A nice stiff…..collar

Bringing things back in line sartorially, we’ll meander back to dress shirts. If custom made shirts are out of your reach, like they are mine, your best bet is going to the men’s department of a local clothing store.  The most important information with which to arm yourself with is your shirt size. The best way to find this is to get sized by a professional.   I have had great success in both Nordstrom and Macy’s across the country, but as my local mall only has a Macy’s, it’s where I head most often.

I find that it’s all about the confidence you exude; that’s what  will help make your shopping experience top notch. Yes, you’ll encounter some homophobic assholes who don’t want to help you, but for the most part, many of these employees work on commission,  so it’s in their best interest to treat you very very well.

Usually if you even stand in the department near the shirts, an employee will come over and help you out. When they ask if they can help, say “Yes, I’d like to be sized for a shirt please.” Now, it can get a little uncomfortable because well, they’re usually men, and you’re not, and they get a tape measure and get near to your body and if you REALLY hate this you can do it yourself at home BUT if they do it they will know which shirts they have that should fit you well. You can also sometimes just get away with a sleeve and collar check and move from there.

I don’t really have much going on in the chest department so I mostly gravitate towards fitted shirts that have a slim cut. I quite like the Alfani brand fitted dress shirt. For less expensive fitted shirts I also enjoy the selection at H&M, but you do get what you pay for and these are certainly not as high quality as the Alfani.


If you have a larger chest, then you’re going to require a more regular or fuller shirt – and trust me, the store employees will know which brands to steer you towards for the best fit. When I go the regular fit route I quite enjoy DKNY dress shirts, as well as the offerings at Banana Republic.


With a thinner waist and bigger chest, the challenge is finding something that fits up top but isn’t dress-like on the bottom;  if you’re thick at the beltline, the problem is finding something that doesn’t bunch in the arms and chest area to make it fit around your waist.  I encourage larger butches to tread cautiously when in big/tall sections of department stores as it can be hard to find something that fits that doesn’t go down to your knees. However, remember your friendly tailor? If you find a shirt that fits right but is too long, either in the body or the sleeve, they CAN take care of it for you.

It may take some time to figure it all out, but once you know your size and what works, you are pretty well-armed to find a shirt that fits right at almost any men’s store in which  you find yourself in.  It can also be helpful to bring a friend along with you who can help you judge what is working and what isn’t.

As for my favorite, favorite, favorite dress shirt maker? I LOVE Brooks Brothers dress shirts. They are slightly out of range for me for all-the-time wear but I love getting them as gifts, or for the happy days when I find them at my local Goodwill store.  I JUST yesterday found out that there is a brand new Brooks Brothers outlet store not terribly far from my house. When I walked by it I pretty much um…well…if I could pop a stiffy over clothes I would have.

The best thing about Brooks Brothers is that their boys shirts fit smaller butches really, really well. So yeah, a little spendy, but you’ll look awesome in them.


As with any growing collection of clothes, start slowly. Figure out what works best for you and begin with neutral colors that are going to mesh with the clothes you already have. A black, grey, and white dress shirt selection can take you a long way as far as versatility goes, and then work in some blues, browns, stripes, etc. If you care for them well, as outlined in the “hot and steamy” post, you should have these in your wardrobe for quite some time, so this doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive project to get started on.

What shirts fit you the best?


10 Responses to “A nice stiff…..collar”

  1. Strongly second you about Brooks Brothers! They’re boys’ shirts are great because they’re just as high quality as their menswear. Most companies don’t make dress shirts small enough for me — I’m about a 14″ neck, 30″ sleeve, and the sizes tend to bottom out around 14 1/2-15 & 32-33. The half-inch difference on the neck id workable, but the sleeves, of course, are a big deal. It’s weird how, for casual clothes, men’s smalls fit me perfectly, but dress shirts (from most companies) just don’t.

    Anyway, I’ve found a few Brooks Brothers boys’ shirts thrift stores in great shape. They’re my favorites.

    Any posts about ties in the works? All this talk of shirts makes me want to brag about my collection… 🙂

  2. I have an awful time finding dress shirts to fit me. I’m of the “gangly” bunch that is very thin and long in the torso and arms. This generally equals I’m too narrow for men’s shirts and too tall for boys shirts. I can find more casual button ups at H&M and Urban Outfitters that fit me since in many cases they do actually have x-smalls in stock and I can fit into a small when it they are “fitted.” As for dress shirts… I’m at a loss pretty much everywhere. Express and BR come the closest as I can find fitted shirts, but smalls are still too big in the body for my taste (more fitted with clean lines). The Express 1MX and MK2 shirts fit me very well when I can get them in x-small. They rarely seem to have them in the stores, but pop up online once in a while. Sometimes if a shirt is just a hair bigger in the body than I like I can use a trick I learned in the Air Force and grab the shirt at the seams on the side pull them taught and fold them back when I tuck it in. This helps alleviate some of the billowy look and takes away a little bunchyness from the front and back at the waist. If a shirt doesn’t fit, it just doesn’t fit and that only gets you so far. Even Brooks Bros. boys shirts have better sizing than most, but I end up with sleeves two inches too short and they aren’t long enough to stay tucked in.

  3. Nautica dress shirts fit my largeness best. They seem to have been a Macy’s store brand at one time. I got several white dress shirts from Goodwill that had Macy’s tags with the nautica emblem on the hem. So I bought the same size pink checked Nautica and it fit just as well. I just found your site and love it.

  4. First, thank you for making this blog! 😀 I just prefer the male style rather than IDing as lesbian or transgender, but your articles work across the board. Love the focus on smart clothing, this sort of information is hard to come by.

    Though this is an old post, I was wondering – do you know of any site with more details on Alfani shirt sizes? Particularly the shoulder width. Shirts tend to hang off me and unfortunately I don’t live near a Macy’s. Also, how do you find the Alfani fit personally? Not sure if we’re similar sizes (based on the available numbers I would take the 14.5) but I’m hoping they scale.

    • I wear a 16ish collar, but I’ll check tonight on my Alfani shirts – I think they are not AS broad as most shirts, though for narrower shoulders, take a look at Calvin Klein.

  5. Going along with your post, I think you can find a lot of the mens shirts you talked abou here!

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