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Shopping guide for the short & slim

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've noticed a few other members expressing the same or similar problem I have, namely, the perennial problem of fit and selection for short and slim men. By short and slim I primarily mean those fellows who wear 36S or 37S. I am 5'7" and wear a 36S with a 29 inch waist. This recent posting on the Valentino suit/short man woes (believe me, I'm laughing with you not at you) has inspired me to see if we can marshal our collective wisdom and experience for the better. Over the years I have spent countless hours searching for correctly fitting trousers that do not billow out like a tent at the seat or trouser leg, suit jackets with the right drop (7 inch drop), shirts that do not require swimming lessons and ties that are short enough to be tied with a four-in-hand knot and not hang below the belt. Keep in mind that my shopping guide below is primarily restricted to RTW and some MTM. If you go fully bespoke (which I have not yet), I would imagine sartorial life would be much easier. Let's start at items that typically *do not* cause the above headaches. For me these are: (1) Shoes: For American shoes, I find Allen-Edmonds to offer the best value in terms of quality and price (esp. during the holiday sales, ~$130-180 per pair), as well as Bennies Shoes for their Grensons. I have a narrow foot and low instep and the Grensons have a great grip on the instep. (2) Belts: Although I have a size 29 waist, I find that size 30 works well and 30 belts are not that difficult to find. I have been happy with Lands End belts. There have been one or two threads recently on quality belts as well. Martin Dingman and Trafalgar belts seem to be well-regarded. Now for the troublemakers: (1) Dress/casual trousers. If you are slim and short and wear a 28 or 29 waist, I suggest you look at the Brooks Brothers trousers for boys. Yes, you read that right. BB offers moleskin, cords and wool twills in boys sizes. I wear their size 18 trousers which correspond to a 29 waist. Check the size chart on the BB website for the closest size to you. Other trouser brands I fit well in are Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, J. Crew and Gap. Bill's Khakis offers 26 and 28 waist trousers and it seems that one can special order 29 inch trousers according to one retailer I spoke to in Pasadena (but I haven't tried any of their trousers yet). (2) Suits. Sigh, this category is full of potholes. Typical problems include: wide lapels, excessive length of jacket, insufficient drop on waist and excessive fabric and room around the chest. For 36S, my best fitting RTW suit is a Brioni Millennio suit (3 button, narrow lapels and slim-fitting, short rise flat front trousers). I've also fit reasonably well in Armani Le Collezioni, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein. I think others have mentioned Jil Sander, Paul Stuart and RLPL. I haven't tried yet the Brooks boys Brooksease suits but I suspect they will fit well. Another option is MTM. I'm probably going to try Brooks which works with Martin Greenfield for its MTM suits. BB MTM suits start at $950, which seems like a pretty decent price for a fully canvassed suit. (3) Jackets. For 36S, I recommend J. Press and Brooks Brothers through the website or catalog, though some of the BB mens jackets are cut a bit long for me. If the mens jackets are too long for you, check out, once again, the BB boys section. The BB size 18 jackets fit me like a glove and are very affordable esp. on sale. They're made in Mexico so don't expect handtailored finishing but the fit is almost perfect for me. (4) Dress shirts. Invariably, I seem to need alterations of nearly all RTW shirts I've tried. For a long time I wore Lands End trim fit buttondowns, as well as some old Custom Shop shirts I had made awhile ago. Brooks also has slim fit dress shirts. Now I'm trying out Jantzen shirts and am happy so far with my initial shirt order. I will need to make some adjustments but I'm going to be patient and stick with Jantzen for now. For better or worse, I think the best bet in shirts is to go custom. (5) Ties. Most ties seem to be at least 56" long and 3.75" wide, which is simply too long and too wide for me. I'm looking for 3" wide and 52-54" ties and frankly I don't know of any RTW ties that regularly come in that size. I've had hit or miss luck with Boss, Armani, Prada, Polo and the occasional vintage tie. So the long term answer here seems to be custom ties. I haven't explored these custom shops yet but am hoping to check out Tiecrafters and Saint Laurie in the US. Overseas, there is of course Marinella, which I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting.
