Whether you’re particularly skinny, a star athlete, or an average person, you’ve probably noticed that when you wear a dress shirt it fits just a bit looser than you’d like. You tried tucking it in and pulling all the fabric to the back and it looked pretty good in the mirror… until it all puffed back out 5 minutes later. Time for a slim fit shirt.
What to look for in a slim fit dress shirt
Midsection: Check that the midsection is not too loose around your waist. You want there to be 4-6 inches of extra fabric. This means when you pinch it off on the side, there should be 2-3″ of folded fabric. Any more and you look sloppy. Any less and you could be cutting it too close. Make sure you think about how the midsection will fit when you’re sitting down as a very slim fit may lead to pulling on the bottom button when seated.
Chest: Check that the chest width is not too loose. Again, you want to have 4-6″ of extra fabric. If it’s too tight, you’ll have limited range of motion and the fabric will constantly pull at the buttons, resulting in unwanted lines across the shirt. Too loose and you’ll have excess fabric gathering in all the wrong places.
Sleeve Width: Too many men forget the sleeves. You don’t want to go through the effort to get a slim fit in the body and leave your sleeves baggy. Getting the right fit is a little tricky, but you’ll usually know it when you feel it. Sleeves should be cut close to your arms without restricting movement (too much anyways). Guys with longer arms should take note that a very slim fit in the arm can lead to tightness when they bend their arms.
Armhole: How closely the armpit fits is a matter of personal preference, but a higher armhole will often eliminate excess fabric that bunches up around armhole. A high armhole can actually give you a greater range of motion but can feel uncomfortable to the uninitiated.
Shoulder Width: More or less, the shoulder width should not change based on the type of fit. However, it’s worth noting that a good slim fit shirt should also have a slightly narrower shoulder width. For most men, the point where the shoulder curves down to the arm is not a precise point, but a gradual curve, so there is always some range of acceptable shoulder widths for one person. On a slim fit shirt, you will want to be on the narrower end of this range such that the shoulder seam of the shirt rides slightly higher up on the shoulder. More relaxed fits might have the yoke come off the shoulder just ever so slightly.
Slim fit based on body measurements or Smart Size
If you are entering body measurements, or using the smart size survey to create your size, then the type of fit is a little different. With both of these size methods, we will have an idea of how big your body is, and the type of fit will help determine how close to your body you want the shirt to fit. The following video is a good way to get a sense of how Classic, Slim and Super Slim Fit selections will affect your shirt size.
Tips for getting the best Proper Cloth slim fit shirt
Forearms: For Proper Cloth custom shirt sizes, you have the ability to specify one, two, or three pleats in the forearm. While it may seem obvious that the one pleat setting is the best choice for a very slim fit shirt, you do want to give it a second thought. If you go aggressively slim at the bicep/upper arm of the shirt and also specify a small cuff size, then there is a chance that the shirt will be too tight right at the elbow. Oftentimes, in this case, we will set the forearm to two or three pleats so that we can maintain a fitted sleeve at the upper arm without being too tight at the elbow.
Tailored or Very Tailored Shoulder/Armpit Fit: Another size option you can use to really tune a Proper Cloth shirt size is the Shoulder/Armpit Fit. Here we have three options, “Full,” “Tailored,” and “Very Tailored.” What you select here will determine the shape of the pattern where the sleeves attach to the shirt’s body. If you want a really slim, tailored-looking shirt we usually suggest selecting Tailored here, though be aware that this selection will slightly limit your range of motion, meaning it will look more tailored but when you reach up or forward you will feel the shirt against your body a bit more. The same is true of our Very Tailored fit, but making this selection is particularly handy if your goal is to reduce the Sleeve Width more than the Tailored fit allows. The Very Tailored Armpit Fit unlocks a greater range of dimensions for the Sleeve Width without compromising the Chest Width measurement and reduces the amount of fabric in front of and behind the shoulder for an extra streamlined look.
Wearing a slim fit shirt tucked vs untucked
Another thing to keep in mind when sizing your slim-fit dress shirt is if you plan to wear it tucked or untucked. If you plan to exclusively wear the shirt tucked in, then you can usually get away with going tighter around the midsection than you can if you plan to wear the shirt untucked. If the shirt is worn tucked in, it can essentially be cut to follow the shape of the torso closely and then into the pants. A super slim fit worn untucked can awkwardly hug the hips or butt in an unflattering way. Thus, for untucked shirts, we usually suggest going slightly less fitted around the waist and hips.