Dress Shirt Fit: Sleeve Length

With standard size brands, dress shirt sizes are often defined as a combination of Collar/Neck Size & Sleeve Length. 

For example, shirt size 16/34 means a Collar/Neck size 16 and a sleeve length of 34.

However, if you go ahead and measure your shirt sleeve (from the end of the shoulder to the end of the cuff), you will notice that this “sleeve length” does not match the number that the size mentions!

Why is that? 

The sleeve length is more than just this measurement. It is measured from the center back of the neck, just below the collar, over the shoulder and down to the end of the cuff. This is an industry standard way of measuring the sleeve length.

How is Dress Shirt Sleeve Length Measured?

To properly measure your Dress Shirt Sleeve Length in the way the industry does, let’s first understand 2 other measurements:

1. Shirt Arm Length

This measurement from the end of the shoulder to the end of the cuff, is what we call the Arm Length. 

For example, in the photo Arm Length is ~25.25 inches.

Shirt Arm Length Measurement

2. Shirt Shoulder Length

This measurement is taken at the top of the shirt from one sleeve seam to the other.

For example, in the photo below it is ~19 inches.

Shirt shoulder measurement

Once you have these 2 measurements, you can calculate or measure your Dress Shirt Sleeve length.

Dress Shirt Sleeve Length

Dress Shirt Sleeve Length = ½ Shoulder Length + Arm Length 

= 19/2 +25.25 

= 9.5+25.25 

= 34.75

And there you have it. For the shirt in the photos, the “Sleeve Length” is 34.75 inches.

When you size up using smart sizing on Airthreads, you don’t need to worry about this calculation. Our sizing automatically calculates the shoulder, arm length, and corresponding sleeve length for your size using your selections. So, simply size up with confidence in your fit.

How Long should your Dress Shirt Sleeve Length be?

With your arms hanging relaxed at your sides and the cuffs of the shirt unbuttoned, the sleeves should reach near the middle of the back of your hand. While this may seem too long, once your cuffs are buttoned they will prevent the cuff from sliding too far over your hand. And, the extra length will allow you to bend and raise your arms without the cuff sliding up over your forearm.


Other interesting articles about Dress Shirts:

1. Airthreads Guide to Dress Shirt Fit

2. The Anatomy of a Dress Shirt

3. Top 10 Cities for Custom, Made-to-Measure Dress Shirts