One of the most crucial elements in a man’s wardrobe is the button-up shirt, but just like any other piece of apparel, if your shirts don’t fit properly, they won’t do you any good.
Make sure your clothes are working for you rather than against you.
To that end, this article will show you how to properly fit your button-up shirts.
We need to be clear on two things before we talk about shirt fit.
Button-up vs. Button-down
A button-up shirt is any shirt that fastens down the middle with buttons. The word “button down” refers to collars that are fastened to the shirt using a button.
The word “button down” is now commonly used to refer to button-up shirts. For the sake of clarity, I refer to a button-up shirt as a button-up shirt and I use the term button down when I’m talking about at the collar.
Remember that some button-up shirts have button-down collars if you’re still perplexed.
Casual Button-ups vs. Dress Shirts
The second issue to clarify is the difference between dress shirts and casual button-ups.
Button-up shirts are available in a variety of formalities, but the majority fall into one of two categories: casual or dress.
The length of the shirt is the key distinction between these two. Because dress shirts are intended to be worn tucked in, they are usually longer.
Because they’re supposed to be worn untucked, casual button-ups are shorter in length and feature a somewhat less curved hem.
Many shirts these days have a hybrid length that allows you to wear them tucked or untucked.
But, if you look in my closet, you’ll notice that I have two different styles of button-ups. I’m going to wear my dress shirts tucked in, and then I’m going to wear my casual button-ups untucked.
Other differences exist as well.
Hidden plackets or a clean chest without a pocket are common features of dress shirts. They may have French cuffs, but the length is the primary distinction.
The most common error men make with button-up shirts is leaving them untucked. Just because your shirt is untucked doesn’t make it casual. You’re simply dressed casually in a formal shirt. It has an odd appearance.
But, other from length, button-up shirts should all fit in the same way.
Let’s speak about fit.
How Should a Button-up Shirt Fit
I always suggest a fitted but not too tight look. I don’t think your shirts should be painted, but they also shouldn’t be too baggy.
You may be confident that your shirts will look just as excellent in five or 10 years if you choose this middle-of-the-road fit.
Let’s begin with the collar at the top.
You should be able to button your shirt’s top button without difficulty. It’s probably too tight if you can feel your jugular beating against your collar when you button the top button.
One or two fingers should be able to fit between your collar and your neck. Basically, your shirt shouldn’t make you feel uneasy when it’s buttoned all the way up.
This is especially critical with dress shirts because you’ll definitely wear a tie with them at some point, and a tie requires you to button the top button.
Your shirt, on the other hand, can be a little too big if there’s a visible gap between the collar and your neck.
This is a typical issue for people with slim necks like myself, but when in doubt, it’s better to have a slightly too loose collar than one that’s too tight. Because you can get it fixed at the tailor if it’s too loose.
Shoulders cannot be fixed by a tailor. So you want a perfect fit right out of the box.
The construction of all button-up shirts is essentially the same. These armholes and shoulder seams are created when the sleeves are connected to the body.
These two shoulder seams should be positioned directly on top of your shoulders. If you feel your shoulder, you’ll discover that there’s a protruding bone towards the end. The acromion is the part of your shoulder that marks the end of your arm.
The shoulder seam should sit just on top of that bone if your shirt fits properly.
It’s fine if the seam extends beyond that bone. It doesn’t need to be flawless. However, you should avoid shirts that are so large that the seam sits on your triceps. That suggests the shirt is most likely too big all over for your body type.
When you swing your arms in front of you, you’ll probably feel some discomfort and pulling across the top of your back if the shirt is too tiny. This indicates that the shirt’s shoulders are a tad too thin.
Swing your arms in front of your body a little bit when trying on shirts, and a little pulling is good. However, if it pulls excessively, the shoulders may be too tight.
I wish I could give you an accurate measurement, like you should only be able to pull two inches of excess fabric on either side of your chest, but shirt fit is quite subjective, and it will depend on whether you want a very slim fit or a more traditional fit.
Slim-fit shirts hug your body closely. On either side of your chest, there isn’t a lot of extra fabric. I can get about one inch on either side of my shirts if I pinch them.
You could probably obtain two to three inches of extra cloth on either side of your shirt if you want a more traditional fit. That’s perfectly OK, and it’s probably more comfortable.
Shirts that are too slim or too tight-fitting across the chest should be avoided. The shirt is probably too tight if the second and third buttons are being dragged away from your chest, producing a space between your pecs.
For guys with a more athletic frame, this is a regular issue.
The option is to tailor a shirt that fits well in the chest or even one that is a bit too loose in the chest.
A lot of guys will face the exact opposite issue. The shirts will have a little too much room in the chest. That’s a simple adjustment at the tailor’s shop.
