How a Dress Shirt Should Fit – Proper Styling Details for Men’s Shirts

Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette!
In today’s video, we’ll discuss how a dress shirt should fit in your collar, in
your sleeve, in your cuff, in your arm hole, in your chest, as well as in your
waist. We also touch on slim fit, skinny fit ,and classic fit, so next time you buy
a shirt, you end up with something that fits you really well, it’s more
comfortable, and makes you look the part. Dress shirts today are not just the
foundation of classic men’s wardrobe that protect your outer garments from
your body but they’re also worn on their own and because of that, fit is
even more important because having a lot of excess fabric around your waist just
looks unattractive. Now, let’s be clear on what we mean about fit. Retailers often
mean the cut of a particular shirt and they call something slim fit but we talk
about how it actually fits on your body. In my experience, finding the right fit is
so much more complex than just choosing the slim fit, skinny fit, or classic fit in
your dress shirt. Why? Because we’re all humans, we’re different, we’re asymmetrical,
and one simple fit doesn’t mean it fits you in the sleeve or in the chest just
because it’s slim enough in the waist. Unlike many other garments such as your
waistcoat, your pants, your jacket, it is essential to get the shirt fit right
from the get-go because there’s much less room for alterations. Alterations
in dress shirts are not just pricey compared to the upfront cost but apart
from adding darts in the back, they’re also visible which is unattractive. Why,
you might wonder? Well first of all, there’s no fabric reserve in the seams
unlike with a pair of pants or a jacket and all the seams are exposed. An
alterations tailor will likely not have the same thread and it’ll be difficult to
replicate the exact stitch density and look of the original shirt. So let’s say
your sleeve has to be shortened, because it can’t be lengthened, you would still
see the different stitching on the cuff compared to the rest of shirt and it
just looks odd. With that being said, if you have fit challenges because your body is
very asymmetrical or you maybe have one arm
that’s considerably longer and the other one, a made-to-measure shirt or a true
bespoke shirt slash custom shirt is probably the way to go for you to
achieve a perfect fit. Fortunately, customized shirts are much
less expensive now than they were in the early 2000s. There are online
MTM companies starting at $40 a shirt so even if you don’t have a big budget, you
can still get a shirt where the fit is customized to your body. So without
further ado, how exactly should a dress shirt fit? Well, it shouldn’t be too
loose but also not too tight but that doesn’t really help you, does it? First,
let’s talk about the armholes of a shirt which is a factor that is often
neglected. Ideally, you want them to be as small as possible without restricting
you when you move your arms. So what does that mean, specifically? You should be
able to pull a little bit in your armhole, there should be a little bit
room so when you reach forward, there is really no restriction and you
can just move freely. Why is this important? Well, if your arm holes are too
big, every time you lift your arms, you will pull out shirt fabric around your
waist and it either comes untucked or you just have puddling fabric. Now, if you have a
jacket, that may not be so obvious but once you take your jacket off, there’s
puddling fabric around your waistband which just looks awful. Well, I could just
use sock suspenders, you might say, and yes, you’re right, but it’s just another
element in your wardrobe, it’s uncomfortable and if you just get the fit
of your arm holes right, you don’t really have to deal with it in an everyday
scenario. The second thing to consider is the yoke and the chest width of your
shirt. The yoke is measured in the back, it’s the horizontal seam from one
shoulder bone to the other. Ideally, that seam should extend just past that
shoulder bone so you have enough range of movement but also, not too much excess.
It is essential to have enough chest width so you can move comfortably just
like with low arm holes. If it’s too tight, you will feel it when you reach
forward and it’s just uncomfortable and you have to think about your shirt when
you should just not notice that your shirt’s there at all. It’s particularly
important to have enough fabric in your shoulder blade area, especially if your
back is a little bit rounded, just like I am, otherwise, you’ll
feel it and it’s difficult to move and reach forward. Next up, let’s talk about
the fit of the sleeve. These days, they’re often cut very slim which might look
attractive when you just stand but as soon as you move up with your arm
forward, you can feel a restriction or tension in your biceps area. To prevent
that, you need more room in your upper sleeve despite having a smaller armhole
and then ideally, the sleeve tapers further down because you don’t want an
excess fabric in the area around your lower arm. Obviously, it all depends on
the size of your biceps so if you have big biceps, you might have to go custom
because you rarely find shirts that have a big upper sleeve but a very trim lower
arm sleeve. Now, the perfect sleeve length for a dress shirt means that the cuff
should end exactly at the base of the thumb. That’s easier said than done
because when you stand, it’s really simple to achieve that but as soon as
you move, you’ll need more fabric on the outside which typically pulls up your
shirt sleeves. That’s why you want a little bit of a reserve but if you have
a longer sleeve and your cuff is too wide, the shirt wrist comes all the way
down to the beginning of your thumb or mid thumb and it just looks awkward. Of
course, you want your dress shirt to harmonize with your suit or your jacket and there
