How to find clothes for a tall, thin man in Chicago?
July 3, 2010 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I am a very lucky woman, and my husband is tall and slender. In fact, he's enough of a statistical outlier that we can't even find clothes that fit poorly but could be tailored in. Shirts with the correct collar have sleeves that only come to his elbows, pants that fit his waist inevitably fall above his ankle, etc. Please help me dress my tall, thin husband in Chicago!

Previous questions/answers that I turned up tended to wind up centering around alteration as the answer, but I have my doubts that it would work for him -- from my inexpert measuring, we're looking at a 15 collar, 37 sleeve; pants are 30/34. I feel as if the pants we at least have a shot of finding in a store if the store is aimed at tall/thin, though the closest I can ever find is inevitably 32/34 or 30/32.

Can collars be tailored down? Could he get away with taking an XXL shirt with long enough sleeves in to an alteration shop and having them cut it to ribbons? Would the end product even be attractive?

Alternatively, I am open to the possibility that custom is the only way to go, in which case, can anyone recommend somewhere good and/or inexpensive in Chicago? I'm looking for suggestions on everything -- jeans & t-shirts, dress shirts, dress pants, sweaters, suits, what-have-you.

Thank you!
posted by kitarra to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go online! Lands' End has 30/34 chinos and 15.5/36 (and that's just at a quick glance). I've had good luck with Men's Tall clothes there, Eddie Bauer, and Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic.
posted by theredpen at 8:58 AM on July 3, 2010

I don't know much about them, but you might try this site.
The prices are reasonable, so even the clothes don't work, you're not out a great deal of cash.
You may also consider online shopping in general. There is the inconvenience of waiting, paying shipping, etcetera, but you're more likely to find the right sizes.
posted by nickthetourist at 8:59 AM on July 3, 2010

You should try buying online, JC Penny has a big big and tall section, heres two things I found real quick:


select extra tall, 16 1/2 neck, 36/37 sleeve

use this combo: Regular, 30, 34

And if it doesn't fit, you can return them back to the store. I also seen a custom tailor section under big and tall.
posted by glenno86 at 9:08 AM on July 3, 2010

I used to wear 30/34 (or 30/36 if I could get them!) pants. They are rare, but stores do carry them. I used to go to target, or some other clothing store, and go through their entire rack of jeans, usually netting about 2 pairs I could wear. Some stores also display a chart of the pants sizes they offer. If you can find such a thing, or ask an employee, you'll know whether you're wasting your time.
If you don't mind buying online, many online retailers allow you to sort products by size. Since men's sizes aren't as subjective as women's, this is actually a reasonable way to buy.
Brands-wise, I often had good luck finding tall skinny guy sizes in LEVI.

For dress pants, you should have no problems. Quality slacks in department stores and men's fashion stores are sold un-hemmed, and very long. Just buy a 30" waist size, and they will hem them to the right length. Make sure he brings the shoes he will be wearing with the slacks to the fitting.

As for shirts, my size at my skinniest was less extreme than your husband's, so I don't have any useful tips there. But let me say one thing: Don't be ashamed! Skinny guys in baggy clothes look foolish. A tall thin man in an elegant, tightly-tailored suit looks great.
Good luck!
posted by agentofselection at 9:09 AM on July 3, 2010

LL Bean has stringbean sizes, as well, and it's not all crusty Mainer stylings.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:12 AM on July 3, 2010

Indeed - Levis 501s are easy to find in this kind of size: STFs available in 28x36.
posted by tmcw at 9:15 AM on July 3, 2010

Best answer: Lands End sells custom shirts online at really affordable prices. My husband is also thin and has a tough time with standard sizing. He could not be happier with his custom shirts.
posted by something something at 9:27 AM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

You want to look at stores geared towards European imports and/or silhouettes.

FCUK is very good (my roommate is built similarly, FCUK is one of the few places he can, when he can afford it, buy off the rack without wailing and gnashing of teeth), as is Banana Republic. Zara may work if there's one there, Banana Republic, Tristan & America.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:33 AM on July 3, 2010

Ask talldean where he shops. He had a tall-guy clothing blog at some point, but I can't find it now--maybe MeMail him?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:13 AM on July 3, 2010

I don't shop at, like, clothing stores, but my Goodwill has 30/34 pants all the time (I know because I'm a 30/30). I should think you can find the pants at least. I can't imagine tall, skinny dudes are more common in North Texas than Chicago.
posted by cmoj at 10:47 AM on July 3, 2010

I was looking for a nice fleece jacket and Lands End was the way to go. I got a wonderfully fit jacket at a reasonable price.
posted by 47triple2 at 11:01 AM on July 3, 2010

Hey! I'm your husband! Not really, but I'm of similar build - 6'4 and skinny/lanky

Eddie Bauer makes really nice dress shirts for tall skinny dudes. The Large-Tall fit me really well. They are cut slimmmer and fit great. They don't balloon like regular 16/37 shirts will. They can be pricey, but frequently go on sale or have coupons. I hate to sound like an advertisment - but they are great. I don't much care for anything else they make, but those shirts are pretty awesome.

For pants/jeans - Levi's and Arizona have been consistently good to me. JcPenney's as mentioned above will almost certainly have several 32/34 or even 32/36 jeans. An important point - your husband will almost certainly have to try them on; there is a fair margin of error in making jeans apparently.

