You thought you’d seen the last of it, but once again it’s time for the return of the (ir)regular feature called Q&A Quickies!

Today’s question comes from Bruce who e-mailed me with the following query regarding dress shirts and the problems involved in finding the perfect fit with an athletic build. He writes:

“I’m fairly athletic with pretty broad shoulders so I’ve had some trouble finding the exact right size for me all the time. However, I’ve been having one problem I can’t seem to solve. I was at a store just yesterday trying on some shirts because all my shirts are either too tight (around the neck) or too loose around the body. I figured looking for slim fit or trimmed fits would help but it’s only made a slight difference. My neck is around 16 1/2 inches and a Large/ 16-16 1/2 neck size feels perfect. However the body of a medium of 15-15 1/2 slim fit seems a lot more fitting. Do I have to forgo more money to get exact tailoring or should I not be as picky and just choose one and forget about the other? Thanks. Bruce”

Finding a great fitting shirt can be a chore at the best of times, and as you’ve discovered, buying ‘off the rack’ often means a compromise.

Ideally, I’d say try a custom shirt store; these are beginning to spring up throughout cyberspace. Personal favourites include the excellent Blank-Label, the superb Proper Cloth, and the equally good Shirts My Way – they aren’t substantially more expensive than good quality ‘off-the-rack’ shirts, plus you can customise every element (including buttons, epaulets and pockets) not just the collar and chest/waist sizes.

Of course, you can always stick to the high street and experiment with alternative stores/brands. You may find that the stores you normally tend to avoid stock shirts with slightly larger collars or waists than other retailers.

Also, keep an eye out for so-called ‘athletic’ fits. These typically have a fuller chest whilst being tapered at the waist, as well as allowing a little extra breathing room around the shoulders and neck.
Don’t be afraid to try a couple on for size before buying, or even asking a sales assistant for some advice – while it’s their job to sell you their products, you’d be surprised by how many people they encounter on a daily basis with your exact problem, and they may just know of a brand/store that stocks exactly what you’re looking for.

Thanks to Bruce for allowing me to reprint his e-mail. Please feel free to leave your own comments below, especially if you have a piece of advice that I may have missed.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.