Dress shirt size charts: THIS is how you find your perfect fit

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At a Glance

  • There are two different types of sizing scales for dress shirts: (1) numerical sizing, which is based on neck and arm length, and (2) alpha sizing (XS, S, M, L, XL).
  • To correctly determine your dress shirt size, you need to take measurements of the following: (1) neck, (2) sleeve length, (3) chest, and (4) waist.
  • The most common dress shirt cuts are: (1) traditional or classic fit (loose fit throughout the torso), (2) modern fit (a slightly slimmer fit than a classic fit), (3) slim fit (cut is close to the body with a tapered waist and fitted torso), (4) extra or super slim fit (ideal for slender men as they are trimmer and sleeker than slim fits).
  • Dress shirts come with different collar types, including: (1) English spread collar (standard spread and size), (2) button-down collar (both sizes are fixed to the chest with buttons), (3) forward point collar (narrow spread), (4) Londoner collar (very wide spread).
  • There are also different types of cuffs: (1) barrel cuffs (cylindrical shape with one or two buttons), (2) mitered cuffs ( corner of each side of the shirt cuff is cut at a 45-degree angle above the button closure), and (3) french cuffs (completely square or rounded cuff shape and requires cufflinks).

For dress shirts you can typically find two different types of sizing scales:

  • Numerical sizing (based on neck and arm length): hereby the chest and waist measurements are derived from the neck and arm length. The sleeve mostly defines the length of the dress shirt. Depending on the cut (i.e. slim fit) the dress shirt has a looser or tighter fit at the chest and waist. The first number of the numerical sizing on the size tag refers to the neck width, the second number to the length of the sleeve. If the label shows for example“14 30”, then this means a neck width of 14 inches and a sleeve length of 30 inches.
  • Alpha sizing (XS, S, M, L, XL): while these dress shirt sizes are commonly used, they have the disadvantage of being quite arbitrary. Neck and sleeve length are very different between different brands and hence no clear guidelines are available. In addition, the sleeve length is normally less important than the chest width in this sizing scale.

Dress shirt size chart for men

Alpha SizingNeck (Inch)Sleeve (Inch)Chest (Inch)Waist (Inch)
XS13" - 13 1/2"3232" - 34"26" - 28"
S14" - 14 1/2"3335" - 37"29" - 31"
M15" - 15 1/2"3438" - 40"32" - 34"
L16" - 16 1/2"3541" - 43"35" - 37"
XL17" - 17 1/2"3644" - 46"38" - 40"
XXL18" - 18 1/2"36.547" - 49"41" - 43"

How do I know my dress shirt size?

  • Neck: The neck is the most important body part if it comes to finding the right size for your dress shirt.Either wrap the measuring tape around your throat while keeping a finger between the measuring tape and your neck or better: take a shirt that fits you well in the collar and measure from the center of the collar button to the end of buttonhole.
  • Sleeve: Measure from the center back of your neck, over your shoulder, down on the outside of your arm to your wrist. It’s best if you bend your arm slightly while measuring.
  • Chest:  Measure around fullest part of your chest. Hold the measuring tape just under your arms and then extend around your shoulder blades. Please, hold the measuring tape level and parallel to ground.
  • Waist: Measure just below your waist at the height where you normally wear your pants (approx. 1 inch below your belly button). Ideally, keep one finger between the measuring tape and your body.

What dress shirt cuts are most common?

  • Traditional or classic fit: this cut’s straight lines through the body is ideal for men with a wider chest and/or waistband. This fit is known to be cut more generously across the shoulders, chest, and waist. It has a loose fit throughout the torso. The classic fit tends to billow a bit when tucked in. Sometimes the classic fit also comes with longer shirttail to avoid the shirt is hanging outside the suit pants after sitting down.
  • Modern fit: If a dress shirt billows too much when you tuck it in, you need a slimmer fit. In this case, you might choose a modern fit shirt or even a slim fit. The modern fit falls between the classic and the slim fit.
  • Slim fit:  These dress shirts are cut close to the body with a tapered waist and fitted torso. They cut a clean line that contours to a man’s V-Shaped build.
  • Extra or Super Slim fit: As the name already indicates, these cuts are even trimmer and sleeker than the slim fits. They are ideal for more slender men.

What collar should I wear?

  • English spread collar: It is probably the most popular and well-known business collar. It comes with a standard spread and size. The English spread collar can be worn with or without a tie. Please make sure to unbutton the first button, when wearing it without a tie. The spread can accommodate larger and smaller tie-knots.
  • Button-down collar: It is characterized by a special kind of shirt collar. Namely by such a one, which is not reinforced, for example by so-called “collar sticks”. In order to avoid uncontrolled protruding or collapsing, both sides are fixed to the chest with buttons. In Europe, it is considered a faux-pas to wear button down collar with a tie. In the US or Asia, this is not an issue.
  • Forward Point: Is the most traditional collar type. It has a pretty narrow spread. The Forward point collar has a much smaller distance between the points than other collar styles while the length of the points remains the same. It is best suited for round face shape.
  • Londoner collar: A collar with a very widespread. It looks especially good with larger tie-knots. If you want a more modern look, the Londoner collar is a perfect choice. It is best suited for oval/angled face shape.

What are the right shirt cuffs?

  • Barrel cuffs: Are today the most commonly used cuffs. The sides of the cuff overlap and are fastened with a button. This creates a cylindrical shape, which apparently reminded some people of barrels. They are appropriate most cases, but shouldn’t be worn at white or black tie events. Barrel cuffs come mostly with one or two buttons on the cuff and one additional button further up at approx. the middle of the forearm.
  • Mitered cuffs: A sub-type of barrel cuffs where the corner of each side of the shirt cuff is cut at a 45-degree angle above the button closure. The mitered cuff can be seen as a dressier form of the barrel cuff.
  • French cuffs: French Cuff has either a completely square or rounded cuff shape and requires cufflinks to be worn. It is most commonly used with tuxedos but can also be worn with business suits.