are many different intricacies that are part of a well fitting shirt and you can
learn all about them in this video here. Four, a well fitting dress shirt has the
right length for you. In my experience, most dress shirts today are cut
relatively short for me but I also have a long torso. Personally, I like shirts
that are longer, that cover my bum, and that don’t have fabric on the sides. That
way, I don’t have excess fabric inside my pants but I don’t have to worry about
ever getting my shirt untucked in public. If you want to wear your shirt untucked,
you want a plain hem that is the same length all the way around but frankly,
it’s not really a dress shirt anymore if you wear it untucked. Five, let’s talk about
the chest, the waist, and the seat. Most men have a different chest measurement than
their waist measurement. Let’s say I am a 42 inch chest in a 36 inch waist. The six
inch difference is called the six inch drop.
In order to get that drop right, the shirt can either be cut from the get-go so it
fits you perfectly but if you buy something off the rack, it is likely that
it won’t be perfect. In that case, you can utilize darts in the back of your shirt
that help you achieve the desired slimness in the waist without reducing
the chest width. As it’s not possible to make sure it’s larger because there’s no
fabric reserve, it pays to get a shirt that has the right width and yoke and the
right width in the chest and then if the waist is too wide, you can always reduce
it. For most men, the shirt has to be wider again in the hips that it wasn’t a
waste. In my case, it’s extreme because I have
an 8 inch drop from my chest to my waist and then a 30 inch increased from my
waist to my bottoms. Because of that, most regular shirts will be tight in my seat
and I can see that in the X wrinkles when I button the lower buttons of my
shirt. It’s also uncomfortable and it feels
restricting, so if you experience that, the only thing you can do is leave the
bottom buttons undone and hope that they are covered by your pants. It may help
to have a higher waisted pair of pants, if you have to do that or you go with a custom
or customized shirt that allows for these extreme differences between your
chest, your waist ,and your seat. Next up, let’s talk about the fit of the collar.
If you want to learn more about shirt collar styles, we have another guide right
here. A collar that is loose and shows excess space around your neck looks
sloppy and like someone who just got a shirt from their bigger brother. And if
it’s so tight that your skin hangs over your collar, you look a bit
like a pressed sausage. So how do you know your collar is too tight or too
loose? Well, the general rule of thumb is that you just have to be able to add two
fingers in on the side of your shirt comfortably. The problem I have with that
rule is that I can put two fingers in no matter if I wear a shirt that is two
sizes too small or two sizes too big simply because my neck is flexible.
Because of that, this rule is totally useless in my mind. So what should you do
instead? I suggest you actually measure your neck with a measuring tape. In my
case, I measure about thirty nine and a half centimeters
which is about fifteen point five or fifteen point six inches. Because of that,
a shirt that is slightly larger about forty centimeters or 15.75
inches are ideal for me. Now, once you’ve measured your accurate neck size, you
can’t just rely on the collar size numbers that are provided by
manufacturers because they can be wildly different. I’ve seen shirts that were
marked as fifteen point five inches but that were, in fact ,six and a half inches.
Typically, the actual size is always larger. So once you’ve measured your neck,
I suggest that you measure the actual collar. To do that, you unbutton the shirt
and you measure the inside of the collar. You measure from the button shank where
it’s sewn on the collar to the end of the buttonhole when it’s laid flat. That
gives you the exact measurement that you will have when you actually wear and
button this shirt and believe me, chances are even if you have one size of shirt
through different manufacturers and sometimes even of the same manufacturer,
those measurements will be different. So what does it mean for you when you buy a
shirt? Bring a measuring tape and measure that collar and don’t just believe in
what the brand tells you. Of course, once you go into high-end bespoke shirt
making, people won’t just consider the shape of the collar but also the height
and the typical fit of it. For example, my right shoulder is more sloped than my
left one so if you have a symmetrical collar on your shirt, the tip on the
right side will be further down than on the left. A bespoke shirt maker can
adjust for that in the height of the collar and the cut of the shirt so when
you look at people from the front, the collar tips are in one level plane.
Typically, this attention to detail is not something you will find in a made to
measure shirt but only with true dedicated custom shirt makers. Last but
not least, let’s talk about asymmetries, why? Well, all humans are asymmetrical but
all off the rack shirts are symmetrical and because of that, you will see flaws in
the way a shirt fits. How can you tell? Usually, in forms of wrinkles. For example,
I mentioned my right shoulder is lower than my left one. Well, you can typically
see that in the back because you see a kind of quarter-circle
wrinkle underneath my shoulder blade, you might see a wrinkle on the front side of
my shirt, and you’ll see a wrinkle underneath my armpit. On the other hand, if a
shirt is too tight in certain areas, you’ll typically see X wrinkles or
pulling wrinkles. If there’s too much fabric, you’ll just see puddling areas of
fabric. If you have a round back and your posture is not the best, you also may
