The world of French cuffs and classic collars is a mysterious one for most men. Although they seem simple and straightforward at first, the technical aspects of shirts can get very complicated, especially if you are not used to terms in the fashion industry. Understanding these concepts, however, is the only way (short of hiring a professional tailor, and even that’s no guarantee) to get the best-fitting shirts possible for your body and your look.
Sizing Your Shirt
Very little has changed in the sizing standards of shirts in the past several decades. Nowadays, you are bound to see two size standards in common use: the formal sizing chart, which uses numbers, and the casual clothing standard, which uses letter sizes like S, M, L and so on. But even if all the retailers and manufacturers use the same notation for indicating shirt sizes, it doesn’t mean that the large for one retailer is as big as the large of another. In fact, you will find that the sizes can vary a lot between retailers.
Some higher-end retailers use a less common sizing notation on their shirts. This standard is actually, well, standard across all manufacturers because the size uses the real measurements of different parts of the shirt. It uses two numbers written to look like a fraction; the first or the upper number is the width at the neck in inches, while the second or lower number is the length of the sleeve. These are two of the most important measurements in any shirt from any maker, as they are the difficult ones to adjust.
Take Notice of Your Trunk
More than ever, the modern male’s midsection can vary from stick-thin to elephantine huge. This is usually where a lot of different retailers will vary their measurement, mostly because there are two factors that determine how large a shirt is around the trunk. First there’s the fit, which dictates how much (or how little) the shirt will hug the body. Second is the actual size; after all, there’s no way that a size S shirt from any retailer would ever fit a plus-size guy.
Again, the standards of fit almost always change with the maker of the shirt. Once you’ve found a retailer that sells shirts in exactly your size, it is a good idea to stick to that retailer and keep buying shirts from them while you can. Undersized and plus-sized people in particular will tell you that such a seller is a rare find, so you should remember and hang on to any that you discover.
Time for a Tailor?
Unless you are fortunate enough to have a body that fits exactly into the wares of most retailers, you will want to consider looking for a skilled and reliable tailor to make some of your shirts. Fit is the first and foremost thing that will make a shirt look good (or hideous) on you, and you will get the best fits from shirts and other clothes that are tailored especially for you. Best of all, tailors often know little tricks with clothing construction to hide or emphasize certain things about your body.
Never rush when buying a shirt, especially if you don’t feel good about how the shirt fits you. Even if you know you are a medium and you are trying on a medium-sized shirts, you will only look silly if you walk out on the street wearing a shirt that doesn’t fit you like it should.