Finding a good-looking, well-fitting shirt should be a simple task, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than you may be aware of, but there’s no need to get overwhelmed. The good news is that what you learn here will likely explain why the last way you usually feel when you put on a dress shirt is stylish or sophisticated.

Table Of Contents

How To Measure Sleeve Length

The sooner you learn more about measuring shirts – specifically how to measure sleeve length – the sooner you can say ‘so long’ to awkward fashion days or your tall men shirt struggles.

While there are multiple measurements to account for when shopping for or tailoring the best-fitting menswear, sleeve length is one of the most important measurements to consider.

However, understanding how to measure sleeve length may not be quite as obvious as what you’ve always assumed or been told.

For one, not all shirt sleeves end at the same place on your shoulder, which means your arm length cannot always dictate your sleeve length. Not to mention that men have varying shoulder widths, and shirts have different shapes and sizes for their sleeve armholes.

Your shoulder width, along with the sleeve armhole shape – whether drop shoulders, straight, saddle, raglan, or set-in – both affect your sleeve measurement. So, where exactly do you measure to and from for sleeve length if it is not just based on your arm length?

1. Find a shirt that fits you well 

Whether your goal is to shop for a t-shirt or dress shirt, or short sleeve or long sleeve, find a shirt you currently have with the right shoulder seams; in other words, where the armhole seams lie at the edge of your shoulder – where your shoulder begins to slope.

2. Measure the nape (base) of your neck to the shoulder seam

In addition to finding a shirt with a well-fitting shoulder seam that you can use as a reference, you’ll need a fabric measuring tape for the remaining steps. Note that you can take these measurements without a shirt if needed, but having a seam makes it easier to find the right point on your shoulder to measure from.

Place one end of the measuring tape in line with your spine, just below the base of your neck. Take the other end to the top point of the shoulder seam and write down this measurement.

Tip: You can find your starting point by measuring the entire width of your shoulder from seam to seam, then dividing this number in half.

3. Measure the shoulder seam to your wrist bone

Start your measuring tape at the top of the shoulder seam, taking it to the end of your wrist bone – allow the tape to drape slightly as your sleeve normally would.

Tip: Don’t overextend your arm because you wouldn’t walk around like that in real life. Instead, keep your arm relaxed and slightly bent for an accurate fit. Write down this measurement.

This tip is something tall men with longer arms want to keep in mind because you’ll end up with sleeves that are too short if you extend your arms straight while measuring.

4. Add your measurements

Take your two measurements and add these numbers together to find your ideal shirt sleeve length.

When shopping for shirts, you’ll see sizing listed by two numbers separated by a slash. The first number is your collar size (neck opening), and the second is your sleeve length.

You’ll want to round up to the nearest half if your sleeve measurement is a quarter-inch margin.

For example, 32.25 would round up to 32.5. But note that some retailers will offer half sizes, while others will display ranges. If the sizing is a range, choose the range closest to your exact measurement, still rounding up as needed. So going off the example of 32.25, you would choose a range of 32-33 rather than 31-32.

Follow our other how to measure guides as you build out your perfect fitting wardrobe.

How Do Tailors Measure sleeve Length?

A tailor can help you get the most accurate results, as well as remind you to relax your shoulders, neck, and arms as they measure.

While the process that a tailor uses to find the perfect fit is technically different, it has the same goal in mind – finding your ideal sleeve length so that you won’t be stuck with shirts where the sleeves are too short or long!

Tailors start by measuring from the center of the nape of your neck straight to just below your wrist bone. Then, they will add 1/2 to 3/4 inch (up to 2 cm) for their ideal sleeve length measurement.

This is the standard method most tailors use, but it’s also up to your personal preference! Just remember to consider the type of shirt you are looking to adjust, whether it is a dress shirt or button-up.

You can choose to lengthen your sleeves if they are too short by simply adding extra fabric in the sleeve’s armhole – this takes more fabric than shortening them, but it’s an option to explore if you need your current shirt sleeves to be even longer.

That’s it! From the neck down to the wrist, tailors use half an inch more than what you measured. This is usually a good place for them to start when they are modifying shirts – especially for tall men, who may want their dress shirt sleeves to be longer and the cuffs to be bigger for them to feel more comfortable, compared to casual sleeves, which may hit right at the wrist.

What Is A Standard Sleeve Length?

Everyone’s ideal sleeve length varies based on their taste and preference. For instance, if you prefer a more modern look, you might experiment with French cuffs, in which case you would need longer sleeves. Or, if you plan to wear a suit jacket, a half-inch of the shirt cuff should be visible underneath it.

For both men and women, formal or dress shirts tend to have longer sleeve lengths than their casual counterparts. That said, a standard sleeve length hits right at your wrist bone.

The key thing to remember for your ideal fit is that the shoulder seam must rest at the edge of your shoulder. Whether shopping for a new shirt or tailoring one you have, knowing how to measure the sleeve length is crucial to saving time and money. More importantly, you’ll look put together at all times, because sleeve length can really make or break how a shirt looks!

Now that you have the step down to measure your sleeve length for a proper fitting dress shirt, let these guides help you on the next areas you will come across.


With most clothing brands a 34 length sleeve is an XL.

Correct sleeve length is when your arms hanging relaxed at your sides and the cuffs of the shirt are unbuttoned. The sleeves will come down to the center of the back of your hand (or the first knuckle of your thumb).

The average sleeve length for a 6 foot man in North America will be between 35 and 37inches.