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Thread: dumb question about sleeve length on dress shirts

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    dumb question about sleeve length on dress shirts

    So I'm wondering about the proper sleeve length on a dress shirt. I'm 5'10.5'', 180. I purchased a 16 1/2, 32/33 "fitted" shirt, Stafford brand from JCP. When I relax my arms at the side and leave the sleeve cuff unbuttoned, it comes to just above the "V" between my thumb and index finger, which some sites say is the right length. But then of course when the cuff is buttoned and I raise my arm over my head, the sleeve pulls down to almost mid forearm and I feel as though I need more slack in the sleeve.

    Now I don't normally go around needing to raise my arms straight up when I'm wearing a dress shirt, but I guess I'm used to the extra slack that a 34/35 would come with...which I concede probably looks rumpled when my arms are at my sides. So is the pulling that you get when you lift your arms just something you're supposed to get used to when wearing an appropriately sized dress shirt?

    Thanks for any advice. Sorry for the absurdity of the question.

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    It sounds to me like the problem is with the arm hole. The arm hole is where the body of the shirt meets the arm. A proper fitting arm hole should hit close to your armpit at the bottom. An ill-fitting arm hole hangs down to, say, mid-pec. When the shirt is anchored down by a loose arm hole, arm movement hits further down your body, so when you raise your arms it pulls the sleeve way back.

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    ^Agreed.

    Big arm holes -- that is holes which open up lower down the side of the shirt -- work with loose sleeves and billowing shirt bodies because all that excess fabric gives room to move.

    When the body and arm are cut for a trimmer silhouette, but the armhole isn't adjusted, you keep the pulling but lose the slack. Buying extra-long sleeves gave you that excess fabric back, compensating for a poor design.

    A properly shaped higher, tighter armhole will bend at the lower seam, needing little fabric to match the swing of your arm.

    Unfortunately, it's common for mass-market brands to use a trimmed-down version of the existing billowing 1990s-2000s shirt pattern than redesign the shirt entirely. Arguably that's why so many of the new clothing manufacturers have better fits; it's not that they found a magic solution, it's just they aren't mentally locked into modifying an old design.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FraserCA View Post
    So I'm wondering about the proper sleeve length on a dress shirt. I'm 5'10.5'', 180. I purchased a 16 1/2, 32/33 "fitted" shirt, Stafford brand from JCP. When I relax my arms at the side and leave the sleeve cuff unbuttoned, it comes to just above the "V" between my thumb and index finger, which some sites say is the right length. But then of course when the cuff is buttoned and I raise my arm over my head, the sleeve pulls down to almost mid forearm and I feel as though I need more slack in the sleeve.

    Now I don't normally go around needing to raise my arms straight up when I'm wearing a dress shirt, but I guess I'm used to the extra slack that a 34/35 would come with...which I concede probably looks rumpled when my arms are at my sides. So is the pulling that you get when you lift your arms just something you're supposed to get used to when wearing an appropriately sized dress shirt?

    Thanks for any advice. Sorry for the absurdity of the question.
    It's not an absurd question at all! I think we can all improve on those small touches.
    I'm almost exactly the same as you, height and weight wise. 5'10, 175-180, overall medium build. Have you tried smaller neck size? I used to get shirts with 16 1/2, and had similar problems. Wider the neck, wider the chest, and if chest is wider than ideal fit, the shirt's shoulder point will not be where your should begins, which really messes up the sleeve length. You might want to try 15 1/2, 16 if you lift a lot.
    Also, my perfect sleeve length is 33.5. And although I can't get that length unless it's custom made or tailored, 33 or 34 still works well as far as I'm concerned. So instead of 32/33 or 34/35, you could try dress shirts with exact sleeve measurements. JCP and Macy's don't carry exact length, but you should be able to get some from Jos A Bank or Buttoned Down from Amazon for about $30-40 each.

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    Definitely not absurd, but I can attest that those “fitted” shirts from JCP are very restrictive. They live up to their “fitted” name...

    I’d definitely try a different brand dress shirt. You probably have the right size but a poor fit.

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