Do the words 'collar size' bring with them waves of recognition or heavy pangs of bewilderment? Of course, they are about shirts, but do you know how to measure your collar size correctly? What about the sleeve length? This seems obvious enough, but where exactly do you measure from and to?

Fear not! Even if these feel like terms you recognise but are not 100% sure about, you are not alone. Every year, countless men across Britain end up buying the wrong size, so confused are they with the sheer range of options lurking behind a seemingly simple garment.

So here, to redress the balance, is the definitive guide to shirt sizing.

Collar size

Shirt sizing options change between retailers, with some going for the simple small, medium or large options, whilst more traditional shirt makers opt for collar size as the key dimension. The latter option is certainly the most accurate for fitting and, as a result, the most common for formal shirts. It is fine to have a more relaxed, open-collared shirt for casual wear but for work and specifically when a tie is involved the collar-size is crucial.

To measure your collar size correctly, use a flexible tape measure and come up from the shoulders by about an inch (essentially the widest point) as this will account for the raised collar of a shirt when fastened up to the top button. Then, pull the measuring tape taut so it is firm against the neck but doesn't feel as though it's choking. Finally, add half an inch which will allow for movement.

If you have a perfectly fitting shirt already, the measurements can be taken from the centre point where the button is attached to the middle of the button hole (if the shirt is new and unwashed, again add half an inch).

Typically, the reading will be between 14 and 19 inches, but can of course, be higher or lower, depending on the individual. This number increases in increments of 0.5 inches will then correlate with the shirt collar size.

Collar Measuring


Sleeve length

Collar size is not the only measurement that should be considered for those serious about their shirts. Manufacturers will often have a chart in mind, where each collar size correlates to the body size that is typically be expected. Of course, arm lengths vary from person to person and are not related to the wearer’s size, hence all high-end shirt-makers will offer you a selection of lengths per each collar size.

As before, the trusty tape measure will again be needed, as well as a willing friend to assist! First, stand with your arms relaxed and by your side. The error many people make here is to stand with their arms perfectly straight - taking up a stance in which they would typically not find their bodies at rest. Instead, a slightly bent arm, bent enough to pop a thumb or finger into a trouser pocket, should be just right.

Start with the end of the tape measure on the backbone at the nape or your neck. The measure should then run over the top of the shoulder (following a seam line, if one were to be there), down the arm to just below the wrist bone.

Alternatively, you can take the measurement from a trusty favourite shirt. On all good quality shirts the yoke will be split and it is from this point, beneath the collar that the start of the measurement is taken, if the yoke is not split, then take it from the middle of the yoke. Then, on the shirt laid flat, run the measure straight down the sleeve to the end of the cuff.

Usually, the end result will be between 32 and 36 inches but, again, may be higher or lower, dependant on the person.

Sleeve Measuring

Get fitted

With the sleeve and collar measurements, it should be easy to find a shirt ‘off the peg’ that is the ideal size. For the ultimate fitting shirt try Bespoke, which will be tailored to the contours of your body by a professional and thus, unique to your personal requirements.

As such, there really should be no excuse for making do with ill-fitting shirts that have arms which either hang down like an ape or end up being ¾ length! Similarly, the collar shouldn't hang down like a necklace or choke like a noose, but sit in the most comfortable, flattering position.

All very easy, once the measurements are done right!