How to clean my tailor-made dress shirt?

Even if tailor-made clothing is usually more durable than off-the-shelf clothing, proper care can increase the life expectancy of a tailored shirt. So you should pay attention to a few things when washing and ironing your shirts, then you will enjoy your shirt for a long time.

Of course, you can choose the convenient way of dry-cleaning, but the individual care of the shirts also has its advantages: it is gentler, particularly stubborn stains can be removed in a targeted way and you are independent of the cleaning opening hours.

Very important: Sorting correctly and following the care instructions

Before you start washing, you should sort the laundry by color: wash light with light and dark with dark. So that shirts do not get creased out of the drum after washing and are easier to iron later, it is advisable to only wash shirts together with shirts. Also, the machine should not be too full: Up to seven shirts are a good load of washing machines.

To be on the safe side before washing, take a look at the label of the garments you want to wash, because some materials are not suitable for a normal washing cycle, such as silk, or should not be washed in the machine at all. Suits, for example, are best kept in the dry-cleaning room.

Tips and tricks for washing your dress shirt

Before you put the shirts into the drum, you should fold up your collars and close the top button. In this way, dirt on the collar is better removed and the collar remains in shape. Also take a look at the cuffs, because if they are very dirty you can pre-treat them like the collar, with some liquid detergent or gall soap. If your shirt has collar sticks, as is the case with a shirt with Kent collar, these must be removed before washing. Otherwise, they may get lost, damage other pieces in the machine or damage the washing machine itself. For a particularly gentle wash, you should put the shirts in a net or pillowcase or turn them to the left. However, contamination will then not be removed as reliably.

Temperature, program and detergents

The ideal washing temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit. White shirts with stubborn stains can also be washed at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. An “easy-care programme” is particularly suitable, as it washes with more water and spins less – so shirts don’t get as creased and you have less ironing work. If possible on your machine, you can also reduce the number of spin cycles.

You should look at the detergent again for the color of your shirts: Solid detergent is suitable for white shirts, fine or colored detergents for colored shirts.

After the wash: Hanging and maintenance

As soon as the washing machine is ready, you should remove the shirts, hang them up and pull them straight. Of course, you can also put your shirts in the dryer. But make sure that the shirt is suitable for this and don’t use too high a temperature, otherwise, it will be over with the perfect fit of the shirt.

After drying, the last step in the care process is ironing.

How to iron a dress shirt properly?

Shirts that are not yet completely dry are particularly suitable. Alternatively, you can moisten dry shirts a little bit, for example with the spraying function of your iron or with a spray bottle.
Good preparation is everything. The right tool is not unimportant to the success of ironing. We recommend an ironing board or at least a smooth, heat-resistant and colorfast underlay. When ironing, it is best to use a steam iron with a spray function. Before you start ironing, look inside the label of the shirts you want to iron. There you’ll find an iron symbol with points. The number of dots indicates the ironing temperature you have to set on your iron. If you use a steam iron, you will need to fill it with water. It’s best to use distilled water, then don’t calcify your irons. Now pick up a washed shirt and off you go:

  • Step 1: Ironing the collar – It is recommended to start ironing the collar. Put the shirt with the inside side on the ironing board so that the collar and shoulder section lie on the board in front of you and the rest of the shirt hangs down. First iron the collar side, which is folded in later. With one hand – right-handed people take the right hand, left-handed people take the left hand – hold the iron, with the other hand you pull the collar of your shirt flat or put a little tension on it. Moves the iron from the tip of the collar to the center of the collar. That way you can avoid wrinkles. Now iron the collar from the other side, the one that will later point outwards. If your shirt has collar sticks, stick them into the collar when you have finished ironing it from both sides.
  • Step 2: Ironing the cuffs – Let’s now come to the cuffs, more precisely to a simple button cuff: put the cuff in front of you so that the buttons point up and iron them flat. Then iron the inside. You can iron into the sleeves, which makes it easier to iron the following sleeves. With a double cuff you have to do something different: fold the cuff apart lengthwise and iron it flat. Now fold the cuff so that the buttonholes lie on top of each other and press in the crease.
  • Step 3: Ironing sleeves – With the sleeves, we now come to the trickiest part of shirt ironing. But don’t worry, we’ll make it work. We first put a sleeve on the back of the ironing board, spread it out and smooth it. Make sure that the bottom fabric does not wrinkle. Now iron from the middle inwards and outwards, the edges and crease are ironed at the end. Then we repeat the whole thing on the other side of the sleeve. When turning around, make sure that the crease remains on the top of the sleeve and does not slip. If you have a sleeve ironing board, you can use it as well: Pull the sleeve over the board and iron it evenly until the entire sleeve is smooth. A sleeve ironing board is particularly suitable if you don’t like a crease on the top of your shirts, i. e. round ironed sleeves are preferred.
  • Step 4: Iron shoulder yoke – The so-called shoulder yoke, i. e. the shoulder section of the shirt, can best be ironed by placing the shirt with the inside on the narrow end of the ironing board. Start at one shoulder, push or pull the shirt around until the yoke is completely smooth.
  • Step 5: Iron button facing – First iron the button panel from the left. Then iron the button bar again from the right side. Make sure that you iron around the buttons.
  • Step 6: Iron front and back side – Finally, the front and back of the shirt come under iron: Just like for ironing the shoulder yoke, put the shirt with the inside on the ironing board. Tighten the shirt and iron the front, back and the other side of the shirt.

So, now you should have a perfectly ironed shirt in front of you so that you can cool down hanging down. Ironed shirts can also best be stored hanging on a hanger.

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