How Your T-Shirts Should Fit

This t-shirt fit guide, complete with photos and a video, will show you exactly how a t-shirt should fit – regardless of your build.

T-shirt fit guide

Sharp Casualwear logoNote: Big thanks to Sharp Casualwear for sponsoring this post! Sharp Casualwear makes stylish staples for men 5'8″ and under, including the crew neck I'm wearing for this article. Their shirts are made in San Fransisco from premium fabrics like Tencel and Merino wool. Use the code TMM15 for 15% off your order – and check out their shirt pack bundles!

Just like jeans, t-shirts are essential wardrobe items that every man needs to own.

They're comfortable, casual and versatile, so you really need to have a few t-shirts that fit well and make you look great.

Just like any other garments, t-shirts need to fit well. Even a $500 designer t-shirt will look terrible if it doesn't fit properly.

On one side of the spectrum, you have ill-fitting, worn out tees with obnoxious graphics on them, which make even the most handsome men among us like a sloppy teenagers.

Small Henley shirt

Typical off the rack “small” shirt fit 🙁

One the other side, you have fitted, high quality t-shirts in versatile, solid colors or tasteful patterns. These are universally flattering, regardless of age, skin tone or body type.

Needless to say, we're going for the latter.

But as shorter guy, it can be tough to find t-shirts that fit and flatter your build.

See Also: Why Does the Clothing Industry Hate Short Men?

At about 5'6″, I struggle to find t-shirts that aren't too long for me. Maybe you've experienced this too. Or maybe you've experienced other fit problems with t-shirts, like the sleeves being too long and wide, or the whole shirt being too baggy.

I feel your pain because, let's be honest, most t-shirts aren't designed to fit the shorter man.

But don't worry, I have good news for you! Sharp Casualwear makes t-shirts that fit perfectly on the shorter frame, which is why I'm using one of their shirts for this guide.

If you prefer reading over video, read on!

Sharp Casualwear t-shirt

shirt | watch | chinos

You may remember my original Sharp Casualwear review, in which I explained that the length and quality of the shirts was fantastic, but they weren't quite slim enough for my 120 pounds frame.

Sharp Casualwear grey v-neck tee 2

A picture from my original Sharp Casualwear review (size small, regular fit)

I relayed this feedback to Sharp Casualwear founder, Danny Hernandez, and it turns out he really listens to his customers.

They now offer a trim fit option, alongside a regular and broad fit. So pretty much any man of modest height can achieve the perfect fit.

But how should a t-shirt fit? Glad you asked, let's talk about the four most important aspects: shoulders, sleeves, torso and length.

Shoulders

You want to make sure the shoulders aren't too wide. The best way to do this is find where your shoulder ends and your arm begins, and make sure the shoulder seam doesn't go too far past that.

T-shirt shoulders fit

It's okay if it doesn't land directly on top of your shoulder bone, but make sure the seams aren't hanging down on your upper arm.

This is a clear sign that the shirt is too big for you.

Sleeves

Moving on to the sleeves, you want to pay attention to both length and width. Your sleeves should end about halfway between your armpit and elbow.

Don't feel the need to get the measuring tape out or anything like that. Just make sure the sleeves aren't too close to your elbow (which will make your arms look shorter).

T-shirt sleeves fit

For the width, you want to make sure your sleeves aren't tenting out away from your arms. This can make it hard for people to appreciate your guns and give them the respect they deserve!

Instead, the sleeves should fit closely around your arm without being tight or restrictive (like a compression shirt you might wear for working out).

Torso

The torso is made up of the chest, the stomach and the hips. You're aiming for a fitted look – not too tight but not too loose.

T-shirt fit torso

If you see tension lines between your pecs, the shirt is too tight, or you simply bench press too much, bruh.

You should be able to pinch about 2-3 inches of fabric on either side of your torso. Any more than that, and the shirt might be too loose.

If you can't pinch at least an inch of fabric on either side, it may be too tight.

Length

The most problematic part of t-shirts for short men is the length. It seems like every t-shirt is made for guys who are super tall and skinny, or morbidly obese pre-teens.

Your shirt should go about two inches past your waistband (or the bottom of your belt), and it should end right around mid-fly.

T-shirt correct length

If it goes all the way to the bottom of your fly, it's too long and will make you look shorter.

At 5'6″, I don't think there's anything wrong with being a shorter man, but I think we can all agree that we don't want to look shorter than we actually are.

Do your t-shirts fit?

Now that you know how a t-shirt is supposed to fit, it might be a good idea to do an audit of your current t-shirt collection. Do they fit properly?

If they're too long, you can get the hemmed. This is a great option if you already have some that you love but that are too long.

Just make sure you go to a tailor who can handle knits (most wedding dress alteration places are safe bets).

If the sleeves are too long, you can roll them up (cuff them) once or twice.

But if the shoulders are to wide, you can't fix that, so it's best to replace the shirt with one that fits properly.

So, if you're frustrated with how most t-shirts fit off the rack, I highly recommend checking out Sharp Casualwear.

Questions about t-shirt fit? Leave a comment below!

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Comments

  1. This is great if you’re trim! Sometimes T-shirts that fir well on the waist are too small higher, or more commonly, fit well on the chest but are too tight around the midsection. If you buy larger, you’re adjusting the shoulders and sleeves. What do “differently shaped” guys do for a better T-shirt fit?

  2. Ron Krajenbrink says:

    Hi Brock, as per usual, excellent article and easy to follow advice , I am not so sure about your comment on ‘morbidly obese pre teens’. Your knowledge and tips can be realistically put into action. Thanks heaps.

  3. Is there any t-shirt options you (or anyone) could recommend that would not cost $35 per shirt? I understand fit and fabric is extra costs but a normal t-shirt costs $10 I can’t imagine there is no company that can make one that would fit well for $15-20 (and have more variety of colors than black gray and blue)

    • I don’t know of any high quality t-shirts that fit well in that price range. These are actually very affordable for what you’re getting, especially since they’re made in the USA. Plus you can a 3 pack for $79.

    • Uniqlo cotton t-shirts.

      https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/men/t-shirts/supima-cotton-short-sleeve

      Probably not a good fit for Brock, but they were perfect for me (I’m a little bit fatter than he is!). Checked off every box (for me) in terms of how they should fit per the details outlined in this article. Soft & comfy; they replaced all my oversized t-shirts, and are now my everyday, go-to pieces. Great price ($9.90/ea), but perhaps not the best quality…..? I guess time will tell, but I’m very happy with them.

  4. Brock, great advice, per usual. It was a big moment for me when I realized, as a guy almost exactly your size, what a well-fitting t-shirt could look like.

    To any other guys in the 5’6” range, Banana Republic makes some excellent XS t-shirts. I’m almost the same size as Brock, and have no complaints.

    The only problem with a well-fitted t-shirt is that it reminds you that you need to hit the freaking gym!

  5. Based on this post I purchased a Jersey V Neck T Shirt and a Ribbed Quarter Zip Pullover from Sharp and I am very happy with my purchase. The fit and quality are excellent. I really like their Size Guide. It gives all the information you need to determine the correct size. Why don’t other men’s clothing companies do this? I have never heard of Sharp before your post and have no connection to them but I want to support companies that make clothing specifically for the shorter guy. BTW, I am 5’6″, 44″ chest, 34″ waist so difficult to fit but I care about the fit and quality of my clothing and am willing to pay for it. Thanks for your post!

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