How to Select the Optimal Dress Shirt Shoulder Slope

How it should fit

A perfect fitting dress shirt should drape smoothly across the upper chest, without any pull lines from the center button out to the shoulders or from the armpits towards the back of the neck.

How to select the optimal dress shirt shoulder slope

If you’re noticing pull-lines from your armpits up to the back of your collar, or from the outside of your shoulders down to the center of your chest, you may need to adjust the shoulder slope.  To see if an adjustment is required, stand in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides.

It’s important that you test this as you plan to wear the shirt.  That means, evaluate with the collar buttoned IF you plan to wear the shirt with the collar buttoned and evaluate with the collar unbuttoned IF you plan to wear the shirt open collar.  Whether the collar is buttoned or unbuttoned may change your optimal shoulder slope setting.

Signs that you need the sloping shoulder adjustment

If you notice lines running from the armpits up towards your collar, it’s a sure sign that you should increase the shoulder slope of the shirt.  Meaning, if you have the shoulder slope at “Normal”, you will want to change it to one of the “Sloping Shoulder” settings.  Selecting between “Sloping Shoulders”, “Very Sloping Shoulders” and “Very Very Sloping Shoulders” is more art than science, but generally speaking the more extreme the symptom the more slope you want to implement.  “Sloping Shoulders” will lower the shoulders of the shirt by 1/4″ from “Normal”.  “Very Sloping Shoulders” lowers the shoulders of the shirt by 1/2″ from “Normal”.  “Very Very Sloping Shoulders” lowers the shoulders of the shirt by 3/4″ from “Normal”.

Sloping Shoulders

Signs that you need the square shoulder adjustment

If you notice lines running from the outside of your shoulders down towards the second button of your shirt, you should decease the slope of the shoulders.  If you have the shoulder slope at “Normal”, you will want to change it to one of the “Square Shoulder” settings.  Selecting between “Square Shoulders”, “Very Square Shoulders” and “Very Very Square Shoulders” can be a tricky choice, but generally speaking the more extreme the symptom the more drastic change is necessary. The “Square Shoulders” setting raises the ends of the shoulders by 1/4″ from “Normal”.  “Very Square Shoulders” raises the shoulders of the shirt by 1/2″ from “Normal”.  “Very Very Square Shoulders” raises the shoulders of the shirt by 3/4″ from “Normal”.

Square Shoulders

Caution: In case your shirts shoulder width also needs adjustment

One scenario that can confuse this test is when the shoulder width of the shirt is significantly wider or narrower than the shoulders.  If the yoke of the shirt goes way over the edge of your shoulders, or does not reach the end of your shoulders, it can cause pull lines to appear that are similar to the ones shown.  Be sure the shoulder width of the shirt is close to perfect before trying to optimize the shoulder slope.