How a Men’s Dress Shirt Should Fit
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Do So Many Men Look like Unmade Beds?
Wrinkled, disheveled, un-tucked, blousy...sound like someone
Everywhere you look, there are men with long, dangling sleeves,
bulging necks squeezed by collars that are too tight or
with enough fabric billowing around their waists to sail
the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Many men seem to
be either drowning in their dress shirts or look like stuffed
Renowned image consultant and men's clothing designer Janine
Giorgenti has spent 20 years measuring thousands of men
for dress shirts. After listening to their frustrations,
she has come to the conclusion that men want to look crisp
and neat, but cannot find a darn shirt that fits!
With the onslaught of Walmart and the "superstores,"
men's specialty stores that once serviced individuals became
extinct like the dodo bird.
Mass production overseas, coupled with the American drive
to make products as cheaply as possible, caused men's dress
shirt manufacturers to "simplify" and pare-down
size options to maximize productivity.
How does this relate to you? Well, it's like, fat chance
finding that once available 14 ? neck with a 35 sleeve and
more like, "Tough noogies, we have a 14 ? neck with
a combo 32/33 sleeve, (leaving the guy with longer than
average arms looking like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of
Oz,) so take it or leave it." Wow! You just got a great
bargain to look silly. What a deal!
Who is Outside of the So-called Norm?
- Guys with big necks and thinner bodies. (If the shirt
fits your neck, then the body looks like a parachute.)
- Guys with small necks and long arms. (The industry now
assumes that if men have a narrow neck, they are short,
with short arms.)
- Guys with an athletic build. (Fuggedaboutit! If it fits
your chest and shoulders, the rest of the shirt will be
a tent. If it fits you from the waist down, you might as
well be in a straitjacket.)
- Guy with short necks. (The collar will be up to your gills.)
- Guy with long necks. (When you speak, we expect to hear,
- Guys with neck sizes over 18 ?. (If you have short arms,
be prepared to have your sleeves dangling down at your sides.)
- Short guys. (The proportions of the available dress shirts
will make you look like you're a kid playing dress-up in
your father's shirt.)
- Tall, thin guys. (Good luck finding a long enough sleeve
and shirt tail length with a body that doesn't fit two of
How a Men's Dress Shirt Should Fit: Five Tips to
a Great-Fitting Dress Shirt
The Neck: The shirt collar should allow you to slide two
fingers down the neck-band, between your throat and collar,
while buttoned, without gagging. There should be room for
your head to turn and move without choking. The shirt should
initially have an extra ? - ?? to allow for shrinkage.
The Shoulders and Body: You should be able to move your
arms freely without the shirt pulling uncomfortably across
the shoulders. The body of the shirt should not be baggy
and shapeless, nor should it pull or pucker.
The Cuffs: The cuffs should be just tight enough that they
do not hang over your hand and you should not be able to
slip your hand through the cuffs without first unbuttoning
The Sleeves: When your arms are at your sides, your cuffs
should end slightly below your wrist bones with just enough
blouse at the cuffs to make it easy to bend your arms.
The Shirt Tail: Your shirt tail needs to be long enough
for it to not come out of your pants when you raise your
arms, yet not so long as to make unsightly bulges when tucked
For Every Action, There is an Equal and Opposite
Newton was right!
The industry has reduced consumer options, making it impossible
to buy a man's dress shirt unless it is white, blue or the
"color de jour," in other than a limited size
range. This extreme limitation and "dumbing-down"
of the men's dress shirt market, has spawned a resurgence
of the custom shirt industry.
Custom shirts were once an expensive luxury, only available
to the rich. Because of the demand for a shirt that fits
and is affordable, the custom shirt has come back with a
vengeance, in a new form: The ultimate, convenient, at-home,
online, popular-priced custom shirt...that you can order
while still in your underwear.
Just Google "Men's Custom Dress Shirt," and you
will see affordable options available. Has this become the
counter revolution to the limited mass produced shirt? We
Custom Versus Off-the-Rack
Now that you know how your shirts should fit, it is time
to explore your options.
If you have had success with off-the-rack, then you are
lucky, as long as you can live with limited selections.
For men who have fit challenges, a custom made shirt is
a better option than having your shirts "retrofitted"
by a tailor. This usually produces poor results and ends
up costing more than a custom shirt, when you add in expensive
alteration costs on top the price of the shirt.
Having your shirts custom made is the best and most affordable
way to get a true custom fit. Believe it or not, this is
not just a luxury for the rich and famous. It is much more
convenient and affordable than you might think. Prices vary,
but you can generally find a nice quality custom dress shirt
for no more than you would pay for an off-the-rack shirt
at your local department store, and turn-around time is
usually about four weeks.
Whether you go to a local tailor or design your custom shirts
online, the most important thing to remember is to comparison
shop and go with a source that has a good guarantee, a comprehensive
measurement system, and a good selection of high-quality
Janine Giorgenti is a
renowned fourth generation Italian designer, image consultant
and custom clothier. Visit her website at www.bestcustomshirt.com
for more style advice and fashion tips.
Published - October 2008
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