How A Men’s Dress Shirt Should Fit

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How should a dress shirt fit?

Seems like a simple question – yet look around you.

The vast majority of men are wearing dress shirts that are one to two sizes too large.

 

Why does this matter?

Simply put – an ill-fitted dress shirt:

  • Is uncomfortable
  • Makes you look less than professional

Either of these should be enough to motivate you to either have your current dress shirts adjusted to fit by a local tailor or consider buying custom dress shirts.

Although both options cost a little coin – the end result is a dress shirt that wear and feels great.

 

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Lee Jeans -which look great with either a casual or dressier well fitted shirt!

I personally wear their modern series jeans when traveling as the comfortable fit and sharp look is hard to beat!  Learn more by clicking here.

 

The details in a well fitted men’s dress shirt.

Dress Shirt Collar Fit

Just Right:The perfect collar fit touches the skin all the way around the neck, but does not press against it. You should be able to slip a finger in between your neck and the shirt at any point without struggling or forcing.

Too Tight: The collar is close enough to actually press against the skin underneath it. There’s a discernible sensation of constriction. It would be impossible to put a finger between the neck and collar without stretching, tugging, or forcing.

Too Loose: The collar does not touch the neck, but rather rests off the body. You could slip a finger in next to the neck without moving the cloth at all.

Dress Shirt Collar Fit

 

Dress Shirt Shoulder Fit

Just Right: The vertical shoulder seam sits at the edge of the shoulder, where the plane of the shoulder meets the plane of the outer arm. The armscye (the hole where the sleeve joins the shirt body) is large enough that there’s no tugging or twisting on the shoulder seam.

Too Tight: The seam will be shifted up the shoulder toward the neck. Some of the sleeve rests on top of the shoulder. If the tightness is in the armscye, there may also be twisting that causes wrinkles or distortion along the seam.

Too Loose: The shoulder seam slumps off the shoulder, down onto the outside of the bicep. There may be billowing under the arm as well, if the armscye is too big.

Dress Shirt Shoulder Fit

 

Dress Shirt Torso Fit

Just Right: The buttons close comfortable and the underside of the placket (the strip where the buttons and buttonholes are located) rests lightly against the sternum (the central bone of your ribcage). The shirt tucks in with no billowing at the sides.

Too Tight: The buttons strain to close, causing radiating wrinkles around the buttonholes. Tightness may also cause pulling on the sleeves, distorting the armscye and shoulder seams.

Too Loose: Excess fabric hangs slack around the stomach or chest, causing visible billowing. The shirt placket moves about and does not rest against the sternum. Tucking the shirt in causes billowing, ballooning, or “muffin-topping” near the trouser waist.

Dress Shirt Torso Fit

 

Dress Shirt Sleeve Fit

Just Right: The sleeve is slightly wider at the upper arm than the cuff, with a smooth, even taper. There should be some looseness when the arm hangs straight (so that the elbow isn’t constricted when the arm bends). Looseness should be evenly distributed, not bunched up at the shoulder or cuff.

Too Tight: The fit is snug when the arm hangs straight, causing pinching when the elbow or shoulder moves. Tautness may cause radiating wrinkles at the shoulder seam or elbow.

Too Loose: There is so much slack that gravity pulls it downward and creates hanging folds of cloth, especially around the cuff. Loose sleeve fabric can also flap and sway around the elbow and bicep.

Dress Shirt Sleeve Fit

 

Dress Shirt Sleeve Cuff

Just Right: The cuff is close to the body but allows a bit of space between the cuff and the skin. It should be possible to put the shirt on or take it off without unbuttoning the cuffs. Enough room for a pair of fingers (or for a normal-sized dress watch) is a good amount of slack.

Too Tight: It is impossible to pull the shirt off without unbuttoning the cuffs (or popping a button). The cuff presses against the skin all the way around the wrist. Wrist watches can only be worn below the hem of the cuff, and the cuff bunches up if it meets them rather than sliding over the watch.

Too Loose: The cuff is wide enough that it can slide loosely over a wristwatch and still have room for several fingers to be inserted between the cloth and skin. Folds or wrinkles form in the fabric of the cuff when the arms are rested against a surface like a tabletop.