post #2 of 20
Thanks for all the suggestions. I once looked at the brooks boys stuff but I took the sizes at face value and didn't look at the chart. My only hope is that I may still someday grow as big as a size 20 husky brooks boy. I've sent off an email asking if the brooks boys ties are any smaller than the mens and if so their measure.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
I was curious about the boys ties too. I was in the Beverly Hills store the other day and they looked like they were about 3" wide, maybe a little less. The problem is the length. If you go to the website and click on a tie, it will offer you two lengths 44" and 50". 44" will be too short. 50" might work with a four-in-hand knot but I'd have to try it out. Great quote by Paine BTW. Amazing how true it is for most people.
post #4 of 20
Like you, I've pretty much given up on buying shirts off the rack. From my own experience, the only dress shirt brand that comes close to fitting me is Brioni, and their shirts still could taper a little more in the waist. Shirt length is even more irritating; I like my shirts to be a length where they don't look awkward worn untucked with jeans, and instead even the slimmer cut shirts seem to extend all the way down past my ass. I'm not especially skinny/short either, at 5'8", 140, but I just can't find shirts that fit. I guess I'll have to suck it up and give Jantzen a call as soon as I can find an affordable way to call internationally.
post #5 of 20
Gentlemen: What is the preferred length/width of ties? What is the preferred length of Shirts? I ask cause much of what I have in ties is also available in the young men's size which I believe are 3" at the widest.(have to measure at the store which can be done later today or tomorrow), and my shirts start at 15 sizes which are probably more accurately a 14.5. On new tie styles (that I order going forward) I can send those that email me at Info@FourInHand.com swatch samples and can have a smaller size four fold tie made up at a reasonable cost. My suits/Coats are as noted previously size 34R and I would be willing to carry the 34S as well. My sweaters start at 34. JJF
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Like you, I've pretty much given up on buying shirts off the rack.  From my own experience, the only dress shirt brand that comes close to fitting me is Brioni, and their shirts still could taper a little more in the waist.  Shirt length is even more irritating; I like my shirts to be a length where they don't look awkward worn untucked with jeans, and instead even the slimmer cut shirts seem to extend all the way down past my ass.  I'm not especially skinny/short either, at 5'8", 140, but I just can't find shirts that fit.
I cannot provide much input in regards to dress clothing, but as far as sport shirts I have found that Barbera, Brioni and Brioni Sport smalls all fit me quite well, including sleeve and total length. I also have several RLPL shirts, two of which are actually a bit too snug in the shoulders and chest (the third is linen, and has a bit more give). These are very form fitting, including fairly high-cut armholes: I would think they would be ideal for someone say 36-37S with a slim build, like novalis. They were purchased approx. 2-3 years ago, so I don't know if RLPL has changed shirtmakers since then, and if so, what if any impact this might have on current offerings.  For reference I am approx. 5' 7 1/2", 140-145, with a 38" chest, fairly broad shoulders (18.25"+ on suit/sport coat) and rather short arms (23.5" sleeve on suit/sport coat).
post #7 of 20
Yeah it's terrible finding clothes that fit for us small guys. I have found T&A shirts RTW aren't too bad. I just bought two new ones from the store in Beverly Hills and yes it's not a perfect fit but a lot better fitting than most of my shirts. I have a Brooks Brothers shirts and I'm swimming in those (A known fact...) I haven't had a problem yet with ties surprisingly. For pants, all my slacks are from GAP, they are one of the only stores I have seen carry a wide range of 28x30.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Gentlemen: What is the preferred length/width of ties? What is the preferred length of Shirts? I ask cause much of what I have in ties is also available in the young men's size which I believe are 3" at the widest.(have to measure at the store which can be done later today or tomorrow), and my shirts start at 15 sizes which are probably more accurately a 14.5. On new tie styles (that I order going forward) I can send those that email me at Info@FourInHand.com swatch samples and can have a smaller size four fold tie made up at a reasonable cost. My suits/Coats are as noted previously size 34R and I would be willing to carry the 34S as well. My sweaters start at 34. JJF
Thanks for the offer to help FIHties. My vote on tie width and length is 3" (ideal) to 3.25" and 52-54". Nice-looking ties, I'll send you an email.
post #9 of 20
Quote:
What is the preferred length/width of ties? ...(have to measure at the store which can be done later today or tomorrow), and my shirts start at 15 sizes which are probably more accurately a 14.5.
