Do you feel like you can’t breathe every time you close the top button on your shirt to wear a tie? If so, you may need to learn how to measure neck size. Knowing your neck size will help you buy shirts with collars that fit your body properly!
Men should measure the neck just below Adam’s apple to ensure a button-down shirt with a collar that fits comfortably. For women, locate the widest portion of the neck and measure around the full circumference. Neck measurements play an important role in buying shirts and necklaces and maintaining healthy weight.
In this article, you will learn how to read collar sizes for men’s and women’s shirts. You will learn five methods for measuring the neck. Finally, you will find tips on how a collar should fit for a comfortable experience.
- How Do Neck Sizes Work?
- How to Measure Neck Size: 5 Methods
- How to Measure Neck Size Without Tape
- What is an Average Neck Size?
- Neck Size Chart
- What is the Normal Neck Circumference?
- Neck Size-To-Height Ratio
- What is a Neck Size for a Large Shirt?
- Why Do They Measure Your Neck Before Surgery?
- How Should a Shirt Fit Your Neck?
How Do Neck Sizes Work?
Men’s dress shirts often list the neck size as the first portion of a numerical size, followed by the sleeve length. For example, a size 14 34 has a 14” neck at the collar and a sleeve length of 34 inches.
Neck sizes for men’s dress shirts can range from 13 to 19 inches and often come in half-inch increments to give you the most precise fit possible. When you button the top button of the shirt, you should still be able to slide two fingers inside the collar without feeling like you will choke. This is how you know the neck size fits you!
Neck size matters a lot for men’s dress shirts because you have to button the top button to wear a tie. But other kinds of clothing, like women’s shirts or dresses that feature a collar, may also require a neck measurement. These garments typically will not list the neck as part of the size, but you can find the measurement in a sizing chart provided by the brand.
How to Measure Neck Size: 5 Methods
If you want a perfectly tailored shirt for men or women, you need to know how to measure your neck size! This will help you find a collar that buttons comfortably around your neck, allowing you to wear a tie or look trim in a suit jacket. The easiest way to do this is to measure yourself, though you can also measure a shirt that fits you well.
But you may also need to know how to measure your neck size for a necklace or even to help you measure body fat!
1. For Men’s Dress Shirt
The neck measurement for a men’s dress shirt is one of the most important elements in getting a button-down that fits you well. If you get a shirt with an overly large collar, it will sag down at the base of your neck. But if you buy a shirt with a too-small neck measurement, you will not find it easy to button the top button and wear a tie!
Because neck measurement matters so much for men’s dress shirts, most brands offer neck sizes in half-inch increments. This lets you get just the right fit for your body.
To measure your neck size for a dress shirt:
- Get your posture right before you begin. Stand up straight, but relax your shoulders. Hold your chin at a relaxed angle, not sticking out or tucked in.
- Place the end of the tape at the base of your neck, where the top edge of a shirt collar would rest. You can also locate this point by placing the tape below your Adam’s Apple.
- Hold that tape end in place with one hand, and wrap the tape around your neck.
- Use a mirror to check the back of your neck and make sure the tape remains level.
- Hold the tape circle around your neck firmly but not so tightly that the tape indents your skin.
- Finally, slide two fingers under the tape, and loosen it just enough to allow the fingers to fit easily.
- Write down the neck measurement.
2. For Women’s Collar
Many women’s shirts and dresses have close-fitting collars, and you will need to know how to measure neck size for a woman’s collar to make sure you find a garment that fits you comfortably.
Unlike men’s dress shirts, women’s clothing typically does not use the neck measurement as part of the garment size. Instead, women’s clothing typically comes in an even-numbered sizing system starting at zero and going up to 18. To find the size that has a comfortable neck fit, use a sizing chart and trace your neck size to the corresponding garment size in the chart.
- Place the tip of the tape measure at the base of your neck or about one inch up from the point where your neck meets your shoulder. You can also think of this as the point where a collar would close around your neck.
- Circle your neck with a flexible tape measure at this point. Keep the tape snug but don’t cinch it too tightly.
- Finally, use two fingers beneath the tape to loosen it a little. This allows ease in your final collar measurement.
- Write down the neck measurement.
3. For Necklace
Knowing your neck measurement will help you buy necklaces that best fit your body type.
