How Do Men's Shirt Sizes Compare to Women's?

Navigating the world of fashion can often feel like deciphering a foreign language, especially when it comes to understanding clothing sizes. Whether you're a fashion enthusiast, building your summer wardrobe, or an eco-conscious shopper looking to make mindful choices, understanding the differences between men's and women's shirt sizes is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we'll break down everything you need to know to make informed decisions when shopping for shirts.

Understanding the Basics

Men's Shirt Sizes

Men's shirts are typically measured in a straightforward manner based on specific body measurements. Here are the key metrics used:

  • Chest Measurement: This is the circumference of the chest measured at its fullest part.
  • Neck Size: Particularly important for dress shirts, this measurement is taken around the base of the neck.
  • Sleeve Length: Measured from the center back of the collar to the end of the sleeve.
  • Waist Measurement: For fitted shirts, the waist measurement is also considered.

Men's shirts are commonly labeled with numerical sizes (e.g., 15/34, where 15 is the neck size and 34 is the sleeve length) or generalized sizes (S, M, L, XL).

Women's Shirt Sizes

Women's shirts are often more complex due to the variety of body shapes and styles. Here are the primary measurements:

  • Bust Measurement: This is the circumference of the bust at its fullest part.
  • Waist Measurement: Taken at the narrowest part of the waist.
  • Hip Measurement: Measured around the fullest part of the hips.
  • Shoulder Width: Some designs also take shoulder width into account.

Women's shirts are usually labeled with numerical sizes (e.g., 4, 6, 8) or letter sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL).

Key Differences Between Men's and Women's Shirt Sizes

Fit and Cut

  • Men's Shirts: Tend to have a straight cut, providing a more relaxed fit. The focus is often on broad shoulders and a broader chest area, with less tapering at the waist.
  • Women's Shirts: Often feature a more tailored fit, with darts and seams that follow the body's curves. There is usually more tapering at the waist and additional room in the bust area.

Sizing Standards

  • Men's Sizing: Generally more standardized across brands. A size M in one brand is often similar to a size M in another.
  • Women's Sizing: Can vary significantly between brands. A size 8 in one brand might fit like a size 6 or 10 in another.

Sleeve and Torso Length

  • Men's Shirts: Typically have longer sleeves and torso lengths to accommodate broader shoulders and longer arms.
  • Women's Shirts: Designed with shorter sleeves and torso lengths to fit a more petite frame.

How to Convert Between Men's and Women's Sizes

Converting Men's Sizes to Women's

If you're a woman looking to wear a men's shirt, it's essential to consider the differences in fit and measurements. Here's a simple conversion guideline:

  • Chest/Bust: Measure your bust at its fullest part. Compare this measurement to the men's chest measurement chart. Typically, a men's size small (S) is roughly equivalent to a women's medium (M).
  • Waist: Men’s shirts are less tapered, so you may need to size down if you prefer a more fitted look.
  • Sleeve Length: Be aware that men's shirts will have longer sleeves, which might need tailoring for a better fit.

Converting Women's Sizes to Men's

For men interested in wearing women's shirts, consider the following:

  • Chest/Bust: Measure your chest and compare it to the women’s bust measurement chart. A women's size large (L) is often close to a men's medium (M).
  • Waist and Hips: Since women's shirts are more tapered, you may need to size up for a comfortable fit.
  • Shoulder Width: Women's shirts typically have narrower shoulders, so ensure the fit is comfortable in this area.

Tips for Choosing the Right Size

Know Your Measurements

Before shopping for shirts, take your measurements accurately. Use a tape measure and note down your chest/bust, waist, and hip measurements. For men, also measure your neck and sleeve length.

Consider the Brand's Sizing Chart

Always refer to the sizing chart provided by the brand. Different brands can have varying sizing standards, so it's crucial to check the specific measurements.

Try it On

When possible, try on the shirt before purchasing. This is especially important if you're transitioning from men's to women's sizes or vice versa. Pay attention to the fit around the shoulders, bust/chest, and waist.

Look for Adjustable Features

Some shirts come with adjustable features like darts, button placements, or elastic materials. These can provide a more customized fit.

FAQs About Men's and Women's Shirt Sizes

1. Why do men's and women's shirt sizes differ so much?

Men's and women's bodies have different shapes and proportions, leading to variations in sizing standards. Men's shirts focus on broader shoulders and a straight cut, while women's shirts accommodate curves with a more tailored fit.

2. How can I find my perfect size?

Take accurate measurements of your chest/bust, waist, and hips. Compare these measurements to the sizing chart of the brand you're shopping from. If possible, try on the shirt to ensure a good fit.

3. Can women wear men's shirts?

Yes, women can wear men's shirts. Many women appreciate the relaxed fit of men's shirts. However, be prepared for longer sleeves and a less tapered waist. You may need to size down for a more fitted look.

4. Can men wear women's shirts?

Yes, men can wear women's shirts. However, the fit will be more tailored, with narrower shoulders and a more tapered waist. Men may need to size up for a comfortable fit.

5. Why do women's sizes vary so much between brands?

Women's sizes can vary significantly between brands due to differences in design standards and target demographics. Always refer to the brand's specific sizing chart for the most accurate fit.


Understanding the differences between men's and women's shirt sizes can make your shopping experience much more enjoyable and efficient. Whether you're a fashion enthusiast, building your summer wardrobe, or an eco-conscious shopper, knowing how to convert sizes and what to look for in a shirt will help you make informed decisions.

Remember to take accurate measurements, refer to sizing charts, and try on shirts whenever possible. With these tips in mind, you'll be well-equipped to find the perfect fit, no matter which section of the store you're shopping in.