We’ve all worn them at some point in our lives.

The infamous baggy shirt.

Almost blouse-like in appearance, we were told by the store clerk at the mall that despite the bagginess, the shirt fits. That the shoulder seams lined up roughly where they should be and the sleeves fit, so that’s all there is, the clerk would say.

The problem is, the back of the shirt seems like it was built for a guy twice your size. And if you’re an athletic guy it’s even worse! Why? Because your shoulders are likely 5, 6 or maybe 10 inches wider than your waist. You’ve worked hard to create a V-shaped torso, but when you wear that baggy dress shirt it all goes away. You’re left swimming in your clothes.

It’s not magic that makes a custom fitted shirt look better, it’s just smart tailoring. With this blog post I want to go over a handful of things we do to help guys get a perfect fit.

Here are some of the usual tricks we employ to dial in your fit and eliminate baggy dress shirt syndrome once and for all!

Box pleat

You know that little overlap of fabric centered on the back of your shirt? That’s a box pleat. Most shirts will have one and it will help it to conform to your body’s contour, but will also provide you room to move throughout the shoulders.

To some extent, box pleats will help to mitigate bagginess, but only if you don’t consider pleats baggy! So unless you’re trying to ride the fine line between having extra room in the shoulders without letting the shirt look too baggy, this isn’t going to be enough for most guys.

It’s worth noting that sometimes guys request not to have the ubiquitous box pleat sewn into their shirt – instead opting for a nice clean look without it. Fortunately, the box pleat isn’t an absolute requisite for a slim fit.

Darts

Whereas a box pleat will overlap shirt fabric and sew it in place at the yoke, a dart will overlap the fabric, remove that which isn’t needed and then sew together. This results in a very clean look with no excess fabric in the local area.

Common spots to find darts are going to be on the lower back of your shirt to the left and right of center. Each dart can remove up to 2 inches or so of excess fabric. And if you have a V-shaped torso, darts will be absolutely essential in creating a nicely contoured shirt.

You’ll rarely see darts in off-the-rack clothing because those shirts were made to fit, well, anybody.

Side seam

Another tool that we can use to pull in fabric throughout the body of your shirt is to take a look at the side seam of your shirt. This way we don’t need to overlap the fabric and create a dart, but can actually cut the fabric shorter during the manufacturing process to match your body type.

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So, those are (3) tricks of the trade that we use to eliminate shirt bagginess. Whether you need to employ (1) or all (3) of these tactics depends on a handful of items:

How slim of a fit do you want?

What’s the occasion?

Is your waist slimmer than your shoulders?

But getting the fit of your shirt just right is an art form. Removing too much fabric from one area, say the side seam, may cause problems up at the shoulder seam. Therefore, when going for a real slim fit, Ron will often recommend we use a mix of the above techniques to help you build that perfect fitting shirt.

And even if you’re not a BE customer, having a basic understanding of these concepts will help you to better communicate with your local alterations specialist. Either way, remember that having only one shirt that really fits is worth ten that don’t!

Dress sharp fellas.

By Ryan Wagner