Buying T-Shirts That Fit: 4 Tips

Am I the only person that never seems to buy t-shirts that fit properly, or is this something that other people also have to deal with? From too long to too tight, too lose in the body, too large in the shoulders, or just kinda weird, a lot of the time men’s t-shirts don’t quite fit properly off the shelf.

Luckily, it’s easy to modify t-shirts to fit you properly, or to avoid buying ones that don’t fit in the first place. Here are my top four tips:

  1. Learn how a t-shirt should fit in the first place. The fit of a t-shirt shouldn’t be that different from a dress shirt. Obviously it’s more casual, but there’s no need for the basic fit to differ. The shoulder should meet at the corner of your shoulder bone, the armholes shouldn’t restrict your motion, and the torso should have less than 2″ of give on either side. The bottom of the t-shirt should sit around halfway down your zipper (or halfway between the belt and inseam of your pants, if you don’t have a zipper). Primer Magazine has a great guide to t-shirt fit.
  2. If your shirt is too long, but generally fits well around your body (or is just slightly too tight) and it’s 100% cotton, put it in the dryer for an hour or two to shrink it down to size. Most cotton t-shirts will shrink naturally in the dryer over a 2-3 week period until they start to fit, then they should stop shrinking after you wash and dry them further.
  3. If the t-shirt is still too long, take it to a clothing alterations shop and get it hemmed to the correct length. Here is a good visual guide to how a t-shirt should fit at the bottom, courtesy of Ashley Weston.
  4. Buy 100% cotton. My experience has been that 100% cotton t-shirts fit better, feel better and shrink to the perfect fit better than t-shirts that are a mix of cotton and polyester.
  5. Please, please, if you plan to tuck in your shirt, make sure your belt is a good match for your clothes. The best advice I’ve found is to match your belt to your shows. For example, a pair of black shoes deserve a matching black belt; brown matches with brown, and so on. This guide to the best belts for jeans includes several specific recommendations for good belts to wear.