Where do all the cool, hip Norse Vikings shop?
August 15, 2014 4:01 PM   Subscribe

ClothingFilter: Where on Earth do men with "athletic builds" (big shoulders/chest; smaller waist relative to other proportions) reliably shop for fashionable, casual upper-body clothing? What style blogs and resources exist for dudes like myself? I am pretty sick of having to try on a zillion things to little success at most stores or to rely exclusively on very large thrift stores for finding something by random chance ... and "Big and Tall" stores are usually much too big?!

I have recently begun to square the problem with formalwear (which has ended with "find a wonderful tailor" and "invest in semi-custom outfits"). I am 26, male, 6'0", and approximately 215 pounds; as described above, I have large broad shoulders, a giant ribcage, and a generally somewhat-basally-muscular-without-too-much-work frame (i.e., larger biceps), but with relatively smaller volume in the lower torso. I am a thicker, more "rugby player" than "swimmer" athletic. I rarely have trouble with pants and the like, wearing a 36-38 waist in slimmer leg cuts with a 30 leg length (most of my height is in my torso).

It's only relatively recently that I've begun to care about what I wear to any notable degree, essentially scared off by the fact that most stores I encounter can't accommodate my body type. I have realized that the majority of my t-shirts and similar puff out severely at the bottom. I've found that American Apparel tri-blend t-shirts fit me bizarrely well for a skinny hipster brand, especially with v-necks or deep v-necks. When I started switching into them this summer, people I had known through this past school year had thought I had very notably lost weight (I had not)—which was my signal that I really desperately need to flip my wardrobe, as the poor cuts were doing my body somewhat of an injustice. This question was inspired by trying to shop for late summer/early fall clothing today, determined to find something, and after trying on 15-20 garments (at e.g., American Apparel, Urban Outfitters) I ended up... buying an American Apparel tri-blend in a color I did not have. (I love late Fall and Winter the most; I can sometimes find sweaters that hug correctly to make me feel by no means skinny or normative, but that I have a particular type of "manly" body shape and that it can look good). I have, for example, one (one) button-up shirt that can be worn well untucked with no second layer, and it's actually a stripped-down police uniform shirt (???). I once had a perfectly-flitting flannel that I ruined in the wash that was from a freak American Apparel line that is no more... where do all those bears find their well-fitting flannel?!

I also have had trouble finding style advice to match someone of my build. Most style resources I've come upon are for slender fashionista, preppy, or hipster types, or Dudes Who Go To The Gym And Are A Little Swoler Than Other Bros and are usually recommended to go to Brooks Brothers for nearly anything imaginable. My style gist as much as it exists is "faux-hipster-academic." Are there any good style blogs you have read that might fit my needs, such that I may stop AskingMetafilter? :)

(I have seen this AskMeFi, but there has to be more information out there: Tshirts for the atypical American)
posted by Keter to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
People of nonstandard sizing usually get whatever they like/can afford and then have it tailored. Otherwise it is next to impossible to find well-fitting things right off the rack, alas.
posted by elizardbits at 4:15 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Interestingly enough, there's a place called Moods of Norway. They have a brick and mortar store in Pittsburgh, but you can order on-line. Regular price is spendy as HELL, but the sales look pretty great.

Check it out, see if it's up your alley.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:23 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Given you describe yourself as having a "rugby players" build I wonder if you've tried any Rugby oriented brands like Canterbury NZ, Kooga etc?

Naturally they're pretty good for gym gear and the like but most of these brands have a pretty decent leisurewear spin offs, for casual stuff like tshirts, shirts, hoodies and even up into the formal end, given Rugby boys go to lots of dinners!
posted by Middlemarch at 4:26 PM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: I mean, one option is to buy whatever kind of shirt you like that fits your shoulders and get the sides taken in so it fits you more closely. Or you could try these slim cut shirts from the J Crew outlet line (or the equivalent from real J Crew if you want) and see if they're slim enough for your purposes?

Also my boyfriend is built like you but thinner and he looks great in long sleeved thermal knit shirts- they're form fitting like sweaters but lighter weight and good for fall!
posted by MadamM at 4:27 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for asking this question. I am very similar size to you (probably smaller biceps, though) and have been dealing with this same problem.

Brooks Brothers shirts fit me correctly across the shoulders and around the neck, but they're too billowy around the waist and I feel like I'm swimming in them. Mens Wearhouse house brands (Proecto Uomo or some such) fit similarly. I am at the point where I am going to just take my existing wardrobe into the tailor and have them insert darts to reduce the fit around the waist, two or three shirts at a time.
posted by carsonb at 4:58 PM on August 15, 2014

Response by poster: Ok, potentially dumb question: I hadn't considered having casual button-ups tailored before, but that seems obvious now that it's been suggested? Can/will tailors successfully tailor things other than button-up shirts/suits/pants (e.g., can you "taper" a t-shirt?... I will regret retiring all of the quirky comic tees of my youth).
posted by Keter at 5:11 PM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: Oy, I feel your pain. I have a 42+"-ish chest and broad shoulders with a 33"-ish waist. I also love the AA tri-blend--I'm wearing one now, in fact--though I cringe at their advertising. Hopefully this will change now that Dov Charney is out.

