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How to Measure for Dress Shirts

There’s absolutely nothing worse than scouring racks and racks of dress shirts in a big store trying to find the perfect fit. A dress shirt size can be confusing. You see all these different numbers on the tag but have no idea what they mean so you just end up trying on a bunch of different ones until you find one that somewhat fits you properly but might have a tight neck, long sleeves, or loose sides. 

While this venture might seem hopeless, you can really take control of your search by knowing your dress shirt measurements beforehand. All those different numbers might seem confusing now – but by the end of this article you will know how to measure for dress shirts, find your size, and then find a great shirt that will look and fit great! 


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Understanding Dress Shirt Measurements and How to Measure Yourself for a Dress Shirt

Most men’s dress shirts consist of two different measurements. The first number that you often see on a tag refers to the neck size. The second number that you see refers to the sleeve length. Most men’s dress shirts will have a sleeve length size that spans a couple of inches. So, what does this really look like in practice? For example, a man has a 15.5-inch neck and a sleeve length of 33. In this case, the size that you would want to look for is “15.5 32/33.” 


Now that you know what those numbers mean, it’s time to measure and find those numbers for yourself! You could always go to a tailor and have them measure you, but for men who like to do it themselves, it’s also really easy to do it in the comfort of your own home. Having a friend assist you in measuring will make the process way easier – so call up your best pal, order some pizza, and make it a fun time! 

Now that you have your assistant, you will also need the proper tools. Unfortunately, the tape measure from your toolbox will probably not be too much help when it comes to measuring for dress shirts. Instead, you will need a cloth tape measure that you can get from a craft store or even a big-box store. This usually goes without saying, but make sure that the tape measure includes the right measurements (inches) and is long enough to fully measure you (usually a maximum of 37 inches). 



How to Measure Your Collar Size

Now that you have all the help and tools you need, it’s time to actually get started with the measuring! A great place to start is with your neck measurement for your collar size. The most important thing that you need to remember when measuring is to relax! If you tense up, it could affect the accuracy of your measurements and leave you with a collar that is too tight or too loose – and no one wants that! When measuring your neck, try to place the measuring tape where your collar would usually be – this is just below your Adam’s apple. 

You don’t want to pull the measuring tape so that it is really tight against your neck, you want it to touch the skin but not be restrictive. It is also recommended that you place one finger under the tape measure to make sure that you have a little bit of extra room in your collar to move around. Trust me, nothing feels worse than a tight collar and nothing looks worse than a loose collar! But if you follow these neck measuring instructions properly then you should end up with an accurate measurement that you can use to buy your shirts from now on. 

How to Measure Your Sleeve Length

Measuring your sleeves is a little bit trickier than measuring your neck but your assistant will definitely make it a lot easier on you. There are two different ways to go about measuring your sleeve length. The first method is to take two separate measurements and then add those numbers together to get your total sleeve length. In order to do this, you need to start with the measuring tape centered on the back of your neck right at your spine and then run it all the way down to the very top of your shoulder. 

Then, you will want to take a second measurement from where you stopped at your shoulder all the way down to just below your wrist bone where your shirt cuff would naturally end. Once you have those two numbers, simply add them together and now you have your sleeve measurement! If you are a little hesitant about having to do two separate measurements, there is an option where you can just take one and use that as your sleeve measurement. 

To do this, you will also need to start at the center of the back of your neck. Then with your arm slightly bent at your side, you will need to run the measuring tape over your shoulder and down your arm so that it hangs down towards your wrist. Look to find the number that is located just below your wrist bone and that is your total sleeve measurement – no addition necessary! Whether you choose option one or option two, you might need to round up to the nearest available sleeve length. You will always want to round up and not down to account for extra room for movement. 


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How to Measure Your Waist Size

While a lot of dress shirts do not include a waist measurement, some of them do so it might be a good idea to get this number while you already have the tape measure out and an assistant available! You are more likely to need a waist measurement with slimmer cut shirts, so if these are something that you wear a lot then you should definitely take this extra measurement. 

Out of all three measurements, getting your waist size is probably the easiest because you can hold the tape measure and see the numbers yourself! All you need to do is simply wrap the tape measure around your natural waist where you usually wear your pants. You might want to keep one finger between your waist and the tape measure to give you a little extra room.

Once you have all three numbers, write them down either physically or put that information in a note on your phone so that you can access it at any time. That way, you don’t have to worry about ever forgetting your measurements and you won’t have to go re-do this whole process. 


Finding the Right Fit

Now that you have all your measurements figured out, this will help you greatly with shopping for a properly fitting dress shirt. However, here are some additional tips to make sure that your shirt really is the perfect fit. There are a variety of options. Men's dress shirts come in slim fit, classic fit, and traditional fit. Each fit varies based on your body style since body type can affect the shirt length and shirt fit. 

Overall, you want to have full range of motion in your shirt, which is why it is recommended to round up to the next size or add extra room when measuring. You don’t want the buttons to pull at all – if they do, then the shirt is too small. When it comes to the collar, you want to be able to place two fingers between the shirt and your skin. Following these measuring instructions and fitting tips will help you find the perfect dress shirt to nail that interview, impress your date, or inspire your audience at a conference.


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