will look droopy.

Torso Fit

How should a dress shirt fit torso

You should be able to button your shirt easily. The shirt should fit without feeling pressure on your ribcage.

If it is too tight, you will see wrinkles when your shirt is buttoned. If it is too big, you will get the dreaded muffin top around your waist. Although some men prefer a looser shirt, you don’t want to look like Michelin Man, so go down a size.

Sleeve Fit

How-should-a-dress shirt-fit_sleeve

The shirt sleeve should be a bit looser on the upper arm; it should feel a bit tighter near your wrist with the cuffs.

If too tight, you will have a pinching sensation around your elbow so you won’t be able to move your arms or shoulders freely. If too loose, you see the fabric folding and dropping around the cuff. This means you need a smaller shirt.

Sleeve Length

How-should-a-dress shirt-fit-sleeve-length

This is about how long your shirt sleeve should be, which is a bit different from the sleeve fit we just talked about.

Your sleeve should end at the break of your wrist. Your cuffs should cover your wrist bone and you should have part of your cuffs visible when wearing a jacket. Your watch will be visible with certain movements.

If too short, your cuffs will be above your wrist bone, and your sleeve won’t be visible if you have a jacket.

If too long, your cuffs will go all the way to the palm of your hand, and your watch won’t be visible at all. Also, you will have some fabric wrinkling around your cuffs. Not good!

Sleeve Cuff

How-should-a-dress shirt-fit-sleeve-cuff

The sleeve cuff should fit around your wrist, and it should be easy to take your shirt off without unbuttoning your cuffs. You should be able to have enough room to put your watch under your cuff.

If it is too tight, your wrists will feel strangled. If too loose, you will have enough space to fit a watch...and a couple of your fingers. This means you should either adjust the cuffs by changing the button position or exchange the shirt size altogether.

Shirt Bottom Length

How-should-a-dress shirt-fit-shirt-length

Your shirt should be long enough to wear it tucked (it is what we recommend). In that case, the shirt should go below your belt line for a couple of inches.

However, the real proof is: Tuck your shirt and then raise your arms. The shirt won’t get untucked if it has the right length.

The shirt is too short if it doesn’t get past your belt line and it untucks everytime you move.

But it can also be too long: When you tuck it in you have extra fabric which feels like a diaper, so this is not a good sign. Still, this last one could be a minor problem which could be fixed by a tailor.

Conclusion

Having a dress shirt, even if you don’t wear suits, can really make you look stylish and can upgrade the simplest pair of jeans.

To achieve a polished look be sure your shirt fits your body properly. Don’t forget to make the necessary alterations and please keep that shirt tucked in!

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1 comment

  • Hi,

    I have a shirt that fits great but it looks weird when I bend my arm. The sleeve looks like it’s short on me. When I stand straight with my arms by my side the length is great. If I were to cross my arm and rest in the table it rises up a lot. Is that normal?

    Thank you,
    Alex

    Alex Kishinevsky,

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