Made-to-measure dress shirts (often referred to as “custom” or just “MTM”) are often ideal for smaller gents who have trouble finding button down shirts that fit well off the rack. Going custom isn't a perfect solution, and it takes some effort to get it right.
The main problem is this: without being measured in person by an experienced tailor, there's plenty of room for error. For this reason, you should only buy from companies with exceptional customer service, solid return/remake policies and a stellar reviews.
Deo Veritas is one of those companies. Founded in 2007 and based out of Chicago, Deo Veritas makes use of high quality fabrics and expert tailors who really know what they're doing. They made me a shirt a few weeks ago, and it quickly became one of my favorites.
One thing, in particular, really impressed me. I have a specific problem when it comes to button down shirts worn tucked in. My lower back is “hollow” (or curved), so even slim fit shirts will bunch up right above the back of my pants.
I sent the Deo Veritas tailors some photos that illustrated this issue, and they diagnosed it immediately. They suggested some tweaks to my initial measurements, and the end result was great:
As you can see, this shirt fits very well. It's super comfortable and feels sturdily constructed, and it drapes around the top of my pants nicely (even in the back).
One detail Deo Veritas offers that many other shirt makers don't is a sewn collar. It costs $9 extra, but I'm really digging it. After wearing this shirt, fused collars just seem too stiff.
Notice the spread style collar. Most spread collars are too wide for me (I have a narrow head), but this one is perfect. I also love the relatively short collar point length of just 2.75 inches (awesome for men under 5'8″).
I have one critique about this shirt: the sleeves. I need to get them taken in a bit – a simple and inexpensive alteration that almost any local tailor can handle. This wasn't a manufacturing problem. I just overshot the bicep measurements a little bit (time to hit the gym…).
If your smaller-than-average build has left you struggling to find dress shirts that fit properly, I highly recommend giving made-to-measure shirts a shot. Of all the shirt makers I've tried, Deo Veritas is one of the best (if not the best). Go check them out!
One Last Tip
I can't emphasize this enough: Don't just submit your measurements and expect a perfect shirt to arrive two weeks later. Email or call the company you are going to buy from. Send them photos of you in your favorite and least favorite shirts. Tell them, specifically, what you love and hate about those shirts. Bring up any persistent issues (like I did with my lower back) and ask them for their thoughts.
If they're not willing to put some extra effort into diagnosing your problems and nailing down a perfect fit, don't do business with them.
See Also: Where to Buy Dress Shirts for Short Men