How to Tailor a Shirt - Make a Shirt Fit Better

Don’t you find that mens dress shirts have no consistency and each measurement is different? Sometimes too tight and uncomfortable or others are not fitted enough. 

This can be a frustrating time for any area of clothes shopping, but especially for shirts. Especially after thinking you have found the perfect shirt then you end up having to pay to take it to a tailor. 

No more of this.....

How to tailor a shirt - baggy shirt

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Sure, it might fit fine around the arms, and maybe the chest, but to get the right fit you’ve probably been left with plenty of extra material around the waist. Not only does it look sloppy, it hides all that effort you’ve put in to achieving that V-shaped physique. With a strong physique you want a good muscle fit shirt to show it.

So what’s a guy to do? In this guide we’ll show you how to tailor a shirt.

Shirt Alterations

How to take in a shirt on the sides: Tucking in techniques

The military tuck.

The first option on how to take in a dress shirt comes from an institution well known for its presentation: the military! We all know how strict the military is on dress codes, but this strictness even happens on things like tucking in a shirt. Luckily for us muscly guys, it’s ideal for giving the illusion of better fitting shirts.

There is some great advice out there on how you can tuck your shirt in. Checkout GQs instructional video:


Here are the steps:

  1. Start fully dressed with your shirt untucked.
  2. First, tuck your shirt in with your trousers undone, tucking it far enough down that there’s no excess material bunched around your waist.
  3. If your trousers have a second button or hook in the waistband, do this up to hold your shirt in place.
  4. Reach through the fly of your trousers to make sure the shirt is pulled down. It should look reasonably tight around your waist.
  5. Next, do your trousers up as normal, doing everything possible to keep your shirt tucked in.
  6. This might seem counter-intuitive, but pull your shirt up slightly at the sides so there’s some excess material bunched around your waist. This shouldn’t be so much that the bottom of your shirt is now hanging out.
  7. Take these small tabs of your shirt and fold them back on themselves, trapping the excess material. Essentially you’re trying to put a pleat in the shirt.
  8. Finally, tuck these into your waistband so they hold the excess material in place. And there you have the military tuck.

How to tailor a shirt - military tuck method

Theoretically this isn’t too difficult, although it can be a challenge to master the best fit for your physique. This is at least how to take in a shirt by hand. Here are the pros and cons of this method.


  • The military tuck is helpful because it allows you to work with your existing shirts, and works very well on slim fit shirts, but will also work on any shirt that’s too big for you.
  • It also allows you to have complete freedom over the fit of the body of your shirt, meaning you can taper it just how you want.
  • It isn’t permanent, which means you can wear your shirts as their normal fit if you want to. 



  • The military tuck sounds simple, but it definitely takes a lot of practice to get right, but don’t worry, you’ll be getting plenty of it!
  • Don’t even think about lifting your arms, turning, or even breathing! The second you make any kind of movement, or even think about moving, your shirt will come untucked. Then you’re left with that dreaded muffin top you were trying so hard not to have.

    How to alter a shirt to slim fit: Using a Tailor

    How to tailor a shirt - using a tailor


    Possibly the most obvious solution on how to dart a shirt is to keep your existing shirts and take them to your local tailor. A menswear tailor is perfectly suited to this kind of job, and it’s a relatively easy thing for them to do.

    All a tailor needs to do is put darts in the back of the shirt. What’s a dart? Simply put, a dart is a seam that’s sewn into the back of a shirt to remove excess material. Each dart will take away around 1.5cm of material, meaning you’ll lose around 3cm of the waistline of the shirt.


    Darts are designed to work with the V-shaped taper of a man’s torso. They start just below the armpit seam of the shirt, are widest around your middle, and then flare open slightly towards the bottom of the shirt so you can still get them on.

    It’s quite likely that if you’ve ever worn a fitted shirt you’ve had one that’s darted. It’s possible to achieve a much slimmer looking fit with darts, but you’re restricted by how much material can actually be taken out. Here are the pros and cons of this method.


    • Visiting a tailor allows you to keep your existing shirts but still have them fitted to your current physique.
    • Having a tailor sew darts into your shirt will give them the perfect fit for your body, and tailors can do things to adjust how much material is removed, or where the shirt tapers.
    • Having a shirt specifically tailored for you is quite a nice experience and makes the clothing feel more personal and unique.


