Finding the Perfect Dress Shirt Sleeve Length

Finding the Perfect Dress Shirt Sleeve Length


Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

Getting the sleeve length on men’s dress shirts right can be a tricky thing, and it has huge impact on the overall effect of your shirt. If your shirt sleeves are too short, it might look like you outgrew your shirt. If the sleeves are too long, it might look like you borrowed a shirt from your dad.

The most important thing to keep in mind when figuring out the perfect sleeve length for your build is your comfort and tastes. When a shirt sleeve fits correctly, it should look and feel good on your body. With that in mind, here are the accepted guidelines for how your sleeve length should fit.

With the Cuffs Unbuttoned…

With the cuffs completely unbuttoned and your arms relaxed at your sides, your shirt sleeves should fall to the middle of the back of your hand. Put another way, your sleeve should hit at about the level of your lowest thumb joint. And put yet another way, your shirt sleeve should fall about halfway between your wrist and the end of your palm:

With the Cuffs Buttoned…

When you button your cuffs, the sleeve should rest gently over your wrist, scraping the lower pad of your palm. WIth the cuffs buttoned, you should be able to fit two fingers between your wrist and the sleeve. You should be able to get your sleeves on and off without unbuttoning the cuffs.

You should be able to grab any shirt out of your closet and know that it’s going to fit perfectly, feel great, and stand out from the crowd. At Original Stitch, you can customize everything from the collar style to the buttons to the interior cuff fabric. Start designing now.

Signs that Your Sleeves are Too Long

More than half an inch of cuff shows when you put on a jacket. Your buttoned cuffs fall over part of your hand. Or your unbuttoned cuffs fall down to your knuckles.

Signs that Your Sleeves are Too Short

Your cuffs don’t show at all when you put on a jacket. You have a hard time buttoning your cuffs. When you bend or raise your arms, your sleeves pull up your forearms.

Signs of Dress Shirt Sleeves that Fit Just Right

When you put on a jacket, about a quarter inch to a half inch of cuff shows. (The exact amount of cuff showing is up to your personal tastes.) When you move your arms around, your buttoned cuffs stay in place, resting comfortably at your wrists. Your sleeves don’t billow at the wrist when your cuffs are buttoned, nor do they shift up your forearm as you move.

Measuring Your Sleeve Length

If you’re ordering a custom shirt, you’ll need to know your sleeve length. The easiest way to do this is to put on one of your shirts that fits exactly the way you like and check the label to see what the sleeve length is. If none of your shirts seem to fit quite right, you can head into a department store and do the same thing.

The proper method for measuring your sleeve length requires the help of another person. Grab a friend and a fabric measuring tape, and follow these steps:

  1. Have the friend place the end of the tape at the back center of your neck, just below where your collar sits.
  2. Run the measuring tape smoothly over the end of one shoulder. The tape should run along the bone in the center of your shoulder.
  3. Then run the tape down the length of your relaxed arm to the middle of the back of your hand (where the sleeve should fall with the cuffs unbuttoned).

The total length from the middle of the back of your neck to the back of your hand is your sleeve length. Round your measurement up to the nearest half inch or the nearest centimeter. If you’re concerned about shrinking, add an extra centimeter to be safe. (It’s much easier to get sleeves shortened than it is to lengthen them.)

Here’s a quick video to show you how to measure your sleeve length correctly:

Original Stitch’s hand-made, custom dress shirts ship in just fifteen days, and you can customize every aspect of your shirt from the inner collar fabric to the button color. With over a billion possible combinations, the shirt you design for yourself will be a perfect statement of your personal, original style. Start designing your next favorite shirt now.