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Off Your Back

Made-to-Measure Shirts Cater to Men Who Want a Streak of Perfection in their Wardrobes
Ralph DiGennaro
From the Print Edition:
Rush Limbaugh, Spring 94

(continued from page 2)

Weight: Most custom shirtmakers record a man's weight for their files, so that when the client reorders, the shirtmaker will know whether new measurements need to be taken.

Shoulder Line: Shoulder shapes vary from square to rounded to sloping, which must be accounted for if the shirt is to fit comfortably and allow for easy movement without putting undue stress on the top shoulder seams.

Chest: The client is measured completely around the chest, just under the pectorals. But before the chest size is ultimately determined, another measurement is taken with the man's arms at his sides. This is because the outside chest size may be larger than the inside measurement.

Waist: The waist size is taken so that the shirtmaker will know how much fabric to cut around the waist for a comfortable fit. Depending on a man's fit preference, the fabric around the waist is cut six to seven inches above the waist size for a full fit and about four to five inches for a trimmer fit.

Hips: This measurement is taken to ensure that there is enough fabric to cover the man's hips to prevent the shirt from riding up or lifting out of the back trouser band, a measurement particularly important with a more-fitted shirt style.

Arms: The client's arms are measured from the center yoke in the back of the shirt to where the sleeve will break at the wrist. Both arms must always be measured, since many men can have as much as a one-half-inch variance in the length of each arm.

Wrists: These measurements determine the fit and room left at the cuffs. Generally, the cuff fabric will be cut one-and a-half-inches to one-and-three-quarter inches above the circumference of a man's wrist. If a man wears a thick tank-style watch, extra fabric will be added to accommodate it.

Neck: Often referred to as a skin measurement, most custom shirtmakers size to the quarter-inch, with about three-eighths of an inch added to allow for shrinkage. During this measurement, the fitter will also determine the type and shape of the collar band (high, medium-high, low) that is best suited for a particular neck shape.

Front Height: This fitting applies to the actual collar that is to be fitted to the shirt body and is usually measured visually by an experienced fitter. It relates directly to how high or low the front of the collar should stand for comfort and appearance. A heavier man will need a lower front to make him appear thinner, while an older man, who may have loose skin or wrinkles at the neck, will need a higher front to conceal them.

Back Height: A measurement that corresponds to neck length, which can be adjusted to camouflage a neck that is too long or make a shorter neck appear higher. This is a crucial measurement because it determines the proper height of the shirt collar that should peek out above the jacket collar in back.

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