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How a Self-Deluded Pudgy Guy Buys “Slim” Shirts

The problem with getting older—I’m 53—is not simply that weight goes up (I’ve actually weighed the same, give or take 5 pounds, for about 10 years). It’s that your shape changes. Redistribution toward my family’s apple-shaped norm has accelerated. That means a reasonably loose medium shirt no longer fits. This is exacerbated by the amazing proliferation in the marketplace of slim, trim, and other thin tailoring designations on mainstream clothes. In an Orwellian twist, these designations render size language meaningless. A slim medium is not a medium anymore! It’s a small! Regular stores like Macy’s are now littered with shirts tailored this way. What’s amazing is that there seem to be far more slim, trim, and tailored shirts in many stores than there are slim, trim, and tailored people to buy them (possibly not true in Manhattan, but certainly so in Birmingham, Alabama). Yes, your average young, hip guy can fit into one of these shirts, but what the hell would he be doing in Macy’s?

However, you quickly learn to compensate: A “slim” large is basically an old medium, girthwise. The manufacturers surely know that non-slim customers now get the delusionary satisfaction of buying a slim shirt! It’s like buying a pair of 32-waist pants with a 4-inch hidden elastic waistband extender, except that in the case of a slim large shirt, the arms are now 2 inches too long. So you have to wear it with sleeves rolled up. Or get the thing tailored, which is lunacy. (Mind you, I once decided, being a short and apple-shaped fellow, that if I got thin and rich I’d march into a Big and Tall store and order everything altered to fit me, just for the hell of it.)

Photo: Rick Lew/Getty Images

Women readers: Please weigh in on the equivalent experience on your side of the aisle. I can only imagine. Comment here, email Scott_Mowbray@timeinc.com, and tweet @ScottMowb or @Cooking_Light using #SocialDiet.