You may not realize this, but both Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers each have four fits in production for one of their signature items. For Brooks Brothers it’s their line of dress shirts, and for Ralph Lauren it’s the polo shirt. Yes, yes, I know I did a polo shirt post a few weeks ago, but this one is a little different. I’m not ranking or critiquing anything, I’m writing more of a guide to help walk you through which fit might be best for you.
Let’s talk for a minute though about why having multiple fits is important. One of the most critical factors in style is proportion. For example, you might have a thirty-six inch waist with the shoulders of of Clay Matthews. Chances are a pair of skinny jeans (even with the proper measurements) aren’t going to look good on you. You will probably appear top heavy. A pair of straight leg jeans would probably fit your body dimensions more evenly. For years, unless you bought custom, guys didn’t really have an option. Fortunately, clothing manufacturers are learning that not all bodies are built the same, but everyone still wants to look their best. My advice is to buy the fit that’s right for you and play around with colors, patterns, and fabrics to let your personality shine through.
Brooks Brothers recently re-named the different fits for their shirts, and while it caused a little confusion initially, I like what they have done. Brooks Brothers has also done a very nice job communicating this change to their customers. My only real criticism of the re-naming is that they chose to use Milano, Regent, Madison, and Traditional for their four fits as opposed to the Milano, Fitzgerald, Regent, and Madison designations that already existed for their suits. I think this would have added a little more consistency to the brand and made the transition easier, but it’s not a big deal, just my opinion.
The interesting thing about the four shirt fits is that the neck and corresponding chest measurements are the same across all four fits. For example, a shirt with a sixteen inch neck will always have a forty inch chest regardless of the fit. Aside from minor changes in the shirt’s length, the only real difference is found in the waist measurement. This makes choosing a fit that much easier. The Milano Fit is best suited for those slender guys with more narrow shoulders. Athletic guys with a V-shaped torso will probably do best with the Regent Fit. Do you have “dad bod”? Many guys do, and it looks to be a growing trend. If you’re one of these guys, you will do well browsing the Madison Fit. And for you guys with a little extra girth, the Traditional Fit will be your best bet.
The beauty of this fit system is that you don’t have to compromise on a shirt that fits across your chest but not your midsection, and you don’t have to choose from just the four shirts that you were able to find in your size. Brooks Brothers has a vast selection in every fit, and you can find a dress shirt, in a color or pattern that you love, that will look better on you because it fits. If you need additional information, be sure to check out the the Brooks Brothers Dress Shirt Fit Guide.
Like Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren has also employed the four fit system. However, the fourth fit is a little trickier to find. First though, I’ll talk/write about the three more common fits. Ralph Lauren offers the Classic, Custom, and Slim fits. The Classic Fit is the fullest cut shirt, and an easy way to remember the major differences beyond that is to remember “one and a half”. The Custom Fit is one and half inches shorter than the Classic Fit, cut one and half inches trimmer with one and a half inch shorter sleeves. Beyond that, the Slim Fit is one and a half inches shorter (in the back) than the Custom Fit and cut one and a half inches trimmer too. However, the sleeves are the same length.
The little discussed secret of Ralph Lauren polos are the Pima Soft-Touch polo shirts. These extra soft shirts have a fit that falls between the Classic Fit and the Custom Fit making them an all-around crowd pleaser. On top of that, they have one extra detail that I like. The pony on the chest is the same size as any other traditional polo from Ralph Lauren, but they use a variety of colored threads to bring that logo to life.
I hope these two walkthroughs have help you navigate the ever-increasing world of men’s style. I don’t see multiple fits going away in the future, so I think the best thing to do is be honest about what fits work best for your body, and use that to look your absolute best.