How Should a Dress Shirt Fit? (Full Guide)

Learn how a dress shirt should fit so that you can buy the most perfect fitting shirt for your unique shape and size.

How Should a Dress Shirt Fit?

Dress Shirt Sizes

A dress shirt should fit so that if the top button is done up, you can fit 2 fingers in between the collar and your neck. You should have full range of motion on your shoulders and chest, and the shoulder seam should fall just above your shoulders. The cuff should come down to the base of the thumb, and the length of the shirt should be to just below the back pockets when untucked and buttoned up.

This is How Should a Dress Shirt Fit.

When I first started shopping for dress shirts, it took me a while to find the right fit. Along the way I learned a few identifiers that I could use to make sure I got the most perfect fitting dress shirt, every time. 

Dress shirts need to have the right fit around the neck, shoulders, chest, arms, waist, and wrist, so that you can look good as well as feel comfortable. 

If your dress shirt is too small, you will find that you have a restricted range of motion. If the dress shirt is too big, you will find that there is extra fabric under your arms, across your chest, around your sides, and bunched up along your belt line. 

Dress shirts are versatile and stylish, and can be worn with suits, black jeans, blue jeans, shorts, and even joggers

How Should a Dress Shirt Fit?

There are certain elements around your collar, shoulders, chest, waist, and wrists to look for when trying to find a dress shirt that fits. 

Dress shirts are a great piece of clothing because they can be styled in a variety of ways with looks appropriate for the boardroom as well as the bar. For a business casual look it’s always practical to pair a dress shirt with jeans

Allow our other guides help you with all your dress shirt needs.

Use the tips below to find dress shirts that fit properly so that you can look and feel great.

Part of looking good is also being clean, so make sure you use the right methods when you are caring for and washing your dress shirt.

In order to reduce wrinkles when traveling, it is also important fold your dress shirt correctly. Doing this will allow you to spend less time ironing and steaming your shirt. Learning how to hang a dress shirt correctly is also important for keeping your garment wrinkle free.

1. Collar

The collar of your dress shirt should allow room for 2 fingers to easily slide into it when buttoned up. Any less than that and the collar is too tight, and more than that and the collar is too loose. 

To measure the size of your collar, lay the shirt face down and spread the collar flat. Measure from button to buttonhole straight across. 

Tip: If you don’t wear a tie, and never intend to do the top button of the shirt up, then the collar size is not as critically important. 

To find out your neck size so that you can find the right sized collar, refer to our guide on how to measure neck size.

2. Shoulders

If you have a well fitting dress shirt, the shoulder seam should be sitting comfortably atop of your shoulder. If the shoulder seam is further down your arm, it means the shirt is likely too big/loose. If the shoulder seam is too high and running closer to your neck, it is an indication that the shirt is too small.

Measure your shoulder width to find the shirt that is most ideal for your size and shape. 

3. Chest

Your dress shirt should be snug but not too tight, still allowing you to have a full range of motion across your shoulders, chest, back, and arms. Your shirt should be tight enough that you can see the outline of your chest, but not so tight that the buttons are pulling apart and ready to fly off. 

Learn how to measure chest size with our step-by-step guide.

4. Arm Hole

The size and shape of the armhole is an important element of a dress shirt as it has a significant effect on how well the shirt will fit in other areas; namely the shoulder and chest.

Your shirt’s armhole should offer you a full range of motion, without having a ton of loose fabric hanging under your arm. 

5. Sleeve and Sleeve Length

The sleeve should have enough width and girth to allow your arm a full range of motion with a high level of comfort. The sleeve should not be so tight that it is cutting off your circulation, but it should be tight enough that the shape of your arm is slightly showing through the fabric. 

The sleeve length should allow for the cuff to sit right near the base of the thumb, near your wrist. Most individuals will have a slightly different preference for this, however the sleeve should be long enough so that the cuff is slightly showing when you are wearing a blazer or suit jacket. 

You may first want to measure your arm length as well as measure your sleeve length before buying a new dress shirt, especially if you are buying from an online retailer without trying to shirt on first. Using your measurements as well as the store’s size guide should help you to find the right shirt the first time around. 

6. Waist

Most modern dress shirts are cut in such a way that there is a nice taper from the chest area down to the waist, contouring the shape of your body, and giving your torso a nice healthy V look. 

For a dress shirt to fit properly around the waist, there should be no or very little excess fabric around your belt line when the shirt is tucked in. The shirt so taper so that it comes to a nice tailored fit around your hips and waist, and does not leave much excess fabric to bunch up around your belt line.

7. Shirt Length

The length of your dress shirt may depend on if you are planning to wear the shirt tucked or untucked, however it is usually best to try and find a happy medium between the two. 

A nice rule of thumb is that the bottom of your dress shirt should fall to just below the back pockets of your pants when untucked but buttoned. 

When your shirt is tucked in, you should be able to reach your hands straight up to the sky without having your shirt become fully untucked from around your belt line. 

Before buying a new shirt, it is prudent to first measure your torso length

How Should a Dress Shirt Fit FAQ

A dress shirt should fit so that if the top button is done up, you can fit 2 fingers in between the collar and your neck. You should have full range of motion on your shoulders and chest, and the shoulder seam should fall just above your shoulders. The cuff should come down to the base of the thumb, and the length of the shirt should be to just below the back pockets when untucked and buttoned up. 

Tight, slim fitting dress shirts are more stylish in 2023 than loose, straight fitting dress shirts are. Dress shirts should show off the shape of your torso, and fit snugly around your neck, shoulders, chest, back, hips, and waist. 

If a dress shirt is too big you will be able to fit more than two fingers between the collar and your neck when the shirt is fully buttoned up. Another way to tell your dress shirt is too big is if the shoulder seam is too far down your arm. If there is too much excess fabric around your belt line, the shirt is too big. 

Slim fitting dress shirts are more stylish and fashionable in 2023 than loose fitting dress shirts are, especially in business and business casual settings. If you are wearing an oversized outfit, then baggy dress shirts may be more appropriate. 

Written and reviewed by:
Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

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