The Perfect Guide To How Your Dress Shirt Should Fit
When it comes to building your wardrobe, dress shirts are an essential building block. This foundation piece is sadly often overlooked. Take the time to learn what makes a good fit, and remember that most bodies are not standard store-sizes.
One of the first things you will want to choose is the general fit of the shirt. Even if you are looking for a ‘slim fit’ look, that does not necessarily mean you should choose a slim-fit dress shirt. For example, if you have wider arms and neck, you may want to go with a regular fit that accommodates these areas, and have your tailor take in the waist.
Classic or Regular Fit
- Cut the broadest across the shoulders
- Generous room though the chest and torso
- Wider sleeves
- Slightly higher armholes
- Cut close around the chest, while still leaving room for movement
- Trim sleeves
Extra Slim Fit
- High armholes
- Extremely tailored through the chest and body
- Narrow, streamlined sleeves
The collar of your dress shirt should lay comfortably around your neck at the level of your Adam’s apple without constricting it. The collar should be as close to the neck as possible, while still being able to fit and slide two fingers into the shirt with ease. Three fingers mean there is too much room, and one means it is too tight.
There are also two main types of collars, and it is important to know how to sport the difference as they help frame the face.
Point Collars – Are cut so that the collar points at less-than a 60 degree angle. A common style found on many ready-to-wear (RTW) shirts. A point collar is longer and has more closely set points which draws the eye down and elongates the face.
Spread Collars – Also referred to as the “cutaway” collar, this style has angles greater than 90 degrees to reveal more of the upper shirt area. The spread collar has a modern edge, and also helps to widen the wearer’s face, or display a wider tie-knot.
Ensure the seam meets the corner of the shoulder bone, make sure it does not droop down past it. If the seam rests too high that means the armhole is too tight.
The sleeves of your dress shirt should end one inch past your wrist bone. These should not billow out like sails, nor should they be so tight you cannot move or rotate your shoulders freely. The cuff should not move more than an inch off of the wrist when bending the arm.
The cuffs, much like the sleeves, add structure to the dress shirt, and is the only other part visible underneath a jacket. These are also divided into two main types for casual to formal wear.
Button Cuffs – Single cuffs wrap around the wrist and are set in place by one to four buttons. A great option for every day wear, you will find these on most RTW shirts.
French Cuffs – This formal option can be worn daily depending on the workplace. It is a double cuff that has been folded back and is fastened with a set of cufflinks. While metal cufflinks are the most common, there are casual alternatives such as fabric knots or wood cufflinks.
The dress shirt should have no more than 3-4″ when pulled away from the body, nor should it restrict movement. The fabric should never be taught on the skin, and the buttons should never pull. Avoid both loose and skin-tight shirts. It should be long enough that a normal range of motion does not untuck the shirt.
Flat or curved tails mean the dress shirt is not designed to be tucked in. They should be no longer than the bottom of the pant zipper.
Shirt-tails mean that the dress shirt is designed to tuck into trousers or suit pants.
The Right Fit
The most important thing about any dress shirt you choose, is that you feel comfortable in it. Dress shirts should be an expression of yourself, and something you should ultimately feel great in.