How It Should Fit: The Shoulders of a Men's Shirt


Shouldering Responsibility

Topper considers the whole shirt lost if the shoulders don’t work. The reason for his uncompromising view? “The shoulders are the windows of the shirt’s soul, making the difference between definitive and disaster. Get them wrong and not only will you feel permanently uncomfortable, no matter how well made the shirt and how fine the material. You will also not look good. It’s a common problem. Yet it is so easy to avoid.”

At Westport Big & Tall, we measure big and tall shirts more than 30 different ways. Some, like the collar size and chest size, get a lot more attention from shoppers than others, like the width of a cuff.

But as ever we agree with Topper. No measurement makes or breaks the look of a shirt more than the fit in the shoulders. In fact, it’s a well-known ‘secret’ among theater wardrobe and film costume designers that, in order to make a character look sloppy, you do it with ill-fitting shoulders.

Despite their importance, there are really only a couple of ways that shoulders don’t fit. But it makes a world of difference to recognize and fix the following. So it’s time shoulder responsibility and discover how to avoid the most common pitfalls.

"The Lego Man"

Help Me Topper: Little bunches of fabric pinch up where my shoulder meets my arm, and a vertical seam appears to distinctly separate the arm from the shoulder. As a result (and one I really don’t want) I fear I look somewhat like a Lego figurine.

Topper’s Diagnosis: This happens when the shoulders on the shirt aren’t wide enough for the shoulders of the man who is wearing it.

Topper’s Top Tips: This is one of those issues that sadly can’t be easily altered or dressed differently to avoid; the shirt is just too small in a key area. It’s also likely to adversely affect other parts of the shirt and how it fits.

Instead of continuing to reside in Legoland, measure your shoulders, reference this big and tall sizing chart and start buying with confidence that you’ll get the right fit.

"The Arm Tent"

Help Me Topper: The fabric on the outside of the arm, just after the shoulder, juts out before meeting the arm, creating little flaps on the outside of the shoulder.

Topper’s Diagnosis: The shoulders on the shirt are too long. This is very common for tall, thinner men who trade fit in the shoulders and chest for the extra length afforded in larger conventional sizes.

Topper’s Top Tip: Again, unfortunately, the garment doesn’t stand much chance of being altered to fit, and you might have to part ways with it. This is very common with sizes like XXL and XXXL, that weren’t designed for big or tall body types, but instead were just ‘enlarged’ for a little more accommodating fit. Fortunately, Westport Big & Tall has sizes that will both fit your shoulders and be long enough to be comfortable.

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