How to Measure Sleeve Length for Shirts and Jackets

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Man measuring sleeve length with measuring tape
Scroll down to find three easy steps for accurately measuring your sleeve length (Gif via Groupon)

you want to look sharp in a shirt or jacket, knowing how to measure your sleeve length is crucial.

Whether you’re having a custom shirt made or just trying to navigate a brand’s size chart to get the best result when ordering online, fit is king.

And the good news is that measuring your sleeve length isn’t difficult.

But it is a little trickier than taking your own chest measurement, since you can’t use both hands while doing it.

In this post I’ll show you a quick, easy and effective way to measure your sleeve length, and find the perfect fit for any body type.

How to Measure Sleeve Length Accurately

Follow These Three Steps to Make Measuring Sleeve Length Easy

Step 1:

Measure Neck to Shoulder

Measuring from the neck to the shoulder

Much like when you’re measuring your collar size or neck size, measuring your sleeve size also starts at the neck.

In fact, most people who can’t seem to get an accurate measurement fail to get the right size because they skip this first crucial step.

This rule applies anytime you’re measuring the length of your arms, whether you’re trying to find the right dress shirt sleeve length, or the right sleeve length for a jacket or blazer.

(Although it obviously doesn’t apply to short sleeves, which can vary in length, but usually hit about halfway down the bicep, in line with the fullest part of your chest.)

Measure from the nape of your neck (aka the center of the back of your neck) down to where your shoulder blades meet the top of your arm.

If your shirt fits properly, this is the point where your shoulder seam should hit.

Record that number and move onto step 2.

Step 2:

Measure Shoulder to Wrist

Measuring from the shoulder to the wrist

Next, you’ll measure the arm length by starting from that shoulder point at the top of your arm.

Hold the end of the tape measure at that spot, and run it down to your wrist bone, where the end of the cuff should hit. Write that number down.


Make sure to keep your elbow bent slightly when taking this measurement, and keep the measuring tape parallel to your arm to ensure that you measure your upper arms and lower arms accurately.

If you keep your arm perfectly straight, you’ll end up with a measurement that’s too short, and you won’t leave enough room for your arm to move naturally within your sleeves.

On the other hand, don’t let the measuring tape stray too far from your arm, either.

Otherwise you’ll end up with extra long sleeves, leaving you with too much fabric to deal with.

Step 3:

Add ‘Em Up to Find the Total Length

The two key measurements for a shirt sleeve

Once you’ve properly taken the two measurements above, finding the overall sleeve measurement is easy.

Simply add the first number to the second number to calculate the correct measurement for your full sleeve length.

Fine Tuning

Taking your own sleeve length is one of the tougher body measurements to do on your own.

But if you’ve followed the instructions above, then finding the correct size for formal shirts and jackets should be pretty easy.

Just remember that the same methodology applies regardless of your body size or favourite shirt type:

Whether you wear a standard sleeve fit or a slim sleeve fit, this is the best way to ensure that the end of your sleeve hits exactly where it should.

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More Men’s Style Advice from Irreverent Gent:
More Advice on How to Find Your Sleeve Measurement From Around Ye Olde Interwebs:

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About Dave Bowden

Dave Bowden

Founder, Irreverent Gent
Author, Man in Command and Stop Doubting, Start Dating
Writer, Really Wordy Author Bios

Dave Bowden is a style blogger, menswear expert and best-selling author (in Canada—but still!) whose advice on how to look good and live well has been featured in New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Men's Health and more.

When not obsessing over style and self-improvement, he can usually be found spending time with his wonderful wife and two amazing sons, indulging in a hoppy craft beer, or sobbing over the woeful state of Toronto's sports teams.

Check out Dave's Style Story to find out how a chance encounter with his friend's step-dad taught him the value of looking good and living well (don't worry—it's less creepy than it sounds!), or email him at [email protected] if you want to get in touch.

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