Social Question

mowens's avatar

What do these clothes measurements mean?

Asked by mowens (8264 points ) January 19th, 2010

So I got fitted for a tux last month. It fit great. I want to buy clothes with those measurements, but I don’t know what the measurements mean.

Chest: 42
Overarm: 50
Coatsleeve: 16
Waist: 34 (I think this is the only one I understand)
hips: 44
outseam 41
Shirt: 16½×35 ( i think the 16.5 is my neck, what is the 35?)

My question:

When going to buy regular retail clothes, what the hell do I buy?


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32 Answers

Austinlad's avatar

Great question. I always hated buying suits because I just didn’t feel comfortable in them, plus most of my jobs didn’t require dressing up. Anyway… go to a men’s or department store and ask for 42 regular or 42 long. The other measurements will be close, or a tailor there can tweak them. I think this is the right answer. Fellow Flutherites?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

42 is your basic suit jacket size. As long as the shoulders fit well then the rest can be tweaked a bit.

16.5 is your neck circumfrence for dress shirts

35 is your shirt sleeves length

Aside from suits, pants and some overcoats, most clothes for you will be sold by S M L and so on.

JLeslie's avatar

You are a 42 jacket with an 8 inch drop (42–34=8) Most suits are made with a 6 inch drop, so when you buy a suit you will need to take in the trousers 2 inches (which is the most you can alter a waist on a pant).

The 161/2 is your neck and the 35 inch sleeve is the middle of your neck to your wrist with the arm slightly bent. The lingo if you want to by a shirt in a department store would be you are a 161/2, 4 5 (said four five).

Outseam (length from your waist to the end of the trouser leg) is rarely used, inseam is more standard. The outseam varies too much depending on where you wear your trousers, up on your stomach, slightly below your tummy, and also how long the rise is on the pant. Better for you to find out your inseam for future purchases, most likely 32 or 34 (I am guessing 34 with your other measurements).

Also, since you are a 42 jacket you probably are a size large in most shirts, unless you like them loose.

34 waist is size large, sometimes medium in some vendors.

Did I miss anything?

Sounds like you are looking good.

mowens's avatar

@JLeslie Thank you!!! You are correct my inseam is 34, I forgot to put it down. So if I were to buy pants I would buy 34×34?

Are you a tailor? :)

JLeslie's avatar

@mowens No, I worked in Tailored Clothing (suits) for a lot of years though.

Yes you are 34X34.

Are you a 42 long in jackets or regular?

JLeslie's avatar

@mowens Calvin Klein makes suits separates, which would be good for you if you need a suit since you have such a long drop. Macy’s carries it usually.

lilikoi's avatar

Study this:

And collar dimension is the diameter of your neck.

Your measurements are very similar to my BF, so in general, for more casual clothes you are probably a L or XL (varies from brand to brand). In undies, you are probably a M.

mowens's avatar

@JLeslie suit separates?

Austinlad's avatar

Thanks for clarifying my answer, everybody. I’m a little rusty. Mowens, good question for the rest of us guys.

mowens's avatar

Oh and I dont know if I am a long or a regular. :) How do I know?

lilikoi's avatar

@mowens Separates are when the jacket and pants are each sold by themselves, I think. That way you can mix and match to find the right fit.

mowens's avatar

@lilikoi Wouldn’t it be different fabric?

lilikoi's avatar

No if they are from the same brand and of the same line, they make the different pieces in the same fabric and sell them separately. Like in the link below, they are selling the jacket, but on the right side of the page, they have the matching pants for sale separately, as well as the matching waistcoat:

^Link doesn’t work:

Try going to and searching “EN051GRY”.

mowens's avatar

Cool. Is it obvious that I have always let someone else do my shopping for me? :)

JLeslie's avatar

@mowens Yes. Typically in separates you will only find very basic fabrics in basic colors like black, navy, grey, and maybe a pin stripe. Calvin caters to an average to athletic build (the term athletic build can be deceiving, men with a 10 inch drop are considered athletic build, but they are not always big muscle men). DKNY might make them as well?? I don’t remember it has been so long, but they market towards a similar customer. But, like I said you can alter your trouser waist up to 2 inches, so you can still fit regular suits. Back in the old days we had some vendors who made 7 inch drops, but I have not seen that in a while. It might be because of where I live now. Possibly in larger cities it is available. I am in the midsouth where people on average are heavier and stores would buy for that market, plus we don’t have higher end stores by me which also would market to a thinner clientele.

Here is a link for CK

augustlan's avatar

@JLeslie Great info! One thing, though… wouldn’t his shirt size be 16½, 35, not 45?

JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan Shirts sold in the store are either 2–3 or 4–5 meaning 32/33 or 34/35, but in retail we short hand it two three, or four five, we are just saying the last numbers. Does that make sense? Hard to write it out. Only custom tayloring would do an exact measurement like 35. But, if you tell a sales person I am a 161/2 35, they will of course know what to look for, you just aren’t speaking the lingo.

augustlan's avatar

@JLeslie Ahh. Ok, that makes sense. I usually buy men’s dress shirts that are pre-packaged and labeled with the whole size listed.

JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan I see the confusion now, I meant the spoken word, not what is written. You are correct, on the packaging it would say the whole size, but among sales people we use just the last numbers when speaking to each other, and many customers know it as well.

mowens's avatar

You are all awesome!

mowens's avatar

One more question, if I go buy normal department store dress kakis, can I have them tailor in an 8 inch drop?

JLeslie's avatar

@mowens Drop is only used with suits. It is the difference between the jacket and the pant when sold together. So, in the store we might say, “Calvin has a 6 inch drop, Alfani 5 inch” So when you are looking through the suits you know what vendor will work for you. I hope I am making sense, I am throwing a lot of info out there. If Alfani has a 5” drop (I have no idea if that is the case) that would mean that you cannot buy that suit vendor, because the pants cannot be made small enough.

To answer your question, for khaki pants you are just talking waist size, and yes, you can usually take them in, but more difficult to let them out, because on that type of fabric sometimes you can see the old stitch line.

Let me know if I just confused you more.

charliecompany34's avatar

based on your measurements, seems you are athletic or a body-builder. you are not fat but well built.

mowens's avatar

@charliecompany34 Really? I mean I am in shape, but I never considered myself to have either of those two body types.

I think that just made my ego bigger. :)

mowens's avatar

@JLeslie and @charliecompany34 So you think having regular pants fitted or whatever would be a waste? I just like the way things fit when they are like that.

JLeslie's avatar

@mowens No, I don’t mean that at all. Always good to have a taylor perfect the fit. Where did I miscommunicate?

augustlan's avatar

You can tailor pants to get that perfect fit. The most important thing is that they fit the widest part of you well. Aside from waist and inseam, you may need to pay attention to the rise (the area between the waist and the crotch). If you are long-waisted (long torso in relation to the length of your legs) you may need a long rise. You would mostly need to buy those types of pants via a catalog. You don’t find them often in regular retail stores.

mowens's avatar

Oh i just misread what you said. So it is better to buy them larger then what I need, then tailor them?

How much does that cost?

JLeslie's avatar

Khaki’s would be better bigger if you are going to alter, but the BEST is to buy them the proper size. For instance, when you move the waist the pleats shift (if you have pleated pants) because they do not remake the whole pant, just take in the waist at the back, this is part of the reason you cannot alter more than two inches, the less the better. If you are a 34 X 34 there should be little need to alter. Everyone carries your size.

Price will vary, I am guessing $20 maybe more, depends where.

mowens's avatar

Is my shirt size a big and tall? I was looking at a webpage, and I put my shirt size in, and it took me to the big and tall section. Do I have long arms?

JLeslie's avatar

@mowens You are not big and tall. 36 inch shirt sleeve is big and tall.

funkytown444's avatar

Everything is going to be relative based on your build/weight, the fabric, the cut, and the store/label your buying it from. If you gain weight or loose weight , these numbers will change, some fabrics and cuts run smaller or larger. even retailers have their own version of the same thing. For the purpose of explaining what the measurement means, here goes: chest (the measurement from one shoulder blade to the other, that is how wide you are ..) This is important in selecting suit coats, jackets, tuxedo, custom made dress shirts. The overarm: the circumfrance around the arm. that is how wide is your arm. Thats important on custom dress shirts , coats, suit coats, etc.. some guys have big biceps! coat sleeve: the measurement from your arm joint meets the shoulder blade to the wrist. This helps to show how long your arms are. Its important for lined items such as coats , suit coats. The waist: the area smaller area above the navel. The hips: the measurement from one hip bone to the other. These measurements give a sense of upper and lower measurements on you dress pants, jeans etc..(its like breaking down ab excercises. you know upper and lower abs: Outseam: The pant measurement from your waist to your ankles. This shows how long the pants are from the waist. Inseam: The measurement from inside the pants from private to the ankles. the inseams show the length of your torso. and assist in the length. Shirt : the first one is the neck size meaured around, and the second is the length of your arms measured from the middle of your back over your shoulder to your wrist. 32/33 is standard for men’s length, as you go up , 35 your arm is slightly longer. You’ll find that the better dress shirts will have these numbers with the neck and arm measurement. but the dressy casual to casual shirts tend to just list size. Based on info. I see, i would try xl first. You might want to bring a measuring tape to measure items in the store or remeasure yourself as time progresses. Every label has their own version of the cut they provide. and depending on the fabric, its hit or miss with the fit.

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