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November 28, 2011

The Art of Fit Pt 3 – The Dress Shirt

I am a firm believer that if you feel like you look good in your clothes, you will have more confidence. Part of getting that confidence is making sure your clothes fit and this is rarely of more importance than in the professional world.

In part 3 of the Art of Fit series, I will explain how to ensure a proper fit on your dress shirts. There are four components to this: shoulders, body, sleeves and neck. The shoulder and body tips from the Casual Shirt post carry over to dress shirts, so be sure to check that out too.

Shirt by BOSS Hugo Boss; Trousers by Burberry; Shoes by Johnston & Murphy;
Tie by Kenneth Cole New York; Tie bar by Link Up; Belt by Ted Baker;
Cufflinks by Thomas Pink; Eyeglasses by Dolce & Gabbana.

Dress shirts, unlike casual shirts, are sized by neck and sleeve measurements. This allows for a better off-the-rack fit, but still may require a little tweaking by a tailor. Shirts also come in different fits, such as slim, athletic, or classic (which is often looser), so make sure to pay attention to this as well when shopping.

The sleeve measurement is taken at three points. It starts at the center-back of your neck to your shoulder bone and then, with your arm slightly bent, down to just past your wrist bone. As I have mentioned before, a sleeve can be shortened so always err on the longer side.

Shirt by Nautica; Trousers by Burberry; Belt by Ted Baker.

With French cuff shirts, you should be able to lift your arm up without the cuff pulling up from your wrist.

Shirt by BOSS; Trousers by Burberry; Cufflinks by Thomas Pink.

The neck measurement is simply the circumference of your neck.  To make sure that it is not too tight or loose, you should be able to fit 1-2 fingers, or about ¾”-1”, between your neck and collar. When you buy a shirt, the neck usually comes in half sizes, so if you are between a size just go up or down to whatever is closest because you can gain or lose about ¼” by moving the top button.


Just like with all your clothes, different labels will all fit differently. Shop around until you find one that is right for you and don’t be afraid to try them on.

If you really want a perfect fit you can also go the custom route and buy made-to-measure or bespoke shirts, which is especially helpful if you are someone with broad shoulders and a very thin neck and body, or vice-versa. I have several clients with this problem, and bespoke shirts are a great option and more affordable than you would think. More on this in a future post.

Next up in the Art of Fit series: Trousers

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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