How To Buy Formal Shirts Online: A Guide to Body Measurements & Fit

How to buy formal shirts online? It can cause confusion for first time buyers, since even a high-quality shirt can be spoiled by a poor fit. After all, formal button-down shirts don’t come in rudimentary small, medium, and large sizes.

Buying Formal Shirts Online selection of 3 coloured shirts

However, buying the right shirt for you online can be made very easy by following a few simple steps.

Use the Size Guide

This is the perfect place to start when buying formal shirts online. Every online clothing store worth its salt will have its own size guide (ours is right here). These guides will detail a range of measurements of each fit of shirt they have on offer, including the collar width, sleeve length, chest fit, and waist fit. By following these guides, you’ll know exactly what to order.

But yes, we know what you’re thinking—what if I don’t know my measurements? That brings us right onto the next, and most important step.

Learn Your Measurements

You can do this before checking out the size guide if you wish, it’s up to you. There are a number of ways of taking your measurements accurately. You could spend some time visiting a local tailor or haberdashery and have them do it for you. That takes time, but they’ll get it perfect.

But the best way of taking your own measurements is with a roll up tape measure. If you don’t have one to hand, nor tucked away in that drawer of forgotten miscellanea, pop down to the local shop and pick one up for just a few pounds.

Now, tape in hand, here’s how to take your measurements:

  • Measure in inches, not centimetres.
  • Measure around your neck, across the Adam’s Apple. Nickson shirts, unlike many brands, come in neck sizes with smaller, quarter-inch increments, which allow for a much more accurate and personal fit. Therefore, feel free to measure right to the last quarter inch, rounding up if you’re somewhere in between.

Once you know that number, add on a quarter of an inch just to give yourself enough room for error (and room to breathe).

  • Next, it’s onto your sleeve length. Measure from the base of your neck to your wrist, rolling the tape down the outside of your arm. Try to let your arm hang naturally instead of extending or straightening it too much. Your sleeve size doesn’t have to be quite as minutely accurate as the neck size, so round your own measurements up the nearest inch.

How to take your measurements without a tape

Ok, if you’re really in a rush to buy your next shirt, there is a clever way of taking your measurements without the tape. It doesn’t involve a builder’s tape measure though. That’s just two stiff, and you could even cut your skin if you’re not careful.  However, you will need a ruler or a yardstick and some string.

Just as you would take your measurements with a tape, use a piece of string (or dental floss) to run around your neck and down the outside of your arm. Mark it with a pen, or better yet, cut it off with a pair of scissors or a knife. Then, lay the string out flat on a coffee table or countertop, and measure its length.

Then once you’ve got a moment free after ordering your shirt, go out and buy a tape for the future!

Choose The Right Shirt Fit (when Buying Shirts Online)

Using your measurements and the size guide, as well as your own body type and personal tastes, choose your shirt’s fit. At Nickson, we offer slim fit and regular fit shirts. We’ve written in more depth about shirt fits here

Buying Formal Shirts Online selection of coloured shirts

However, the main things to know is that slim fit shirts are perfect for men of a slim to average build. They feature a tapered torso which follows the contours of your body more strictly, while still leaving plenty of room for manoeuvre.

Regular fit shirts have a straighter lined torso and leave more room to breathe. They’re still designed to complement your form but offer greater manoeuvrability. Therefore, regular fit is ideal for men of a bigger or more heavy-set build.   

By reading this guide, we trust you’re now well-equipped and more confident with more knowledge of how to buy formal shirts online. Read our related article below, and when you’re ready for your next shirt, explore our collection.

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One reply on “How To Buy Formal Shirts Online: A Guide to Body Measurements & Fit

  • Eli Richardson

    For the past year, I’ve been following a strict diet and workout routine to lose the weight I gained during my depression. I’m in a better place right now, and I want to buy new clothes because my old ones don’t fit me anymore. Your guide will help me find a formal shirt that fits me properly now that my body shape changed.


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