5 Annoying Problems With Dress Shirts (and How to Fix Them)

Having a perfectly tailored look is essential to great style. If your clothing doesn’t quite fit right, it throws off your entire look. One of the most challenging pieces to tailor correctly is a suit, because when you purchase one off the rack it never quite fits right, and finding a tailor that knows what he or she is doing when it comes to suiting is also a challenge. One piece to the overall suit puzzle that is constantly overlooked is the dress shirt. A well-fitting shirt is crucial to successfully wearing a suit or work outfit, and there’s a good chance that at this very moment, your dress shirt fit is off. It’s time to fix that.

One company that has brought this sizing issue to the forefront is the online shirting company Stantt, which recognizes the misfitting shirt needs of men. According to the company, off-the-rack button downs just aren’t cut for most body types. “Walking through the city you see a bunch of guys just swimming in material,” says Kirk Keel, one of the co-founders of Stantt, to Maxim. Keel and his colleagues, after looking at 2,000 male body scans for market research, concluded that most easily accessible shirts don’t fit 85% of body types. So, what’s a man to do if he’s unsure if his dress shirt fits properly? Here are some issues you might run into when trying on and buying a dress shirt, and how they should properly fit you.

1. You have a “muffin top”

Folded colorful dress shirts, clothes

Your muffin top doesn’t look too good. | iStock.com

“Sometimes the shirt is just too big in the waist so when you tuck it in, it’s blousing out,” Keel tells Maxim. He advises that if you can grab a fistful of fabric, even after the shirt is tucked in at the waist, then your shirt doesn’t fit and you’re going to want to go for something that’s a little more tailored. If available, grab the “tailored” or “slim” version of the shirt you selected.

2. Your shoulder seam falls beyond your shoulder

young man in an elegant velvet suit

You can tell if a shirt fits right by the shoulder seam. | iStock.com/feedough

As off-the-rack shirt options can be off when it comes to fit, Primer explains one of the biggest indicators of a proper fit is having the shoulder seam meet the corner of your shoulder bone. This is the point on your shoulder that is farthest from the center of your chest. When trying on a dress shirt, try moving your arms around: The armholes of the shirt should always be comfortable when you’re moving your arms, which is essentially something you do all day, and they should not be so tight as to cut into your underarm. However, it’s also important to avoid excessive space there. So, how can you tell for sure? Try this: An easy way to see if your armholes on your shirt are too low is by tucking your shirt into your pants. If lifting your arms at a 45-degree angle lifts your shirt out of your pants more than an inch or so, they’re too low.

3. You’re unsure of where the sleeves should fall

man in a dress shirt

Know where your sleeves should hit. | iStock.com

“This one is pretty simple,” Keel explains to Maxim. “It’s just either too long or too short.” The optimal sleeve length has the cuff hitting where your thumb joins your wrist while your arm is hanging straight down.

4. The collar is choking you

dress shirts

Make sure your collar fits comfortably. | iStock.com

This is never a good thing, and of course if this happens then your shirt is definitely not the right fit for you. The collar of your shirt should lay on your neck without constricting it, and as a general rule, you should be able to put two fingers in the shirt without it cutting into your neck. If you can fit several more fingers, then your shirt may be too loose. The reverse is also true: If you can’t fit in two fingers, then your shirt is too tight. Just remember, you’re wearing this all day, so comfort is crucial.

5. You have an overdose of fabric on your chest

man in a suit and dress shirt

You may need to size down if there’s too much excess fabric. | iStock.com

The torso should be slim enough that your shirt does not have more than three to four inches of fabric when you pull lightly on your shirt from either your chest or your stomach. Your shirt should in no way be hugging your skin to the point where your buttons are about to pop, either. Again, comfort is key, but it’s best to find that happy medium between perfect fit and comfort. The simple fix here is to size down.