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A dress shirt is a cornerstone of your wardrobe. You can wear it on its own or pair it with a tie. When you need to dress up a bit more, it serves as the canvas for your suit, blazer or sport coat. As such, a dress shirt truly is one of the most important and versatile item in a man’s wardrobe. But just like any other men’s style essential, the most important thing to look for is fit. This is a guide on how a dress shirt should fit.
How a Dress Shirt Should Fit: Checklist
The collar of a dress shirt is arguably the most important aspect of a shirt because it is the one most visible regardless of how you style the shirt (on its own or layered underneath a sweater/blazer).
The collar also plays a role in how comfortable a dress shirt will be. Generally speaking, the collar should fit slightly loose around your neck. It should not be snug, but there also shouldn’t be too much excess room. I know, this sounds too vague so here are 2 ways to get the perfect collar fit.
The first way is also the easiest but not exactly the most accurate and that is to button the top button and check if you can place 2 fingers comfortably between your neck and the shirt collar. The isn’t the best way, because the term comfortably and snug are subjective and vary from person to person. So that is why ive mentioned a second and more accurate way of finding the perfect collar fit.
The second way is to use a tap measure and measure around your neck to check your collar size. This menthod works best if you have someone else doing the measuring while you stand up straight in a natural posture. Once you get your neck collar size the next step is to calculate your dress shirt collar size. Basically, you want to add 1 to 1.25 inches to your neck measurement. For example, lets say my neck measurement was 15in. This means that my dress shirt collar size will be 16 to 16.25 inches. This will give you about 1 to 1.25 inches between your neck and the shirt collar which will be both comfortable and look the best.
So place the collar shirt on a flat surface (floor, ironing board) and use a tap measure to measure the length of the collar. Generall
The second most important aspect of fit is the shoulders. The shoulders of a dress shirt cannot be altered and even if you find someone willing to try, it’s not worth the expense. You want the dress shirt shoulder seam to end right where your shoulder naturally drops to your arms. If it ends before this point it is too tight. If it falls over your shoulders then it is too big. It is not worth buying a shirt that does not fit the shoulders so make sure you get this fit aspect spot on.
The body of the dress shirt comprise for how it fits your chest and torso. Generally speaking, this will depend on your body type. If you are on the slimmer side, then you want less room through the chest and body. If you are on the larger side, then a bit of extra room can be helpful. Either way, you don’t want a dress shirt that is too tight or too loose.
So what are the guidelines? You want to have about 2 to 5 inches of room between your body and the dress shirt through the chest, torso and hips. The range varies from 2 to 5 inches because if you are on the slimmer side, then you want to be around the 2 inch mark. If you are on the heavier side, then 4 to 5 inches is also appropriate.
You should avoid a dress shirt that pulls and tugs through the chest and body. You also want to avoid a dress shirt with tonnes of excess fabric.
The sleeves of a dress shirt should be comfortable and you should have about 2-3 inches of room between your arm and the sleeves.
The sleeves shouldn’t be snug around your arms which makes bending your arms uncomfortable. This will also shorten the life of the dress shirt due to more friction between your arms and the shirt fabric.
You also want to avoid the opposite situation where you have billowy sleeves which take away from the streamlined look of a dress shirt.
How long should dress shirt sleeves be
When you have your arms to your sides the sleeves of a dress shirt should end about 1 to 2 inches past your wrist. This might seem a bit long but this is how they should fit. The reason for this is that when you will raise your arms the sleeve will rise up but still cover your wrist.
If the shirt sleeve is shorter than this then it will rise up past your wrist when you raise your arms and that will make the shirt look too small and most importantly this won’t look professional.
Another thing to consider is the sleeve buttons. The sleeve cuff should not be so loose that the shirt falls down your wrist. You should have about 0.5 to 1 inch of room between the shirt cuff and your wrist. This will also allow you to comfortably wear a watch underneath.
How long should a dress shirt be
The length of a dress shirt is usually not a concern unless it it too short. Honestly, its better if a dress shirt is a bit too long than too short. The reason for this is that you will be tucking the shirt in so it won’t be visible and as such won’t matter if it is too long.
However, if the dress shirt is too short it might become untucked as you move about during the day which does not look good.
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I hope you found this guide on how a dress shirt should fit helpful.
Click here to check out How Chinos Should Fit.