No shirt sleeve sizes in the UK?
August 7, 2006 6:27 AM   Subscribe

When buying a men's dress shirt in the UK, why are there no sleeve sizes?

In the US dress shirts are sold by neck and sleeve sizes but in the UK it seems only a neck size is listed. Are all the sleeves the same size or are they related to the size of the neck i.e. does a shirt with a 16 inch neck have a longer sleeve size than one with a 15 inch neck?

And as I'm sure not everyone's arms are the same size, doesn't this lack of a sleeve size cause problems for some people (those with relatively longer or shorter arms)?
posted by gfrobe to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where are you trying to buy the shirts? Most shirts are sized by both the neck and the chest, but I have often seen arm length (amongst other measurements) listed too. I usually ignore everything other than the neck/chest as it only complicates matters and I have never had a problem with the length of the arm of a shirt when buying solely on the neck/chest measurement.
posted by fire&wings at 7:13 AM on August 7, 2006

My father was short but portly, and at 5ft 9 took a size 18 collar. Sleeves were always too long, but he used to wear (as did many of his contemporaries) these kind of stretchy metallic armbands. They were very common in the 60s, and are still sold today. So presumably there is still a market for them, which suggests that shirts are still being made with one sleeve length.
posted by essexjan at 7:43 AM on August 7, 2006

Good for you F&W, but I am a mutant with a 19.5" neck and 32" arm (in US measure). So unless I am buying a fairly expensive dress shirt there are no 'normal' sizes that come close. In the USof A most casual shirts come in sizes like small medium, and large etc. with no mention of either neck or arm measurement.
posted by Gungho at 7:43 AM on August 7, 2006

Response by poster: I shop for dress shirts rarely but have never noticed chest sizes. Dickens and Jones is one of my local shops and all the shirts there have neck sizes only. I also just took a look at the Marks and Spencer website and all shirts are sold by neck size, although they do have a small selection listed as "2 inch longer sleeve shirts".

I have to go out and buy a shirt this week and was just curious whether the "one sleeve size fits all" thing might cause me any problems. I think I have fairly normal sized arms but really don't like my sleeves to be too long.
posted by gfrobe at 7:46 AM on August 7, 2006

Dress shirts are more likely to be sold by neck and arm measurement than normal shirts. The one I have certainly was. If it's not obvious from the packaging, look in the collar and the little tag should have the neck size above a line and then the sleeve length.

Depending on where you are, I'd maybe go to an Austin Reed (or similar shirt/suit shop) as they are likely to have a wider range. From my experience you're more likely to find longer sleeves than shorter.
posted by patricio at 7:58 AM on August 7, 2006

I believe that you are right, in that the sleeve length is related to the neck size.

If you are an unusal body shape, there are shops that are more exact. Thomas pink, for example, produces shirts with at least two different sleeve lenghts.
posted by Touchstone at 8:13 AM on August 7, 2006

Buy based on neck & chest size. If the arms are too long, have a tailor shorten them. Should cost less than £20.
posted by blag at 8:15 AM on August 7, 2006

Dress shirts (in the U.S. and Canada at least) are sold by neck size and sleeve length. Typically at least two sleeve lengths are available for any given neck size. If the sleeve length isn't specified, it's "average" for that neck size.

16 32/33 --- 16" neck with 32"-33" sleeve length
16 34/35 --- 16" neck with 34"-35" sleeve length

Dress shirts are NOT usually sized by the chest in the U.S. Chest size is proportional to neck size in most cases. The markings such as "athletic fit" (meaning small chest, no big belly) and "executive fit" (meaning big chest with big beer gut) describe shirts with different chest sizes, but there's no inch markings for chest size.
posted by jellicle at 9:58 AM on August 7, 2006

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