see more wrinkles on the front side of the shirt around your collarbone. Now that you
understand your body and you know where it’s asymmetrical, you can pay attention
to those areas when you’re trying on new shirts off the rack. Not all shirts are
cut alike and the patterns are different and some will fit you better than others.
However, in order to achieve a truly great fit, you will have to go custom
because you are an asymmetrical person. Unfortunately, that can be rather
expensive so for many men, a made to measure option, sometimes, online made to
measure is a good middle ground between finding a shirt that fits reasonably
well that is comfortable but also, affordable. If you go out and buy shirts
off the rack, typically, you’ll encounter different fits. Right now, the most
popular is probably the so called slim fit which again, is just a kind of cut of
a shirt. Other cuts include the classic fit, the modern fit, as well as the skinny
fit. The classic fit has a traditional silhouette, it’s very roomy, it often has
big sleeves, big arm holes, and enough fabric around your chest, waist, and seat.
In the past, the classic fit was popular for two reasons; on the one hand, it was
advantageous for manufacturers because it meant that one shape of a body would
accommodate all kinds of people no matter if they were slim, medium, or big
and on the other hand, the dress shirt was merely a form of undergarment that
was not really seen on its own and so it didn’t matter if it was trimly fitting,
neatly fitting, or puddly. As it became more popular to wear shirts on their own
right, people paid more attention to fit and especially the last 10 years,
the slim fit shirt has somewhat become the new normal. While a well cut slim
feature is not necessarily uncomfortable, most slim fit shirts are, in my
experience. Why? Typically, the sleeves are so slim, especially in the upper sleeve
that you always feel the restriction on your biceps when you move forward but I
typically have higher cut arm holes compared to the classic fit which is a
plus if your sleeves are usually so tight that having excess fabric makes
them look awkward so if you move forward, the sleeves typically pull back quite a
bit which means you don’t have the proper sleeve length. Typically, slim fit
shirts have darts in the back to provide a trim silhouette but that’s not always
advantageous for people who have a bit of a belly or not super slim because
otherwise, the placket will maybe gap and show X wrinkles. If you go with a custom
shirt, you can have the fabric in the back extended so even if you pop up your
shirt or you move, it will never show your exposed skin underneath of it.
Because the slim fit doesn’t work for a lot of men, the new modern or
contemporary fit has been introduced which is somewhat in between a classic
fit and a slim fit and therefore, combining the best of both worlds. You
typically get a higher armhole, you get a little more room in the sleeve, get a
little more room in your chest and your waist but it’s not excessive so it still
looks like a well fitting shirt without being uncomfortable or restrictive. If you
have to buy a shirt off the rack, this is my preferred fit but of course, it
depends on the brand you buy it from but typically, if brands offer different fits,
I like the middle one between slim and classic. Last but not least, let’s talk
about the skinny fit which is popular, especially with younger men because they
prefer a really trim silhouette of let’s say, a suit supply suit or just a
very modern short jacket with a high buttoning point and because of that, they
also want a very trim fitting tight shirt. In my opinion, skin tight shirts
are not flattering for anyone but of course, it’s in the eye of the beholder
and if you think it’s a good look, go for it. At the same time, if you’re
interested in classic men’s style and you want to be able to have your weight
fluctuated ever so slightly, this is not
the fit for you. So in conclusion, without a doubt, the best fitting shirt will
always be the one that is made for you by a custom shirt maker with experience
who creates a pattern from scratch just for your body, however, if that’s not within
your budget and it isn’t for most men, you can still find plenty of options
today that range from online made-to-measure
to local stores that offer made-to-measure and even within that
bracket, you find different prices. It can start at $40 and go all the way up to
250 or 300 dollars per shirt. It mostly depends on the fabric and whether an
interlining is used in the collar and if the shirt has a lot amount of hand
sewing or it’s machine sewn. To learn more about the details of dress shirts,
the quality hallmarks, please check out these videos here. in today’s
video I am wearing a two-piece navy blue suit from Oxford it’s single breasted with
notch lapels and two buttons I’m combining it with a custom shirt that is
blue and white striped it has a very kind of classic collar with long tips
and it features what I would call a modern or contemporary fit in a sense
that it has a little bit of excess fabric in the waist and throughout my
body but it makes it extremely comfortable without looking out of place
it features French cuffs so I wear it with cufflinks from Fort Belvedere in gold
that match my pinky ring which is also gold with a bloodstone because the color
scheme of the shirt and the suit fairly conservative I opted for a mottled pink
knit tie which spices up the feel I combined a pocket square that picked up
those tones of magenta and pink as well as blue and I added a pink boutonniere
all of which you can find at our Fort Belvedere store here the ratios I chose
a pair of Burgundy Oxfords from Meermin and for my socks I opted for a pair of
shadow striped socks from Fort Belvedere in navy and blue to pick up
the tone from the shirt the suit and tying it all together

