Shirt manufacturers don't make it easy for toned guys to find a shirt. By sizing shirts for the increasingly heavier American male, manufacturers capture a larger market, leaving us gentlemen with tapered torsos with fewer options. This is not a matter of style- if you are at all thin, a regular, or 'modern fit' shirt will not fit, and is analagous to JNCO jeans.
From much experimentation, I've found that most shirts labeled 'Slim Fit' will fit most fat men just fine. Body builders and fullbacks might fill out a typical 'slim fit' shirt but guys with swimmers' bodies will be swimming in it.
After much searching, I picked up a few of the more affordable slimmest cuts I could find. They are:
- Macy's Alfani RED
- Macy's Alfani Spectrum
- Calvin Klein Extreme Slim-Fit
- Express Extra Slim-Fit
- Uniqlo Slim-Fit
For reference, I am 5' 9" and 140 lbs. My shoulders are considerably wider than my waist.
Alfani RED Fitted
Alfani sizing goes like this:
Alfani Big & Tall (you are obese), Alfani (you are fat), Alfani Red Fitted (you could be fat), Alfani Spectrum Slim-Fit (you are not fat)
All of the RED line is 'Fitted'. Confusingly enough, the 'Fitted' label at one point meant, 'more tapered than slim-fit', but has now settled itself comfortably as another meaningless fashion adjective. Within the RED line there are two price points- the 80/20 Cotton/Polyester blend shirts are $3 cheaper. These are always on a sale that ends 'today' for as low as $17. Both the 100% cotton and 80% cotton shirts may also be labeled 'Performance' which means they allegedly wick sweat. Polyester blends are less wrinkly, dry faster, and more durable, at the cost of comfort.
Fit: This will make the average guy look sleeker. If you are thinner than average, move on.
Value: They hold up just fine. The cotton/polyester blends will irritate sensitive skin. Macy is a huge coupon slut so you can easily get these for less than $20, in fact it's hard to find them over $25.
Alfani Spectrum Slim-Fit
Most of these are 97% cotton, 3% spandex. These tend to be a couple bucks more than the REDs, but sometimes the REDs are discounted so low they aren't eligible for coupons. The ones with french cuffs will require cuff links (which I didn't know at some point in my younger days).
Fit: As good as you're going to get at this price point.
Value: Hate polyester? Spend a few bucks more and get these.
Calvin Klein Extreme Slim-Fit
Also found at Macy's, these are $30-$60 but subject to deep discounts.
Fit: These are pretty hard to breathe in. This is for beanpoles, not the broad shouldered. Great quality cotton, but my athletic frame tests it every time I reach.
Value: The fabric is a step up from Alfani. Some of these are blended with nylon or spandex. It's well worth the money, and eligible for coupons.
Express Extra Slim-Fit 1MX
Express has a huge variety of bold colors in their 1MX shirts, but if you prefer more conservative colors, don't worry cause the dye from these will run faster than Usain Bolt. These clothes are marketed as clubby and cool, rather than professional and boring.
Fit: This is another one for thin guys. If you have any shoulders at all, get their Fitted cut is for you.
Value: Lackluster. Ironic, because the luster of these when new is what fools young guys into buying them. What they really mean by 'dry cleaning recommended' is 'This will wear out and wrinkle horribly.' I know Express is popular with college freshmen trying to impress girls but, it's not popular with anyone else for a reason.
The brand that has stayed true. Uniqlo sells high quality clothes at reasonable prices, with fits for slimmer men. The tradeoff is that their discounts are not as steep. Their range of styles includes mainstream, somewhat hipster, and whatever the fuck SPRZ NY is.
Their button up shirts come in a dozen varieties of cotton like Denim, Oxford Cloth, and Easy Care, with 4 kinds of collars. For the most part, only people you might want to fuck (women and gay men) will notice the differences, but that's the only reason fashion even exists in the first place.
They have a better reputation for their casual button down shirts than their dressier ones.
Fit: As advertised. Just well enough not to need tailoring.
Value: While made with better cotton than many brands, Uniqlo shirts are more for dressing up in a casual environment, rather than dressing for a formal one. Their great oxford and chambray cloth shirts are casual by European standards, but much more versatile for the typical American.
After half a year of fumbling around stores scanning for the words 'slim fit', I've learned that being in shape is fucking annoying. So is the excessive amount of choices which are ultimately pointless exercises in vanity. I wish stores had a section for "Fits and Isn't Orange". I go with Uniqlo for my casual button downs and Alfani Spectrum for dress shirts. Other options are far above the $50 price point, but I have yet to find a reason to look that nice.