Men’s Dress Shirts Fit Guide


Even if you work at an office with a jeans and t-shirt dress code or at home where pants are optional, every guy needs a few dress shirts for life’s special occasions. If you’re looking for men’s dress shirts, here’s a guide to finding the right fit to dress to impress.

The tl;dr version:

  • Get measured and know what size shirt you wear.
  • Always buy a fitted dress shirt; no matter what shape you’re in.
  • When in doubt, opt for the semi spread collar. It works with everything.


1. Measurements

Know your measurements, that is neck size and arm length. Get measured so you can go dress shirt shopping without guessing. Nordstrom offers 52 combinations of neck size and sleeve length so there’s one practically tailor made for you.

2. The Perfect Fit

The collar should button easily. Apply the one finger rule: one finger should comfortably fit between the collar and your neck. If there’s no space, the collar is too small. If you can fit two fingers, it’s too big. If you don’t wear ties or button the top button, a slightly smaller collar will be fine.

The seam where the sleeve connects to the trunk of the shirt should land near to the top edge of your shoulders. To fit a wider range of bodies, many brands cut their shirts too big and the seam will lower down the arm for a blousier fit.

With the right fit in the shoulder, the shirt will have a high armhole and tapered sleeve that follows the shape of the arms without excess fabric. Big sleeves will make you look like a pirate.

Sleeve cuffs should hit the hinges of your wrists or just past. They are intended to extend about half an inch past jacket sleeves, no more, no less.

The right shirt will be fit close but not tight. Move your arms around to make sure there is a full range of motion around the chest, upper back, and under the armpits. If buttons are straining while you’re at a stand still with arms down, go a size up. A well-fitted shirt will show a hint of your physique, not hide or reveal it.

Current options include slim, tailored, and classic cuts to fit different body types as well as styles. The same rules of fit apply though. Note how all the shirts above fit at the shoulder, taper at the waist, and hit at the wrist.

Unlike t-shirts, men’s dress shirts have back darts so they taper down from the chest to the waist to emphasize a V-shaped silhouette. Look for clean lines and no excess fabric when the shirt is tucked in. Guys carrying some weight in the middle may need to size up but not so much that the shirt balloons out.


The hem should be long enough to tuck in but not so long that you can’t wear it untucked without looking like you’re wearing a dress. Our shirts fall to about the pockets so you can wear them untucked or tucked comfortably.

 3. Collars

You thought there’s only one kind of collar did you? Nope! Here’s how to choose.

Image Credit: GQ


The Button Down is a more casual style and never to be worn with a suit or to interviews, weddings, or funerals. The general rule is to always leave the point buttons buttoned but you know if you can break those rules. The button down tends to be a more preppy look and works will with khakis, sweaters, sport coats, and woven ties.

The Straight Point has narrowest spread of them all for a minimal style usually measuring in at 3″ wide. It works well with smaller and medium tie knots and skinny ties. This narrow style has a slimming effect and should be considered for men with round faces or those embracing oversized hair.

The Semi Spread is the most versatile collar, striking the balance between wide narrow, hip and square. Combining point and spread styles, the semi spread flatter wider, narrower, and longer faces. The 4″ spread works well with most tie widths and knots.

The Spread is the choice of both Don Draper and Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko. The 5″ spread creates a lot of space that should be filled in with a wider tie and/or larger knot. The spread can make a face appear wider (in contrast to the lengthening effect from the point collar) and also works well for tall men.

Eliminate ring around the collar with a stain remover like Shout Advanced Ultra Gel. Just brush it across the collar before laundering shirts.