Dress Shirt

How to Size a Dress Shirt: Fit & Measurement Guide

Whether you’re a jeans and t-shirt kind of person or you opt for a more hip and dapper look, one wardrobe staple your closet needs to be complete is a well-fitted dress shirt. Even if you don’t have the need to dress nice on a regular basis, owning even one well tailored dress shirt amps up your styling options. Job interviews, holiday parties, weddings, graduations — there are tons of reasons to clean up and show off your most beautiful or handsome self! Now that you’re convinced that you need the perfect dress shirt (or you just realized that the ones you own don’t make you feel too great) the next step is finding the one that will fit you best.


How to Measure for the Perfect Fit

To ensure that your new life as a dress shirt aficionado is recognized by those around you, you will need to measure both your body and potential shirts to create your master look. A tailor’s measuring roll is your best bet to get an accurate read of the parts of your body your dress shirt is intended to cover — ideally, your chest, torso, and arms if you are doing it right.


Wrap measuring tape around your neck with two fingers between the tape and your neck. This ensures that your new shirt won’t cut off your air supply in the name of fashion. The best place to measure is around the portion of your neck where a collar would sit; for men, it should be just below the Adam’s apple, and for women just below where the Adam’s apple would be if you had one.


It’s best to get a friend for this one. Fun! Standing straight with your arms by your side, relax into your normal posture — no slouching! Have your measuring buddy wrap the tape around your chest just under the armpits. Avoid wearing thick clothing when taking this measurement, and let your measuring buddy know not to tighten it around your chest too much — you’ll want to be able to button this fancy shirt when you buy it.


Moving on down the body, next wrap the measuring tape around your waist. This can be different depending on your body shape. For men with wider, but flat torsos, you’ll want to measure right around the area of the belly button. For women with an hourglass shape, measure at the narrowest part of the waist. For anyone with a more prominent belly, measure around the widest part of your waist to be sure your perfect fit accurately reflects your shape and size.


Hope your measuring buddy is still around! You’re going to want to be able to stand up straight for this one, too. Like the chest measurement, assume your best upright posture. Wrap the tape across the buttocks and around the widest part of the hips.


Now would be a good time to thank your measuring buddy, if you haven’t done so already, because you’ll definitely need their help for this one. Measure from shoulder edge to shoulder edge while accounting for the curve between the two.

Arm Length

Start the measuring tape at the same edge you measured to on the shoulder and run the length down your arm. Stop to measure wherever your ideal dress shirt would fit — mid-bicep, three quarters at the elbow, or down to the wrist.


If you plan on buying a long-sleeved dress shirt, be sure to measure the circumference of your wrist with room for comfortable space. If you don’t want a long-sleeved shirt then skip this step, unless you just really want to know the measurement of your wrist, in which case, go for it. ‘


Just like the wrist, wrap the tape around the bicep. But, don’t be a show-off and start flexing! You won’t want saggy sleeves because you wanted your measuring buddy to see how big your muscles are.

Chest/Torso Length

Last but not least, place the measuring tape at the top of the shoulder and run it down to your desired length for your shirt. Crop top dress shirts haven’t caught on yet, so it’s recommended to let the length end down past your belt loops so that you’ll have enough fabric to tuck into your pants.

Now you know your measurements. Congratulations! According to Nordstrom, most dress shirts are sold by neck and sleeve measurements with the rest tailored proportionally. Knowing your extensive measurements will help when choosing from dress shirts that come in various “fits” — slim fit, normal fit, and loose fit. Also, if you need to get a dress shirt tailored you’ll want to know ahead of time what pieces of the shirt require the most attention.

What’s in a Dress Shirt?

You may not have to dress on the nicer end every day, or maybe you do; either way, owning well-fitted clothing has many benefits. When your dress clothes are measured to fit you automatically look more put-together. People notice the difference when a dress shirt looks more like a dress than a shirt. And while it’s always cool when Superman rips open his buttoned shirt, you’ll likely want a shirt that actually covers the entirety of your chest.

Seeing yourself in nice clothes definitely gives a boost of confidence! When you feel good about the way you look you are more likely to carry yourself with esteem. When you share that esteem with those around you people will take notice. Feeling good about yourself makes other people feel good about you, too! Whatever your reason for donning a dress shirt, you’ll want to “dress to impress.” Why go the extra mile to dapper down if you won’t make everyone around you swoon with envy at your suave attire? So, find yourself a measuring buddy, and make sure they bring the measuring tape! Get to know the shape and size of your figure. In the long run, it’ll greatly improve your relationship with clothes and your relationship with yourself.


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