There are two methods to finding the perfect size T-Shirt. You can do the trial and error method with countless returns and much frustration. Or you can do some measuring beforehand and vesting increase your chances of getting the right one first time.

Measuring the right size

Measuring for a t-shirt
There are three main measurements used to size up a t-shirt. These are the width, length and chest measurement. The width is the measurement across the chest from one armpit to another. The length is the measurement from the shoulder to the hem. And the chest measurement is all the way around the body.
Armed with these three measurements, you have a good starting point. The bad news is that there is no standard sizes around the world. There isn’t even a standard within manufacturers in a single country! So this means these measurements can mean different sizes to different shops. Fortunately, most all manufacturers include a measurement with the size so you can understand what your size means on their scale.

So to give you an idea of what these measurements mean in terms of a size name:

  • Small – width 44-48cm or 17-19 inches; length 66-70cm or 26-28 inches; chest 88-96cm or 34-38 inches
  • Large – 52-56cm or 20-22 inches; length 71-75cm or 28-30 inches; chest 116-124cm or 40-44 inches
  • 2XL – 60-64cm or 24-25 inches; length 76-80cm or 30-31 inches; chest 120-128cm or 48-50inches
  • 5XL – 70-73cm or 28-29 inches; length 88-91cm or 35-36 inches; chest 140-146cm or 56-58 inches

Speacialist fit
Most of these sizes are used for ‘average’ size clothing. When a guy is taller than average, then slender or tall fit t-shirts are needed. These will accommodate a longer body size than the average fit. Also, while some manufacturers may go to larger sizes, these may not be ‘plus’ sizes but simply a bit bigger than average. Therefore when a man is either tall or plus, finding a specialist is often the best option.

Getting the perfect size T-Shirt

Understanding the fit
Picking the perfect t-shirt isn’t just about inches and centimetres however. It is also about understanding the fit that these sizes creates. It is also about making sure all of the elements work together.The shoulders and sleeves are one of the key areas that make or break the look. The shoulder seams on a t-shirt should line up with the top of the shoulder. The length of the sleeve is a preference but should ideally go no lower than midway down the upper arm. If sleeves go below the elbow, they make for a sloppy look (unless they are three quarter length sleeves of course).
If you are going for a long sleeve t-shirt, then make sure the sleeve length is right. There is information on measuring shirt sleeve lengths and the principle is the same for t-shirt. Make sure there is no bagging at the wrist as this means the sleeve is too long. Also, the cuff should sit at the wrist, not hang over the hand.
Finally, to get the right length, a t-shirt should be similar to a shirt. This means sitting around the bottom of the back pocket on trousers. This allows normal movement without any peeking skin.

So how does your t-shirt match up to all of this?