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Is Your Dress Shirt a Good Fit? Take This Quiz to Find Out

Few things convey a more professional, buttoned-down look than a ideally fitting dress shirt. But unfortunately, not a whole lot of us can afford to have all of our shirts tailored for the perfect fit. And with wearers of all shapes and sizes out there, finding a first-class fit in a men’s dress shirt off the rack or on the web can be a challenge, to say the least.

But armed with the knowledge of exactly how a dress shirt should fit, you can achieve a near-tailored look on your next shirt-shopping outing. To find the perfect fit in your new dress shirt, ask yourself these five questions the next time you’re in the fitting room:

  • Where do the sleeves hit your arm?
    While the ideal sleeve length is a matter of personal preference, if the sleeve length falls outside a certain range, most observers will consider it a sign of a shirt that simply isn’t the right size. When the shirt is buttoned up and you’re holding your arms by your side, the cuff should ideally fall at the base of the thumb. Again, there is some give and take here based on personal preference, but you definitely don’t want the cuff landing too far past the base of your thumb, and if it falls short of your wrist, you should seek out a better fit. 
  • How tight is the collar on your neck?
    To test for a proper collar fit, stick a finger (or even two for a slightly looser fit) between the collar and your neck, and give the collar a slight tug. If you can’t fit a finger in, size up your collar. If you can fit more than two fingers in, size down. But if one or two fingers fit in there, and there’s no obvious gap between the neck and collar when you’re fully buttoned up, you’ve found a match. (Note: The collar size is less of a priority if you rarely use your top button — so don’t sweat the fit on this one as much if you rarely button all the way up or don’t plan to wear ties with the shirt.)
  • Where do the seams sit on your shoulders?
    Once your arms are in and you’re buttoned up, the seam where your sleeve is stitched to the body of your dress shirt should land roughly at the edge of your shoulder. Many apparel makers tend to oversize their shirts so they’ll fit a broader range of people, so you’ll often find that the seam lands farther down the arm along the tricep — a sign the shirt is too big. And if the seam rides higher on your shoulder toward your neck, it’s too small. Note that it’s important to ensure a good fit in the shoulders, as even a tailor can’t fix a bad match here.
  • How’s the range of motion in your chest?
    When buttoned up, your dress shirt should have a comfortably snug fit around your chest, across your upper back and around your arm pits, allowing you to move freely in all directions — but without being so loose that you can’t make out the lines of your upper body beneath the shirt. To test the fit, if the buttons pull when you’re standing with your arms by your side or sitting down, you should size up.
  • Where does the tail of the shirt fall when you’re standing? And when you raise your arms?
    A shirt with the proper length for your body should have a length that works for you both tucked and untucked. So, when the shirt is buttoned up and untucked, its tail should land just below the back pockets of your pants. Conversely, when the shirt is buttoned up and tucked in, the tail should be long enough to stay in your pants when you raise your arms above your head.

No matter your body type — tall or short, skinny or heavyset, athletic or slim — finding the right fit in your dress shirt can make all the difference in how you look (and feel) when you’re wearing it. To find your perfect fit in a range of button-down shirt styles, shop the Batton website today. Or to try our clothing on for size in person, visit one of the 50-plus retailers throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States who carry our apparel.