Getting the Right Dress Shirt – Tailored off the Rack

Getting the Right Dress Shirt – Tailored off the Rack
Getting the Right Dress Shirt – Tailored off the Rack
The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one’s destiny to do, and then do it. – Henry Ford

Most men struggle with getting a proper dress shirt fit. In reality, most men wear dress shirts that are 1-2 sizes too big. The outcome is an unflattering garment that billows at the sides. It makes you feel uneasy, damages your professional image and gives the impression that you don’t care for yourself.


While getting a dress shirt tailored exactly for your body is always ideal, there are still ways to get dress shirts off the rack that fit you well. This article will discuss how a dress shirt should fit, from collar to hem length.


1. Collar fit


Your dress shirt’s collar serves one purpose: to frame your face. Without a well-fitting collar, your ensemble seems uneven. That’s why, when you’re initially trying something on, pay special attention to the collar. A bad collar may make a $200 shirt appear sloppy, while a fantastic one can transform a $20 shirt into something spectacular.


It is too tight if the collar is tight enough to pinch the flesh underneath. You’d notice it right away, and it’s pretty unpleasant. Also, putting a finger between the neck and collar without straining or tugging would be impossible.


If the collar does not contact the neck and instead rests on the entire area surrounding it, it is too loose – almost like the collar of a garment put up carelessly. There’s also a gap big enough for four fingers to fit through. When the collar is fitted correctly, it touches the skin around the neck but does not press on it and you can comfortably fit two fingers between your neck and the collar.


2. Shoulder fit


The shoulder fit is too tight if the shoulder points move beyond your shoulders and towards your neck. As a result, a portion of the sleeves may rest on the shoulders, generating creases. The shoulder fit is excessively loose when points drop off the shoulders and down onto your upper arms. As a result, the shirt tends to bubble, making your upper torso appear wider.

You’ve got the right fit when the shoulder points rest appropriately at the edge of your shoulders – where the plane of the shoulder meets the plane of the outer arm. The armscye (the opening where the sleeve meets the shirt body) should be large enough to prevent the shoulder seam from tugging or twisting. This allows you to freely and comfortably move your arms.


3. Torso fit


When the torso is too tight, you’ll see that the buttons are straining to close, causing creases around the buttonholes. The tightness may cause some sleeve pulling, placing strain on the shoulder seams. Excess cloth tends to billow around your waist or chest if the torso fits too large. This issue results in ‘muffin-topping’ around the waist.


If the torso fit is just right, you won’t have any trouble buttoning this shirt. The placket’s bottom (where the buttons and buttonholes meet) rests lightly against your ribcage’s midline. So you can tuck your shirt in without it blowing.


4. Sleeve fit


As your arms hang down and your sleeves are excessively tight, you’ll get a ‘pinching’ sensation when your elbow or shoulder moves. Furthermore, the sleeves will restrict your movement and reveal too many creases.


If the sleeves are excessively loose, they will naturally form folds of cloth all over the place, especially around the cuff. Furthermore, the sleeves have inches of surplus fabric, so they should be taken in or sized down.


The sleeve should be somewhat wider at the upper arm than the cuff with a smooth, consistent taper. There should be some looseness when the arms hang down straight (approximately 1-2 inches of fabric). This fit allows you to move about freely.


5. Cuff fit


The dress shirt’s cuffs are too tight if you can’t pull them off without unbuttoning them (or popping) a button. Too tight cuffs will press against the skin around the wrists, giving the impression that they are ‘strangling’ them.


Alternatively, the cuffs are too loose if they are wide enough to fit loosely over a watch while allowing some fingers to pass through the fabric and into your flesh. The cuff cloth also folds or wrinkles when your arms rest against a flat surface (like a table).


The cuffs of your dress shirt should be near to the body yet with enough room between the cloth and your wrists. You may easily put on or take off the shirt without unbuttoning the cuffs, and there are few wrinkles. If you wear your watch frequently, you should size the cuffs.


6. Sleeve length


If your wrist bones are visible or the cuffs disappear beneath your jacket’s sleeves, the sleeves are too short. The sleeves are too long if they reach the heel of your hands. The cloth bunches up at the place where the cuffs terminate due to the length, and when you wear a watch, it will always be hidden under your sleeve.


Your dress shirt sleeves should end at the big wrist bones (at the base of the pinky and ring fingers). When wearing a jacket, the shirt cuff should be about half an inch past the end of the jacket sleeves. When you wear your watch, the cuff should touch (and in some positions cover) it.


7. Bottom hem length


Your shirt is too short if it barely reaches your belt line (or the waist of your trousers) when untucked. As tucked in, some sections of the hem remain exposed and may peek out when your body moves or bends.


If the shirttails are long enough to cover the crotch, then your shirt is too long. Any excess fabric must be placed between the legs when tucked in to avoid bunching. However, in comparison to other ‘oversized’ items, this one isn’t a major issue. A tailor can simply shorten this.


The correct length of a dress shirt is a few inches below the beltline, allowing the shirt to stay tucked in as you raise your arms. The hem falls just long enough to hide your belt when untucked.




Fit, fabric, and function are the three qualities that influence one’s appearance in men’s fashion. Nail these three, and you will be a fashionable man with great style! However, if you already have a dress shirt that is too big, you can still get it altered to fit. Just book an appointment with us here.

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