How a Man’s Dress Shirt Should Fit [Guide]

How a dress shirt should fit a man

One of the worst fashion mistakes that most men will make at some point in their lives is to wear a poor fitting shirt. It’s such a bad mistake because getting a shirt that fits you isn’t difficult and it doesn’t have to be expensive either.

If you take a look at the other guys at your office you’ll notice that most of them are wearing shirts that are one or two sizes too big for them, they aren’t tailored and they look shabby.

Now, go to a bar and look around you. Most guys will be wearing shirts that are too small for them, they are skin tight and they look ridiculous.

It’s such a common mistake , in the office men will think that’s how a shirt should fit and at the bar, guys think that a tighter shirt makes them look more muscular. However, when you get see the buttons stretching the your veins through the shirt it looks silly.

Mens shirt fit

Share this Image On Your Site

Wearing a badly fitting dress shirt will:

  1. Ruin your professionalism
  2. Make you look awkward
  3. Suggest you don't take care of yourself

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t so perfectly sized that we can go to a shop and pick a size off the rack and have it fit in every part of our body. Instead, you need to either pick the best fit and get it tailored or buy custom dress shirts that are fit to your specifications.

Dress Shirt Collar Fit

Your collar is arguably the most important part of the shirt because it’s what draws the most attention and is designed to outline your face. A poorly fitting collar can ruin your entire appearance and a perfectly fitting one can make you look like a million dollars.

The ideal collar will allow you to fit two fingers inside the front of your collar without the material stretching. If you can fit more than this, you’ll need to size down or have the collar tailored. If you can’t fit two fingers inside without stretching the materials then the collar is too tight.

Dress Shirt Shoulder Fit

Getting a good fit across your shoulders can be one of the hardest parts. If you workout regularly and lift weights it’s likely that regular shirts won't be broad enough for you. On the other hand, if you’re on the slimmer end then you might find that there is a lot of extra fabric across the chest and shoulder.

The perfect fit is when the seam between the shirt and the sleeve sits right at the edge of your shoulder. At this point you’ll have the most comfort and the arm hole will be positioned to give you maximal movement.

You’ll be able to easily spot a shirt that is too large because this seam will be over the edge of your shoulder and will be sinking down you arms. This will feel like a balloon across your shoulder and makes you look bigger than you are.

When the shirt is too tight across the shoulder you’ll notice that the seam will be riding up towards your neck instead of being on the edge of your shoulder. This will cause the fabric of the arm to be pulled upwards, causing wrinkles and preventing the cuff from sitting perfectly at your wrist.

Dress Shirts Torso Fit

If your dress shirt fits poorly across the torso then it’s extremely obvious. With its position it will also cause all other areas of the shirt to be pulled, wrinkling them and ruining their fit too.

When you’ve got a good fit you’ll be able to fasten the buttons and you’ll feel the inside of the shirt against your body. It shouldn’t feel tight or pulling at all, but it should fit so that the material is close enough to touch your body all the way up.

If it’s not touching it then it’s billowing too much and you’ll need to get some of the width taken out of the shirt by your tailor.

On the other hand, if you can feel the shirt pulling onto your skin or there are lines or wrinkles forming on the front of the shirt then you’ll know that it’s too tight. If you can see the definition of your muscles through the shirt then it’s too tight. You can look at photos of professional bodybuilders like Phil Heath in properly fitting suits and you can’t see his chest through the shirt.

Dress Shirt Sleeve Fit

Right now we’re talking about how the width of the sleeve fits, we’ll go on to talk about the cuff fit and the sleeve length after this.

A perfectly fitting sleeve will taper evenly from your shoulder through to the cuff, giving you a little looseness throughout but enough fit so that you can just about feel it. You’ll be able to pinch an inch or so of spare fabric all the way along the sleeve. If you can feel the fabric on your skin along the arm or if it’s wrinkling, it’s too tight and you should size up.

On the other hand, you see a lot of guys wearing shirts with sleeves that are one or more sizes too big. You don’t want the shirt to begin to billow and fold over itself, similarly, you don’t want it to look like a bag of air around your air. It should look like it’s complementing your arm shape.

Dress Shirt Cuff Fit

The right cuff fit will depend on whether you wear a watch or not and how big that watch is. The fit you’re looking for is a loose fit around your wrists, many guys think that the cuffs need to fit to the wrist.

However, you actually want to be able to slide your entire hand through the sleeve hole without needing to undo the cuffs. This is when you know the fit isn’t too tight.

To avoid a fit that is too loose, don’t have any extra space that you need. Your hand should slide through the hole without any restriction, but it should be as close as possible. If there is wrinkling in the fabric when you move your arm or lay your hands on a table then you need to move the button closer in so that you can tighten the cuffs.

Dress Shirt Sleeve Length

As a young men we’ve all been in this position, the shirt fits in every area but the sleeves aren’t long enough for you. If you’re wearing a jacket then the cuffs are completely hidden and if you’re not wearing a jacket, you’ll be able to see your wrist bones.

The perfect fit is when your wrist bones are covered and just half an inch of fabric will emerge from under your jacket. If you’re wearing a watch then the cuff of your sleeve should come up to half way, to three quarters, across your watch when your arms are by your side.

You’ll know a shirt sleeve is too long if you can feel the cuff extending onto your palm or you can feel bunching and wrinkling of the sleeves.

Dress Shirt Hem Length

The final fit that you’ll want to consider is the length of the hem of the shirt. Regardless of whether you’re going to be tucking your shirt in or not, it’s crucial that you have a good fit that looks natural.

The perfect fit is easy to figure out by just tucking the shirt in, even if you intend to wear it untucked at all times. It should tuck into your pants and when you raise your arms it should not come untucked. Similarly, there shouldn’t be excessive material in your pants that you’re having to push down your legs.

A good fitting hem shouldn’t extend beyond your crotch, it should cover your belt but not your crotch. If you have excess material or the shirt extends over your crotch then the shirt is too long. If you can’t tuck it in or it rides out of your shirt when you put your arms above your head, you need to go a size up or choose a brand or shirt that has a longer length.

About the author

Jack Prenter

Jack has been fascinated by fashion for decades and spent huge amounts of time researching it and becoming an expert. He's written for many well-known publications and is in the process of opening an online clothing store for men. Jack studied at the University of Nottingham and is now based out of Toronto, Canada.