Information on measurements and fit:
Taking your measurements | Fitting a shirt |
Fitting pants or jeans | Fitting a jacket or coat |
Fitting a suit | Finding a tailor
Fitting Men's Shirts
Most men's dress shirts list two measurements: the neck size first and the sleeve length second (example: 14.5" neck, 32" sleeve). Some men's dress shirts simply list the neck size and a standard "S", "M", or "L" (example: M, 14.5" neck). Men's casual shirts will usually only list the standard S, M, L on the label.
In general, the more formal the shirt, the more likely it will have both neck and sleeve measures. If you are buying a button front shirt for a more formal occasion or to wear with a suit, check any decent menswear department and you'll find an area with sized dress shirts, usually folded and labeled nicely by size.
Shirts may also be labeled with a style or cut description, such as "regular," "athletic"/"fitted," or "full." These terms describe how the shirt will fit around your belly: "athletic" or "fitted" means the shirt will taper toward the waist in a classic "V" shape; a "full" cut leaves room for a larger belly; "regular" is made to fit the manufacturer's idea of the "average Joe." Choose a cut that fits you best, keeping in mind that short men should avoid clothing that looks baggy, as it tends to make you look shorter.
Trouble for short men comes with finding shorter sleeve lengths, as well as finding shirts that are proportioned well for short men. The pocket placement on some small-sized shirts is too low, for example, because it may be based on the proportions for larger men's shirts. Another problem can be the overall length of the shirt itself-- some are proportioned with quite long shirt-tails for a short man.
Some of these problems can be avoided (you can choose a shirt without a breast pocket), or altered (you can have a tailor shorten your sleeves or take in a baggy shirt. You can also try different brands of shirts within your measurements to see which tend to be proportioned to best fit your body. You may find that certain brands/cuts will fit you much better than others, even though they are technically the same size.
Another option is to seek out shirts that are proportioned with short men in mind to begin with. Short men's specialty stores carry dress and casual shirts in short sizes.
Finally, you can opt to have a shirt custom-made for you by a tailor or online service. There are a growing number of custom tailors, and some offer quite reasonable pricing.
No matter where you find your shirt, here are some general guidelines as to overall fit:
Neck: For a shirt with a collar (such as a dress shirt) you should be able to slide two fingers between your neck and the collar, while buttoned, without feeling choked. This is especially important if you are going to wear the shirt with a tie-- if it is a shirt that you will always wear unbuttoned, this detail is not as crucial.
Shoulders: You should be able to move your arms without the shirt pulling uncomfortably across your shoulders.
Torso: The shirt should not be baggy, nor should it pull or pucker.
Sleeves: When your arms are at your sides, your cuffs should end slightly below your wrist bones, with just enough extra material so that you can bend your arms.
Cuffs: The cuffs should be tight enough so that they do not hang over your hand. You should not be able to slip your hand through the cuffs without first unbuttoning them.
Shirt Tail: Your shirt tail needs to be long enough for it to not come out of your pants when you raise your arms, yet not so long as to make unsightly bulges when tucked in.
Check here for listings of retailers who sell small-sized and custom men's shirts.
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