There are 2 main types of sleeve used on upper body garments: Set-In and Raglan. You'll find both styles on garments such as T-Shirts, Polos, Crewneck Sweat Shirts, formal shirts and even Jackets and Coats.

You may be wondering what the difference is between Raglan and Set-In, and trying to decide which one is right for you. Below we explain to help you make the right choices for your work clothing or company uniform.

What is the difference between a raglan sleeve and a set in sleeve?

The differences are not subtle, but unless contrasting colours have been used in the garment, you might not even notice one.

  • Raglan gives ease of movement to the wearer but comes at an extra cost, but Set-in is faster and cheaper to produce.
  • Raglan is generally sporty and casual looking whilst Set-in tends to give a slightly more formal outline.
  • Women may find a Raglan sleeved garment more flattering as there is no seam at the shoulders to sharpen the silhouette.
  • People with large upper arms may benefit from a raglan as the fitting is wider in the underarm area than a Set-in.

What does a raglan sleeve look like? The Raglan Design

A Raglan sleeve is created with a continuous piece of fabric, extending from the collar of the garment to the underarm - often found on casual clothing and sportswear, like t-shirts, sweatshirts or sports jackets. This gives the seam a diagonal look, from neck to arm-pit.

You might recognise this style as a "Baseball" shirt with a contrasting coloured sleeve. This gives a cool and flattering sporty look when contrasting colours are used but it's not all about colour choice.

A Raglan gives easier movement than a set in sleeve

The Raglan style of sleeve creates a wider underarm area, especially convenient for over-garments such as sweatshirts or jackets, as it allows additional space for other layers underneath.

Many work jackets and sports tops are designed this way, which also makes it is easier to lift your arms as required without any restriction. This extra movement also makes the garment extremely comfortable to wear.

Some benefits of Raglan sleeved garment are:

  • Freedom of movement, due to extra space created by the shape of the sleeve
  • No shoulder seam
  • A wider underarm fitting
  • A slightly more casual or sporty look

A short history of Raglan Sleeves

There is an interesting yet short history surrounding the Raglan sleeve.

After Field Marshal FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan lost an arm at the battle of Waterloo, he commissioned a new coat design with fuller sleeves to accommodate his missing limb.

Told you it was a short history!

Very little else is known about who actually designed the garment.

What is an example of a Raglan Sleeve design?

Examples of garment that utilise the Raglan Sleeve, either for functionality, asthetics, or both would be the Russell Adult Classic Sweatshirt (pictured above) or the Riviera Contrast Polo Shirt from Gamegear

What is a Drop Sleeve? The Set-In Design

A ‘Set-In’ sleeve has a seam at the shoulder which continues around the complete construction of the arm. It is also quite well known as a "Drop Sleeve" style - both terms are interchangeable.

This style of sleeve gives a professional, formal and potentially more natural shape with a tailored look, suitable for formal events and more formal workwear uniform such as shirts or blouses.

What is an example of a Set-In sleeved garment

It's not all formal styling, most Polos, T-Shirts and Sweatshirts come in a set-in/drop sleeve cut. In fact, you would find almost every torso garment would be available in a set-in sleeve.

An example of a drop/set-in sleeved would be our popular Gildan Heavy Cotton Printable Tshirt or a Coolchecker® Polo from Premier.