The Business Shirt Pt 4 – The Fit
by Clare Sheng
Imagine an important client or your boss walking into your office unannounced. You have taken off your jacket because it’s too hot. You are in your business shirt with your sleeves rolled up because they are too long. The fabric on your collar is bubbly after being in the wash a couple of times, and the body of the shirt is much too large, ballooning around the sides with one side untucked. Is this the professional image you want to portray?
In Brisbane, it is too hot to wear a jacket all the time, so most men take it off during the day, exposing their ill-fitting shirts. Men often think that a shirt is not worth the effort to have altered, as it is worn under the jacket, and it is sometimes seen as a cheaper garment.
This is not the case!
A shirt should be one of the most important investments in your wardrobe. The fabric sits right against your skin all day, so it should look crisp yet feel soft. The fit should be tailored against your shape, the length correctly adjusted, and the hem should always be firmly tucked in, so you look well put together any time of the day.
There is a fine line between a well-fitted shirt and one that is too big. Unfortunately, many guys end up crossing that line because most of them struggle to find shirts off the rack that fit correctly.
Most often, you might find that your sleeves are too long so they cover your hands, or that even the back of the shirt sits like a balloon and the armholes are halfway down your body. It’s essential that you ensure that all your shirts are just as well fitting as the rest of your outfit.
Here are three key areas that you must pay attention to, to look your best in your business shirts.
In terms of length, the shirt cuff should just cover the wrist. Any longer or shorter and your shirt will appear ill fitting. While it’s tempting to make your sleeves shorter to show off a nice watch, a far more sophisticated way to dress is to have a slightly looser shirt cuff that your watch will comfortably sit underneath. Once your shirtsleeves have been shortened, it’s generally not possible to lengthen them again.
For a tailored fit, taper your sleeves gradually down the arm. Tapering sleeves to the correct width prevents bunching around the shoulder, elbow and cuff. To check the fit of your sleeves, pinch the fabric – it should be no more than 3 centimetres wider than the arm.
Too many men wear their shirt more than one size too big. The first thing to look out for when selecting a size is the shoulder width. The seam where the sleeve joins onto the shirt should sit right on the edge of your shoulder. Finding the right fit on the torso is a familiar struggle for many men, especially those who have wider shoulders and a slim body, as shirts that fit across the shoulders will come with a large fit on the torso.
If that’s you, make sure you select a slim-fitting shirt, and avoid shirts with pleats in the back. You should also have your shirts tapered down the side seams and have back darts created by your tailor. For men with large midsections, a shirt with a box pleat at the back will give you the best fit. Men with slimmer figures should avoid box pleats, as the shirt will balloon too much around the waist.
Most business shirts come in a longer length with a curved hem, because it is meant to be tucked in. Leaving it out makes the wearer look extremely untidy. For shirts that are to be worn out, make sure the hem is shortened and slightly straightened, so the hem sits just below the belt line.
Investing in a good shirt means you will spend less time ironing, and the shirt will last longer. When you are buying a shirt, the sizing range indicated doesn’t give you much of a clue as to how it will fit. Usually the size just tells you the neck circumference and sometimes the sleeve length. Make sure you try each shirt on and find the brand and cut that makes the proportion that is most suitable for your shape, and then have the shirt tailored to fit you even better. Look for a quality high-weave cotton fabric, which is cool in summer and warm in winter.