How To Measure Your Shirt Length?

Clothing is of varying standard sizes based on the producing company. While you could always try the shirt on in a physical clothing store, it is entirely different when ordering one from an online store.

Knowing the size of your dress shirt is vital, and it ensures that you purchase the right-sized shirt online. It is also helpful when ordering a custom-sized shirt or asking a tailor to alter one for you.

Smiling man leaning back on the windowsill

Wearing the right-sized dress makes you appear modern, adequately dressed, and official. Regardless of the occasion, informal or formal, essential or luxury, correctly sized clothing will always make you look better.

So how do you measure shirt length? What are the various ways of doing it? Which parts should be measured? To learn all about the questions above, continue reading. But first, let us consider different dress shirt sizing.

Dress Shirt Sizing to Measure Shirt Length

Understanding how to measure shirt length can sometimes be a struggle for most people. Different sizing and style make finding a dress shirt that correctly fits you quite complex. However, that shouldn't be the case. Finding a shirt that fits and makes you feel and look good should be effortless. There are multiple types of sizing when it comes to Dress Shirts:

Numeric Sizing

Dress shirt with numeric sizing

This sizing method involves listing the dress shirt sizes by its neck size followed by the shirt's sleeve length. For instance, if a tag reads "17.3/32-35," it indicates the shirt has a sleeve length of 32-35 and a neck circumference of 17.3.

Numerically sized shirts might include the chest size sometimes. This type of sizing is helpful to people looking for a better-fitting dress shirt, and it might make a lot of difference. You will often find Numeric sizing used to measure men's formal shirts.

Alpha Sizing (S, M, L, etc.)

This style of sizing for a Dress Shirt is always hit or miss. The measurements differ between companies, meaning what may be medium for one company might be large or small for another company.

There are four main sizes of alpha-sized shirts; Small, Medium, Large, & Extra Large. However, as people have grown larger, particularly in the United States, manufacturers have added XXL, XXXL, etc. Conversely, XS, XXS, and similar small sizes appear in some brand lineups.

Alpha sizing means there aren't standard sizes between companies and have arbitrary definitions. As a result, sizing is undefined and random, meaning you'll most likely have to try the shirts on to find your best and most fitting dress shirt. This comical convolution of dress shirt sizing has its shortcomings. Alpha sizing has its place with less fitted and more casual looking dress shirts.

Best Sizing Approach

Perfect fit black dress shirt

Numeric measurements are vital for business shirts as they are more specific than alpha sizes. As a result, you are likely to get a more tailor-fitting dress shirt without any need for alternations. 

Alpha sizing also means fewer returns for the people buying the dress shirt online since they can select a shirt that properly fits them without necessary adjustments like resizing. 

Measuring Dress Shirt Length

Numeric sizing references sleeve measurements and neck measurements. However, numeric sizing also comes into play when measuring the length of a well-fitted dress shirt. There are 4 measurements to consider when coming up with the shirt length, and they include the neck circumference, waist length, chest circumference, and sleeve length.

Taking The Men's Dress Shirt Measurements

Tailor with tape measure on his neck

Although it seemed easy to measure the sleeves, neck, chest, and waist, if you as your nearest tailor, they would tell you it is at all that easy. For instance, the soft measuring tape is perfect for taking body measurements since you only wrap it around the part being measured and record the actual measurements.

If you do not have a measuring tape, you can still use a string instead. Then, measure the string with a stiff tape measure or a ruler to record the measurements. You need to measure the neck, waist, and sleeve length with the right tools. Below is how you should measure these parts:

Neck Measurements

Taking measurement of neck circumfrence

The neck measurement is vital to perform cautiously to avoid getting a poor-fitting shirt. Ensuring that you account for enough room to provide extra comfort to the neck is the most significant variable when taking an accurate neck measurement.

To get the correct neck measurement for your dress shirt, begin by warping the tape measure around your neck. Then, keeping the tape measure in place, slide one finger or two between the tape and the neck. This process allows or leaves some breathing space when you button the collar.

