Who makes affordable clothing in “odd” sizes? Fitted clothes are hard to come by as it is, and it’s even worse for a guy with W/L measurements like 27″x31″. Tailors can only trim so much, high fashion houses like Zegna can only rob your bank account for so much, and skinny-guy retailers like American Apparel…just…suck. Any solutions you can offer?
You’re certainly in a tough position. The good news is that there are plenty of brands that have your size, which I’ll list below. The bad news is that you’ll still be paying a price premium — because you aren’t some sort of standard vaguely chubby/short American, you’re unfortunately going to always pay for your unique size.
First off, for jeans, stick to medium-tier jeans companies, but look around some of the trendier stores. Sites like Karmaloop would be a good start (see their range of 28s here — 27 might be impossible, but a lot of these jeans are going to shrink in the wash). Nudies are available down to 24×30. For something cheaper, places like H&M go down to 26/30, and even Wrangler goes down to 26/34. Urban Outfitters’ Selvage jeans shrink a bit, so buying them in their smallest size (28) wouldn’t be a bad thing to try. With jeans, don’t be afraid to buy something extremely long and get it tailored — at smaller waist sizes, the taper in the leg decreases somewhat, so you won’t be screwing up the cut as much as you would with larger waist sizes. Also, like I’ve noted, lots of jeans shrink in the wash, so you could plausibly get a 27 out of a pair of 28s with a really hot wash.
For casual pants, many of the above still apply (lots of jeans manufacturers make pants), but check out brands like Dickies. They seem a little casual (and obviously won’t work for dressy situations), but they carry a HUGE variety of sizes and, despite their relatively low-brow connotation, are made quite well (and you can easily remove the logo). Amazon.com has other brands for casual pants, though obviously I’d avoid the Tripp pants like the plague.
Now for the more complex bit: suits and dress pants. As a general matter, you aren’t going to find many off-the-rack retailers who carry super-special sizes — by virtue of the stores selling clothing off-the-rack, they tend to avoid such gambles. Instead of worrying about that sort of thing, go made-to-measure. Groups like Thick as Thieves are amazing at what they do, and they’re almost always willing to work with you given your needs, and because they make everything for you individually, you’re almost always guaranteed a decent fit. Any made-to-measure place is going to be your place to go — and because MTM is a growing trend, you can find a lot of suits that are ridiculously affordable.
As a side note, shirts and other items are going to be difficult, but it all depends on your size. LOTS of major suit brands (Brooks Brothers comes to mind) have new super slim shirt lines that are incredibly long, so they should fit your frame no matter how small it is. Even if such brands can’t go as small as you want, most tailors will be able to help immensely in this regard — if anything, a good tailor will know how to manipulate a shirt.
Finally, as a general matter, see if you can shop abroad. Japanese stores (UNIQLO, among others) have some great clothing in smaller sizes that you may be interested in. While their pants generally do not run smaller than 29, call their store in NYC — they are not only willing to ship things to you (so you don’t have to go all the way to NYC), but they may have some way to access the smaller sizes the Japanese stores regularly sell.
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I really want to take your advice and upgrade my wardrobe, but I feel very uncomfortable at stores. […] What do I do?