How A Men's Dress Shirt Should Fit

Posted by Rishi Chullani on

Knowing how a men's dress shirt should fit is of critical importance for any gentleman, given how much of a staple a dress shirt is in the wardrobe. In this comprehensive guide, we cover how a dress shirt should fit in key, critical areas, so that you are always dressed your best.

Wearing a well fitted dress shirt can be the difference between an outstanding day / evening out or a mediocre one. That’s right, I said it. There are few things that feel as good as well fitted clothing, especially on your torso, which is within everyone’s peripheral vision when they are communicating with you. Ill fitted clothing, on a subconscious level, can make you feel like you don’t care enough about your appearance, and can certainly give off slack impressions to those around you.

A well fitted dress shirt, however, speaks volumes. About your care, your intentional choice to seek out well fitted clothes and your attention to detail. The choice is yours! With that said, what constitutes a well fitted dress shirt? Sure, we often see images of models in well fitted clothing, but how do we know what to look for ourselves? Here is a comprehensive guide to that ever elusive, yet attainable well fitted dress shirt. Bonus points if you opt to go with a bespoke tailor – these finer points will be much easier to come by!

Please note that obtaining these elements for a well fitted dress shirt will be extremely hard to come by off the rack. I therefore suggest that you have the appropriate adjustments undertaken by a tailor or you opt for a bespoke shirt service if possible!

Below is an incredibly useful infographic by Andrew Snavely over at Primer Magazine!

Men's Dress Shirt Fit

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Collar Fit

The fit of your dress shirt collar is of paramount importance, as it quite literally means the difference between struggling to breathe and being comfortable!

A Dress Shirt Collar should touch your skin all the way around your neck without pressing against or constricting it. A reliable litmus test is to try and place two fingers between your collar and your neck. If you can comfortably slip your two fingers between your neck and your collar, without forcing the issue, you have the right fit.

If turning your head causes the collar to turn with it, it is considered too tight! A dress shirt collar is considered loose if it rests off your body as opposed to against it. In such an instance, you would be able to place both your fingers between your neck and your collar without moving the fabric at all.

Dress Shirt Collar Fit

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Shoulder Fit

The shoulder seam should meet the corner of your shoulder, which is the furthest point from the center of your chest. This point is known as the armsyce (the hole where the sleeve connects to the shirt). A dress shirt is considered too tight if the shoulder seam is sitting close to your neck, causing a wrinkle in the shirt sleeve. Conversely, a dress shirt is considered too loose if the seam is placed below where your shoulder meets your arm.

Dress Shirt Shoulder Seam Fit

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Torso Fit

A well fitted dress shirt should taper from your shoulders to your waist, following the natural lines of your body.

Your dress shirt should button comfortably, without constricting your torso. Your dress shirt should tuck in neatly without glaring excess fabric hanging from the sides. A dress shirt that is too tight will consist of buttons that are strained to close, causing wrinkles around the buttonholes and around the fabric area in the torso region. If a dress shirt is too large, there will be excess fabric hanging out when the shirt has been tucked in.

The torso area of your dress shirt should therefore be slim enough that it doesn’t give any more than 3-4 inches of fabric when pulled away from your chest or stomach. The dress shirt should allow ease of motion.

Dress Shirt Torso Fit

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Armhole Fit

The armhole of your dress shirt will dictate how snugly it fits around your chest, shoulder and armpit. Most shirts with standard sizing create their armholes big, so as to serve a wider range of client body types. If you notice excess fabric hanging underneath your arm, this is a sign that the armhole has been cut too low for your body type. Conversely, if the armhole has been cut too high, this will restrict range of movement for your arms, and can lead you to feeling stifled! The armhole is therefore a critical element of your dress shirt fit.

Dress Shirt Arm Hole Fit

A well tailored armhole will allow for a range of motion while still fitting snugly. Courtesy of

Chest Fit

The best dress shirts fit comfortably around the chest, under the armpits and across the upper back, giving you a full range of motion. A well fitted shirt will feel snug without feeling too tight. Your chest should fill out the shirt in a way where your body is discernable under the fabric.

Dress Shirt Fit Chest

A well fitted dress shirt should have your chest filling out the fabric. Courtesy of

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Sleeve Fit

Have a dress shirt sleeve that is too loose or too tight, and it will throw off the entire aesthetic of your shirt. An appropriate dress shirt sleeve is wider near your shoulder and tapers down in the same fashion that your arm does. Similar to your chest, your arms should adequately fill out the sleeves of your dress shirt, without leaving excess fabric. Therefore, your dress shirt should have uniform amount of extra fabric at any point around your arm.

Dress Shirt Sleeve Fit

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Sleeve Length

Your shirt sleeve length should end right at the base of your palms. You want to ensure that your shirt sleeves are long enough so that ¼ to ½ inch of shirt cuff is exposed when wearing a suit jacket, blazer or sports jacket!

Are you looking to accessorize your blazers, sports jackets or suits?!? Feel free to check out The Dark Knot’s extensive range of linen & silk pocket squares, that are bound to spice up any ensemble!

Dress Shirt Sleeve Length

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When your shirt cuffs are buttoned with your arms by your side, your sleeves should barely touch the top of your hand when you bend your wrists. Your cuffs should be loose enough to not restrict movement, but not so loose that you can slide your entire hand through. Your cuffs should essentially be a bit looser than a well fitted watch or bracelet! Additionally, in line with above, your dress shirt sleeve length should be long enough so as to expose ¼ inch to ½ inch of shirt cuff when worn with a suit jacket or blazer.

Dress Shirt Cuffs

Length Tucked

Dress Shirts are typically made long, ending past your crotch. If this is the case with your dress shirts, you want to ensure that they are tucked in at all times, so that they don’t look unsightly on an evening out!

Length Untucked

If you do wear your dress shirts untucked, you want to opt for a shorter length dress shirt that ends mid crotch, to ensure that you look appropriately dressed when out!

Dress Shirts Tucked vs Untucked

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And that’s a wrap for this one! I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it! If you would like to get your hands on incredibly well fitted bespoke shirts, I highly suggest our recommended bespoke tailors, Signature Collection!


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