It’s hard not being able to fit into the theoretical average of ready to wear clothing. I stand 5’9″ and weigh 190 lbs with broad shoulders and arms that are longer than average. I fit well into a size L but find the neck measurement of 16.5″ is short by half an inch and the cuffs don’t reach my wrist bone. And with American and European brands making special fits and sizes for sale in Asian countries I’m pretty much out of luck when it comes to buying off the rack.
After many years of buying from different brands I have developed a two-fold solution to my predicament. The first step is to look for western brands that offer slim fit shirts such as Polo Ralph Lauren (Slim Fit) and GANT (Fitted Fit). Instead of buying a size L, I choose to buy a size XL which accommodates my 17″ neck, broad shoulders and longer arms. The logic here is to buy the slimmest possible fit in a size that matches my physique so that I have less to do when it comes to the next step: alterations.
Now that I have my slim fit shirts the next step is to bring them to an alteration tailor. Shirts from traditional brands like Polo Ralph Lauren fit large around the arms, chest and waist compared to more fashion forward brands like GANT even at their slimmest fit. For Polo Ralph Lauren shirts I remove the excess cloth in the chest, arms and waist and add darts in the back to achieve a better fit. When it comes to GANT the shirts fit quite well off the rack with no alterations needed.
The two shirts here are from Polo Ralph Lauren in a size XL slim fit. Both shirts have been altered to ways that I have just described and I’m happy with how they fit. The shirt doesn’t fit tight around the shoulders and the sleeve length is just right. I made sure to leave enough cloth around the waist to prevent the shirt from pulling itself out. I know it’s not good to buy ready to wear clothing with the intent to alter but if made-to-measure or bespoke is not an option this strategy can be used to get a decent fitting shirt.