For suits, there is a measurement which will partially describe what you're looking for: it's called "drop", and it describes the difference between the measurement of the suit's chest and the waist of the pants. A standard drop is 5 or 6 inches, meaning that a 44 jacket would be matched with size 38 trousers (in reality, this corresponds to a 46” chest with a waist that might be more like 39" or 40", because most things are vanity sized). Standard drops are generally not specified in the size, and the garments are cut to accommodate a fat stomach, especially at size 44 and above, because most Americans wearing this size are more overweight than muscular. But if you see a higher number, like "drop 8" or "drop 10", this means the pants measure 8 or 10 inches smaller than the included jacket size. These suits are usually cut to accommodate a more athletic body, with a more dramatic taper vs. normal suits, since the wearer is expected to have broad shoulders but not a correspondingly large(er) belly.

And yes, find a good tailor for taking in shirts. I also have good luck having nice thrift store pants that fit well in the top block turned into shorts, which allows me to pick the inseam (I'm 5 foot 10 or 11 and prefer 8" to 10") to boot. My local shop charges $8-10 per, less if I take in a bunch.
posted by pullayup at 5:17 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Back in the day, the distinctive thing about Brooks Brothers was their billowy cut. It's what they're famous for.

Here, Effortless Gent tackles the puffy shirt, and shows how a $15 alteration can improve an of-the-rack shirt.

Also, instead of back-darting, you can narrow the torso and sleeves for a different change in shape. This is just about as easy (super-easy) for a tailor to do.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 5:17 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

can you "taper" a t-shirt?

I'm not really qualified to answer that; all I can say is that my suggestion definitely referred to button up dress shirts (tucked-in) and 'sport' shirts (un-tucked).
posted by carsonb at 5:42 PM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: It is possible and not difficult for a novice sewing machine user to make a t-shirt or jersey thing smaller with a sewing machine. I would imagine that tailors could do it.
posted by steinwald at 5:44 PM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: Try Athletic/Slim fit shirts. You'll get about 70% of where you want to be, they're tapered in the rib cage. THEN take them to a tailor, they can do amazing things. My tailor works miracles with my pants. My waist is MUCH smaller than my hips and butt, and without tailoring, I'd only be able to wear skirts.

They have a few Super Slims there, but I don't think they'll work for your shoulders. FWIW, Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss.

You can taper a T-shirt, it'll cost you more than it's worth, but if there's something out there you absolutely LOVE, it's an option.

Try Macy's for the shirts. I get them for Husbunny all the time. Check out their clearance area, look for the Athletic/slim fit. Use coupons (they're in the paper and on-line) or just ask the guy behind the wrap desk if he has one (they do.) Seriously, you shouldn't have to spend more than $15 for a shirt. I got a Ben Sherman for $15 once. OH is that shirt gorgeous!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:59 PM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: In addition to work clothing, Duluth Trading has dressier shirts that favor those large in the chest. They're not trim on the bottom, but they're comfortable and very well made.
posted by dws at 9:26 PM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: Thomas Pink has a "super slim fit" line which can be had in larger neck sizes. My 17.5" made just about everyone do a double take at all the weight I lost. Sorry folks... just finally found a shirt that fits!

You'll probably want to iron the frilly looking things by the buttons. No clue why they are there but they bunch up after a few washings.

I'm going to try Original Stitch next. Everything is custom, and much cheaper than pink.
posted by jwells at 4:46 AM on August 16, 2014

Best answer: My husband (6'5", 250) has a similar build and a difficult time finding shirts that fit lengthwise that aren't also huge at the stomach. He buys a lot of his shirts at J Crew. The shirts fit very well in the arms and length, and also are close fitting to the body which is nice.

J Crew often has good sales as well!
posted by catrae at 4:51 AM on August 16, 2014

Best answer: I have the same problem as you: 42 inch chest, 34 inch waist, tall, arms on the bigger side. I get all my off-the-rack button-up shirts darted - they just look like balloons otherwise. I also order shirts from IndoChino and they have done pretty well by me.

I have the hardest time with sweaters. They are easy for the torso, since they will stretch over my chest, but in order not to be wearing a sack or have the sleeves only come to my elbows, I'd need a small-tall in most brands, which of course no one makes. And it's much harder to get knits altered.
posted by Nothing at 7:32 AM on August 16, 2014

Best answer: Ledbury makes slim-fit shirts that actually look slim. I kind of want to be a man just so I can buy this denim shirt.
posted by jabes at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2014

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