Questions Answered: How Should a Dress Shirt Fit?

We’ve all been there: getting ready for a formal event, digging through our closet for the dress shirt that we wore to the last event a year ago, and then putting it on to discover that the fit is way too tight. Or perhaps you’ve had the all-too-common experience of having your significant other point out how the shoulders on your dress shirt are “too wide,” or the sleeves are “too short,” or how it’s so baggy it makes you look like you’re wearing a curtain over your body. So, how should a dress shirt fit?

It can be easy to brush these things off as unavoidable, but the truth is, your dress shirt should fit well, and with a little help from a bespoke tailor, it can. So where do most dress shirts “go wrong,” and how should different aspects of a dress shirt look and feel, so we can know when it’s a perfect fit, and when it’s not?

The first place to start is the collar. The general rule here is that you should be able to fit at least two fingers in the gap between your skin and the shirt at any point around your neck. This ensures that the collar is breathable, and won’t cause your to feel claustrophobic, but also that it’s close enough to appear crisp and sharp.

Next is the shoulders: the shoulder points should fall directly over where your arm meets the edge of your shoulder bone, any closer to your neck and it’s too narrow, any further down your arm and it’s too wide.

For the torso, if the buttons are straining to stay in place, that’s a sign that the fit is too tight. Conversely, if you find there that the shirt billows on the sides after tucking it in, then it’s too loose. Regarding the length of the shirt, if you find that there is barely enough of the tail of the shirt to tuck in, then it is too short, but if it extends beyond the crotch area, it is too long.

As for the sleeves, the general rule for length is that the edge of the sleeve should be long enough to cover the protruding wrist bone, but not so long that it covers up the “heel” of your hand. For width, if the sleeves constrict movement, they’re too tight. If the sleeves seem to have three or more inches in room, they’re too baggy. At the cuffs, if the cuff is tight at your wrist, it is too small, whereas if it is easy to slip on after buttoning, then it is too wide.

If you’re in the market for a custom dress shirt in San Francisco and beyond, we measure each aspect to find your perfect fit, to then order whichever fabrics, colors, and styles you like. Alternatively, if you already have a dress shirt that needs some work done, we offer shirt alterations such as shortening sleeves, adding darts, shortening the tail, taking in sides and more. Visit our site for to book an appointment!