52"-53" x 3.25" for the next lower size. MUCH of what I have on the main site www.fourinhand.com will be available in that size as well. JJF
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Sierra Trading Post has a good deal on a Barbour Beaufort sporting jacket in 36 ($128). This is the original one made in England rather than in Bulgaria or Estonia that they also sell. I've placed an order and will see how it fits.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
For suits, jackets & trousers I also shop at Bluefly and Sierra Trading Post, which allow you to sort by waist size.
post #12 of 20
I also have the same issues. 30x30 and no idea what my jacket size is. The only jacket I have is a 40R and it is way to big in the sholders. My problem is that I live in a small town and even the larger city an hour away doesn't seem to carry small sizes. I am about ready to just call it quits on shirts and send an order to Jantzen. For casual stuff I do like express, Gap, DKNY, and Kenneth Cole.
post #13 of 20
I have a 14-14 1/2" neck and I have found that off-the-rack/ready-to-wear, Burberry's shirts fit the best. For my body, it almost feels like a MTM shirt. As far as suits go, I only buy them at the RL store in Chicago. I've bought suits at Brooks Bros and other places, but in my experience, if the RL store doesn't have something in my size, they will take the next closest and recut it to fit me. I think the fee for that was only like $50, or something ridiculous. This is even for their Blue Label stuff, not Purple Label. Now that I live in DC, it's worth it to me to fly back to Chicago just to buy a suit should I need another one. One more thing, I am one to prefer the English silhouette over the American one. RL is the only one that comes close OTR.
post #14 of 20
Thanks for the thread. By way of introduction, I'm 5'7", about 130, and take a 36S jacket, 28 or 29 waist, and a 7 1/2 wide shoe. Suits ----- As far as BB, I visited the Beverly Hills store last week and the boys' Brooksease 18H and 20 jackets fit me in the shoulders, although they were still about 1.25-1.5 inches too long. The problem is the pants: the mens' 30' pants, suitably altered, are probably the best bet, but I hated the drape and feel of them. The BB boys' ties were definitely narrow--looked to be about 3"--but might be too short and, of course, the variety is wanting. Supposedly, BB also carries the Brooksease suit in 36, but they seem never to stock them. I don't have the J.Press catalog, and you can't view suits on-line, but the staff I've spoken with on the phone told me that they stock 36S and 37S and they're happy to send them to you. Prices range from $550 to $900. Some of Polo's suits are available in 36S, but I've only seen them online--never on the rack. Also, the two I've seen were black chalk stripe and glen plaid. If you don't want those colors, you're outta luck. FiH's suits are available in 34 and 36, as has been mentioned here. Carroll and Co. is not cheap, but I understand that they offer excellent quality. I visited the store in Pasadena, and was told that although they don't stock 36 or 36S, they can order/make it to measure with no trouble. They quoted me $1,000 to $1,500 for a full suit, $650-$900 for a sport coat. Jos. A. Bank also carries one suit model (a two-button) in 36S. It's intended to be the rough equivalent of Brooksease, but I was *very* unhappy with the fit and general feel. And, of course, there's Men's Wearhouse. For all of their shortcomings, they offer substantial variety in 35S-37S. My major problem has been finding one on the rack for around $500-$600. I constantly see sales that bring nicer suits down into this range, but they never include 36S. I'll probably wait until spring and see what J.Press's catalog reveals. Shirts ----- I've found comfort in Land's End's original oxfords, as well as their fitted oxfords. The originals, with a 14 1/2 neck, seem designed to accomodate real human beings. The trims are cut a shade closer, and are also nice. LE also has an MTM program, available on-line, with a good range of customization but a relatively limited range of fabric. I've also had good luck at Nordstrom Rack for shirts of various brands, though most 14 1/2 necks still leave quite a bit of fabric 'round the sides. I'm also primed to try Jantzen--the