I haven't had nearly as much luck at other stores as I have at JcPenney's. They also have can have a decent selection of Tall/Slim shirts.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:09 AM on July 3, 2010

My husband wears the same sizes and we don't have trouble finding those shirts in department stores (and sometimes at Marshall's/Kohl's, but that's more hit & miss) ... for pants you'll end up online more often, but most brands do go to 30/34, no problem.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:14 AM on July 3, 2010

Buying online from JC Penny is fine, but be aware that clothes sold as "big & tall" are just that: clothes for men who are both all and big.

I can verify that clothes purchased from Penny's online can be returned to one of their stores, no questions asked.
posted by justcorbly at 3:17 PM on July 3, 2010

My recommendation for any very tall man is Rochester Big & Tall. Don't be fooled by the "big & tall"; they serve big, tall, and the combination group. Also, they tailor. They're not cheap, but they will fit your husband, and he will look good. Also, according to their website, they have a store on Michigan Avenue.
posted by immlass at 6:24 PM on July 3, 2010

Okay, that's pretty thin. 30/34 shouldn't be too hard; 15/37 should be doable pretty easily as well, albeit you're going to largely find things on the internet and less so in-person. Remember that almost all returns are free online, which is pretty darn awesome in my book.

Eddie Bauer and Nordstroms are both probably winners, and Lands End is a salvation and a half. Lands End medium-tall or small-tall undershirts are a winner. Eddie Bauer this year has shorter cuts on some of the shirts, so I've moved to more of the Land's End stuff.

Avoid any store that advertises as "Big and Tall"; even Rochester won't help you at that width. Big and Tall stores will cause you to lose your sanity, as everyone will recommend them.

FCUK doesn't sell talls, and unfortunately, trendy clothing like that doesn't look very good if it doesn't fit well. Zara sells a limited selection, but is worth a stop in. LL Bean's Large-tall sizes will fit a 35 sleeve well, but not so hot on a 37; 15" neck isn't a large, so the sleeves will be shorter still.

American Apparel screenprinted t-shirts are ridiculously long, and are my newest best friend.
posted by talldean at 8:21 PM on July 3, 2010

I'm talldean's girlfriend. I buy a lot of his clothes - I enjoy the challenge.

A bit more specifically on shirts:

Eddie Bauer makes a slim fit shirt. Large tall works well for him, and he's about a 15.5/37. I'm not sure that the medium tall, which would probably be better through the body for you husband, would have long enough arms, though. I suspect it's worth a try.

Nordstrom makes a trim fit dress shirt in 15 x 36-37. They're sold out online, but you might be able to find them in store.

For the last month or two our Costco has been selling Calvin Klein button up shirts in 15 x 36-37.

Lands End tall undershirts in Medium Tall -- they're constantly backordered, but seem to be the longest available. Lands End button up shirts work pretty well, also.

American Apparel tee shirts are really long.

As far as I know, tailoring down a shirt that much would be near impossible. As I understand shirt construction, the issue is in the shoulders -- so if he's exceptionally broad shouldered, I'll offer a tentative maybe. In the case of tailoring, you'd be better off ordering custom. There are places on the internet that will make them for a small premium on off-the-rack prices. Land's End will do it, but there are many other options that might get you a more stylish result. Or, of course, you could get them made locally, but likely at a higher cost.

If you want a physical store, Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, American Apparel and JC Penney are good bets.

Good luck! It can be a really frustrating challenge, can't it?
posted by another zebra at 5:18 AM on July 4, 2010

Oh, adding to the shirts point -- my husband does find dress shirts in the right lengths (same as your husband's) but they're often hella wide/billowy. Try finding a fairly cheap shirt at a place like Marshall's or Kohl's, and try this technique: (I recall there was also a YouTube video of this but I don't have it bookmarked.)

I do this on my husband's less-expensive dress shirts (the nicer ones are easier to find in slim fits, and probably should see a tailor for fitting since they're expensive and I'm only an intermediate sewer), and they look pretty nice and give a much better fit. People often comment on how good they look and ask where he found such a nice fit! It's very easy. But my husband has pretty broad shoulders, so I don't need to mess with the shoulders; it probably wouldn't look as good if the shoulders were all wrong.

The one thing I learned is that for men as slim as my husband (and probably yours!) is you need to flare back out a little past the waist or it's weirdly tight down the hips and doesn't look right or sit right. But experimenting on a couple of cheap shirts will teach you this!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:01 AM on July 4, 2010

Lands End's "tailored fit" items in Large (or precise dimensions, for dress shirts) work for my husband, who is similarly proportioned. Their Tall/Medium size works for short-sleeved casual shirts, but for long-sleeved shirts, the sleeves are too short.
posted by palliser at 8:31 AM on July 4, 2010

Hey, I just tried Eyebrows McGee's trick on a blousy department store shirt of my husband's, and it works a treat! You should try it!
posted by palliser at 3:59 PM on July 4, 2010

I find a lot of jeans and other pants are defaulting to 34 length these days. Everything from Levi's to my fave, Earnest Sewn should have plenty to offer in 30/34.
posted by me3dia at 11:15 AM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah! Lands' End custom shirts FTW! I wish they had more color/cloth options, but the shirt I ordered just came and it's by far the best fit yet, just a little baggy around the stomach and arms. From here, it can totally get altered down to awesome! Thanks something something!
posted by kitarra at 8:40 AM on July 27, 2010

I just paid the $5 registration to let you know that I saw the website:

Vertical Workshop and they sell tshirts in medium extra tall. Also large xtall

posted by Carol T at 10:04 PM on December 24, 2010

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