- Start by measuring your neck. To do this, wrap a flexible tape measure around the widest part of your neck, just above where your neck meets your shoulders. Hold the tape firmly but don’t pull so tightly that it dents your skin.
- Add two or four inches to this measurement to get your baseline for the shortest necklace length you should wear.
- The exception to this rule is a choker necklace. A choker should have the same measurement as your neck measurement to fit you properly.
If your neck measurement does not fit the standard necklace measurements listed here, get the next-largest necklace instead!
Choker length usually measures 16 inches, a Princess-length necklace measures 18 inches, and matinee necklaces measure 20 inches. So if your neck measures 16 inches, you fall within this standard metric and can buy any standard necklace size. However, if your neck measures 17 inches, you will need to either get a necklace extender or buy a choker that measures 17 inches.
4. For Body Fat
Another key reason you may need to know your neck measurement is to help you determine your body fat percentage. To do this, you measure your neck and waist (or, for women, your neck, waist, and hips). You then plug your measurements into an online calculator like this or use the equation listed below to determine what percent of your body mass is fat.
This metric has nothing to do with your body shape, how much you weigh, or how big you are! Instead, it tells you how much of your body is fat instead of bone and muscle.
Understanding your body fat percentage can help you maintain a healthy body. Most health experts agree that a healthy body fat range falls between 5 to 15 percent for men and 16 to 23 percent for women. Of course, this can vary based on your particular body type, your level of activity in daily life, and so on. If you find your body fat percentage concerning, you should talk to your doctor before making any dramatic health changes to your lifestyle.
To take your own body fat percentage measurement:
- Start by measuring around the widest part of your neck. Keep your shoulders relaxed, so your throat does not tense as you do this.
- Next, measure around your waist. Locate the point above the top edge of your hipbone, or look for the most narrow portion of your torso.
- For women, take one more measurement: wrap the tape measure around your hips and circle the widest portion of your seat.
- Finally, plug your measurements into these equations. The equations do look pretty intense–if you don’t want to work your way through the math, go ahead and use a free online calculator instead!
- For men: [86.010 x log10(waist – neck)] – [70.041 x log10(height in inches)] + 36.76
- For women: [163.205 x log10(waist + hip – neck)] – [97.684 x log10(height in inches)] – 78.387.
5. On a Shirt
Another way to get an accurate neck measurement is to measure the collar on a shirt that fits you well.
- First, try on the shirt and button the top button. See if you can comfortably fit two fingers inside the buttoned collar. If so, you can safely use this shirt to take neck measurements!
- Take the shirt back off and spread it out flat on a table, with the inside of the collar facing up at you.
- Locate the stitching on the inside of the collar that shows where the button is on the outside. Start your measurement at this point.
- Measure straight across the length of the collar to the buttonhole on the other end of the collar.
- Write down this measurement.
How to Measure Neck Size Without Tape
Using a ribbon, string, or piece of twine, you can easily measure your neck size without a tape measure.
- Simply cut a length of ribbon, twine, yarn, or anything softly and flexibly. Gently wrap it around the fullest part of your neck. When the two ends of the ribbon meet up, pinch them together.
- Hold onto that point in the ribbon and mark it with a pen or pencil.
- Finally, measure the length of that marked distance on the ribbon using a regular ruler or a metal tape measure.
Remember that you want to add two fingers for a shirt collar measurement. For a necklace measurement, add two to four inches for a comfortable fit.
What is an Average Neck Size?
You can find the average neck size today by finding the median collar size sold on dress shirts for both men and women.
The average neck size for women is 13 inches. The most commonly sold shirt collar sizes for women range from 12 to 14 inches, meaning the median size is 13 inches.
This does not mean you have a weird body if your neck falls below or above that size range! But it does mean that shirts sold in the average 4-8 size range for women may not fit your neck properly. You can get shirts tailored to fit you or look for sizes outside the small to large range.
The average neck size for men is 15 inches, though common neck sizes range from 14 to 18 inches. On a dress shirt, a 15” collar usually falls around a size Medium for men. Any measurement below that may have a small size, and above it could have a large or XL size.
Is a 15 Inch Neck Big?
A 15-inch neck does fall outside of the average neck sizes for women but is the average neck for men. So for a woman, a 15” neck could look larger than average. Men with a 15” neck will probably want to buy size medium shirts, though.
Is a 16 Inch Neck Big?
