The Shirt Size Mystery

The man who shops for himself has discovered that the simple shirt size has become a mystery. Years ago, he could go into a store and ask for a shirt by knowing his neck and sleeve size. No longer. He now has to ask several questions:
Is the shirt a full-cut shirt? Are the sleeve lengths exact? Is the collar size cut for shrinkage? Is the sleeve length cut for shrinkage? How long are the tails?
 Once it is determined that the answers are satisfactory,he has to be concerned with label. Labels become important because the sizing on private labels in a department store will change depending on where the shirt is manufactured. If the
store purchases stock from different manufacturers, the label may remain the same and the sizing can change.
The best way to make sure of getting the right size is to measure your neck and sleeve and then ask if the shirt is cut true to size. Then, try on the shirt.

In a cotton shirt, there should be 1/2" excess room in the collar and 1/2" to 3/4" in the sleeve to allow for residual shrinkage. If the shirt fits perfectly before it is laundered, it’s too small; if there’s more than the allowances given, it’s too big.

Comfort should be the determining factor in fit.
The neckband of the collar should never choke. If it is too tight, it will spread or curl the collar, increase the tie space where the knot sits, or pull the points up from the chest. The band should be snug enough to keep the collar from falling away from the neck and down the chest.Remember, you can get away with a shirt collar that is a little loose far better than you can a tight collar.
  The body of the shirt should be full for your personal comfort. The taper should never bind the chest or midriff.

Four inches above body measurement is considered a tapered shirt. Only the man who does not have a bulging middle should consider this option.
 Today’s look has softer lines than the look of the 80’s. The trend in fashion is toward a looser fit in dress clothes as well as sportswear. A good guideline is eight inches above body measurement. If your shirt has more, it tends to look unkempt and tapering is in order.
 Fuller garments can be eight to ten inches above measurements. The heavier man should wear his shirt larger so that he won’t have any gaps, especially when he sits down.
 Fine stores will offer a tapering service to tailor their stock shirts to your torso.
 The tail of the shirt should be at least five inches below the waist to stay in the trousers, but not so long that it has to be bunched up. The average tail length in a standard dress shirt is about 31 inches and extra long tails would be about 34 inches.

 The sleeves should be long enough to allow you to bend your arm without pulling the cuff away from your wrist.
 Be sure you like the feel as well as the look of your shirt when judging the fit.

Here’s how to do it:
Neck — Some manufacturers put size tabs in their shirts that inadvertently mislead the man on his collar size. If you want to know your true collar size, there are two easy ways with a tape measure:
  You can have a friend measure you, starting at the base of the neck under your Adam’s Apple and bringing the tape around your neck to meet at the start. Place it where the collar will sit; higher on the neck will make the collar very uncomfortable, as it will pull when buttoned. When there is enough slack to make you comfortable, that is the collar size you should wear.
  Or, if you have a shirt that you are very comfortable in,measure the collar from the center of the button to the edge of the buttonhole while holding the collar taut.
  Remember, some people like more room in the collar and others like it snug. The ideal is to be comfortable while still looking good. Generally, the collar should fit closely enough so you can just slide your little finger into the space between collar and neck.
 However, comfort is the key — some men prefer looser collars. A collar that is slightly loose prevents a muscular neck from appearing too thick. Also, if a man is putting on weight it can make him appear that he is losing weight.
  If the collar fits you well unlaundered, then it is too tight.
Cotton shirts will shrink at least 1/2" in the laundering process in the first few launderings.
Sleeve — Have a friend put the end of the tape measure at the center of your 
back and the base of your neck, then pull it across the shoulder and down your arm, making sure that they’ve gone over any muscle of your shoulder and arm. Have them measure to the break of the wrist and add one inch. This will allow room for the bending of the arm,and will allow you to show cuff if your jacket is tailored properly.
  If you want to measure the sleeve length yourself, use a shirt you are comfortable in. Lay it on a flat surface and measure the sleeve, starting at the center of the back at the collar,go across the shoulder and down to the end of the sleeve.