      • There’s no two ways about it, tailoring is expensive. Even if you find one you consider reasonably priced, you’ve still paid twice: once for the shirt and once for the fitting.
      • It’s hard to find a reasonably priced tailor that’ll do good work.
      • Not to mention that the process is time consuming (typically 3-5 days). First you have to visit the tailor, then be measured, then wait for the work to be done. It’s not uncommon for tailors to have lots of work, meaning you could be waiting a while.


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      Trying a smaller size

      This might not be strictly working with your existing shirts, but it’s probably fair to say that you’ve tried buying smaller shirts in the past, or at least thought about it. Surely buying a smaller size will make it fit tighter, which is what we want, right?

      This is true to an extent, but there are plenty of flaws in this line of thinking. The biggest problem with this idea is simply because of the way clothes are produced for mass markets. The “one size fits all” model doesn’t really hold much logic.

      How to tailor a shirt - buttons bursting at the seams

      The important thing to bear in mind, and this might sound obvious, is that the shirt will be smaller. While this is exactly what you want around the waist and arms, it’s not what you want when it comes to length, and seams.

      Mass produced shirts don’t take into consideration that some people need tall and slim-fitting, while some need short and slim-fitting, or tall and standard-fitting, or any other possible combination of sizes and fits. The issue is that people aren’t all the same size, and the way they compensate for this is to group things into categories (the sizes we shop for).

      Doing this means that a small will be shorter in the arms and body than a large, and so also proportionately tighter. Finding the right combination of fitting and length is difficult when you start playing with sizing like this. Here are the pros and cons of this method.



      • Choosing a smaller size can give you a more fitted look around the chest and shoulders. 


        • There’s a very fine line between fitted and tight, and you’ll probably cross it if you start playing with sizes. Having clothes that are too tight puts excess strain on the seams, and you probably don’t want your shirt bursting open in the middle of work. Well, some people might.
        • The biggest problem will be with the arms, particularly the seams. Not only will the length probably be off, but this is the area where you actually need the most room.
        • The shoulder seam will be tight around the armpit, which will sacrifice overall comfort around your arms and chest.
        • You need to shop around for a smaller size.


      Roll up Sleeves

      Chances are that if your shirt is unforgiving in the front and back, chances are they will be loose on the sleeves too. Rolling up your sleeves will not only reveal more forearm but will create tightness in the material around the bicep - providing a more muscular look. It’s important when rolling up the sleeves to pull the sleeves down tightly first to ensure there is no rolls or additional fabric around the elbow.

      Try some different methods for the sleeve roll to see which suits best:


    • Perfect for summer months
    • Gives your forearms more exposure. The more you reveal in a shirt the easier it is to see your body shape.
    • If done in a straight line and combined with your military tuck will look extremely neat and fitted
    • Rolling your sleeves tight will highlight your biceps.

    • Cons

    • Rolling up your sleeves will create creases horizontally from seam to seam. When these are rolled down you will need to iron these out.
    • Only beneficial to the arms. 


      The TAPERED™ Fit - The real solution 


      So there are some DIY tips on how to tailor a shirt. Realistically, none of these options are particularly helpful. Either they’re expensive, time-consuming, temporary, or all of the above. Trying to work with your existing clothes, or with the commonly available fits and sizes, is really not your best option. So what’s a guy to do?  Instead of looking at how to make a shirt tighter around the waist.


      The ultimate solution is to choose a Tapered Fit shirt. Not only is this fit designed specifically for muscular guys – meaning you’ve got more room where you need it and less room where you don’t – but it’s also perfect for giving you a more tapered waistline. 


      If you’re upgrading your wardrobe, now is a good time to start looking for shirts that’ll show off that V-shaped physique you’ve been working so hard for. 


      Shop Tapered Fit Shirts




      Finally, we have solved the problem with off the rack shirts. Whether slim, athletic or a bodybuilder, this issue has now been solved with our TAPERED shirts. Designed to sit comfortably on your shoulders and taper sharply down your waist. Crafted with stretch material providing you with ultimate comfort and freedom of movement. The TAPERED shirts reward those who want a fully tailored look. The best shirts for a muscular build. Our Tapered collection also includes muscle fit t-shirts and muscle fit polos.