price is certainly right--though the upswing in business has really pushed the delivery times. Paul Frederick carries shirts in 14 1/2 necks, and some are available in trim fits. I've not yet tried them, but I'm considering it. I've heard everything from "you can get better" to "they're a pretty good deal." Ties ---- I've not had too much trouble with ties, oddly enough: I like Ike Behar and Talbott--both are about 3.5" wide. But, I prefer Pratt knots and 1/2-Windsors, so I eat up a bit more of the tie in the knot. Something with 3 fewer inches than standard would be welcome, especially from FiH (I've yet to buy, but they look great). Shoes ------ Allen-Edmonds probably offer the greatest value. I've found immaculate seconds at places like Nordstrom Rack for under $100 during sales/holiday specials, and finding them regularly at about the $150-$175 point is usually cake. My only problem is size--7 1/2 wide. 7 1/2 mediums are pretty easy, however. I've yet to order Grensons from Bennies, though the prices will eventually tempt me to do so. Trousers -------- My last trouser purchase was a group of Eddie Bauer gabardines. They're only available down to 30", but a tailor here in LA will alter waists for $10. I've been pleased so far. Also, I've been wearing Gap Khakis more (I know, I know). Both the flat and pleated fronts are readily available in my size, at a reasonable price, and I like the fit. I've seen Bill's Khakis in 29" (IIRC) at the Sierra Trading Post, but I've never ordered them. $60 just seems like too much, but I hear they wear like nails, so I may yet try them.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Suits ----- As far as BB, I visited the Beverly Hills store last week and the boys' Brooksease 18H and 20 jackets fit me in the shoulders, although they were still about 1.25-1.5 inches too long. The problem is the pants: the mens' 30' pants, suitably altered, are probably the best bet, but I hated the drape and feel of them. The BB boys' ties were definitely narrow--looked to be about 3"--but might be too short and, of course, the variety is wanting. Supposedly, BB also carries the Brooksease suit in 36, but they seem never to stock them. I don't have the J.Press catalog, and you can't view suits on-line, but the staff I've spoken with on the phone told me that they stock 36S and 37S and they're happy to send them to you. Prices range from $550 to $900. Some of Polo's suits are available in 36S, but I've only seen them online--never on the rack. Also, the two I've seen were black chalk stripe and glen plaid. If you don't want those colors, you're outta luck. FiH's suits are available in 34 and 36, as has been mentioned here. Carroll and Co. is not cheap, but I understand that they offer excellent quality. I visited the store in Pasadena, and was told that although they don't stock 36 or 36S, they can order/make it to measure with no trouble. They quoted me $1,000 to $1,500 for a full suit, $650-$900 for a sport coat. And, of course, there's Men's Wearhouse. For all of their shortcomings, they offer substantial variety in 35S-37S. My major problem has been finding one on the rack for around $500-$600. I constantly see sales that bring nicer suits down into this range, but they never include 36S. I'll probably wait until spring and see what J.Press's catalog reveals.
Brooks jackets: That's interesting that you found the 18H too long. The 36S jackets I tried measured 29" long from collar seam. The size 18 jackets measure 28", a full inch shorter, which I like. Some might even say it's bit short on me, though it still provides enough coverage in the back. J. Press jackets: Call the NYC store which has the largest selection of all the Press stores. I ordered from David who was helpful. The jacket (made in USA from 2003 stock) measures 28.75" long from the collar seam. Shoulder fit is great. Carroll & Co: Went to their Beverly Hills store today. Got the same pricing info that you did. I asked one of the salesmen who they used and he said Hilton, which I take to mean Nick Hilton, which apparently uses Rocco Ciccarelli to make the suits. Delivery time is 4 weeks. Mens Wearhouse: For comparable selection, I'd suggest Syms if you're near one. Other obvious places are Saks Off 5th, Filenes and Loehmanns.
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