I’m over six feet, four inches tall. I’m also long in the torso. As of this writing, I weigh 220 pounds. Not super-thin, but not hefty by any means. Finding shirts that fit me is a challenge.
As the weight of the average American goes, it seems that shirts get more and more square-shaped. I’ve found that for many shirts, larger sizes means that the shirts only get wider. They assume that if you need more room, it is for girth, not height. I need a large shirt for girth, but an XL (or often XXL) shirt for length.
For dress shirts, I have to either buy fitted shirts (~$70) or buy an XL shirt (~$20-50) and have the sides taken in by a tailor (~$15). T-shirts are harder. Paying $15 to tailor a t-shirt seems silly. That could exceed the cost of the shirt itself! And t-shirts don’t have as long of a shelf life as dress shirts, so tailoring seems like a poor investment. I like t-shirts. They’re comfortable, and about the only sane thing to wear in Florida about five months out of the year.
I’ve embarked on an epic quest to solve this problem for me, and for tall or long-torso’d men everywhere.
Pay for alterations
If you’re rolling in dough, you can pay $10-$15 per shirt to have them altered by a professional tailor. Find a shirt that you like for length, and have them take in the sleeves and the body.
Buy a sewing machine
Yes, I totally bought a sewing machine. Taking a t-shirt in isn’t too hard. Lay it down, inside-out, under a t-shirt whose width dimensions you want to emulate. Pin or mark at the overhang. Baste or use a wide straight stitch (and mind your tension). When happy, cut off the excess, leaving about an eighth of an inch. Use an overlock stitch to tidy it up. I think this will by my solution for graphic t-shirts, or t-shirts I get at events, etc. I’ll just get an XXL and take it in.
Search for long t-shirts
For basic t-shirts in solid colors, I found several vendors whose shirts are longer than most, as well as some who sell “long” sizes.
American Apparel — $17.00
I really love the American Apparel “2001” t-shirt. Great fabric, no side seams, longer-than-normal length. Bulk pricing, and a zillion colors. Unfortunately, it’s not quite long enough. If I move too vigorously or lift my arms, I’m in danger of showing skin. this makes me really sad. If they made this shirt two inches longer, it would be my go-to t-shirt. I have a few of these that I wear once in a while, if I’m wearing a higher-waisted jean.
Banana Republic — $19.50
The Pima Cotton Basic Tee from Banana Republic is a great choice that is available in “tall” sizing! The color choices are disappointing (plum, heather, and navy, in addition to black and white), but otherwise I am very happy with this shirt. It is extremely soft, 100% cotton, with a light-to-medium weight. The shirt feels decently well made. At $19.50, it is perhaps a few dollars more expensive than I’d like. The length is pretty much perfect, and it is a slim fit, with perfect length sleeves. I have found that there is some variation in length. Once in a while I’ll get one that is shorter (but still within acceptable range).
LL Bean — $19.95
LL Bean is a great resource for tall, thin men. They made high quality dress shirts, many of which are available in tall sizing, and some which are available in tall/trim-fit sizing (these fit me like a custom-made shirt). LL Bean also makes excellent t-shirts, which are available in tall sizing. Their large/tall t-shirt is great. Excellent quality, perfect length, and a bunch of color choices. The fabric is heavier than Banana Republic’s Pima Cotton shirt, but it also feels sturdier — like it would last through more wash cycles. This is an excellent choice, from an excellent retailer of clothes for tall men.
Duluth Trading Company — $14.50
Duluth Trading Company’s Longtail T-Shirt is actually advertised as a solution to plumber’s crack. The shirt I got in large was indeed very long. But it was also insanely wide. It looked like an XXL, or maybe even an 3XL. The sleeves went past my elbows. What the heck? Additionally, the fabric was very heavy and course — more suitable as a workman’s shirt. Returned it for a refund.
Colossal Clothing — $15.00
UPDATE: Colossal Clothing is now out of business.
Affiliated with American Apparel, this clothing company exclusively makes big and tall clothing. Unfortunately the smallest size they offer in tall is XL. I wrote in the order form comments box that I feared the XLT would be too boxy. When the order arrived, it contained a handwritten note from the CEO saying that they do clothes for Tom Brady, who is 6’4″ and 220 lbs just like me, and XLT fits him perfectly, so that I might be pleasantly surprised by how it fit. That was a nice touch! And truth be told, it wasn’t as wide as I had feared. Roomy, to be sure, but nothing like the Duluth Trading Company one. What it was, however, was crazy long. Like almost four inches longer than the Banana Republic long. It went to my crotch. I liked the shirt — similar fabric and quality to American Apparel, because it is made in their factory — so I took the time to shorten the hem and bring the sides in about an inch. But that solution doesn’t scale. I really wish they offered a large tall size. I made a second order for an XL shirt (not tall). That was actually pretty good. Even their non-tall shirts are taller than most other shirts. Still a bit roomier than I would like, but completely passable. And once again, I got a hand-written note from the CEO on my order form. You can’t beat that for customer service!
UPDATE: TallSlim Tees — $20.00
2016/03/22 — TallSlim Tees reached out to me and sent me one of their shirts last year. I’ve been wearing it for a while and enjoying it quite a bit! They sent me a 50/50 cotton/poly blend shirt. At first I thought it was too stretchy, but as I’ve been hitting the gym more, I grew to appreciate that factor. They also seem to now offer 95/5 shirts. The fit is fantastic. Great length, great width. I feel very comfortable in this shirt (the medium!) I’m definitely ordering more, and will have them in regular rotation.
There are some great options here. TallSlim tees is great for a stretchier, more athletic fit, and is the best shirt for really tall really skinny men. The Banana Republic t-shirt is a good go-to basic cotton shirt for black, grey, and white, and the LL Bean shirt offers a lot of color variety with a thicker, more durable fabric. If your torso isn’t as long as mine, American Apparel is a good option.