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How to measure for a shirt

If you’re putting together a smart casual or formal outfit, you will want to ensure that you look your best and that every item of clothing complements each other. As well as choosing styles, colours and materials you’re happy with, an important factor in ensuring that your outfit works is by checking that you’ve picked the correct sizes.  

In some cases, you may be able to guess the correct size using a general rule of thumb or basing each size on existing items of clothing, However, if you want every item of clothing to be perfectly fitted, it would be advisable to measure accordingly.   

In this blog, we offer instructions on measuring for a shirt as well as details on how to determine the correct size based on your measurements.

How to measure shirt size

When it comes to measuring correctly for a shirt, several key measurements are needed. Below we explain how to measure for each of these areas including the chest, waist, collar and sleeve length.

An older man having his chest measured for a shirt.

How to measure a man's chest for a shirt

A common measurement for determining the size of a shirt is the chest size. Often used for formal clothing, understanding your chest measurement could help with choosing the correct size of dress shirts and blazers.   

Steps for measuring chest size for a shirt:   

  1. Stand up and make sure you’re upright and not slouching to avoid taking an inaccurate measurement. 
  2. Wrap a measuring tape under your armpits and push it as high up as possible. 
  3. Connect the tap to take a measurement, ensuring it’s a natural fit and not too tight or too loose. 
  4. Once you’ve determined the correct measurement, add on two inches and round up the end result to the nearest full inch.   

You can then identify the correct chest size by basing your measurement alongside the sizes below:   

  • Extra extra small - between 32 and 34 inches 
  • Extra small - between 34 and 36 inches 
  • Small - between 36 and 38 inches 
  • Medium - between 38 and 40 inches 
  • Large - between 40 and 42 inches 
  • Extra large - between 42 and 44 inches 
  • Extra extra large - between 44 and 46 inches  

How to measure waist size for a shirt

Fitted formal shirts often require a waist measurement as it allows the bottom of the shirt to sit close to the body, making for a slick and sophisticated look. Although it may not be applicable for every shirt, it may be worth having this measurement in case it’s needed.   

  1. Steps for measuring waist size for a shirt:   
  2. Stand up straight and avoid slouching. Wrap measuring tape around your waist in the space between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips. 
  3. Check that the measuring tape is tight around the waist but not so much that it’s constricting. 
  4. Breathe out and take the measurement based on the length of the tape at this point.   

Using the measurement you’ve taken, determine the correct waist size using the sizes below:   

  • Extra extra small - 34 inches 
  • Extra small - 36 inches 
  • Small - 38 inches 
  • Medium - 40 inches 
  • Large - 42 inches 
  • Extra large - 44 inches 
  • Extra extra large - 46 inches

How to measure collar size on a men's shirt

A collar size is a common unit of measurement in shirts. If the collar is too loose, it can look wrong and make it difficult to wear a tie or bowtie correctly. Likewise, if the collar is too tight, it can be uncomfortable and could cause harm to the neck or damage to the shirt.   

Steps for measuring collar size for a shirt:   

  1. Make sure your head is upright and your neck isn’t slumped or positioned unnaturally. 
  2. Wrap measuring tape around your neck, ideally placing it at the bottom of your Adam's apple. 
  3. Check that the measurement isn’t too tight or too loose before making a note of the figure in inches.  

Identify the correct collar size by basing your measurement on the sizes below:   

  • Extra small - between 14.5 and 15.5 inches 
  • Small - between 15.5 and 16 inches 
  • Medium - between 16 and 17 inches 
  • Large - between 17 and 18 inches 
  • Extra large - between 18 and 19 inches 
  • Extra extra large - 20 inches or above  

How to measure shirt sleeve length

Nobody wants their shirt sleeves to hang out of the arms of their blazer or get tightly stuck halfway up their arm. Due to this, it’s important to get the shirt sleeve length right.   

Steps for measuring the sleeve length for a shirt:   

  1. Stretch one of your arms out away from your body. 
  2. Using measuring tape, measure from the centre of your back to the centre of your shoulder. 
  3. Measure from the centre of your shoulder to where you would like your sleeve to end, usually around the wrist. 
  4. Add the two measurements together, and this will be your sleeve length.   

Based on the measurement you’ve recorded, you can determine your sleeve length based on the sizes below:   

  • Extra small - 7 inches 
  • Small - 7.5 inches 
  • Medium - 8 inches 
  • Large - 8.5 inches 
  • Extra large - 9 inches

How to measure shirt length

Not all shirts include the length. However, it may be an important factor when choosing a fitted shirt or formal dress shirt.   

Measuring the correct shirt length is a simple process. All you need to do is take a measuring tape and measure from the centre of the back of your neck to wherever you want the shirt to end at the bottom of your back. You may decide to have a more free flowing shirt or something shorter, with the length depending on your own personal preference and the type of shirt you’re measuring for.   

Using this measurement, determine the most suitable length based on the below sizes:   

  • Small - 29 inches 
  • Medium - 29.5 inches 
  • Large - 30.5 inches 
  • Extra large - 31 inches

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