Dress shirts can instantly smarten up an outfit and have you looking sophisticated, distinguished and suave. If it turns out you're wearing the wrong size (which most men are) it will have the complete opposite effect and also be very uncomfortable.
Here at Idle HQ we know it can be difficult to choose the right size dress shirt, after all there are so many different elements to this seemingly simple piece of clothing. To make it a bit easier the next time you buy a shirt we've created a simple guide which is breaks downs the different sections and shows how they should fit.
The fit of the collar is extremely important as it means the difference between being comfortable and struggling to breath. As a general rule once the top button is done up you should be able to comfortably slide 2 fingers in.
If you can’t, or you find you're stabbing your neck with your fingers, the collar is too tight. The collar should be lightly touching your neck all the way around without being constrictive. If this isn’t the case and the collar and sagging from your neck it is to loose.
The shoulder fit and the armscye (The hole where the sleeve connects to the shirt) are the harder ones to get correct. If the shoulder seam is drooping down to your biceps it’s too big. If you find the seam is up on your shoulder but you can feel it applying pressure and you’re struggling to lift your arms up, it’s too tight. To get it just right make sure the seam meets the corner of the shoulder bone and allow for a full range of motion.
There’s surprisingly a lot that can go wrong with the fit of the sleeve. You not only need them to be the right length and size but then you also need to pay close attention to those cuffs. Lets start with the fit of the actual sleeve itself.
Dress shirt sleeves are designed to be slightly larger at the shoulder than the cuff. When you rest your arms by your side you should be an evenly distributed amount of looseness - if you find the material is gravitating towards the cuff the sleeve is too loose. Alternatively the sleeve is too tight if it is fitting snuggly around the shoulders and elbow.
Getting the length correct is a little more obvious. The cuff should come down to the large wrist bone so that when a jacket is worn the shirt falls a couple of centimeters lower. If you can see you wrist bone or the shirt is past the point where your hand begins it is the wrong length.
Now time for those cuffs! The cuffs are actually very similar to the collar and follow the same principals. The easiest way to check is to put the shirt on with the cuff done up. You should be able to slide you hand through with no problems. If you can fit more than two fingers in the opposite cuff, once the shirt is on, it's too loose.
The buttons should easily do up and there shouldn’t be more than 5-10cm of excess material when you pull the shirt to one side of your torso (when untucked). When your shirt is tucked in it shouldn’t hang over or gather around the top of your trousers, this is a sign that is too big. If there are obvious signs of pulling at the buttons or tightness around the chest and shoulders shirt is too small.
Lastly is the length, although it may seem unimportant because the shirt will inevitably be tucked in, it actually makes a huge difference. To test this simply wear your shirt undone and lift you arms above your head.
If you can see any skin its too short and means it would be constantly untucking when worn. The shirt should also be no longer than the bottom of your zip or else there will be too much excess material to tuck into your trousers which can be quite uncomfortable.
If this guide has made you realise it might be time to update your current shirts here are a few of our favourites in store now. This blue number from The Idle Man is perfect for something a little different, or, you can go classic with this Levi's shirt in classic white.