I spent some frustrating hours this past week, trying to find long-sleeved dress shirts for Mr. B. Short-sleeved dress shirts pose no problem; he simply orders a 22 Tall, and is done with it. Peekaboo-belly is cute but not office-appropriate, and ordering a Tall gives him the "coverage."
The difficulty lies with the long-sleeved shirts. Has anyone else noticed that "big & tall" men's shirts seem to be shrinking in the hem length? Mr. B. needs a 22 with a 34/35 sleeve length. However, with many shirts both dress and casual, the measured length of the shirt from the top center back of the collar to the hem seems to be getting shorter all the time.
Men's Wearhouse has worked for him before. But this time, even at MW, the regular-length shirts fit in the chest and stomach - but in length were too short. Since they were 100% cotton, I knew they wouldn't make it through even a cold-water wash. Unfortunately, if you switch to a "tall" in their dress shirts, the sleeve length gets longer accordingly - and Mr. B did *not* need a longer sleeve.
So I tried mail-order from King Size Direct - it should have been called "mal-order." When they arrived, they were an inch shorter than even the Men's Wearhouse shirts and four inches wider across the chest (36" instead of 32".) The only advantage was that since the shirts were made of a cotton/poly blend, they wouldn't shrink. Fortunately KSD paid for the return shipping *and* said they would reimburse his initial $13 shipping cost.
Shirts returned to Men's Wearhouse: Check.
Shirts mailed back to King Size: Check.
One thing about men's dress shirts - they seem so intimidating in the store. They're all wrapped up in plastic packaging, pinned together, full of complicated cardboard forms. If they could talk, they'd say, "Don't you dare try me on." Or, "If you try me on, you better buy me." Trying on almost seems like a necessity, though, if the sleeve lengths are standardized but not the hem lengths.
I suppose Mr. B. will just have to get by with fewer shirts for awhile, until a solution presents itself. On a related note, while browsing through patterns, I did find these Simplicity styles for big men. This one (4975
) contains a dress shirt, a Western shirt, and a vest, and goes up to a size 5X. The other (2895
) is a costume vintage frock coat with vest and round-collared shirt which goes up to a size 52.
Sewing for Mr. B. never seemed an option in the past, but now it seems like a possibility. If the "big and tall" options are devolving into mail order, that option seems fraught with failure both in money (if they *don't* refund your shipping) and time. Also, mail order seems like a kind of defeat, because if bigger men don't buy from stores, stores will have no incentive to carry any larger sizes at all.