Why are men's fitted shirts folded and pinned?
November 23, 2004 3:01 PM   Subscribe

What's the deal with men's fitted shirts? Why are they folded and pinned into packages that do not allow customers to try them on and make sure they, uh, fit?
posted by elwoodwiles to Shopping (18 answers total)
Hey, when I'm paying $50 or more for a shirt I like to know that no one else has been in it.
posted by falconred at 3:09 PM on November 23, 2004

Some stores, especially the higher end men's stores will have sample shirts available for customers to try. Ask. Return policies usually allow unwrapped returns. Try 'em on at home and if you don't like them, take'm back.
posted by NorthCoastCafe at 3:14 PM on November 23, 2004

I think it's because most people buying these shirts have been buying the exact same shirt from the same maker for the past 15 years and are damn well not about to go experimenting with something new at this point in their career as a middle manager. =)
posted by idontlikewords at 3:22 PM on November 23, 2004

Heh. What idontlikewords said, even for us younger business guys. I order everything online, though...
posted by SpecialK at 3:24 PM on November 23, 2004

The thought is that men tend to soil shirts with sweat and odor without much effort. I'm not saying this is accurate, it's just the reasoning. Retailers think that men don't want to purchase shirts already pre-soiled, thus you're made to try on sample shirts. And, this is the policy even at low-end retailers like H&M. I know that Kuhlman's allows you to try on the shirt that you'll actually purchase.
posted by Juicylicious at 3:25 PM on November 23, 2004

By the way, just to pimp my favorite shirts ... I'm a rather skinny guy (no shoulders to speak of, and barrel chested to boot ...) and I'm kind of hard to fit for shirts. Brooks Brothers has a "slim fit" shirt that fits me pretty darned well for an out-of-the-box shirt, but you can usually only find them online.

If regular shirts look like a tent on you, you might consider it.
posted by SpecialK at 3:39 PM on November 23, 2004

Because in theory, you know your measurements and buy your shirt by collar / sleeve size etc. Although there must be variations by manufacturer that also affect fit ... hmm ...
posted by lbergstr at 4:06 PM on November 23, 2004

If you're hitting the right place, the old guy with a tape measure around his neck can give you a good idea what will fit. If he's old enough, he'll size you better than you trying on a shirt.
posted by yerfatma at 4:16 PM on November 23, 2004

most REAL MEN already know their neck size and whether they want a tapered cut or not.

of course, if you go to any reasonable department store, you can always ask the person working the counter to take your measurements and recommend a shirt for you, then go across the street to Ross's or whatever and buy the same shirt there.

Also most "reasonable" department stores (macy's, nordstrom's, etc) I've been in -- despite certainly having the packaging to discourage it -- have not actually ever stopped me from opening up a shirt and trying in on and then leaving it in a crumpled ball in the dressing room.

seriously though, once you figure out your measurements, you should be pretty good -- most folks just go by neck size, i believe, or a combination of neck/sleeve; again, figure out whether you want the cut to taper or not too (i'd try one on. I find that non-tapered shirts look *really* boxy and stupid on my frame, but the tapering probably gives them a different fit).
posted by fishfucker at 4:20 PM on November 23, 2004

Maybe so you can't tell that they don't have a breast pocket, like the so-aptly-named "Golden Fleece" shirts that Brooks Brothers is now offering?

That pissed me off, especially since it's the first shirt of theirs in about 5 years that hasn't used that chintzy low grade nipple chafing cotton. On the upside, it caused me to have a bunch of shirts custom-made by a real "haberdasher," Ascot Chang, and they're fabulous.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:14 PM on November 23, 2004

The only real problem with the know your size so you'll know how it'll look line of thinking is that it misses quite possibly the most important detail of dress shirts -- 2nd button placement.

The first button, at the very top, doesn't matter. It's just for use with ties, and who cares about those. But for those of us who wear dress shirts casually, the placement of the 2nd button is crucial to how the shirt will hang, how the collar will look (no matter spread or point or anything else), and whether, really, the shirt will work at all.

It's a bitch, but it's true. I often unpin the umpteen pins and remove lots of cardboard and plastic bits at stores like Marshall's and TJMaxx (same store really). Then I try on the shirts to see how they fit. Sales people give you weird looks, but hey, would you buy pants without trying them on? They're sized with measurements? Exactly. I do not try them on without an undershirt though, as a rule. It's just dirty.
posted by zpousman at 5:22 PM on November 23, 2004

Far from not being stopped from trying on a dress shirt the last time I was in Nordstrom, the salesman encouraged me to do so. I still managed to get too-short sleeves, but I wasn't paying so hey.
posted by kenko at 5:50 PM on November 23, 2004

it's the first shirt of theirs in about 5 years that hasn't used that chintzy low grade nipple chafing cotton.

Wouldn't wearing an undershirt help avoid nipple chafing? Men's shirts hang better and last longer if an undershirt is worn. Plus, it's a much more put together look. Seriously, I always notice if a man isn't wearing an undershirt.
posted by Juicylicious at 6:10 PM on November 23, 2004

Because there is a fucking conspiracy. The same conspiracy that thought it was a good idea to make the neck size the main shirt measurement. I don't care if a neck is a little looser or a little snugger nearly so much as I care whether the ENTIRE FREAKING SHIRT ballons like a goddamn mumu. The same conspiracy that makes odd waist sizes impossible to find, even though, assuming a standard bell curve distribution, odd waist sizes ought to be just as common as even waist sizes. The same conspiracy that thinks that one size on a jacket is just fine, because after all, everyone with a size 42 torso has arms precisely the same length.

posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:00 PM on November 23, 2004

I don't like wearing an undershirt - I tend to feel too hot at normal office temperatures. I don't like wearing shirts that are thin enough that you can see what I'm wearing under them, either, which is another vote in favor of custom shirts for me. And the chafy fabric also chafes my neck and wrists.

As far as the way the shirts hang, my shirts fit very well, and my tailor knows I don't wear an undershirt. Most of his clients don't either, apparently.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:30 AM on November 24, 2004

Well you know, the jacket problem is solved by a seamstress (does one say "seamstress" anymore?).
posted by kenko at 7:37 AM on November 24, 2004

IG- the assumption when you're buying a suit (I'm discounting cheap "ready-to-wear" suits) is that you're going to have to tailor it to fit you exactly anyway, so producers want as few "core" selections as possible.
posted by mkultra at 9:18 AM on November 24, 2004

odd waist sizes ought to be just as common as even waist sizes

If you don't have an even waist size, you will have trouble reproducing: your ill-fitting pants will result in difficulty attracting a mate. Slowly, odd-waist-size genes will die out.

More seriously, it is not much trouble for most people to add or lose an inch and thereby "get even."
posted by kindall at 11:48 AM on November 24, 2004

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