Dress Shirt Sleeve Cuff Fit

 

Dress Shirt Sleeve Length

Just Right: The sleeve comes all the way down to the large wrist bone at the base of the pinky/ring fingers. If a jacket is worn, about a half-inch of shirt cuff should show beyond the end of the jacket sleeve. The cuff should at least touch (and in some postures cover) the wristwatch, if one is worn.

Too Short: The cuff leaves the wrist bones exposed, or is hidden completely beneath jacket sleeves.

Too Long: The cuff falls all the way to the point where the hand begins to widen outward from the wrist. This can cause bunching if the sleeves are so long that slack piles up behind the point where the cuff stops. If a wristwatch is worn, it is completely covered by the sleeve at all times.

Dress Shirt Sleeve Length

 

Dress Shirt Bottom Hem Length

Just Right: When untucked, the hem falls far enough to cover the belt. It should be long enough at all points (including the sides, if the hems are scalloped) to tuck at least an inch or so into comfortably-worn trousers.

Too Short: The untucked shirt does not completely cover the belt or waist of the trousers. When tucked in, points of the hem remain exposed, or have so little cloth tucked in that they are likely to pop out when the body moves and bends.

Too Long: The shirttails fall all the way to cover the crotch in front or bottom in back. When tucked in, excess fabric has to be shoved down between the legs to hide bunching up.

Dress Shirt Bottom Hem Length

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Lee Jeans - which look great with either a casual or dressier well fitted shirt!

I personally wear their modern series jeans when traveling as the comfortable fit and sharp look is hard to beat!  Learn more by clicking here.

  • Michael H

    Any suggestions for slim fitting dress shirts? I have a hard time finding shirts that fit right through the waist and I’m not even a super skinny guy. TM Lewin slim fit is the best I have found.

  • christopher vaccaro

    now where do we buy shirts like these?

  • Matt Howard

    I’ve taken to buying all my dress shirts through Deo Veritas. For the price, you can’t beat it. They are custom made to measure shirts for similar prices as you’ll pay in high end department stores. The quality is fantastic as well. I’m crazy about my shirt fit and I have a big neck, big shoulders, and thin waist. I don’t trust my shirts to anyone else.

  • GetItGoing

    I wear Extra Slim Fit from Express. I have an athletic build, and they fit me great, with the exception of the collar when I wear a tie (using a collar extender).

    The bright colors get compliments all the time, and have spandex to stretch (except for the cotton striped shirts). They have a few other fit styles as well.

    I haven’t found other shirts that are REALLY “slim fit.” Seems like too many aren’t really tapered in the chest.

  • http://ke.linkedin.com/pub/emmanuel-m-mwirichia/25/883/200/ Emmanuel M’Mwirichia

    I am very guilty of muffin-topping and bunching shirts. It was actually something a girl friend of mine pointed out. Well, we can only head up can’t we.

    An infographic on the slim-fit shirts would be helpful. A friend of mine wants to have all his shirts slimmed down. What should he look out for?

  • Daham

    hi Antionio.. Im having problem im slim tall guy.. i cant find shirt that suits for me. if if i got a shirt that fit for me, then get short Shirt Sleeve Lengths get short.. next size is good for me but not fit…

  • menstyle

    I can’t really speak about these brands as that I’ve never used them.

    What I can give is a list of sources that I greatly recommend. You can find them here: http://www.realmenrealstyle.com/resources/mens-stores/

  • menstyle

    Might I suggest that you try the dress shirts froom 5th & Lamar: http://www.5thandlamar.com/

  • Arif

    Very nice info, thanks

  • Tod C

    Lewins have been the best for me too, especially as a tall guy. Too many shirts are cut too short.

  • RMRStyle

    Thanks Arif!

  • RMRStyle

    He needs to just make sure he works with a tailor who understands his body type and need – shirts are much easier than suits to adjust!

  • RMRStyle

    Good to hear Matt – I haven’t seen their work but there are many online options to choose from. http://propercloth.com/ https://www.moderntailor.com/ http://www.blacklapel.com/ http://www.mctailor.com/ https://www.blanklabel.com http://www.mytailor.com/ are just a few of the options out there…….and these are just the custom ones!

