In this blog I am going to show you three ways to measure your shoulder width. Knowing this measurement will help take the stress out of online shopping.

Table of Contents

how to measure shoulder width

Supplies & Tools:

  • Sewing measuring tape
  • A friend
  • A pencil
  • A wall

How To Measure Shoulder Width

Total Time: 3 min

Cost: $0

Measuring the width of your shoulders, whether you have help from a friend or you are doing it alone, is quick and easy.

There are 3 ways to measure shoulder width.

Use an old shirt

1. Place shirt on flat surface

Using a shirt from your closet, place your shirt on a flat surface with the back facing up. Smooth out the fabric of the shirt.

this is a photo of a shirt flat on a table to measure

2. Measure from seam to shirt seam

Take a measuring tape and measure the distance from the outer edge of one seam to the outer edge of the other seam where the sleeves connect to the back body panel of your shirt.

this is a photo of an arrow pointing to the shirts seam to measure from
this is a photo of tall paul measring the shoulder width of a flannel shirt

Grab a friend

1. Stand tall with shoulders not slouching

Stand tall with shoulders resting comfortably. Make sure both your feet are flat on the ground.

2. Get friend to measure shoulder joint to shoulder joint

Pull the tape measure tight and have your friend lay the tape flat along your back from the outer edge of your left shoulder joint to the outer edge of your right shoulder joint.

3. Use the seams of your shirt as a guide

You can use the seams of your shirt as a guide as well, measuring across your back from the seams where each of the sleeves attach. Allow the measuring tape to follow the natural shape of your back.

Use a wall

1. Stand against a wall

Stand against a wall with both feet planted flat on the ground and your head held high.

2. Mark the left wall with your right hand

Now with the pencil in your right hand reach across your left shoulder and mark a spot on the wall directly above your shoulder joint.

3. Mark the right wall with your left hand

Place the pencil in your left hand, reach over your right shoulder and mark a spot on the wall above your right shoulder joint.

4. Measure the distance between the two marks

Last step, take your measuring tape and measure the distance between the two markings.

The need to know the exact size of specific parts of your body is important to get that perfect fit when ordering online. Allow our guide on how to measure clothes help you.

How Do You Know If You Have Wide Shoulders?

The official term used to describe the width of your shoulders is called “biacromial breadth”. There are many factors that lend to your shoulder width; genetics, weight, body type and more.

So how do you know if you have wide shoulders?

Well, the average should width for males is 16.1 inches.

But to answer to this question is more a matter of perspective, but to get a general idea we can use garment standards.

Below is a size chart for off the rack and Tall (T) suit jackets to help you gauge, for yourself, if you have wide shoulders:

Regular men's size chart

Size Chest Waist Neck
XS 32 - 34 26 - 28 13 - 13.5
S 35 - 37 29 - 31 14 - 14.5
M 38 - 40 32 - 34 15 - 15.5
L 41 - 43 35 - 37 16 - 16.5
XL 44 - 46 38 - 40 17 - 17.5
XXL 47 - 49 41 - 43 18 - 18.5

Tall Men's size chart (6' 3" and up)

Size Chest Waist Neck
LT 42 - 44 36 - 38 16 - 16.5
XLT 46 - 48 40 - 42 17 - 17.5
2XT 50 - 52 44 - 46 18 - 18.5
3XT 54 - 56 48 - 50 19 - 19.5
4XT 58 - 60 52 - 54 20 - 21
5XT 62 - 64 56 - 58 22
6XT 66 - 68 60 - 62 24

Keep in mind, there hasn’t been any new official shoulder width (biacromial breadth) averages published in over 30 years and statistics show that men and women are getting taller and wider worldwide.

The CDC provides breakdowns of average height, weight, BMI, and other body measurements broken down by ethnicity, age, and height if you are looking for more information.


Yes you can measure your shoulder width from the front by following the exact same steps as you would using your back as the measuring focus. Due to the placement of the hands of the person doing the measuring, some people would not enjoy this way of measuring their shoulders.

Wide shoulders for men would be anything 18 inches and up. Average shoulder size in North America for a male is around 16 inches.