3 Steps: How to Measure Sleeve Length

how to measure dress shirt sleeve length on white button up shirt

Written by Tanya Zhang

Measuring sleeve length involves multiple factors including the shape and size of your shoulders and where your shoulder seams lie. Since everyone’s shoulders are different, shirts fit differently on each person.

Secondly, the armhole shape of the sleeve plays a role in how a shirt fits over your shoulders. Here are separate guides on how to measure shoulder widths for menhow to measure chest size, and how to measure neck size.

sleeve length mens dress shirt

    Because there are so many differences affecting sleeve length, clothing designers take their measurements from the middle of the back of your neck, over each shoulder, and just below your wrist.

    To measure your own sleeve length, you'll do the same in three easy steps:

    step-by-step infographic on how to measure sleeve length

    How to Measure Precise Sleeve Length

    Below, you will learn the steps needed to measure sleeve length. Here's a guide on how the rest of a button up shirt should fit, which discusses shirt collar size, shoulder seams, and torso fit.


    Step 1: 

    Put on a shirt with sleeves that you want to measure. Stand in a relaxed, natural position with your arms at your sides. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and not hunched to get an accurate measurement.

    To measure sleeve length, start from the center of your back. If you’re having trouble finding a good place on your neck to start, simply feel around for your spine to find the starting point.


    Step 2: 

    Locate the point where the sleeve meets the shoulder seam. This is typically at the top outer edge of your shoulder, where the seam of the sleeve attaches to the main body of the garment.

    Measure your sleeve length by starting from the center of the back of your neck to the top of your arm, where your shoulder seam is. That’s where you want to place your tape measure.

    Ask your helper to hold one end of the tape measure at the starting point you just identified. The measuring tape should run down the outside of your arm.


    Step 3: 

    Starting at the point on your shoulder where you left off, use a tape measure from there and go down to a slightly bent elbow. Record this measurement.

    Some people will skip this step and measure straight from shoulder to wrist. If you prefer this method when finding your sleeve measurement, you want to make sure that you bend your elbow slightly. Doing so serves a couple of purposes. One, it allows for just enough additional length so that your fit isn’t too tight. 

    And two, your arms naturally rest in a slightly bent position. As such, your measurement will yield the perfect sleeve length. 


    Step 4: 

    From the elbow, measure to your wrist bone or where you want your shirt cuff to end.

    Once you have a precise tape measurement, round it to the nearest half or full inch (or centimeter if you prefer the metric system). This measurement represents the sleeve measurement of your shirt.

    Remember that sleeve lengths may vary between different types of clothing, so it's a good idea to measure each garment you want to buy or alter to ensure the best fit.

    mens slim fit dress shirt infographic 

    Frequently asked questions about sleeve measurement

    What does 32-33 sleeve length mean?

    The measurement "32-33 sleeve length" indicates that the sleeves of the garment can vary between 32 inches and 33 inches in length.

    How do you measure yourself for sleeves?

    Use a flexible tape measure and start from the center of the back, where the base of your neck meets your spine. Then, extend the tape measure over your shoulder and down your arm to the wrist. 

    How do you measure for an arm sleeve?

    For length, follow the same steps as measuring for sleeves, starting from the center of the back to the wrist bone. For circumference, wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your upper arm. 

    How do I choose the right sleeve length?

    To choose the right sleeve length, consider your body proportions and the style of the garment. For a tailored look, aim for sleeves that reach the wrist bone without covering your hands. 

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