Deciding between two sizes can be hard enough when it comes to a men's dress shirt or a pair of men's pants. But things get a lot more complicated once you factor different size categories, like big and tall, into the mix. When shopping for men's shirts or men's pants, how do you determine whether the road to your best fit leads through regular, big, tall or big and tall?
The answer is relatively simple: measurements. The first thing you'll want to consider is height: that should already be on your driver's license. If you are 6'0" tall or below, you are a candidate for regular or big.
To decide between those two, consider your hips and chest. If your hips and chest are of roughly equal width, consider yourself a regular. If your hips and chest do not align and you have a less athletic build, you will find that the big category provides the best fit (in addition to a more generous cut, big clothing includes larger shirt pockets and other details that keep your body and the clothing in closer proportion with one another).
While you can assess the balance of hips and chest visually, you can also take measurements. To measure your chest, keep your arms relaxed by your sides and wrap the measuring tape around the largest part of your chest. Similarly, the hips may be measured by wrapping the measuring tape around the largest point of your hips.
Now, we haven't forgotten about those of you that stand at 6'1" or higher. If you're in this range, you are most likely a tall. The key deciding factors (particularly if you're right on the height border) is whether you have long arms. On average, the arm length of a men's tall dress shirt will be about 1½" longer than that of a men's regular shirt.
Measuring sleeve length is a little tricky and requires a friend, but can make all the difference in your shirt's fit. Begin by bending your elbow at a 90 degree angle and resting your hand on your hip. With the aid of your helper, take a measurement from the top of your shoulder to the start of your elbow, and then another from elbow to wrist. The sum of these measurements will be your sleeve length for men's shirts.
But the question remains: are you just tall, or do you need big and tall clothing? To figure this one out, we can backtrack a bit and ask the same question about whether your hips and chest measure roughly equal. If they don't, and your build is less athletic, you're likely big and tall¬.
Now that all that hard work is done, you'll enjoy that simplest of pleasures: pulling on a pair of pants and buttoning up a shirt knowing that both were made with your body type in mind.