70 thoughts on “How a Dress Shirt Should Fit – Proper Styling Details for Men’s Shirts”

  1. Your videos are really good keep up with the good I love your videos keep up with the good work as always

  2. Hi, great presentation thankyou. What do you think about Windsor collar shirts? Are they better to be tailored, if a bit on the stout size or are off the shelf say from Hawes and Curtis in London? Thankyou

  3. Outstanding video today. I love the after Xmas and after Father's Day sales. I grab Ralph Lauren and Lacoste shirts for screaming deals. I wear dress shirts for work and your video was a big help today.

  4. The main thing is not to have huge arm holes.( At the point where they become arm impact craters.)

  5. Great video as always. Would love to see a video about appropriate shirt colours for different occasions. I mean formal, meetings, colours that for consultants!!

  6. Ah yes, the Friday edition of my Monday and Friday lunch hour viewing routine (in other words I like watching the GG when I'm eating my lunch on Monday and Friday when they get uploaded at that time in my area [Great Lakes Region Canada])
    An interesting guide today

  7. I'm lucky, the higher end Profuomo shirts (Sky Blue) are of decent quality and their off the rack fit is just about exactly right for my body

  8. Yes yes unfortunately bought a second shirtfrom the same brand same label size 15 1/2 and the second shirt was definately at least a half inch too big in the collar, still wear it, I leave the last button undone and just sinch the tie a little extra, not the best but as a college student and blue collar worker people at Mass wont care all that much.

  9. Well I have to get my new shirts altered, or start getting custom shirts. I have a 19 inch neck, a 49 inch chest, and a 40 inch waist. A 19 inch shirt fits in the neck in collar and shoulders, but is baggy in the waist.

  10. I'm buying vintage and donated menswear more often now. If I like a style and I'm swimming in it, I also get it hemmed. You get what you like cheaper and help small businesses and nonprofits.

  11. This is the first time I have ever seen Mr. Schneider wear a black jacket other than in the funeral video and his Black and White tie ensembles. Now that is something to strive for.

  12. I had a problem with shirt collars, there was always a gap between the top button on the shirt and the tie knot, so there was a bit of empty space showing shirt that should have been covered. Even if I adjusted the tie it as tight as it could be, it lasted for a few minutes and then started to go down and show the gap. I bought a 1/2 sized collar bigger and never again had that problem, and as a bonus it was more comfortable

  13. As long as one isn't walking around like a stuffed sausage with a shirt so tight it looks like it may rip the stitches at any moment; I see a bit too much of that these days.

    Not too big either, you'll look like a pillow.

  14. Raphael, this is why you're the most Stylish and knowledge man in America. Glad to briefly introduce myself and meet you at Menfluential. The fact you complimented the pocket square and shoes was awesome. You owned that event, style and knowledge-wise. Also, very approachable compared to many other Big YouTube guys. Congrats on the coming 800K Subs and 1M soon!

  15. If only we had more videos like this for women. You guys just don't know how hard it is to find this kind of knowledge more accesable when you're a female; you're looking everywhere, magazines, web articles, old archives, everything and it gets well… complicated? On YT the one video that actually goes into this much detail for women is the Justine Leconte vid and not much else.

