TVG Guide: Buying A Well Fitted Shirt

There are few key things to look out for when purchasing a new shirt, whether it is of the formal or casual type. To look your best we at TVG bang on about ‘fit’ more than anything else and this is no different when buying shirts. Unlike a t-shirt or polo, dress shirts generally have no stretch in them, therefore fit becomes the top priority. Follow this guideline to ensure your shirts are looking and feeling their best.

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  1. Measure your neck: When the top button is done up you should be able to slide a finger between the shirt and your neck. I always buy shirts with the expectation that I will wear a tie with it at some point; therefore the neck has to fit perfectly. Learn and remember your neck size as it forms the basis for all shirt purchases.
  2. Shoulders: Like a blazer, the shoulders determine your sizing and you work around the arms/body afterwards. The seam should be sitting on the corner of your shoulders, not hanging over, and not pulling up and over. I like to have a comfortable but tailored fit under the arms, don’t go too tight. You should be able to move freely.
  3. Body: The key here is no ballooning, and no bulging. This is where styles come into it. Most men can find a shirt that fits the shoulders and neck, the next step is finding a brand/cut that suits your body shape. Too big around the body and you’ll look like a sail, too small and you’ll look cling wrapped. Billowing folds don’t hide imperfections; they amplify them, so pick a style that closely and comfortably fits your torso.
  4. Sleeve length: The common rule is that sleeves when unbuttoned should reach just past your wrists. But I’d recommend bringing your favourite navy blazer along to check how the cuffs protrude from its sleeves. Ideally you want minimum 1-2cm showing when wearing a jacket. Once again fit is vital, you don’t want to be swimming in your sleeves, but if you can’t bend your arms it’s too tight.
  5. Cuffs: This comes down to occasion, style and personal preference. I always lean towards a button cuff (single or double) as it’s more usable and you’re not fumbling around with cufflinks. In saying that everyone must have a white poplin French cuff shirt, no arguments.

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Some side notes:

  • Slim-fit is not always the slimmest fit – know your brands and their terminology around styles.
  • There are plenty of collar types, keep it to 4; straight point, semi-spread, cut away, and buttoned down.
  • Tuck in dress shirts. They’re made to be tucked in and wearing them out doesn’t make you look cool/young/hip.
  • Purchase a set of collar stays to keep things in order. There’s nothing worse than a collar doing the double reverse wave. I’d recommend the 4-pair set from TM Lewin for $50.

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