How to Measure Shoulder Width for a Shirt or Suit

Take a shoulder width measurement for a shirt

Knowing how to measure shoulder width and sleeve length accurately is vital for buying both shirts and suits. A comfortable shoulder measurement will allow you to move your arms more freely without feeling restricted by your shirt or suit. There are two different methods that you can use to measure your shoulder width, firstly you can use a shoulder to shoulder measurement and secondly you can measure an existing shirt or suit that fits you perfectly. If you’re unsure how to measure shoulders we’ll include detailed instructions and a video on finding your shoulder width.

Quick Instructions:

  1. Have the person stand upright with their shoulder and arms relaxed in natural position.
  2. You want to start from the ‘ledge’ of the shoulder, the point in the middle of the curve of the shoulder. You can feel a ‘ledge’ of bone of the middle rear of the shoulder.
  3. Start your tape measure here and take it over to the same point on the other shoulder.
  4. Don’t take the tape horizontally across, allow it to follow the natural curvature of the back, which will take the tape up towards the middle of the collar and then down to the other shoulder.
  5. Note the final measurement which will determine the size of the yoke on the shirt.

How to Measure Shoulder Width on Your Body

Taking this measurement by yourself is impossible. Grab a friend of family member and a soft tape measure, then stand upright with your head facing directly forwards. Try to relax your shoulders and arms so that they are in a natural position. Feel with your fingers to find the ‘ledge’ of their shoulder bone, which is the point at which it curves down towards the ground. Start at the middle of this curve, right on the edge of the shoulder and take the tape over to the same point on the other side. Make sure to follow the natural curvature of the back rather than going horizontal which will leave you with a shorter yoke. The back curves up so that the middle of the tape will be closer to the collar line than at the shoulders. Repeat this process at least twice to avoid error.

Shoulder to Shoulder Measurement on a Shirt

If you don’t have a friend to help you then you will need to resort to measuring an existing shirt which fits you perfectly. To start you should take an ironed shirt and fasten all of the buttons. Now, lay it on its front and spread it out so that it looks like the back of a person. Take the tape measure from the middle of one shoulder seam over to the other, ensuring that you follow a natural curve up towards to middle of the collar, rather than going horizontally across. We would advise you to try this twice and then switch to do it from the other side for a total of four figures, from which you can take an average.

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.