Sleeve Length

Sleeve length is measured from the center back of the neck, over the shoulder, and down to the hand. To ensure an accurate measurement, seek the assistance of a partner. Start by standing up perfectly straight, looking straight ahead with your arms relaxed at your side. You first want to identify the center back of the neck. Ensuring the individual measuring is looking straight ahead can help better eyeball the correct spot.

Tailor measures sleeve length

For the individual measuring, find the bump on the top of the vertebrae, or if he is wearing a shirt, you can easily find the spot on the shirt that is the center.

From the center spot below the neck, holding the tape measure, run along the top of the shoulder and over the outside of the deltoid. Hold the tape to the top of the deltoid so it can't move, and then follow it along his arm to his hand. Measure the center part of the meaty part of the back of his hand. Do not add any extra to your measurement to accommodate shrinkage. 

Chest Measurements

Tailor taking chest measurement

Begin by wrapping the tape around the backside and your chest's fullest part. Doing so means that the tape measure will run over the shoulder blades and the top of your chest.  Ensure you are holding the tape measure parallel to the surface you are stepping on to get accurate measurements. Pin the measuring tape's start between your arm and side. 

Next, level the measuring tape and wrap it around your chest. When getting the final size, take a small breath to allow a non-constricting and comfortable fit.

Waist Measurements

Tailor takes waist measurement

Consider your waist the height where you can confidently wear the pants regardless of the technicalities. If you aren't sure, measure around your torso about an inch below the belly button while keeping the tape measure parallel to the surface. When you measure shirt length, ensure that you stand naturally while putting a finger between the body and measuring tape.

Measuring The Length Of The Entire Shirt

Now that you've measured the lengths and circumferences of the chest, neck, etc., it's time actually to measure the length of the overall shirt. Again, you can use a string or a soft tape measure to measure shirt length.

Using a Soft Tape Measure

Tailor tape measure

Utilizing this method, you measure shirt length from the base of the back of the neck down to where you want the bottom of the shirt to end. Then, start the neck base right below your largest protruding vertebrae at the top of your shoulders, or if already wearing a dress shirt, the collar base, measure straight down to the bottom of the shirt.

If you wear your shirt tucked in, you want to measure roughly to the top of the crotch of the pants. If the shirt is worn untucked, you will subtract about 2 inches from this measurement. A common mistake is to underestimate the shirt length for a shirt that will be worn untucked. Keep in mind that the sides of the shirt curve up, and you don't want this to curve up above where the pants fall.

For men with significant bellies, you want to add 2 inches so that the front of the shirt can still go over and around the stomach while still tucking in securely. Again, it is helpful to be wearing a dress shirt when taking this measurement, and this allows you to see how low the tail of the shirt falls decides if you want to match or improve upon that length.

Using A String

A roll of string on a white background

This method is one of the more straightforward processes and utilizes just a string and tape measure. You can measure shirt length by following the steps below:

  1. Make a knot on one end of the string to denote the starting end.
  2. While holding the starting point against the base of the back of the neck, run the line down along the spine, repeating the process described above.
  3. Mark the location directly above the crotch.
  4. Transfer the string on a meter rule or a stiff tape measure to quantify the length and record it.

Using Your Favorite Shirt

tailor measures shirt length

This method is actually my favorite method, and when performed correctly, it ensures your ideal fit. It's simple; find your best-fitting and favorite shirt from the closet and follow below.

  1. Lay the shirt on a flat surface with the back of the shirt facing up
  2. Ensure the shirt is flat on the surface and wrinkle-free, running your hands down the back of the shirt to eliminate any bunching.
  3. use a soft tape measure and run it from the base of the collar to the bottom edge of the shirt

It's that simple!


Man in perfect fitting white dress shirt

When purchasing a shirt or visiting a tailor for a custom-designed dress shirt, it is crucial to know the length of the dress shirt. The overall shirt size determines the cost of the material and, most importantly, how well the dress shirt will fit you. Since not all medium, large, or small dress shirts have the same size, you must know which length suits you best. Remember, not all stores will allow you to put on the shirt to check whether it can fit you.

Knowing your shirt sleeve and neck sizes can be vital when purchasing a dress shirt online. Some companies use numeric sizing, which comprises the neck circumference and sleeve size.

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