How Your Dress Shirts Should Fit


How you dress can tell a lot about you. It tells people around you how much pride you take in your appearance, how much money you have (at least hypothetically), and even what sort of values you emphasize. But while an unconventional outfit can draw attention for all the right reasons, a sloppy outfit isn’t going to do you any favors. But if you aren’t quite sure how to wear dress shirts for men, the rules are fortunately not too complicated.

The Sleeves

Tighter shirts are in style right now, so it’s very likely you’ve felt the sensation of your shirt bunching up too tightly at the bicep. If you’re holding your arms down at your sides, your sleeve should brush directly against your wrist bone without overlapping it or leaving too much wrist exposed. If you wear a wristwatch, your sleeve should just barely cover it.


In terms of looseness, you want the upper arm to be just slightly longer than the wrist and taper down modestly. That might need to be adjusted depending on the size of your biceps. Be sure to test your shirt with your arms both extended and flexed to make sure the sleeves are never too bunched or baggy.

The Back and Chest

The width of your chest is one of the most important factors in fitting your shirt, and so is the back – also known as the yoke. The goal, as with the sleeves, is to have a fit that isn’t too loose but is still flexible to a range of movement. 


The shoulders in particular are one of the most common pressure points for frustration when wearing a dress shirt, so pay them extra caution when shopping. People with sloped backs especially may want to account for a little extra fabric when buying a dress shirt off the rack. 


Measuring where the torso of the shirt meets the shoulder portion of your sleeve can be a great indicator of how well it should fit. The seam should fall directly at the edge of your shoulder without rising too high or dropping too low off the skin. A good profile is all about lines, and the shoulder seam should mark a smooth transition from the slope of your shoulder to the contour of your arm.

The Neck

The easiest trick to follow when measuring a dress shirt around the neck is to place two fingers between your neck and the collar of your shirt. They should fit, albeit snugly. That said, it’s not the most precise measure. You can get a more accurate fit by simply measuring your neck. This can be done with simple measuring tape in your home or at a tailor, and it can provide you with an easy reference point if you’re looking for shirts off the rack.

Hem Length

The final major component of measuring your shirt is how long it should be. While you can always tuck in a longer shirt, that’s still going to look noticeable to anyone with a discerning eye, and it’s not going to feel nearly as comfortable as a well-fitted shirt anyway. Being too short is more of an issue than being too long. You want your shirt to extend a few inches past your belt line. This allows your shirt to stay tucked in even if you lift your arms over your head.


While you don’t want your shirt so long that it bunches up in your underwear, a slightly too long shirt won’t be that big of a deal. Slight variations in length won’t be noticeable when worn with a suit or even just slacks, and it can be resolved very easily and cheaply by a tailor.