Sometimes when it comes to selecting a dress shirt, it seems a degree in mathematics may be useful. There are so many numbers and dimensions involved that it closer resembles advanced geometry than fashion. So how to do you read all the information provided and get the perfect dress shirt?

Key measurements
One of the first numbers encountered is usually the neck size. These typically range in half inch sizes to allow an accurate fit. If you aren’t sure what your neck measurement is, then finding out is simple. Take a tape measure and wrap it around your neck at the level of your Adam’s apple. Add a half inch to the measurement to be certain the shirt isn’t too tight. When trying on a shirt, you should be able to put two fingers between skin and collar to ensure a comfortable fit.The second number is usually the arm length measurement. This is the length of the arm from the centre of the back to the wrist. When you are measuring this on yourself, round the exact figure to the next whole or half number so 16.25 would become 16.5 for a good fit. Occasionally, a shirt may contain a waist measurement. Confusing? Slightly but the good news is this the same measurement that you use to pick your trousers size. If in doubt, go to the next size to be safe.

Cut details
As well as the measurements, a shirt’s description can also include a cut and this gives an idea about who the shirt is designed for. For example, slim fitting shirts are designed to hug the body closer than a regular or classic fit. To know if this is the right fit for you, when wearing it you should still be able to pinch at least an inch of fabric on the waist and chest and the shoulder seam should be in the right place. If not, go to the next fit. Regular is the classic fit, the standard size and is looser than a slim fit but slimmer than a full cut. This style should allow you two or three inches pinched material around the waist and chest to allow for ease of movement and comfort when sitting. Full cut is the largest cut and usually has a wider bottom than the regular cut assuming that the wearer needs a little more material around the midsection.An athletic cut is a modern addition to the list and is designed for a guy with a broad chest and shoulders, muscular arms and a narrow waist.

Getting the right size
Getting the perfect fitting dress shirt is about numbers but also about how the shirt looks and feels. It may fulfil the numbers but if it doesn’t feel comfortable, then it is no good. It needs to be long enough to allow you to stretch without showing your stomach. It needs to allow natural movement in the arms. And the collar shouldn’t feel as if you are choking or that there is too much material flapping around. Remember, too big is as bad as too small in style terms – so how does your shirt measure up?