How to select the correct size shirt or pants

IMAGE: gq.com

What size are you?

By size I don’t mean Small, Medium or Large. I’m referring to your shirt size or pants size. Dress shirts are sold according to sizes and so are dress pants. It does pay to know your size because it could save you an unnecessary trip to the tailor. Also, if you’re venturing to shop online, which is the new trend, you definitely need this information.

Dress Shirt Size

Ever wondered what the numbers in the back of your shirt mean?
Maybe you’ve never bothered to ask or to check. These two numbers are actually very important. The number 16 represents the neck size. The other number 32/33 is the length of the sleeve.

What you definitely do not want is for the collar too be too tight or have too much space. Secondly, no one likes to see baggy sleeves that almost reaches your knuckles. The sleeve should sit squarely at the end of your wrist. As for the fit, you can go for slim fit or regular. The former fits you closely and hugs every pouch and curve. Of course, if you have a tummy to worry about, you may want to stick to regular or have the tailor modify to fit your shape.

Pants Size

This one is a little tricky sometimes but in most cases it’s pretty straight forward. The waist and outer seam length size are displayed. In the above picture, the size is 38 inches at the waist and 30 inches for the length. There are some variances you need to be aware of. The inseam length is taken from the inside of the crotch down to the foot. The “Length of the pants” is taken from the waist to the foot. The inseam is shorter than the pants length.

So, my friend got a pants which says “32 inch waist” even though his waist is actually 36 inches. Upon trying the pants, he found that they fit perfectly. This is typically what they call vanity sizing. It is done deliberately by some brands. A feel good effect is achieved because you now, technically, fit into a smaller size category.

The other issue is really size inconsistency. This happens in mass production where two pants with the same size may actually fit differently. It happens. Be on the look out.

I find that of late, many of these pants are being made with a shorter crotch and the thigh size is off by a few inches. So the waist may fit or be your regular size but you can’t get it up because the thighs are just too tight. The short crotch is another problem. This causes the pants to sit on your hips being unable to get up to you waist. The ideal thing is to walk into a store and fit the pants before buying. When buying online, choose trusted brands. If you want to experiment with a new brand, check the reviews of other buyers to see comments about how the pants fit. This can sometimes be helpful.

Don’t know your size? Please visit the tailor or the seamstress. 

Some pants I like….

Men’s Levi’s Chino Joggers, Kohl’s $42.99 

Cotton Satin Suit Pants, H&M $34.99

What to wear it with:

All H&M

For more on pants, check out my earlier post Trousers or Pants, you decide.

Remember, style is personal. Do you.

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