  16. I really like this video, a well fitting shirt always looks great, and gets you noticed. I prefer a split yoke in the back, this makes the shirt more comfortable across the shoulders. I also agree with getting the sleeve length right, that really sets off a great shirt. I recommend going to a good shirt shop and getting properly measured by an expert, there are a lot of good 'off the rack' options once you know your proper measurements

  17. I saw Harry styles wearing a Gucci custom shirt at the Brits which had loose fitting arms with a more fitted body, What are your opinions on this ?

  18. Great info! I bought my first-ever made-to-measure shirt last year from Proper Cloth and I'm very happy with it and their service. So much better than a department store shirt and not that much more expensive.

  19. It appears that you do not wear an under shirt/tank top. Is that a no go? What do you suggest for people that sweat a lot so it doesn’t look like they went on a water ride wearing their suit? Haha

  20. Raphael, getting in shape will be way more beneficiary to improve your looks than following the style etiquettes.

  21. Thisvideo is especially helpful as someone with a very similar body type to Rafael. Maybe this is because we have a similar racial make-up.

  22. Decent but misleading.

    In my opinion, the only way to go is made to measure. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between tailored and made to measure. Most places in the US, off the rack is not even an option because retail service for men's clothing has become so poor. For example, I could not just go down to the local Mall and buy a wardrobe.

    Ironically, cost. I use Hong Kong tailors. It is pretty closet to what something would cost off the rack (if only they did shoes). I buy my ties at Brooks Brothers and an occasional tailored suit as I live near New York City and the main store has a special scanner that can accurately measure you.

    The most important reason for made to measure is choice. Hong Kong Tailors probably has 100+ choices of what amounts to a white standard shirt for wearing with a suit. If you know what you want, these guys can make it for you, for a reasonable cost and quite quickly.

  23. I’d love to see a do’s and do nots for ties and bow ties. I pre-tie my regular ties because my neck size will not be shrinking and I don’t like guessing and thing a few times, and I was curious if that was considered by you to be a considerably negative idea.

  24. Good if you learned to tie your tie, and found a shirt collar that fits you. The cuff-links look like the type used by a shirt laundry service. Not impressed by your made-up rules.

  25. I use Proper Cloth a lot but something which still bothers me about them is that you can't independently change the armhole or upper and lower sleeve. My forearms are quite large, so the only way to get them to fit is to change the entire width which also greatly increases the armhole size, resulting in lots of bagginess around that area, all just so I can bend my arms.

    If you want small armholes and still enough room in the sleeves I think Luxire would be the only choice for MTM. They can also set in the sleeves straight which is awesome if you move your arms a lot; the shoulder area won't move because the default position of the sleeves isn't downward.

  26. great video! but for the outfit you are wearing in this video, i think the blue in your shirt overpowers your tie

  27. Just began working for a famous men's clothing company and your videos have been immensely helpful for me. Thank you!

  28. I'm not sure why but it's nice to see someone who wears their trousers at a reasonable height (not around the hips with lots of bagging).

  29. Which one of the dress shirts would look best with shorts? The shirt usually covers the waist of the shorts and sometimes, a quick change from pants to shorts feels comfortable.

  30. I normally get a collar looser because my adams apple is bigger. I get so I can look down and still swallow or talk normally without my throat feeling restricted.

  31. I'd like to see a separated video about that skinny fit. I really like the look, because I'm not that kind of person who wears jacket every day, but somewhat the shirt is more stylish. Shirts without jacket should be smaller, well fitting in my opinion. However, I can't truck them so well that can be seen on those images promoting this kind of shirts. There are always a bit of additional fabric above my belt right after I truck in the shirt.

  32. I love this channel and the fashion items… But I never like the "classical" fit or Raphael fits his clothes… But I just like listening to him talk.

    Edit: this was a good video.

  33. Great video. Thank you. The only thing I feel contrary to is that you could find even a semi decent shirt for under $80. At under $80 you're likely getting made in China with Chinese fabric. Very difficult to get a great fabric at that price point and nearly impossible to get hand made. Just my findings. But, outstanding video!

  34. I really learn a great deal from these vids.
    I’m 52 years old and feel like I’m learning things that I should have learned many years ago.
    I grew up around people who dressed in suits and nice clothing but was never educated in dressing as such.
    Thanks for doing this for others.
    I’m really learning from you as well as others now.

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