Tightness Under the Armpits

Problem description

In some cases you may be able to see pulling lines at the front and/or back running from the back of the collar to the bottom of the armpits.  In other cases the shirt may look great, but (particularly if you’re not used to having a really tailored shirt) you may just be bothered by the extra contact.

Possible solutions

There are four possible solutions you will want to consider.  Use the descriptions below to determine which of these apply to your particular situation and to what degree or combination:

  1. Making the sleeve width wider
  2. Switching to sloping shoulders (or increasing the shoulder slope)
  3. Making the chest width larger
  4. Switching to tailored shoulder/armpit fit

Making the sleeve width wider

Making the sleeve width wider is a sure-fire way to increase the size of the armhole and thus reduce tightness in the armpit. However, this can also make the sleeves baggier (which may not be desired).  So, before using this solution, try to determine if the sleeve width is too tight in any other areas.  Does the shirt feel tight around the sleeve – or does bending the arm causes an uncomfortable tightness around the elbow? If so, you will want to increase the sleeve width anyways which will also help relieve any tightness in the armpit.

Switching to sloping shoulders (or increasing shoulder slope)

Tightness in the armpits can also be caused by sloping shoulders.  Look for the symptoms of sloping shoulders, primarily lines running from the bottom of the armpits up towards the back of the collar.  If these are present (and depending on the degree), then change the Shoulder Slope from Normal to Sloping Shoulders, Very Sloping Shoulders, or Very Very Sloping Shoulders.

Switching Shoulder Slope to Sloping Shoulders lowers the entire armhole (including the armpit) by .25”.  Very Sloping Shoulders lowers the armhole .5”. Very Very Sloping Shoulders lowers the armhole by .75”.

Making the chest width wider

The chest width being too small can also cause the shirt to feel tight in the armpits.  Try to gauge if the shirt is pulling tightly around the chest at the sides of the body or at the center button.  Adjust the chest width larger to give more room in the chest.

Switching to tailored shoulder/armpit fit

This is surprising to some people, but the tailored shoulder/armpit fit does not have a higher armpit than the full shoulder/armpit fit.  If anything, the tailored armpit fit will have the armpit 1/8” lower than the full shoulder/armpit fit with everything else the same.  Thus, if you simultaneously want to clean up the look of the sleeve at the shoulder, and remove just the faintest feeling of tightness in the armpit, then give this a try.