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.