Men, Quit Throwing a Fit

Translating garment industry terms into the right fit for men, especially when it comes to shirts, pants, and jackets.

With pressures to create clothing for international audiences and cut costs, it’s harder for men to order clothes online and expect them to fit. This guide will help you purchase clothing online and get the right fit the first time.

When it comes to buying shirts, not only do men need to know their measurements, they’ll need to know the cut of the garment. Most shirts will come with the collar size in inches, along with the sleeve length, like 15.5×32/33. In addition, there are several different cuts to look out for:

  • Classic / Regular fit: This is a fairly relaxed fit, provides room in the chest and waist for those men who prefer a looser fit garment. Traditional arm holes and sleeves.
  • Modern Fit: Slimmer fit, for those who want a more tailored look without giving up comfort. Slims toward the waist, with smaller armholes and narrower sleeves. May be called slim fit.
  • Extra Slim Fit: Slimmer still, good for men who feel like a classic or modern fit is a bit boxy.
  • Athletic Fit: This is a modern fit shirt with wider shoulders and bigger arms. Not as common as the other fits.

Shirt sizes can be likewise difficult, so this chart will help men navigate letter sizes along with international sizes:

Men’s Shirt Sizes, US and International

Jackets, blazers and coats follow a similar fit pattern (no pun intended), with chest being the predominant measurement. In addition, be mindful of the lapel. While narrower lapels are in style, too narrow lapels will give the appearance of a wider chest.

When it comes to international fits, there is quite a variety. European maps to most EU countries, and the UK size is same in Australia.

Men’s jacket sizes, US and international

When it comes to pants it’s a bit easier, as there are two measurements to consider: waist and inseam. A note on inseam: many manufacturers, in order to cut costs, have gone to a single inseam measurement, usually 34 inches. Make sure that you know a reputable tailor if you need a hem, particularly for jeans if you like the look of the factory jean hem. Like shirts, they have different cuts:

  • Relaxed or Classic fits: Looser around the hips, with a wider pant leg. Relaxed is more of a term used dealing with jeans, while classic is used with dress pants and chinos.
  • Slim fit: Narrower around the hips, with a slightly tapered leg.
  • Skinny: Seen more in jeans, this fit hugs the hips and ankles. No judgement, but those of us with dad bod, consider steering clear of this fit. It looks like two toothpicks holding up a meatball.

Use this table to convert between American and European sizes for men’s pants/trousers.

Men’s pant sizes, US and European

Summary: There’s a lot to consider when purchasing clothing online. Knowing how it’s measured should help, but as in all things bought online, make sure you know the process is should a purchased item not fit, and only deal with reputable platforms with clear return policies.

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