I Put On Women's Clothing and Hang Around in Bars
October 11, 2007 9:34 AM   Subscribe

I need a women's clothing article for a Halloween costume... trouble is, I'm a guy. How do I size things up?

I'm going out as a member of DEVO for Halloween (for about the fifth year in a row...), and since the yellow radiation suits are expensive AND hard to come by now, I'd like to try and go for the "Whip It" video look. I need a sleeveless black turtleneck, which is a women's fashion item.

Now, I'm a 5'9" male, about 190 pounds, and wear an extra-large shirt. Women's sizes are NOT so simple. What size should I be looking for?

Oh, and I already have an Energy Dome.
posted by SansPoint to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total)
Well, you'll need more than just an X-large, I can tell you that. (a 5'6" girl at ~160 lbs I'm barely fitting into an XLarge these days.) Do they have plus sizes in Value Village or a similar 2nd hand shop, so you can get it on the cheap?

Alternatively, could you not just buy a guys black turtleneck (assuming they exist?) and just cut off the sleeves, maybe having a sewing-friend hem up it?
posted by cgg at 9:38 AM on October 11, 2007

Why not buy a men's black turtleneck that fits and cut the sleeves off and then hem the edge so it doesn't unravel. It would be pretty easy to do for anyone with a sewing machine.
posted by sulaine at 9:50 AM on October 11, 2007

or what cgg said.
posted by sulaine at 9:50 AM on October 11, 2007

5'9", 190 pounds sounds like 1X-Tall to me.
posted by MiffyCLB at 9:57 AM on October 11, 2007

Actually, I got away with an XL or a 1X, depending on the brand, when I was 5'10" and 190, and I had breasts. I'd go for a 1X just to be safe, but I bet most XLs would work, unless they're sized for teenagers.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:04 AM on October 11, 2007

I agree.. a big XL or a 1X
posted by clh at 10:23 AM on October 11, 2007

I spent several years selling clothing designed for women, but we had quite a few male customers. They always tried on the largest sizes first, but often found them at once too flowing and too tight, because Women's sizes (as opposed to Misses' sizes) are often roomier in the bust and the waist but not proportionally bigger across the shoulder. (Even in a sleeveless top, the shoulder fit matters somewhat.)

For reference: I'm a little taller than you and when I weigh 180-190, I wear a Misses (not Women's) large tall, or sometimes a medium tall, depending on the brand. The corresponding number sizes in my case: a 12 or a 14.

At that weight, I'm a lot broader across the shoulder and back (and bust) than in the waist (as many men are, excepting the bust), and an XL (or a Women's size) bags around my waist and chest. Much depends on how your weight is distributed.

Perhaps the sizing charts offered by online retailers would provide a useful gauge. You could compare your actual measurements to those listed for various sizes. Here's Spiegel, here's Lands' End. If you order online, probably your best guide is your chest measurement, assuming you're broader at the chest than elsewhere.

Keep in mind that some sleeveless turtlenecks for women will have very scooped-in arms, not straight-hemmed like a muscle shirt. In your shoes, I'd shop in a brick & mortar store, not online. Even if it's winter where you are, sleeveless turtlenecks can often be found displayed with cardigans and sweater-sets. If you're self-conscious about trying on women's clothing (though, as I say, we had male customers, some cross-dressers, some female-identified, and some who just liked the styles and considered the clothing gender-neutral), maybe going somewhere like an Old Navy or a Target, a mass-market store of some kind, would help. You collect a few things unassisted, eyeballing them for size, and try on in a dressing room.
posted by Elsa at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2007


Time to 'fess up, ladies.

Women's sizes are pretty arbitrary. You might be an XL in one brand, an L in another, a Tall Medium in another, a size 18, etc, etc.

This is why malls are usually filled with women, not men. None of them actually enjoy shopping. They're all just going from store to store trying to find a black turtleneck that actually fits well. The S-M-L, 4-6-8, etc, are just there to tell the clerks how to sort the clothes; that's all.
posted by kmennie at 11:31 AM on October 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

How about buying a man's black T-shirt in your appropriate size, cutting the sleeves off, and wearing a black dickey underneath?
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:36 AM on October 11, 2007

Since 99% of turtlenecks are made from knit fabric, you don't have to worry about the edges unravelling if you cut off the sleeves. Just make sure to cut on the sleeve side of the seam between the sleeve and shirt, so that the shoulder and side seams won't rip. You can just tuck the little ragged bit under and be just fine. (I hope that makes sense...)
posted by happyturtle at 12:01 PM on October 11, 2007

Another reason to consider the sleeve removal route: I'm only an inch taller than you, and women's turtlenecks are usually really short on me. Generally speaking, guys have longer torsos, right? So it might be even more of a problem for you.
posted by gnomeloaf at 12:40 PM on October 11, 2007

What kmennie said. This is why malls are usually filled with women, not men.
posted by wafaa at 12:52 PM on October 11, 2007

Or, to answer your question: You're just going to have to try it on.
posted by wafaa at 1:04 PM on October 11, 2007

If you're nervous about trying on women's clothes, just go to a thrift store. Everything's all mixed together there anyway. Get several different sizes, take 'em into the fitting room, and see what works. Good luck!

(I still don't HAVE a costume idea...sigh.)
posted by wintersweet at 8:22 PM on October 13, 2007

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