  • RMRStyle

    Chris – I list these above but you should look at. http://propercloth.com/https://www.moderntailor.com/ http://www.blacklapel.com/ http://www.mctailor.com/ https://www.blanklabel.com http://www.mytailor.com/ These are just a few of the options out there…….good luck.

  • RMRStyle

    Agreed!

  • RMRStyle

    Express quality os poor – BUT the fit is slim like you say and you can always use them as a pattern shirt when upgrading to custom!

  • Solomon

    Wow! I taught it’s only short people that have problem finding shirts that fit.

    I Need you to touch on high and low collars please. I prefer the medium and lower ones. But as much as I like Hawes and Curtis cuts, I get put off by their collars. Does high collar fit into formal wears?

  • GetItGoing

    I realize it may not be as good as other shirts, and a bit overpriced considering where they are made (Vietnam, etc) but honestly the results have been great. I have seen a marked improvement in how people respond to my colorful, stylish shirts vs. ordinary colors & patterns. And of course a proper fit.

    I haven’t seen any custom shirt makers that offer a bit of stretch materials (since my weight fluctuates due to exercise/calorie intake) or comparable colors or I would have bought some a long time ago (I saved the measurements from some extra slim fit shirts). It seems like I’m stuck with one or the other. I could be wrong, not sure.

  • RMRStyle

    Yeah – I should have added more – Express is fine but I think overpriced if you buy at retail – they do have variety and options though (but rarely in plain white – strange) Thanks for the great info sir!

  • Stan Davis

    Sir once again great information. Thank you

  • menstyle

    You are welcome Stan

  • http://ke.linkedin.com/pub/emmanuel-m-mwirichia/25/883/200/ Emmanuel M’Mwirichia

    Cool. To infinity and beyond it would seem.

    Thanks again!

  • sannerprojects

    Hi AC, would like to email you my biz plans for apparel made in USA, high tech, 2 cuts above, w/o the crazy prices. Sannerwind@gmail.com Jay R, CEO SPI

  • Chris Woakes

    Thanks for sharing this informative tips regarding mens wear. Good one.. I found the men clothing from Simon +Simon are always well fitted and can change the appearance of the men.

  • menstyle

    Great to hear from you Chris. Thanks for the tip

  • Farhan Mosavi

    Thanks Antonio for this nice article and in fact for running such a wonderful website. I know you have heard it often, but I am so upset why didn’t I find you earlier. I could have saved a lot of money because I now realize that most of my clothes are ill fitted.

    I have a question on dress shirts and I’ll be very thankful if you could please reply.

    What according to you is the correct sleeve length of a dress shirt when the cuff is unbuttoned? I read above that when it’s buttoned it should meet the wrist bone. But even if the sleeve length is too long, I can achieve that by using a button that tightens the cuff.

    Alpha M says that when unbuttoned, the cuff should end about half an inch to one inch above the top thumb knuckle. Do you agree?

  • menstyle

    Hey Farhan. Thanks for the question. A little lower than the wrist bone. But when I raise or bend my arm, the shirt and jacket sleeves naturally rise up exposing my wrist (and my watch).

  • menstyle

    Hi Jay R, great hearing from you. You can contact me via this link: http://www.realmenrealstyle.com/contact/

  • menstyle

    Hi Solomon. Great to hear from you. The simple shawl collar is usually the better choice

  • menstyle

    You’re welcome

  • Man Up

    Function before Fashion – if a shirt is uncomfortable, it is simply not fit for purpose. I wear loose fit shirts which are comfortable, have less maintenance due to less washing required and in my mind, look better. It could be argued that looser clothes are better for the environment as less Co2 is emitted over time due to the reduced wash load (I can get up to 3 wears between washes). I find the loose fit clothes last a long time given less wear and tear on the fabric.

    Also, clothes must be viewed in the same way that a building is insulated. Most people I’m sure know that fiberglass insulation creates a thermal barrier by the air it traps. Well, it’s the exact same thing with clothes – it’s the trapped air that keeps you warm and for that to happen, clothes must not be tight. It is also important that the skin is allowed adequate room to breath. Tight clothes can also reduce bodily efficiency

  • menstyle

    Thanks for your comment – I appreciate it.