Allow me to preface this with saying that I am primarily an online shopper. I mostly hate going to brick and mortar places for a number of reasons I will not explain here. I'm usually pretty good at judging sizes based upon vendor-supplied size charts on websites and have generally been very successful in getting my size right while buying online.
While discussion around these parts seems to settle on pants most of the time, inconsistencies in shirt sizing aggravate me as well. The rest of this
rant data-driven study explores just one example of the root cause of this aggravation.
As far as sport shirts in the realm of an everyday essential, I could not stop hearing about how great Brooks Brothers was (most notably the extra slim fit). Sport shirting at Brooks Brothers comes in standard, nonspecific sizing (S, M, L, XL, etc.). Consulting the size chart on the site (scroll down to MEN’S SIZE TRANSLATION CHART) and you'll see that the large (L) would be best for someone between a 42 and 44 inch chest and 35" sleeve. This is nearly perfectly describes my sizing. But ah yes, the cut of the shirt...how is that? Directly above that size translation chart, you'll see a description of all the cuts offered at Brooks Brothers. I've transposed them below (I've omitted the Luxury Fit because it is the same as the Traditional Fit only available in longer sleeve and body lengths).
- Traditional Fit
- Our fullest cut sport shirt
- Slim Fit
- Measures 3” slimmer through the chest, 5” slimmer through the waist and 2” slimmer through the seat than our Traditional Fit Sport Shirt.
- Extra Slim Fit
- Measures 2" slimmer through the chest, 2" slimmer through the waist and 3" slimmer through the seat than our Slim Fit Sport Shirt. Higher arm holes and narrower sleeves complement the trimmer silhouette.
So it would stand to reason that the Extra Slim is 5" slimmer through the chest, 7" slimmer through the waist, and 5" slimmer through the seat than the Traditional Fit (simple addition of SF to ESF reductions). Now, I'm not exactly a slim guy but I'm not cut like an action figure either. I was actually debating originally between the Slim Fit in large and the Extra Slim Fit in large. One of the reasons for this debate was that I saw a friend who had one of these very shirts (Brooks Brothers Extra Slim). He had one in medium and he reported to me that it was very trim through the chest and that he probably should have gotten the Slim Fit in medium on account of him having an unusually large chest for his height (shorter than me). So using this information and the information on the Brooks Brothers site, I ordered an Extra Slim Fit oxford cloth buttondown in large.
Upon receiving the shirt, I was disappointed to say the least. Not because it was too slim through the torso but because it was way, way too full. I'll let the measurements do the talking. I took measurements of the chest pit-to-pit, the waist where it would tuck into pants, and the largest part of the sleeve, pit to outer shoulder.
A: Chest : 23.5"
B: Waist : 22.5"
C: Sleeve: 9.5"
At least for me, wearing this shirt has resulted in considerably annoying bunching around the waist while tucked in and sail-like excess through the sleeves. I never realized just how large it was until I threw a Levi's trucker jacket (size large) over it. This is actually what prompted me to measure the shirt in the first place. For reference, I've included the same measurements for the jacket as well.
A: Chest : 22.5"
B: Waist : 21.5"
C: Sleeve: 8.5"
Thus, the "Extra Slim" shirt (compared to the Levi's jacket) is 2" larger through the chest, 2" larger through the waist, and 2" larger in the sleeves! This shirt is larger than an article of outerwear of the same tagged size! I understand that different brands have different guidelines and that you can't assume that a large is a large is a large, always. Having said that, why on earth is this shirt described as extra slim? It's not even slim by conventional standards. Also, the minuscule collar with rear button that prevents all but the slimmest ties from fitting through is some kind of sick punctuation mark on this bloated, adverb-laden sentence of a shirt.
I am aware that Brooks Brothers is a traditional brand with generally traditional (see: full) sizing. But when heard repeatedly from young people on the Internet championing "BB-ESF" as the gold standard for off the rack sport shirting, I figured that Brooks was trying to target a wider demographic and hey, better for everyone, right?
What is the explanation for my dissatisfaction with this shirt? Is it just me? Do I just have unreasonable standards compared to those of my peers? Did I read the size chart wrong? Is there something wrong with the Large pattern at Brooks Brothers? Did my shirt get tagged wrong at the factory? Either way, this shirt fitting me properly will require it to be entirely recut through the side seam.