Why the proper sleeve length for shirts and suits matters
In this article we will be discussing the proper sleeve length regarding your shirts and suits.
Formalwear trends today favour slim and well fitting clothing. Part of the aesthetic of this style is that your clothing fits you right. Whether you realize it or not, your sleeve length sends out very strong visual cues. Your sleeve length is a visible indicator as to whether your clothing fits you properly or not.
Shirt sleeves that are too long will make your shirt look like it is too big for you, even if it is form fitting. If your shirt sleeve is short, your shirt will look small. The same holds true for a suit or blazer.
However, when a shirt is paired with a suit, the effects of incorrect sleeve lengths are greatly amplified.
By not paying attention to the proper sleeve length for your formal clothes, you can easily ruin the overall look of your outfit. No matter how much you paid for your suit or shirt, your sleeve lengths can make or break your look.
The Right Sleeve Length For Shirts
We will start with dress shirt sleeve length because it can have a larger impact on your outfit than that of your suit.
Most dress shirts are made to come in standardized sleeve lengths. The lengths are usually measured in inches and are denoted in pairs. For example, a shirt will be advertised as having 31/32 inch sleeve lengths. What this means is that if your sleeve length is anywhere between 31 and 32 inches, the sleeve length will fit you correctly.
Sleeve lengths can vary greatly from each person. Ready-to-wear dress shirts usually use an average of weight and height to calculate their measurements. To add variety, many brands will offer different variations for each size, but this may still be limiting. Some people are outside of the averages and may have to turn to custom clothing. An example of someone like this would be a person who wears a size small but has a 36/37 sleeve length. What this tells us is that this person is skinny and has long arms. Typically, a person who wears a small would need a shorter sleeve length.
How is it supposed to fit?
Now that you have had a small introduction to shirt sleeve lengths, we will discuss what you should be looking for.
It is fairly easy to see whether a shirt’s sleeves are too long or short for you once you try it. However, once you get closer to the “sweet spot” it can get a little more difficult.
Ideally, you want your shirt cuff to reach just above the beginning of your hand. There is a small space between the bone of your wrist and the start of the base of your hand. This is where you want your sleeve to reach you when your arm is at rest.
When your shirt sleeve is at this length, it will not climb up too high when you raise your arms. As well, it will not hide any watch or accessories you are wearing. Most importantly, however, it will not hang down too low when you are wearing a suit or blazer.
How to measure your sleeve length: Shirts
Measuring your sleeve length is a lot easier than you may think. It can be done on your own or with a partner. A measuring tape is required.
The first method relies on you already owning a shirt that fits your properly and can be done solo.
For this method you need to lay said shirt flat with the back of the shirt facing your and the arms laid flat. Place your measuring tape at the centre of shirt, just under the collar. Measure the distance across to the tip of the shoulder. Hold the tape in place at that spot and measure the rest of the length down to the end of the cuff of your shirt. The number you get at the end of the cuff is your sleeve length.
If you don’t yet own a shirt that fits you the way you like, you can have someone measure you up.
Stand straight with your elbows slightly bent. It is important that they are bent in order to take into consideration any extra slack needed for you to be able to move. Have someone place the measuring tape at the nape of your neck. You should feel a large bone of your spine at that spot, indicating you are properly centred. From there, run the tape along to the edge of your shoulder. The person measuring should place a finger at that spot to hold the tape in place. Continue to run the tape down your arm and around your elbow, all the way down to the “sweet spot” we discussed earlier. The measurement you get is the sleeve length you should be looking for.
For those readers who are more visual, you can check out this video by the Tailor Store.
The Right Sleeve Length for Suits
Identifying the right length for a suit will rely on you having the proper length on for your shirt.
If you are going for a modern look, your suit sleeve should be 1/4″ to 1/2″(maximum) shorter than your shirt sleeve. This is done so that you can see your shirt sleeve while you are standing straight or at rest. Following this idea, if your suit sleeve is longer than your shirt, you know it is too long. If your suit is more than a 1/2″ shorter than your sleeves, then they are too short. Keep in mind that it is normal that when you raise your arms, your sleeves will lift. If you stay within the proper dimensions, you should not have a problem.
However, if you are not trying to go for this look, then the proper length for your suit sleeve is one that reaches the base of your hand and completely covers your sleeve.
How to measure your sleeve length: Suits.
The only time you would need to know the sleeve length of your suit is if you are inputting measurements for a remote made to measure suit. In most cases, when you buy a suit, the store will offer to tailor it. Or, you have it altered by someone else who takes the measurement for you.
If you need to know the actual measurement of your arm length for a suit, you can simply use the same methods discussed above. Although, keep in mind that you should subtract the necessary amount in order to have your shirt sleeve stick out a little.
We hope this article was informative and that it helped you out!
Feel free to contact us or come see us in store if you have any questions!