A well-fitting shirt always has a spot on your style roster. Whether you’re the poster boy for comfy loungewear tees or you’re a workday warrior in button-downs, fit is it. After all, if a shirt fits well, you look and feel good wearing it. Sit back, relax and let us walk you through our guide to finding the best-fitting men’s shirt for you.
Common Fit Challenges with Men’s Shirts
The first step in finding your best-fitting men’s shirt is identifying the fit issues you may run into along the way. We’ve broken down three common fit challenges most men face in their quest for the perfect shirt. Toss a coin to your Witcher and gear up.
Fit Challenge: Shoulders
You might not suspect it, but shoulder fit often makes or breaks a shirt. If the shoulders are too narrow, you’ll feel like you’re about to pull a Bruce Banner and Hulk out of your shirt. If the shoulders fit too wide, you might get flashbacks to wearing your brother’s hand-me-downs. Certain body types and builds have different struggles finding the best-fitting men’s shirt due to shoulder fit. More muscular or heavyset physiques tend to need more room in the shoulders. On the other hand, slimmer body types or those with smaller proportions might need less space.
No matter your size, shape or build, you can check the fit of a shirt by the shoulder seam. That means the seam should sit right at the top of your actual shoulder bone. If you see the shoulder seam hanging lower, it’s too big. If the seam is creeping up your shoulder toward your neck, it’s too small. Simple, right?
Fit Challenge: Collar
Another common fit challenge in finding the best-fitting men’s shirt is the collar. If the collar of your shirt is too snug, you’ll look and feel uncomfortable. Imagine giving a big presentation in a sharp suit but your dress shirt’s collar is cutting off your circulation. Is your T-shirt leaving rings around your neck while you’re heading to an outdoor dinner with friends? Not fun. Huskier and athletic body types often face this fit challenge, while more slender builds face the opposite issue. While a loose collar isn’t as confining, swimming in the too-wide collar can make your outfit look unbalanced and sloppy.
The first way to test the fit of the collar on your shirt? Comfort. If it was hard to pull over your head or to button it up, chances are you can put this shirt back on the shelf. The second test is to take a look in the mirror. Most crew T-shirts hit around the collarbone while v-necks can range from a few centimeters to a couple of inches below the clavicle. With collared shirts, check to see that the collar just touches your neck when fully buttoned.
Fit Challenge: Sleeves
Sleeve length and width are other key points in finding the best fit with men’s shirts. You probably guessed that taller people tend to have difficulty finding long enough sleeves, and vice versa for shorter individuals. However, the same issues arise for different body types, too. Say you’re around average height, but you have a wider torso. Chances are the shirts that fit your midsection are too long on your arms. Or, perhaps the length is just fine but you have thin arms. All of a sudden you look like a founding father in a puffy-sleeved shirt.
Sleeves can feel like the hardest hurdle to clear when it comes to finding the best-fitting men’s shirt. But don’t worry. Keep reading for our playbook on how to find your best fit in any type of shirt, long or short-sleeve.
How to Find Best-Fitting Short-Sleeve Shirts that Fit Well
Now that we’ve talked fit challenges, it’s time to answer the question: how to find short-sleeve shirts that fit well? Let’s get your summer wardrobe ready with tips and tricks to give your short-sleeve shirts a record high score.
Unless you’re going for an oversized look, we recommend short-sleeves hit at the midpoint of your bicep. Try on your shirt, then check that your shoulder seam is lining up. Now, look at the length of your shirt. Men’s shirts come in oversized and cropped lengths, too, but for a “standard” length shirt, aim for it hitting just below your belt. If you’re taller or have a longer torso, opt for a “Tall” size instead of sizing up. It will give you the length you need without adding extra bulk to your sides.
Next, check the fit on your chest and stomach. Generally speaking, if you see pull lines across your body, the shirt is too tight. If this is the only area where it feels too tight or too loose, play around with regular or slim-fit sizes. A slim size will cut closer to your body giving you a tailored fit while a regular will provide a more relaxed fit.
Ready to get into the nitty-gritty? Let’s zero in on some hacks for the best fit for men’s short-sleeve knit shirts and woven shirts. First up—be the king of casual with these short-sleeve T-shirts.
Find the Best-Fitting Short-Sleeve Knit Shirts for Men
In the world of shirts, the short-sleeve knit is typically the easiest to throw on without worry. It’s what makes the T-shirt man’s real best friend (just don’t tell your doggo that). But did you know that with a few adjustments, it can also become your best-fitting men’s shirt? Get ready—we’re about to shake up your closet game with these fit tips.
Graphic tees don’t have to be relegated to the loungewear trend or casual wear. Find a graphic tee that’s soft to the touch. Hold it up to a light source and make sure you can’t see right through it. Then check your fit markers. Does the bottom of the shirt hit where it’s comfortable? Can you move your arms freely without the sleeves catching in your armpits? Feeling good? Pair this shirt with dark wash denim and chukkas. Add style points with a shacket-style layer, and you’re ready to take it on a date night. Your wardrobe just got a whole lot more versatile.
