Hugh & Crye, dress shirts adjusted for inflation

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Have you ever rummaged through an old trunk of your parent’s clothes, or a vintage clothing store? And have you then ever found that really awesome piece–a jacket maybe, or a dress–and the label says its just your size? And did you try it on only to find that it’s way, way too small? That is what we call size inflation. Just as $5 could fill up a tank of gas in 1960 but can’t even fill you up at lunchtime now, the dress size that Marilyn Monroe wore then is now the size that…well we won’t get into that. But you get the idea.

This trend of increasing clothing size is often called vanity sizing, implying that as we’ve gotten fatter manufacturers are increasing the size of their clothes, but then just telling us it’s the same size so that we don’t feel bad about it. Other people, though, say that it’s not some corporate mind trick. Rather as people have gotten bigger, the clothes and their relative sizing have simply had to keep pace.

This size inflation is readily noticeable in women’s clothes, where the sizing is generally in arbitrary numbers. But even in men’s clothes, which are usually sized in inches, can’t escape rampant size inflation. Studies have shown that the waist size in some men’s pants can be up to 5 inches larger than the labeled size. And we certainly can’t leave dress shirts out. While neck and sleeve measurements may seem pretty hard to mess with, anybody who has tried to buy a dress shirt from a big box brand recently knows that these measurements don’t have anything to do with how the rest of the shirt fits. And judging by all the balloon shirts we see running around DC, it’s safe to say that shirts have definitely been “inflating” as well.

If you’ve been around our blog then you know how much we care about fit. And if you’re a customer then you know that when we say Skinny or Slim or Athletic, we mean it. Our goal from the beginning has been to make shirts that actually fit, rather than just pretend to. Any good investor knows that it’s important to hedge against inflation. And if you’re going to invest in a great quality dress shirt, shouldn’t you do the same?