How to Measure Sleeve Length for Dress Shirts

Fit is important, so don’t mess up yours with bad sleeve length measurements. Learn how to measure sleeve length, get the right size and nail your fit for your wedding day or any day.

While it isn’t difficult to find the right sleeve length for your shirt, a lot of people miss the mark on this detail when they suit up. Maybe they just don’t know how a suit should fit, but it’s just as likely that they didn’t know how to measure for sleeve length but gave it a shot after Googling it.

And while that may sound like your exact situation, we’re not letting you step out with awkward sleeves. Read on for the right fit, whether you actually measure it out or not.

Understanding Shirt Sleeve Sizes

Before you learn how to measure sleeve length, there are a few things you need to know about reading dress shirt sizes.

The size label on a dress shirt will include two to three numbers. The first number—typically between 13 and 20—is the neck size. These are typically whole numbers, but some brands do offer dress shirts in half sizes.

The next number is the sleeve length, typically formatted with a dash when the size covers more than one sleeve length (e.g., 32–33). Most brands offer dress shirt sleeve lengths between 31 to 39.

Finally, you may see the “cut”—typically “slim” or “classic”—noted on the dress shirt size tag.

Measuring Sleeve Length for Your Dress Shirt Wedding Tux Grooms Look
How to Find Your Sleeve Length (Without Measuring)

As long as you understand how formalwear should fit, trying on dress shirts is an easy way to find your sleeve length and sizes. Make sure you’re wearing a light T-shirt and try on as many dress shirts as you need until you get the right fit. Once you find the right size, write it down. And remember to look out for “slim” or “classic” on the size tag—you’ll notice the difference if you get the wrong cut later.

Using Technology

Proprietary fit and sizing technology makes it easier than ever to find your dress shirt sleeve size. For many people, their own suit sizes are a little mysterious. That’s OK. The BLK Tux asks simple questions that most people already know the answers to: height, weight, age, body shape and shoe size. If you know anything about your fit preferences (slim, classic, etc.) or formalwear sizes, they will use that too. If not, that’s fine. Then, the data gathered from hundreds of thousands of customers is used to calculate the most probable sizes for your perfect fit.

How to Measure Sleeve Length

If you are renting from a traditional brick-and-mortar tux shop, we’ve got you. Below are instructions for taking the measurements for sleeve length and dress shirts—be as accurate as possible for the best results.

Neck Measurement
Measure around the fullest part of your neck, but don’t measure too tightly—a finger or two should fit between the measuring tape and your neck.

Shoulder Measurement
Wear a shirt that fits you well and measure the distance between armhole seams across your back.

Sleeve Measurement
Keep your shoulders relaxed and arms down at your sides. Hold the measuring tape at the edge of your shoulder (the armhole), and measure straight down to where your wrist meets your hand.

Tips for Getting Sleeve Length Measurements

There are benefits to having your measurements taken professionally, and expert guidance can really help. If you’re not confident in your ability to measure yourself, and fit technology isn’t an option, use the following tips to make the most of your fitting.

1. Always wear a dress shirt to get fitted. Give the person taking your measurements a good idea of how you like your formalwear to fit.
2. Bring a photo of the fit you want. If you have a specific look you’re going for, bring a photo for reference. If you don’t, you’ll have to trust the eye of the person taking your jacket measurements.
3. Don’t argue with the pros. If they make a recommendation you didn’t expect, ask questions and get their opinion before you bail completely.