Where can I buy men's dress shirts that will fit my big fat neck?
August 31, 2015 9:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm expecting to go on what might well be a slew of job interviews in the near future, but I can't button the top button on any dress shirt I own.

These are all XL. Otherwise they fit well and look good, but my neck fat--which is by no means excessive, mind you!--does not allow me to actually get the top button buttoned. On the rare occasions where I can force it in after 15 minutes of struggling, it'll likely as not pop back open of its own accord. This has been a problem for me more or less my entire life. It makes me feel insecure in interviews that I don't look as perfect as I could. Where can I buy shirts that are more accommodating in the collar? Is there a specific brand or web retailer? Financial resources are not unlimited so bespoke tailoring wouldn't be ideal. Or am I overthinking this and is it not a thing that really matters?
posted by zeusianfog to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Collar Extenders
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:31 PM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Proper dress shirts aren't sized as XL. They're sized as sleeve and collar size. For example. Measure yourself and then shop for shirts with the right collar and sleeve.
posted by primethyme at 9:33 PM on August 31, 2015 [15 favorites]

Men's Wearhouse will sort you out. They can tailor if they can't get your size. My dad and I have this problem, and we either get them tailored, or we use one of those elastic neck button extender things (which Men's Wearhouse will also have.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:35 PM on August 31, 2015

Yeah, if the size is listed in S/M/L/XL, I'm wondering if these are actually casual shirts that aren't meant to ever be buttoned up to the top and so don't have a correspondingly generous reach at the top.
posted by threeants at 9:38 PM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

(Btw, this isn't some sort of thing that has to be all fancy and bespoke, my dress shirts that have a collar inch size were mostly bought at Goodwill for $6.)
posted by threeants at 9:40 PM on August 31, 2015

I feel like a lummox, but on closer inspection the shirts in question do list neck sizes, so that might be the problem right there. Most of these shirts are indeed from the discount rack and were only subject to the scrutiny of "will it go around me and are the sleeves long enough when I hold it up to my chest." I'm a bit baffled that no one ever pointed out this aspect of dress shirts when I was a kid and had to endure 20 minutes at a time of standing stock still while my dad repeatedly pinched my neck!
posted by zeusianfog at 9:53 PM on August 31, 2015

Yes, I was going to suggest going to a Men's Warehouse or Nordstrom something similar to get fitted. Once you know your collar and sleeve size, most department stores carry those types of shirts (often folded in plastic packs) and you can find them for good prices - such as Nordstrom Rack or JC Penny or sales at Dillards or something.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:55 PM on August 31, 2015

I've had good results with Charles Tyrwhitt. Online shopping for shirts with measured sleeves and collars for under $100. They have bulk-purchase deals that put the shirts under $50 each. You might want to experiment with the various fits (regular, slim, extra slim), as I find they tend to run a little bit big.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:19 PM on August 31, 2015

The bad thing about off-the-rack men's dress shirts is that the collar size drives the torso size measurements as well - I have the exact same problem as you (disproportionately thick neck) - if I buy a rack shirt that fits my neck it looks like I'm wearing a tent. I have to get my good shirts bespoke from a local tailor.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 3:44 AM on September 1, 2015

Believe it or not you should have two separate dress shirt wardrobes. Shirts to be worn with ties that should have necks at least half an inch, and more likely a full inch, bigger than shirt to be worn open. (A tie-shirt worn open will look loose around the neck.)
posted by MattD at 4:26 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

If a proper neck size billows around your chest or waist, look for "athletic" or "slim" cut shirts.
posted by MattD at 4:28 AM on September 1, 2015

I don't think of myself as particularly slim, but I have to buy slim fit shirts if I want to look put together. I have a 17.5 inch neck. I've had success finding them at Nordstrom Rack and Marshall's. I've also had luck with sales at Macy's.
posted by advicepig at 5:03 AM on September 1, 2015

Second biglankybastard. I have the same problem - very disproportionate neck for arms that are short, so off the rack shirts with the right neck size and sleeve length look ridiculous on me. I buy made to measure shirts off the internet (I like tailorstore, but there are a lot of them out there).

If your measurements are not as whacky, you might be able to buy a larger neck size shirt and get a tailor to do darts for a decent look. I have done this at Men's Wearhouse, which did a decent job, but the shirt still looked frumpy compared to my MTM shirts; you can't do that much about the armhole size and sleeve width.
posted by odin53 at 6:00 AM on September 1, 2015

Also, I don't think you're overthinking this, given how you've felt your entire life. For me, wearing a properly fitting dress shirt -- generally looking good and feeling comfortable -- is super valuable when trying to project confidence. If you go the bespoke/made to measure route, I think putting on that first perfectly fitted dress shirt will feel so empowering.
posted by odin53 at 6:08 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kohls.com has shirts online in sizes up to a 21" neck. Of course these will be huge on you if you have an otherwise normal build. However if worn under a suitcoat you should be able to get away with it.
posted by Gungho at 6:22 AM on September 1, 2015

Go to a Brooks Brothers, get measured, order the shirt in the store from the internet shipped to your house, wait a few days, try on the shirt, if it needs to be tailored, wash it and dry it, then take it to the tailor.

posted by oceanjesse at 6:29 AM on September 1, 2015

There are two models for shirts. Casual shirts come in small, medium, large, XL. Even some fairly dressy stores which sell suits (like Banana Republic) follow this model. As you have found, this is totally useless if you have a big neck or stomach but don't have very long arms to match.

Dress shirts (which these days come in very similar styles to casual shirts) have independent numbers for neck circumference (which also maps to belly size) and arm length (which also maps to height).
Dress shirts are typically displayed and sold folded into a square and pinned to a piece of cardboard, rather than on a hanger. As a further variation some dress shirts designs are labelled "slim fit" (a bit less loose around the belly) which is great if your neck is proportionally a bit larger than your belly.

Macy's is a very good place to buy dress shirts that are not expensive. They're the shirts on the "suit" side of the mens' department not the jean side. Typical brands are Van Heusen and Calvin Klein.
If you get more into this, and once you know your size, Nordstrom Rack is good for buying higher-end shirt brands like English Laundry and Hugo Boss if you don't mind digging for your size.
If you don't mind paying full price for good stuff, actual Nordstrom is great too.
posted by w0mbat at 11:11 AM on September 1, 2015

« Older How to respond to guy's negative comments about...   |   Legitimately dom or mentally unstable? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.