A lot of men have a hard enough time shopping for clothes, but taller, larger, shorter and slimmer men have it even harder. “As much as I love brands, I still can’t fit into anything,” Eric Powell of Ratio Clothing tells The Menswear Journal. At approximately 6′ 4”, he always had problems with purchasing clothes, especially when it came to shirts. “I [sometimes] wanted a smaller neck size to make it fit in the body, but then it would be too tight in the neck.”

This constant frustration motivated him to start his own made-to-measure shirt company called Ratio Clothing, located in Colorado. “I bought custom-shirts in Asia but I wasn’t impressed with the quality,” he says. “I thought there was an opportunity in the market for casual shirts and I didn’t feel like there was a good option.”

Plenty of guys share Eric’s dilemma but most don’t have the knowledge to work these problems out for themselves. In case you’re either wary of custom-made shirting or can’t find the funds, The Menswear Journal chatted with Eric about how different kinds of men can pick the right shirt.

Shirting 101

Eric Powell, Ratio Clothing
Eric Powell (Photo: Courtesy of Eric Powell)

According to Eric, there are three main sections to keep in mind when buying a shirt: the waist, which “is really more around your belly button,” the hips and the shoulders.

“Almost everyone wears there shirts too big just because manufacturers force them to. Massed produced shirts are made to fit a variety of body types, so you’re probably buying too big.

For any body type, you should be aware of where the yoke falls. It should be riding low into your deltoid area, right where the shoulder takes the turn. For the sleeves, make sure your wrists aren’t too big and that they’re the proper length and that they’re not completely riding up.

Go with what’s comfortable. You don’t need to be out there in a skin-tight shirt — though that may be the trend right now — but don’t get something that you’re swimming in. Fitting close to your body hugs your torso without the buttons pulling apart.”

For portlier gentlemen, Eric says, “don’t be afraid of getting something that fits… If you have a beer belly and you get a slimmer shirt, it will be better than getting something too big. You want something that’s gonna fit, but not too tight. Make sure your waist fit is right. Don’t sacrifice your fit if you got busting buns at your waist.”

Ratio Clothing Shirts
Photos: Courtesy of Ratio Clothing

“I have actually no background in menswear,” says Eric, who previously worked as a software developer. After picking up a few introductory books on the fashion industry, he made a call to a “fashion incubator” in Los Angeles, but they weren’t involved in the made-to-measure process he was looking for. He was then put in touch with a San Francisco company that would end up making patterns for Ratio Clothing.

“There are style decisions that we make on how we’re going to interpret measurements: the shape of the shirt tails, the slimness of the sleeves and that sort of thing,” he says. “No matter how nice or expensive or ‘on trend’ something is, it won’t look good if it doesn’t fit.”

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