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What to consider when buying a shirt?

Wear it with a suit, chinos or jeans. A shirt is a garment every man should have in their wardrobe. It takes time to build that perfect wardrobe but when you buy smart you’ll be able to have shirts for every occasion. Our suggestion is that you take time to find the right store that can provide you with shirts according to your body, preferences and budget. Below I wrote down some things you should consider when buying shirts from retail stores:

1. Fabric

Shirts come in various different types of fabrics, the most common ones being cotton and linen. You should choose the fabric based on the occasion. 


Probably the most used fabric in the world. Cotton is a natural fabric that easily absorbes humidity and lets air pass through. It’s resistant, usually holds it's shape well and can be washed at home, however may shrink when put in the dryer. Also the colour can fade away with time depending on what is used to color the cotton. If you are looking for shirts made out of cotton make sure they are 100% cotton, as sometimes they blend it with polyester or viscose. These last two fabrics are not natural and thus will make the shirt less breathable.

We highly recommend that your every-day shirts be made out of 100% cotton. Make sure to find a cotton shirt that is soft because you're probably going to wear them for at least 5-6 hours a day so you want to feel comfortable in it. For formal events we recommend looking for thinner cotton fabrics, the thicker ones are used for more casual events. 


This fabric is obtained from the stem of the flax plant. It’s celular structure is more crystalline making it harder and rigid compared with cotton. This fabric is highly fresh, usually worn in hot countries or the beach. The big minus of this fabric is that it wrinkles very easily and because of that we don’t recommend using linen shirts at formal events (only if you are invited to a wedding on the beach and the dress code states linen). 

2. Fit

Fit is the most important thing to consider when buying a shirt. 
  • Neck: if you’re buying a formal shirt make sure you can button your neck so that it is not too tight but also not too loose. If you can place your finger between your neck and the collar of the shirt without it being too tight then it is the correct fit. 

  • Shoulders: make sure that the line connecting the sleeve to the shirt is where your shoulder ends. If it passes your shoulder it will make your body bigger in a non flattering way, and people will simply see that the shirt is too big for you. If the line comes before your shoulder the shirt is too small for you and you will most likely not be able to move around comfortably in it and a tailor will not be able to do anything to fix it. While if the shirt is too big in the shoulders a tailor can try to make them smaller however it is not recommended as it can deform the shirt's original look.  This image from Real Men Real Style shows perfectly what we’re talking about:

  • Length: if you’re buying a formal shirt and it barely covers the belt line, it is too short. Look for one that almost covers your crotch area but does not pass it. This will help the dress shirt stay tucked in correctly. For a casual shirt we advise you to look for a shirt where the sides of the shirt pass your belt area by about 2-3 inches, the front and back will be longer but at a good length.

  • Sleeve length: For both formal and casual shirts, the sleeve should cover your wrist bone, but should not pass the base of your thumb. If your sleeves are too long your arms won't look proportional to your body while if your sleeves are too short it can give you a kind of t-rex effect. Sleeve length is usually the most common adjustment people take to get tailored since it is very hard to find a "Ready To Wear" or in short RTW shirt in a retail store that actually fits you perfectly.


  • Cuff: There are many types of cuff styles and they all have one rule in common: if you can slide your hand out of the cuff when its buttoned then is too big, and if when buttoned your watch doesn’t fit, it is too small. Focus on looking for a cuff that naturally moves along with your suit sleeves.

  • Waist: The button line of the shirt should be straight. If the fabric next to the buttons looks like its being pulled then the shirt is too small for you, try sizing up. If there is a lot of extra fabric on the sides creating a muffin top effect when the shirt is tucked in then it is too big for you. If the shirt is too big it can easily be adjusted by a tailor while if it is too small a tailor can't help you. The shirt should come naturally down following your body shape. Like the sleeve length, taking the shirt to the tailor to adjust the sides is also a common adjustment people do. 

It is very hard to find a RTW shirt that fits perfectly without making one or two adjustments. Big retail companies standardize sizes in order to fit as many people as possible. This is why you should consider getting a made-to-measure shirt. A made-to-measure shirt can save you the time of having to go from store to store looking for the perfect shirt for the perfect price, and it can save you the money it would cost to get those retail shirts tailored. Having a made-to-measure shirt is the best way to customize your shirt the way you want it; with that collar type you saw on the internet; with the special cuff you like; with your fabric choice, and the best of all: having a shirt that fits your body type perfectly. 

Here is a video from RMRS talking about how a dress shirt should fit:

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