The Practical Men’s Shirt Fit Guide

Cream Asymmetrical Layouts Simple Presentation

My closet looked like it belonged to someone double my size: XL sports jerseys, XL dress shirts, XL jackets. I already concluded that I was unfashionable, but I didn’t understand just how much work needed to be done to my outfits. That was until I spoke with Dana: a living, breathing men’s shirt fit guide.

She scoffed at the oversized flannel I wore to our first appointment, lifting the shoulders on my shirt to my ears. “Your shirt is way too big. You could fit two of you in there.” I grew up in the age of JNCO jeans, UFO pants, and gigantic football jerseys: according to Dana, I never grew out of that style, and that was a problem.

Being a slim guy, the clothes I wore didn’t flatter my figure. Instead, it looked like I always stretched out my shirts because my collarbone was showing on all of my baggy t-shirts. But piece by piece, Dana measured and guided me through the whole process of purchasing the right size clothing, or where to get my clothes tailored.

And I’m going to share all of that knowledge here with the ultimate men’s shirt fit guide.

Recommended Reading:
The Ultimate Men’s Fashion Guide


Every man loves a good t-shirt. Hell, half of my closet is still littered with them. But the difference between looking like a slob wearing a t-shirt and Ryan Gosling wearing a t-shirt isn’t a $900 price tag: it all comes down to the right fit.


Let’s start with the crew neck t-shirt, the most common type of collared t-shirt. You want to look out for two things while wearing a crew neck collar: it cannot be too tight nor too loose. If while you’re walking around, it feels like someone is hanging on your back lightly choking you, then you’re collar is too tight. If someone walking down the street can see your shoulders, your collar is way too loose. Try to find something in between.

Dudefluencer: Men's Shirt Fit Guide Too Deep

As for the V-neck collar, avoid the deep V at all costs. To make sure your “V” isn’t too low, make sure the point of the collar doesn’t hang below your armpits.


The perfect sleeve length hits in the middle of your armpit and elbow. Anything longer will make your arms look short. 

Also, keep in mind the width of the sleeves: too broad, and it’ll look like your arms are swimming inside your t-shirt. But remember, you’re not working out, and you aren’t in an UnderArmor ad. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing a t-shirt two sizes smaller just so your arms look a little bigger. Trust me, a well-formed t-shirt sleeve will always be flattering to your guns.


The consensus amongst experts is that on the perfect fitting shirt, you should only be able to pull on the side around two-three inches. Anything more and you’re shirt is a bit too baggy.

Also, if everyone can see your chest muscles, buy a bigger shirt guy. Just because you’ve been bangin’ and clangin’, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to see your pecs.

Dudefluencer: Men's Shirt Fit Guide Too Baggy


Aim for a length around the upper crotch, just long enough that if you reach for something on the top shelf, your midriff isn’t showing. Even the dude with a perfect six-pack still needs to have second thoughts about airing out that lower belly-button region. It’s gross brah.

Dress Shirts

As a former teacher, my wardrobe is covered in dress shirts: flannel dress shirts, striped dress shirts, and a collection of fresh-white dress shirts. I didn’t understand while building my collection of educator outfits that the dress shirt is the centerpiece to any stylish piece of professional formal wear. 

Don’t overlook the power of a perfectly fitted dress shirt because an ill-fitting one can make you look lazy, and could potentially cause you to look unprofessional in front of your coworkers.


One of the most important realizations in my style journey was the dress shirt collar. Frequently, mine were so big that you’d be able to catch a glimpse of my undershirt. In the fashion world, that’s a big “Hell no.”

Instead, the simplest way to get started is to take a loose tape measure and calculate how many inches around your neck. If you’re wearing a tie, you’ll want to make sure that the collar isn’t so tight that it’s pinching your skin nor so loose that it looks like the shirt is just sort-of hanging off of you. If you go to any men’s shirt retailer (Men’s Wearhouse, Macy’s), they’ll have people on staff willing to help out and measure your neck for you.

Make sure to double-check the fit if you plan on buttoning the top button, which will make a difference in collar tightness.

If you can fit two fingers underneath your collar, then you’re good to go onto the next step.


Are you the Hulk? No? Then don’t buy a dress shirt that’s so tight around the chest that the buttons are going to go flying off and ding some innocent bystander in the eye.

Aim for a shirt that’s snug, but not too tight. On the other hand, if it’s too loose, you’ll notice a bit of an overflow of the shirt when you tuck in your shirt. We want to avoid billowing altogether.

Sleeve Length

Like the t-shirt, you want to find a sleeve width that isn’t too baggy, nor is it too tight. If there are three inches of excess fabric, take a look at a smaller size or plan to get your shirt tailored. One to two inches is the sweet spot.

But more importantly, the length of your sleeves is essential. You want to make sure that the cuff at the end of your shirt sleeve rests at the wrist bone. Shirts that are too long tend to cover part of your hand, and if they are too short, the cuff will come up before your wrist.

If you’re wearing a suit coat, just about a half-inch of your dress shirt should be showing underneath your jacket sleeve.

Suit Coats

You’ve found the perfect t-shirt, your dress shirts are on point. Now you’ve just been invited to deliver a presentation in front of your coworkers and realize that you don’t have a well-fitted suit coat to compliment the rest of your outfit.

Don’t worry. Finding a suit coat isn’t that hard, nor does it need to be overly expensive.

Recommended Reading:
The Best Ethical Men’s Suits for 2020


For a suit coat, you want to look first at your shoulders. The shoulders of your suit jacket should stop at your shoulders. Anything longer will make it look like your suit coat is drooping off of you. This is one of the most expensive tasks for a tailor, so when you’re looking for a suit off the rack, make sure that the shoulders fit nicely: no wrinkles, the shoulder fabric laying perfectly flat.


Avoid the X. If your suit coat is too tight, an X will form with the top button representing the center. Instead, you want to find something not too tight and not too loose. But if you are stuck in between the two. Go for the suit that’s a little bigger because it will be easier for the tailor to pull something in than add fabric.

Also, your top button of a two-button suit should not fall below your belly button. When buttoning up your suit, always button the top button and leave the bottom one undone.


The sleeve of your jacket should land when your thumb meets your wrist. Depending on whether or not you wear a suit, you may raise those sleeves just a little bit. Remember, you want the sleeve of your dress shirt hanging out around a half-inch past your suit coat sleeves. 


Unless you’re the Penguin and are late for your appointment to take over Gotham City, avoid long suit coats. The perfect fit for a suit is all about the hands. The hem at the bottom of the jacket should meet right in the middle of your hand, slightly covering your butt. If the jacket falls past your butt, then the jacket is a bit too long. If your midriff is going to be showing off, then your jacket is too small.

Again, this is something that someone at any men’s suit retailer should be able to help you out with.


Buying a shirt is easy, finding one that fits is much harder. A good head start would be taking your current clothing to a tailor and getting that fitted to your body, and then after learning a bit more about what you like and what makes you comfortable, heading off to a couple of stores for high-quality garments.

What clothing stores do you recommend? Do you use a tailor? Let us know in the comments below.

Share this post