The majority of men will have a slight drop from their chest to their stomach.
It’s possible that you have a 38-inch chest and a 32-inch waist. That’s a six-inch drop, which means your shirt will need to taper somewhat through the torso to achieve that great v-shaped fit.
Other males will require a little more area in the middle. Any taper will result in a shirt that is too tight.
I recommend sticking to the same rules I mentioned for the chest fit.
Your shirt may be too loose if you can pinch more than two inches of excess fabric on either side of your stomach. If it’s tugging across your belly button or there are any gaps in the placket, it’s probably too tight.
You should constantly look in the mirror and make the best decision you can.
The length and width are two important factors to consider.
Let’s start with the width.
I prefer a slim fit that isn’t too skinny. It will be uncomfortable and will actually hinder your movement if your sleeves are too slim. However, if they’re overly baggy, they won’t help you look better.
Because many shirts these days are cut somewhat large, I recommend selecting slim fit shirts, even if you aren’t particularly slim. They seem to fit a little better in the arms, in my opinion.
Slim fit shirts, on the other shirt, may be overly tight if you have broad biceps and forearms. You might prefer a more classic fit.
Make sure the end of your sleeve cuff reaches right around your wrist bone when it comes to sleeve length. It’s fine if it extends past this bone and rests directly on top of your wrist. It’s fine if it comes to a halt just short of this bone. It isn’t a precise science.
Sleeves that are overly long, on the other hand, should be avoided. Unless you’re extremely tall or have extremely long arms, you’re unlikely to come across sleeves that are overly short.
However, I notice a lot of men wearing shirts with very long sleeves. If you’re unsure, go for sleeves that hit right about the wrist bone.
When you put on a jacket, your shirt sleeves should protrude by about a quarter inch from the jacket sleeves. Another effective approach to check the length of your sleeves is to do so.
Finally, let’s discuss about the shirt’s overall length.
Dress shirts, as previously stated, are longer than casual button-up shirts. Because you’ll be wearing your dress shirt tucked in, it doesn’t matter if it’s too long.
But, as a visual guide, when a dress shirt is untucked, the longest section of the back tail will hit somewhere between mid butt and the bottom of your butt. Around the top of your thighs, the front of your shirt will come to an end.
A dress shirt that is a little too long is preferable than one that is a little too short, since if it is too short, it will come untucked throughout the day, especially when you raise your arms up.
It’s not such a huge problem if it’s overly long. There will be some excess fabric down there, but I’d rather have a neat tuck that stays put all day.
Shirts with a casual button-up collar should be cut shorter. The front should hit approximately the middle of the thigh. It shouldn’t go any further than the base of your fly.
It should come to a halt in the back approximately mid-butt.
Some shirts are the perfect length for you to wear tucked in or out. But I have two types of shirts: casual and longer dress shirts.
Common Button-up Shirt Fit Problems
Let’s talk about some of the most common fit issues and how to remedy them now that we know how a button-up shirt should fit.
The most prevalent error I find with men wearing button-up shirts, whether casual or formal, is that they wear shirts that are too big.
Most guys would do well to size down, or try slim fit if they’re wearing a conventional or classic fit.
This will address a number of issues, including sleeve length and width, collar width, chest and torso room, and overall length of the shirt.
Sleeves that are simply too long are another prevalent issue.
This is mostly a concern for men of lower stature, but it can also be a problem for larger men with shorter arms for their bulk.
You can take your shirts to the tailor to solve this problem. This is a very simple and inexpensive change.
If your shirt is excessively baggy, you can have it taken in while you’re there. They’ll simply slim it down for you. This is quite inexpensive, and almost any tailor can do it.
You can roll your sleeves up if you don’t want to get your shirt tailored and your sleeves are too long.
You can also wear a sweater if your shirt is too big or your sleeves are too long. Use your shirt primarily as a base layer. This is a bit risky because if you get too hot and have to remove your top layer, your shirt will no longer fit.
You can always get custom made shirts if you’re having problems finding shirts that fit off the rack.
Almost every one of my dress shirts is manufactured to order. Getting a custom-made shirt is now easier and more affordable than it has ever been.
There are also a number of specialist brands that cater to longer and shorter lengths. You can also experiment with brands that come in a variety of lengths, even if they are only available in standard sizes.
You can get a shirt reduced at the tailor if you want to wear it untucked but it’s too long. If you cut off more than one or two inches, keep in mind that the proportions of the shirt may be thrown off, since the bottom button may be too close to the hem in some cases.
As a result, I propose button-up shirts as both a dress and a casual shirt. If you’re going to get a casual shirt, make sure it’s a shorter length shirt that’s meant to be worn untucked.
I hope this advice has helped you understand how to properly fit your button-up shirts.