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Sizing up

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 20, 2007

The Sartorialist recently went to a shop in Milan to get some new shirts. His salesperson didn’t even need to take any measurements:

Once I decided on which shirts I was going to buy I started toward the dressing room to try the shirt on for the sleeve alteration - this is where he really got me.
He just looks at me and says “what are you doing?”
“I’m trying the shirt on so you can shorten the sleeves” I said.
“It’s ok, I have it” he said.
“I’m really particular” I warned. To this point I had not said anything about my blog or anything about my background.
“I have it ” he said with a with a slight arrogance that comes from years of experience.
“Well, understand I want the length to be right here” I said pointing to the base of my wrist.
“I have it” he repeated.
“Ok, but if it is wrong you won’t have time to fix it before I leave Milan.” I warned again.
“No problem” he assured me.

Of course he got it just right:

I went back to the store two days later and damn! if the sleeve length wasn’t perfect!

I can’t recall if I’ve written about this on kottke.org before, but I had a similar experience when I went to buy a suit for my wedding. Meg and I walked into the store, talked briefly with a salesperson, telling him what I was looking for (wedding suit, black or dark grey, simple). He said, “I’ve got the perfect suit for you.” He turned on his heel and returned 5 minutes later with a simple black suit. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. The cut was just right for my body and the size was dead-on as well. Just to compare, I tried on 3-4 more suits — all simple and black/dark grey — and none of them were quite right, just like the man had said. I’d planned on looking at a few more places, but his expertise had convinced me that I’d found the right suit. It remains the only formal clothing I own that I feel completely comfortable in.

Update: The Sartorialist has more on the proper sleeve length. Most American men wear their sleeves too long.