Typically, a 16-inch neck measurement for men falls into a medium category. But some brands may use 16 inches a large because any measurement over 16 inches typically falls into a large size.
How Do You Know If You Have a Big Neck?
You may feel that you have a big neck if you do not fit into the average shirt collar sizes, which reach up to 17” for men and up to 14” for women. If you buy Big and Tall shirts to find a collar that fits you comfortably, you may have a larger-than-average neck size.
People can have larger-than-average neck measurements for many reasons. The simplest reason is that everyone has unique body proportions. For example, you may have a shorter neck than the average man or woman, which could make you feel you have a large neck, even if your neck has an average size.
Or you might have a higher BMI than you would like, which often manifests with a wider neck and waist than other portions of the body.
But one of the most common reasons men acquire larger-than-average neck sizes is working out! Building up muscle groups like the trapezius muscles makes your shoulders look taller and your neck look shorter and can increase your neck size.
Neck Size Chart
Check out this chart for a quick overview of the average collar sizes offered in men’s and women’s dress shirts.
|Men’s Collar Measurement||Women’s Collar Measurement|
|S||14-15 Inches, 35.5 cm-38 cm||12-13 Inches, 30.5 cm-33 cm|
|M||15-16.5 Inches, 38 cm-42 cm||13-14 Inches, 33 cm-35.5 cm|
|L||16.5-17.5 Inches, 40.5 cm-44.5 cm||14-15 Inches, 35.5 cm-38 cm|
|XL||17-19 Inches, 43 cm-48 cm||15-16 Inches, 38 cm-40.5 cm|
What is the Normal Neck Circumference?
The average neck circumference for men is 37 cm and for women, 34 cm. The term “neck circumference” usually means a specific medical measuring procedure used for several health-related processes, such as measuring BMI or checking for inflammation.
When you want to measure your neck for a collar size, you would more often say “neck size” or “neck measurement.”
The medical process measures around the throat just below the larynx.
Neck Size-To-Height Ratio
In the medical field, experts have found some correlation between the neck-to-height ratio and certain ailments like sleep apnea and liver issues. For this reason, taking an official neck circumference measurement and comparing it to your height can sometimes help a doctor diagnose illnesses.
It is also common to compare neck circumference to height to determine if you carry body fat in your neck, which can indicate an unhealthy BMI.
What is a Neck Size for a Large Shirt?
For men, a neck size of 16 inches or great usually fits a large shirt collar. For women, a neck size of 14 inches will fit a large shirt.
Of course, this can vary slightly from one brand to another. There is no universally agreed-upon sizing system used by all shirt manufacturers! You should always check the sizing chart offered by a brand to make sure it uses measurements that fit your body.
Why Do They Measure Your Neck Before Surgery?
In some cases, medical professionals measure the circumference of the neck before surgery to check for respiratory distress. Neck measurement may be one of many checks regularly performed to ensure your body is ready for surgery.
Depending on your health and many other factors, doctors may also measure your neck as a way to check your BMI or excess body fat.
In some cases, neck circumference can also play a role in sleep apnea, so doctors may need to track the neck measurement as a tool to help you achieve better rest.
How Should a Shirt Fit Your Neck?
A shirt should fit your neck so closely that you can fit just two fingers between the collar and your skin. When you wear a shirt with a collar, try fastening the top button. If you struggle to pull the collar shut, the neck is too small for you. If you button the collar and it gaps open with extra space between the shirt and your neck, it is too big.
If you have a large neck or feel that you carry a lot of weight in your neck, make sure you do not get a too-small collar that causes your neck to bulge out over the top of the collar.
If you feel that you have a long neck, you may want to get a taller collar to shorten the distance between the top of the collar and your chin.
But the most important rule is that you should always be able to comfortably place two fingers between the collar and your neck.
The easiest way to measure your neck size is to wrap a flexible tape measure around the widest part of your neck, right where the top edge of a shirt collar would lie. For men, start right below your Adam’s Apple to measure the base of the neck. For women, locate the point about one inch up from where your shoulder meets your neck.
Average men’s collar sizes for dress shirts range from 14 to 16 inches. Women’s collar sizes, on average, fall between 13 and 14 inches. The key to getting a shirt with a collar that fits you, for men and women, is to make sure you can place two fingers inside the collar comfortably.