How to Fit a Dress Shirt: The 5 Areas To Focus On

by | Aug 19, 2016 | Wear It Right

Image by Robert Sheie on Flickr

Here’s a fact – most men wear their shirts wrong. Be it one size too big, sleeves too lose or too much fabric in the waist area, mistakes are everywhere. It’s like hardly anyone knows how to fit a dress shirt. And astoundingly it’s considered one of the most popular items in a man’s wardrobe.

Maybe the reason is that being so popular no one really gives much tought to how to wear a dress shirt. Well, reading this means that you do, and the good news is that the rules are very simple. Following them you’ll be able to fit a dress shirt perfectly in no time for all the years to come. So lets get down to it, shall we?

A Shirt Starts With the Collar


The collar always stays visible, even if you put on a jacket and button it up. It’s also the closest thing to your face, where the attention will be most of the time. That makes its good fit very important.

The shirt collar should fit snugly around your neck without pressing against it, whether opened or closed. You should be able to fit one-to-two fingers between your neck and shirt collar when buttoned, but not more. If the collar fits snugly but there’s still a gap at the back of your neck then the collar is not properly adjusted for your posture. Try another shirt or go to a tailor to fix it.

Note: Choose a collar type that fits your face shape. More you can read in our article Collar Types: Which One Fits Your Face Shape

The Shirt Shoulders Should be on Point


Have you noticed that most men wear shirts where the seam is at least one inch down the shoulder? Although that’s something normal to see, it’s not a good look, and it’s not for you. The seam of the shoulder should be at the edge point where your arm meets the shoulder. Also there shouldn’t be any twisting or distortions around the seam. Such can appear if the sleeve hole where the seam connects is too small for your arm to fit freely.

Don’t Overlook The Chest Fit


Your shirt should be snug in the chest, but not so much that the fabric pulls between the buttons. The buttons should be able to close comfortably without any strain. Be careful not to have excess fabric around the waist area that causes billowing. The shirt should never balloon when tucked in.

There are a couple shirt types you’ll come upon when it comes to width. The most widely spread are the regular and slim fit. You can also find extra slim, skinny, traditional and so on. Find a type that fits you well and look for it from now on.

Shirt Sleeves – Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose


The sleeves should tapper down evenly from shoulder to wrist. There should be some space so that the arm can move freely and you don’t feel restricted, especially in the elbow area. There should never be enough space so that the sleeve can flap or sway when you move.

When it comes to length the cuffs of your shirt should end at the point where the base of your thumb meets the wrist. They should stay close around the wrist. However, you should be able to put the shirt on and off without unbuttoning the cuffs.

Is the Length Right?


Last but not least – the lenght. The shirt should be long enough that you can tuck it in completely and there’s no chance of it popping out. However it shouldn’t be so long that it covers your crotch area or bottom. Try rising your hands up and see if it pops out, if it does it’s too short. If you wear it untucked keep the length around the middle of your bottom, but not higher.


That’s How To Fit A Dress Shirt


Following these simple guidelines you’ll know how to fit a dress shirt to your specific proportions the next time you enter a shop. The result will be adding a great fitting shirt to your wardrobe that you can wear confidently anywhere.

Before we finish there are two more things that have to be mentioned.

First if you’re athletic go for a fitted shirt to better match the V shape form of your body. If you have a big back consider going for a shirt with box pleats in the back (two folds between the shoulder blades).

Second, have in mind that no two manufacturer’s shirts fit exactly the same. Try different brands, see which one best fits your body proportions. Once you discover a brand that fits you well you can stick to it in the future to make your choices easier.

Do you want to know how to fit a suit too? Check our guide “How Should a Suit Fit: Proportions Guide“.

If you liked the article you can share it with your friends. We also encourage you to follow us so that you are always kept up to date with our latest articles. We wish you much success on the road to men style!


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