Size For Dress Shirt

To get the perfect size for Dress shirt is quite difficult. Now before ordering a shirt, you need to know about the collar band and sleeve length of the shirt. Collar band size is given in inches, where as sleeve length is correlated with your body measurement. The cuff measurement will be a matter of choice completely, depending on your taste. Some people prefer big cuffs while others like smaller ones. Choosing the right size is vital because if it is either too tight or too loose, you won’t be comfortable while wearing it.

Size For Dress Shirt

How Standard Sizing Works

Dress shirts rely on two measurements, neck size, and sleeve length. The neck size appears first, and increases by half inches range from 13″ to 19″. The second number is the sleeve length. Every shirt has two length options that depend on which of the buttons you are using on the cuff. A good dress shirt manufacturer will also provide a chest measurement range within a given size.

100 years ago, you (or your tailor) knew more than just your neck and sleeve length, but mass production needed a way to standardize sizes that maximize output for soldier’s uniforms.

Manufacturers used the neck size and arm length to inform mean measurements for the torso and garment length to create the standard sizing we still see today. 

Standard Men's Dress Shirt Sizes

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Men’s Dress Shirt Sizes

dress shirt size, fit, and measurement

how to measure neck circumference
how to measure sleeve length

Dress shirt sizes can be either alphabetical or numeric. But there are several factors you need to consider in order to find the shirt size that fits you perfectly.

First and foremost, we live in a very different fashion period than our grandparents did. Back then, a man would seldom be caught without his suit jacket on.

Styles have become more relaxed since then. For example, modern styles often involve dress pants and a shirt on full display. Also, men’s shirts are not always hidden under a jacket anymore.

That is why it is imperative to be sure your dress shirts are a good fit. When your dress shirt is freely seen, there is little room for error, even in sizing.

Dress Shirt Sizes

When you are purchasing an off-the-rack shirt, you have limited size choices. That’s because the clothing industry cannot account for every body shape.

how should a dress shirt fit

It would not be a realistic business model, and it would lead to a lot of waste. But it can work as best it can with generalizations. Instead, they take an average run of measurements, which results in shirts more or less fitting.

Still, shirts come in all kinds of shapes and sizes; each one is unique. That’s because there hasn’t been set a standard for what a company considers, let’s say, medium size.

The good thing is that dress shirt sizes are generally denoted by neck circumference and sleeve length. And when you are purchasing off-the-rack, sizing is either alpha or numerical. 

Alpha vs. Numerical Dress Shirt Size Enumeration

Numerical sizing will be listed by neck size, followed by sleeve length. For example, a tag that reads “15.5/32-33” would indicate the neck circumference is 15.5 inches, and the sleeve is 32-33 inches long.

Sometimes dress shirts with numerical sizing may include a chest size. This is extraordinarily helpful in helping to achieve a better fit. It can make a world of difference.

Alpha sizing is much more hit or miss. Each company has a different idea of what measurements define a large, so the sizes end up varied. A small for one company might be a medium for another.

There is no standard sizing between clothing manufacturers, and their definitions feel arbitrary. Sizing is random and undefined, so you need to try on shirts to find which size will fit you best.

However, if you know your measurements, you can make an educated guess about which size you need.

Different Dress Shirt Sizes

If you don’t want to or can’t try on a shirt (for instance, if you are ordering online), here is a good rule of thumb to know when buying a new dress or tuxedo shirt.

  • An XS or extra small dress shirt will generally have a 13.5-14.5 inches collar circumference.
  • S (small) often runs 14.5-15.5 inches.
  • An M will usually have a neck size of 15.5-16.5 inches.
  • L tends to run 16.5-17.5 inches.
  • XL has a 17.5-18 inches collar circumference.
  • The final size offered off-the-rack is XXL, with а neck size of 18-18.5 inches.
different dress shirt sizes by country

Again, these dress shirt sizes are generalizations. They are helpful in giving the buyer a place to start when buying a ready-to-wear shirt but are not written in stone.

If purchasing an alpha-sized dress shirt online, check their return policy before submitting an order. You may need to return your shirt for a different size.

The upside is that then you will have figured out that company’s sizing methods. You can freely order from them in the future, knowing their shirt is bound to fit you.

How to Determine Your Dress Shirt Size

As we’ve established, you will need to know your general size to buy a standard dress shirt. You can go to a tailor or dry cleaner to have somebody take your measurements for you.

You can also do this easily at home, though you may want another person to help you with part of it. A tailor’s measuring tape (made of fabric or flexible plastic) is the best tool to use.

If you do not have one, you can use string, then lay it flat and measure with a ruler.

  1. Measure your neck circumference: Put the tape measure low, near the base of your neck. Be sure it is snug, but not very tight. Add ½ inch to ensure your collar is comfortable.
  2. Round up to the next nearest neck measurement size: If your tape measure reads 15.5 inches after adding the extra half-inch, round this up to 16 inches.
  3. Measure your sleeve length: Hold the tape measure at the nape of your neck. Follow the line of your arm down to your wrist. Add one inch and round up to the nearest sleeve size.

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