How Should A Dress Shirt Fit?

Ever buy a dress shirt with full confidence that it looked right in the mirror—only to see that when you show up in a photo or on social media, it doesn’t fit quite how you imagined? You may need a primer on how a dress shirt should fit. Here’s everything you need to know to get your dress shirt fitting as snugly and comfortably as possible.

The Neck

How “Neck” is measured: Buttonhole to button when the collar of the shirt is laid flat.

One of the first numbers you’ll read on a dress shirt is the size of the neck. It’s critical to get this right. If the shirt otherwise fits but the neck leaves too much space, it will always look like it’s an ill-fitting, sloppy shirt.

To get your neck size, you’ll generally have someone (such as a tailor) measure your neck. Then, add a half inch to get the true size of your neck.

When you try a shirt on, you should have plenty of room to breathe. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to fit two fingers with one overlapping the other with ease. Otherwise, the neck might be too tight.

The Sleeve

How “Sleeve” is measured: from the center back of the collar band to the end of the sleeve when the shirt is laid flat.

Where the bottom hem of your sleeve falls isn’t just about how it feels. It’s also about how it looks when you wear a suit jacket over it. You want a little bit of the sleeve of your dress shirt poking out under your suit jacket to give your outfit the right balance.

You can do this by making sure that the sleeve length goes down to your wrist, covering most of it to the bottom of your hand. If you can see most of your wrist, the sleeve is too short. If it’s covering the back of your hand, it’s too long. This can come down to personal preference, but try to get your sleeve just long enough to show under a suit jacket.

The Length

How “Length” is measured: from the center back of the collar band to the bottom of the back shirttail when laid flat.

Tucked or untucked? The choice is up to you if you get the length of your shirt right, especially when dealing with more casual button-downs. You don’t have to worry so much about the overall length of the shirt as you do about how much fabric comes over your waistline. Generally, an untucked dress shirt should extend only to the center-bottom of your… well, bottom. If you’re tucking the shirt in, some extra fabric is allowed and sometimes even preferred.

The Chest Width

How “Chest Width” is measured: length of the bottom of the armpit seam to the other when the shirt is laid flat.

The width of the shirt makes for an easy one-to-one comparison if you measure the shirts in your wardrobe that already fit. All you have to do is lay them out flat and measure from the bottom of one armpit seam to the other. This is also a handy gauge for which shirts will fit you best. If you find a new dress shirt with a similar chest width, then there’s a good chance that the other elements are going to fall into place as well.

Complementing Your Dress Shirts

Of course, you don’t want to forget your pants! Go beyond the dress shirt with quality tailored trousers from Berle. We offer free shipping on all regular price orders, and you can enter in your exact specifications to get the perfect fit. Shop today!

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