How It Should Fit: The Sleeves of a Men's Shirt


Put Your Shirt On

Topper’s view is that nothing conveys a man at ease with his outfit more effectively than a fine and beautifully fitting shirt. He always says: “From the most formal occasion to the more relaxed scenario when jackets come off and sleeves may be rolled up, a good shirt is the very heart of a good outfit.” Absolutely.

There’s nothing like the moment you open a brand new shirt. Crisp. Professionally wrapped. Fresh and all ready to give you that special look. But what happens if the promise isn’t delivered when you come to put the shirt on? Have you ever fallen victim to the following issues? Do these scenarios ring a bell?

Let’s roll our sleeves up and, with sartorial savvy courtesy of Topper, look at some of the issues we may have been keeping at arm’s length. The ones that can ruin the look and feel of great big and tall shirts.

"The Uneasy Rider"

Help Me Topper: My cuffs are half way up my arm from the moment I put the shirt on.

Topper’s Diagnosis: Your shirtsleeves are too short! (He’s not being flip, gentlemen. Oftentimes, the real reason is the obvious one!)

Topper’s Top Tips: You need to buy shirts with longer sleeves. BUT do not simply supersize and go XXXXL in search of extra length. This is a common mistake made by both sales people and customers. The supersize route may appear to make the sleeves look longer but in reality it is just dropping the ‘way too big’ shirt off your shoulders, making the sleeves seem longer. This will only lead to the Full Sail Effect. See below.

Remember, many regular size retailers sell regular size clothing in extended sizes which are not the same as true Big sizes or true Tall sizes. The true Big and Tall sizes increase the measurements throughout the entire garment - not just one area. Many regular size retailers’ extended sizes are designed to make the garment a little larger for the regular size man who wants to wear something slightly bigger. (And that’s not the same as the specialist approach to big and tall you’ll always find at Westport Big and Tall.)

Instead, look for shirts that fit your arms and your chest, with sizes like “Large Tall” (LT) and ( XLT, 2XLT, 3XLT, 4XLT) or (2XB, 3XB, 4XB,5XB) and other specially tailored shirts for big men or tall men. If you are looking for big and tall dress shirts, always search out a retailer who carries the neck and sleeve combination you need. Don’t make the mistake of going up in neck size to get a bigger shirt that will fall off your shoulders, in an effort to satisfy your sleeve length alone.

"The Elephant's Trunk"

Help Me Topper: My arm, wrist and entire hand disappear deep into my sleeve, leaving a strange extension of shirt material hanging in the breeze, usually bunched up in the forearm or bicep.

Topper’s Diagnosis: Apart from the obvious fact that your shirtsleeves are too long, you may well have traded ill-fitting sleeves for greater room elsewhere in the shirt, such as across the chest or midriff.

Topper’s Top Tip: You need to understand the proportions of your upper body, so that you can choose shirts that are right for you in every area. It’s time to get measuring.

Once you clearly understand your needs in chest, height, arm length and other key areas, you’ll find that the sizes offered by true big and tall stores will fit a lot better than regular sizes that are extended for the regular size man looking to wear something slightly larger (these include XXL or XXXL or similar sizes from regular size retailers).

"The Tourniquet"

Help Me Topper: My sleeve can’t move up or down my arm because it’s nailed in place by my cuff. And my cuff isn’t letting go.

Topper’s Diagnosis: The armhole is too narrow and constricting.

Topper’s Top Tip: Understand the key proportions involved. You need to get measuring. Then you need to track down some true big and tall shirts.

"The Escape Artist"

Help Me Topper: Every time I raise my arm, the tail of my shirt shoots out of my pants and heads north.

Topper’s Diagnosis: Your shirt tails are too short to properly accommodate your sleeves. You probably sacrificed room in the rest of the shirt to fit your arms.

Topper’s Top Tip: Understand the relationship between your sleeve length and your other vital statistics. When you size up the fit of the shirt based only on the chest measurement, you may miss out other important areas where it also needs to fit in proportion. (Helpful hint: the taller sizes from Westport Big & Tall are designed to our own specifications for superior fit.)

"The Full Sail Effect"

Help Me Topper: My sleeves are long enough but there’s so much material in my shirt that the front billows out like a tall ship’s sails in a stiff wind.

Topper’s Diagnosis: You have traded sleeve length for excessive material in the body of the shirt.

Topper’s Top Tip: Get up to date measurements for all your key dimensions. Then use our big or tall sizing chart to help select shirts to really fit. (Helpful hint: once you find your true ‘right size’ on Westport Big & Tall, you can finally shop freely. We carefully select each garment to meet the spec of the size you’re selecting, so that every shirt will fit consistently well.)

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