- Oct 15, 2008
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I started a previous thread on the mysterious 38L last year and got some good responses, but thought I would take everything I've learned and place it here. The 38L dilemma You're skinny and tall. What do you do? The problem is largely one of the American suit market. a) Americans are bigger/fatter than most other nationalities, and b) since fewer Americans wear suits compared to most everywhere else, it reduces costs to carry fewer sizes that fit 90% of American suit customers and not you. What are the measurements of a 38L? Like a 38R, the chest (pit to pit) is 40'', give or take a bit. Obviously, the 38L is long. Length (from bottom of collar) runs 31-31.5'' (sometimes as short as 30'' and as long as 32.25''). Sleeves usually 25.5-26'' (sometimes as long as 27''). Shoulders anywhere from 17.5-19 (typically around 18''). Know your measurements and know what can and can't be altered See this thread for general alteration info. Sleeves of 38R can often (although certainly not always) be lengthened sufficiently to 25-26''. Jacket length is the biggest challenge in suiting the 38L man, because jackets can't be lengthened easily. The dilemma of the 38L is basically having enough fabric to cover your ass. It is *possible* to lengthen a jacket if there is enough fabric in there, but it requires a very good tailor, lots of money, and there is a lot that can go wrong. Note that jackets can be shortened much more easily, up to an inch or so before it starts messing with the jacket proportions. That said, if you are willing to follow recent trends in short suit jackets that expose your ass, you can avoid the 38L dilemma altogether and stick to 38R. Where to buy 38Ls? 1) Europe - the 38L is a common size across Europe. It's labelled 38L in the UK, 48L in Italy and France, and 94 in Germany. See my thread on UK sites that ship to the US, many of which carry 38L. I started a similar thread on German sites that ship to the US with less success. I note that English 38Ls seem rather big in the sleeves, armhole diameter and waist. Italian suits are more slender in the sleeves and body. EDIT: Marks & Spencer - their Signature line is designed by bespoke superstar Timothy Everest and I have been EXTREMELY happy with them. Very good, rugged fabrics (Everest mentioned somewhere that since they buy fabric in bulk they can get such nice ones in an inexpensive suit), slender cut pants, and plenty of suits in 38L and even 36L (and some boys suits in 34L!). Charles Tyrwhitt - suits and even nice sport jackets in 38L. Make sure you order in Â£, as their own dollar prices do not reflect current exchange rates. Note that their armholes and sleeves are a notch wider/bigger than most other brands I've tried, from any country. Both M&S and Tywrhitt ship to the USA at reasonable rates. 2) The more expensive a suit, the longer its 38R is. This is clutch. Most American-brand 38Rs (most suits at Macy's, Banana Republic, etc etc) have lengths like 28-29'' and sleeves too short for us (23.5-24.5''). BUT, the more expensive and more European a suit, the longer it is in sleeve and jacket length. Often the length of a European 38R is close or identical to what we Americans consider 38L measurements (sleeves almost always 25-26'' and length of 30-31'' very common). My Boss red label 38R is 30.5'' long with 26'' sleeves. Note that I'm seeing some signs of change; some American 38Rs are getting longer and more in line with European sizing. 3) America - they don't serve your kind - almost no stores carry 38L. Forget Brooks Bros., Macy's, and most places. 4) Men's Wearhouse - Intro level 38L. Every store has a 38L section stocked with cheapish suits. The best of these are by Kenneth Cole (tagged $500 but usually on sale for $225-$275), which do quite well for basic needs, on a budget, or as a first young man's suit. 5) H&M - affordable 38Ls at respectable quality. The 38L is only sold at stores in big cities-- New York, D.C., etc. The DC Chinatown store has them at all times while my local Pittsburgh H&Ms haven't had a 38L ever. About $250. On the two I own, length = 30'' & 30.5'', sleeve = 26'' & 27''. 6) MTM. A note of caution-- avoid made-to-measure services at Brooks Bros. and even programs like Saks' Burberry MTM. These are not as customizable as you might think. They are basically sewing together bodies and arms from various sizes and chopping them all together. They will be unable to make the bodies and pieces into a true 38L. What you will end up with is a 40 with tons of waist suppression and fat arms that are the correct length. 7) MTM - look around. I have no experience with sites like Thick as Thieves, but have heard good things. 8) Bespoke - if you can afford it, congratulations. 9) Overstock.com - sometimes you get lucky. Their 38L suits are here, and 38L sport coats (when they have any) are here. Hit or miss-- mostly the same stuff you'd find at Men's Wearhouse, but occasionally better stuff like Joseph Abboud and (inexplicably) Hart Schaffner Marx (which doesn't seem to list 38L on its website or anywhere else). 10) Ebay. Caveat emptor. Know your measurements like the back of your hand before buying anything on here. Many suits labeled 38L are actually nowhere near-- 40R from the 1980s and such. That said, I've found some amazing buys. Some sellers on Ebay's European sites (Ebay.co.uk, Ebay.de, etc) ship to the US. 11) Join the even crazier quest for the 36L. If you're very skinny and tall you may find that even 38L are too big in the chest for you. If so, welcome to the unique form of hell that is being a 36L. Maybe I'll start another thread on this someday, but in short, Europe and European brands are again your best bet. 12) "Skinny" suits - it's worth knowing that certain brands run more slender than others. Ralph Lauren Black Label has a slender body and long sleeves, but its 38R jacket length is 29.5 -- a bit too short for us. Dior Homme is known for being incredibly slim-fitting, but also quite narrow-shouldered and its design is not long-bodied. More research needed. Who makes 38L? I personally own 38Ls by Kenneth Cole, H&M, Charles Tyrwhitt, Marks & Spencer, and Linus. I know for a fact that 38Ls are made and sold in Europe by Hugo Boss, Canali, Ermenegildo Zegna, Lanificio Fili Cerruti dal 1881, Ben Sherman, and undoubtedly many more. I've seen random 38Ls by Hart Schaffner Marx and Joseph Abboud online at Overstock. Thanks! I'll post more info as I get it. Please share info if you've got it: brands, measurements, 38Ls for sale, etc.