Use the same strategy for finding the best-fitting men’s shirts with short-sleeve henley shirts, basic solid T-shirts, and even activewear. In fact, many activewear labels now carry knit tees in slim and regular sizes. This is a no-sweat solution if you often find yourself between shirt sizes. If you prefer your knits on the more business-ready side, opt for a polo. A great way to tell if this preppy classic fits correctly is to check where the buttons end. For a clean, professional look, the buttons should end at or above where your armpits start.
Stay Sharp in Short-Sleeve Button-Downs
Are you starting to get the hang of finding the best-fitting men’s shirt? Let’s keep the knowledge train going with a closer look at woven short-sleeve shirts. Whether you’re gunning for summer fashion trends or you just like to keep cool, a short-sleeve button-down is a closet essential. Check your fit markers. Try slim and regular fits. Still struggling to find what feels right? Look into different fabric options. Remember how we mentioned wider or athletic builds often need more room in the shoulders? This comes up the most often with woven shirts since they naturally have less stretch than a traditional knit shirt. Skim the label of woven short-sleeve shirts. Look for blends featuring fabrics like spandex or modal to give you the movement you need.
On the other side of the coin, if you don’t need as much room in your shoulders or around your torso, consider structured fabrics for a more tailored look. Give linen or 100% cotton shirts a try. These are style expert-approved for summer barbecues and retreats. They might even answer the question of what to wear to a summer wedding. Just check the invite first. The happy couple might want you to keep reading for long-sleeve shirt fit tips, too.
How to Find Long-Sleeve Shirts that Fit Well
Whether for the season, work or a special occasion, now’s the moment to find your best-fitting men’s long-sleeve shirt. Just like we mentioned earlier for short-sleeve shirts, the same rules of fit apply. Make sure your shoulders and shirt length line up. Explore your best fit by experimenting with regular and slim fits, tall and short fits. Got all that ready to go? Then let’s take a look at sleeve length and width.
Traditionally, a long-sleeve shirt should hit at the break of your wrist. If it’s cutting across your hand, it’s too long. If it’s hanging above your wrist, it’s too short. Usually, the exception to this rule is a sweater sleeve. These sleeves can hit at your wrist or the base of your thumb. For sleeve width, check that you can freely rotate your wrist to ensure the cuff isn’t too tight. Worried that your sleeve is too big? Pull the cuff away from your wrist. If you have more than an inch of extra fabric, the sleeve is probably too loose.
Now that we’ve waded into the pool of long-sleeve shirt fit, let’s cannonball into specifics for knits and wovens.
A No-Sweat Sweater and Knits Fit Guide
While we’re on the subject of finding the best-fitting men’s shirt, we can’t forget about sweaters and long- sleeve knits. There’s a little more leeway when it comes to how these types of shirts fit. These styles are meant to feel more relaxed, so the fit is more laid-back, too. Especially in the world of athleisure and loungewear, hems and sleeve lengths run longer and fit leans generous. However, if you prefer a tailored look or need a traditional fit for work, you can use the same fit markers.
Check that your shoulder seam hits where your shoulder ends. Make sure the bottom of the sweater or long-sleeve knit hits just below your belt line. The shirt also looks more tailored if the sleeves don’t bunch up or pull around your arms. Not finding the right fit? Try a size up in a pure cotton or wool knit or size down in a stretch knit like jersey or a wool-lycra blend. It might take some experimenting but trust us, your better sweater half is out there.
Look like a Leading Man in Long-Sleeve Button-Downs
The long wait is over. It’s time for the best-fitting men’s shirt: long-sleeve button-down edition. These shirts have a lot of the same fit considerations as the other shirts we’ve mentioned. But long-sleeve button-downs need a little extra TLC regarding shirt length.
If you’re on the hunt for a long-sleeve button-down for a night out or a casual work setting, chances are your shirt is untucked. In this case, a great way to keep your outfit looking balanced and proportional is to keep the shirt length around the midpoint of your fly. Of course, we know proportionality means different things for different bodies. The same thing goes for a well-fitting shirt. If you feel best when your torso looks longer, wear a shirt that goes past your fly. If you like the look of a shortened waist, go for a shirt that stops above your fly. We think you’ll look fly either way.
What about when you need to tuck in your shirt? Your trousers and belt are ready. What’s missing? A dress shirt. Dress shirts have longer hems since they’re counting on you needing the extra fabric to tuck. This is a key factor to look into short or tall-fit options if you tend to have too much or too little fabric in this area. Does the shirt look baggy around your waist once you do tuck it? If this happens, try a size down or go for a slim fit to find your best-fitting men’s shirt. Boom. You’re ready to show your office how workwear should fit, and be the best-dressed at your next RSVP-only event.
See? Finding the best-fitting men’s shirt isn’t an impossible task after all. Now that you’ve passed the class on fit, why not request a few new shirts in your next Fix?