It’s widely said that the first step to being respected to is took respectable. Ensuring your shirt fits properly is vital; making the shirt an almost seamless extension of yourself and a device through which you can explore self-expression. A shirt should be broad enough for comfort at the shoulder, but also slim enough at the waist to prevent bagging or scrunching.
Most importantly the shirt should be the right length – you don’t want your shirt to bag around your legs, making you look as if you were wearing some sort of dress or skirt. And you don’t want your shirt bunching up, exposing your midriff to the whole world.
But what if you’ve already splashed out on an expensive dress shirt, only to find out later it’s too long? Can a shirt be shortened? You can get shirts shortened by a tailor. It will be more expensive than doing it yourself, but worth it to have a professional do the job.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways both a professional tailor and you at home can shorten that shirt – turning that oversized dress back into a dress shirt.
Let's look into both in more detail.
How to Tell If Your Shirt is Too Long or Too Short
First things first, the length of your shirt should be short enough so it doesn’t look like you're wearing a dress or skirt.
There’s an ideal length that allows you to pull off both untucked and tucked looks – adding versatility to your dress shirt. With the right length, you can look good wearing your shirt for both work events and parties.
Looking for a shirt that are the perfect length? Check out our collection of fitted shirts here.
But how do you find this elusive, perfect length? There’s a very simple check you can carry out. First, make sure you’re wearing a pair of jeans or trousers with back pockets (the position of the pockets is a reference for the length).
Put on your shirt and leave it untucked – the bottom of the shirt should fall right in the middle of the pockets on the back of your trousers. Next, tuck the shirt in and raise both arms above your head.
If the tail of the shirt comes out, then the shirt is too short (it’s okay if the front or sides come out slightly). If your shirt passes these two tests, then it’s the ideal length.
Additionally, by walking around in the shirt for a while, you can easily tell if a shirt is too small. If the shirt starts riding up, it's too short for you. You want to wear a dress shirt that covers your hips and doesn't ride up when you walk.
Look at yourself in the mirror while walking around in all different directions—if you see any sort of awkward pulling or tugging happening anywhere on your midsection, then go and try on a larger size.
Can You Get Shirts Shortened by a Tailor?
Yes, you can get shirts shortened by a tailor. It will be more expensive than doing it yourself, but worth it to have a professional do the job. A tailor can also take in the shirt at the waist or make any other alterations that you want – and depending on the tailor and their experience level, they may be able to get the job done for you in less than an hour.
A few things to consider:
- If your shirt is made of cotton, be sure to let the tailor know and choose one who has experience working with this fabric; otherwise, they may not know how best to reattach various parts of your shirt without making it look as if someone took scissors to it.
- For dress shirts, I prefer leaving about an extra inch on either side so I have some room for movement when my arms are raised or crossed. So if you’re looking for something more precise than “shortening by an inch or two," don’t be afraid to ask!
How Much Does it Cost to Have a Shirt Shortened?
The cost of having a shirt shortened varies, depending on the tailor and the style of the shirt. You can expect to pay anywhere between $10 and $50 for this service, and depending on the tailor it may take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.
But generally speaking, shortening a shirt is a relatively simple procedure to carry out for a professional tailor – and it shouldn’t take them much time or effort. The biggest hassle is for you – having to find a reputable tailor nearby.
A tailor will typically simply make the shirt shorted by hemming it, or by changing the finish from a curved cut to a straight cut.
How to shorten a shirt that is too long
If you can’t find a tailor nearby to do the work or are simply in a huge rush, there are a few ways you can shorten a shirt yourself. Depending on the machinery you have, or your skill level, you might choose to hand or machine sew.
Either way, the first step is to measure the shirt length. Then you’ll want to cut the shirt to the desired length, leaving an extra half inch for seam allowance (to allow for ease of movement).
If you want to shorten your shirt, but still retain a longer fit, cut the back piece at least two inches longer than your torso measurement (e.g., if your torso is 36 inches long, cut your back piece at least 38 inches long).
If you want a shorter fit, keep your front and back pieces equal in length as per the above instructions (e.g., if your torso is 36 inches long and you're going to cut it down to 30 inches, make sure that both sides are 30-inch pieces when they're sewn together).
Next, sew seams using a sewing machine or by hand; press them open with iron as needed before finishing off with stitching again on top of seam allowances - this will prevent fraying later on.
How Do You Shorten a Shirt That is Too Long Without Sewing
If you're trying to shorten a shirt that's too long yourself, but don’t have the resources or the know-how to hem it, there are a few different things you can do for a quick and easy fix (the following are not recommended for long-term solutions).
Safety pins are the most obvious option. Just fold up the shirt and pin the extra fabric down If you're not comfortable with sewing, this is probably your best bet. Just make sure the safety pins are properly connected – you don’t want any nasty surprises.
Tape is another option if you don't want to sew. Simply fold your shirt to the desired length and tape it in place. You’ll want to make sure your tape is either 100% transparent or the exact colour of your shirt. Having visible bits of tape all around your shirt really isn’t a good look.
Most tailors can do both a machine stitch and a hand stitch.
The machine stitch is the most common way to shorten a shirt. This process uses two rows of stitches that are sewn straight across the hem and then trimmed off with shears. This method is fast and affordable, but it's not always ideal for dress shirts because it leaves visible stitching along the inside of the shirt.
Hand stitching works well when using fine fabrics like silk or cotton because there's no risk that an electric needle would tear through these delicate fibres. The downside?
Hand stitching costs more than twice as much per inch as machine stitching does. If money isn't an issue for you then go ahead: get your shirt professionally shortened by hand so no one will ever know how long it was before.
Get the perfect fit every time with TAPERED Clothing
Want to avoid the time, cost, and general hassle of taking your shirt to a tailor? With a TAPERED shirt, you’re guaranteed to get the perfect length of shirt, every time. These shirts are crafted by pioneering designers and expert tailors to ensure the shirt length is perfect, relative to other measurements.
All of the shirts feature an innovative tapered designer that is wider at the shoulders and narrows towards the waist – meaning the shirts aren’t restrictive at the shoulders and don’t bag at the waist.