How Do You Know If a Shirt Fits? (Men’s Fit Guide)

Last Updated: February 7, 2024

Buying a well-fitting shirt can make an enormous difference in your appearance. It can help you look more professional and put together.

You can tell if a shirt fits properly by making sure there are no noticeable gaps in the collar and that the shoulder seams match up with the edge of your shoulders. Additionally, a shirt that is the proper length will cover your midriff even when you raise your arms.

This article will examine in detail how to tell if your shirt fits properly or if it is too small or too large. We will also explore ways to estimate if a shirt will fit without trying the shirt on.

how to tell if a shirt fits

How to Tell if a Shirt is Too Small

Fitting dress shirts and t-shirts properly are best for accentuating your natural looks. A shirt that is too small can make you look larger than you are in all of the wrong places. It will also be uncomfortable and not give you the freedom to move and accomplish what you need to do.


First, let’s look at t-shirt fits, as there are fewer sizes and fewer places for a t-shirt to fit improperly.

You will want the end of the sleeves of your short-sleeved t-shirt to fall right on the middle of your bicep. Because everyone’s arms are different lengths, they may be slightly higher or lower.

Your t-shirt is too small if you raise your arms and your midriff shows. Ideally, the bottom of the t-shirt will fall around the zipper of your pants. Taller people may struggle more with finding t-shirts that are long enough proportionally. If tall sizing is available, that will fit you better than sizing up, as sizing up will also add more fabric around the sleeves and stomach.

Your t-shirt is too small if the seam of the shoulder does not match up with the edge of your shoulder. Hint: This will also apply to your dress shirts.

Dress Shirts

A well-fitting dress shirt is crucial for everyone’s wardrobe. It will help you in many scenarios and can take your overall look up a notch.

The three main places you need to check for fit on a shirt are:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Neck

Keep in mind that shirts off the rack are designed to fit as many bodies as possible. They may not be perfectly suited for yours, but you should still opt for finding the shirt that fits you the best out of the options you have. If you fit your chest, shoulders, and neck, you can go to a tailor to have the rest of the details fitted more perfectly.

Sit Down

One of the easiest ways to check if a shirt is too small is to sit down. If you sit down and the buttons pull, the shirt is too small and you will want to size up.

Check the Shoulder Seams

shoulder seams fit

Similarly to checking the fit of your t-shirt, you can make sure that the shoulders of your shirt are the right size by making sure the seams go to the edge of your shoulders. Your shirt is too small if the shoulder seams of the shirt end before your shoulder does.

How Do I Know if My Shirt Collar is Too Tight?

You can ensure that your collar is the right size by doing the finger test. This involves putting a finger or two between your neck and the collar. If you button up the shirt and cannot fit a finger between your neck and the collar, the shirt is too small. Many people recommend aiming for a shirt that has two fingers of space for maximum comfort.

How Do You Wear a Shirt that is Too Small?

It happens all the time. You bought a shirt that should fit, but in trying it on, it’s too small. Or maybe it sat in the back of your closet for so long that your body changed and your shirt does not quite fit like it used to.

If your t-shirt is too small, there are many things you can do. If your dress shirt is too small, your best option is to take it to a tailor and see if there are any seams they can let out to give you more space to move.

If your t-shirt is too small, one option for wearing it is to layer. It will not be as apparent that the sleeves are a bit short or that it is tight if you are wearing a flannel shirt over it. You can leave the flannel shirt unbuttoned for more flexibility.

Another option for a t-shirt that is too small is stretching it. You can do this by soaking your t-shirt in room-temperature water. Then, lay it out. Stretch it out and place something on the edges to hold it in that stretched position until it dries.

Be careful stretching it if you have a graphic t-shirt. The pattern may stretch and crack a bit with the process.

How to Tell if a Shirt is Too Big

how should a dress shirt fit

Just as a shirt that is too small can affect your appearance and limit your mobility, a shirt that is too big can be unflattering and impractical.

How to Know if Your T-Shirt is Too Big

Just as we talked about with shirts that are too small, it can be easier to find where the fit is wrong on a t-shirt than on a dress shirt.

Unless it is a baseball tee, you can tell if your t-shirt is too big by looking at the length of the sleeves. A proper-fitting t-shirt will have sleeves that fit the middle of your upper arm. You will know if the shirt is too big if the sleeves come much past your elbows.

Another sign that your t-shirt is too big is if the seams of the shoulders come past your natural shoulders.

when your t-shirt is too big

How to Know if Your Dress Shirt is Too Big

You will know your dress shirt is too big if it is baggy in several key areas.

If you can fit more than two fingers between your neck and the collar, you should probably size down in the collar of your dress shirt.

If there are more than one to two inches of fabric on either side of your stomach, you may want to get a smaller shirt or have a tailor take it in. This inch also applies to the sleeves. If it fits everywhere else except for the stomach, opting for a slenderer fit may be helpful.

Just like with the t-shirt, make sure the shoulder seams come to the edge of your shoulders.

Lastly, you will want to check the length of the sleeves on your dress shirt. Your sleeves should come right to the curve (also called a dimple) where your thumb and wrist meet.

How to Tell if a Shirt Will Fit Without Trying It On

If you want to purchase a shirt without trying it on, one of the easiest ways is to lay the shirt flat across your back. Check if the shoulder seams match up. This can help you make sure the general fit will be good.

It can also be wise to have your neck and arms measured by a tailor. Having a rough estimate of this size in your head can help you narrow down your search.