T-Shirt Sizing: The Ultimate Guide For Group Orders

When it comes to custom t-shirts here at STL Shirt Co., we often get asked: “What sized shirts should I get?” It’s basically the question every customer asks themselves and us when placing orders that include a range of sizes.

Whether you are buying bulk for branded merchandise, selling t-shirts at a festival or concert in Greater St. Louis, outfitting staff with company logo polos, planning a promotional giveaway, or organizing an event, it’s easy to get lost when deciding on sizes. After all, you have so many things to keep straight – Billy wants 19 in royal blue, Johnny needs 33 cardinal red, and Cindy asked for 11 heathered gray for her neighbor’s cousin’s step brother.

No need to worry. Let the pros at STL Shirt Co. help. Call us today at 636-926-2777 or connect with us online.

T-Shirt Sizing: What Is the Optimal Formula For Group Orders?

In large group orders, we’ll say over 500 total t-shirts, it is important to get into specifics, rather than take bold, broad stabs and say, “Let’s just go with 50 of each size.” No matter what you are doing with the custom t-shirts and no matter the size of your order, excess inventory is the Achilles heel of any business, but particularly for the t-shirt industry – large and small. It cuts directly into margins and takes up space in the closet or basement. What are you going to do with all of those extra smalls or triple-XLs? You can only have so many garments for dusting or shoe polishing.

Another issue is you could easily run out of the sizes you need – the premium sizes – and be stuck with leftover inventory of the sizes that nobody wanted. If you’re selling band merchandise at an event, some fans could leave empty-handed, likely never to return, because you don’t have their size. Nobody wants that. We’re here to help.

Using the STL Shirt Co. sales data as a starting point, and adding additional statistical factors such as survey results, we developed the following recommended ratio for t-shirt sizing broken down to percentage of your order by size:

  • XS – 1%
  • S – 10%
  • M – 23%
  • L – 31%
  • XL – 23%
  • 2XL – 9%
  • 3XL – 3%

These are only recommendations, provided as a starting point. We applied over four decades of experience with thousands of customers, as well as knowledge of the industry. But, there are other, non-statistical factors to consider when ordering to ensure your customers, employees, family, followers, and fans are happy, such as:

  • Fabric shrinkage – If your t-shirts are all 100% cotton, skew your order slightly toward the larger sizes. Keep in mind though, if washed properly, cotton shouldn’t shrink over 2%. If your shirts are 50-50 blends or triblends, you don’t have to worry much about shrinkage.
  • Fit or cut of your custom t-shirts – Another thing to consider is that many of today’s fashion fit or semi-fitted styles run slightly smaller than their standard counterparts. Many have tapered sleeves and side seams for a slimmer fit.
  • Demographic and purpose – Whether you’re selling t-shirts or donating them, think about your market or demographic. Is it a BBQ festival? Skew the sizes larger. Is it a yoga retreat? Skew the sizes smaller. Is it band merchandise for fans mostly in their 20s? Go with the fashion fit or semi-fitted.

T-Shirt Sizing: How Do I Determine Sizes For My Order?

To determine sizes for your custom t-shirt order, just do the math – taking the total numbers of shirts and multiplying it by our recommended percentages for each size. Let’s say your order is for 600 t-shirts. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 600 x .01 = 6 XS
  • 600 x .10 = 60 S
  • 600 x .23 = 138 M
  • 600 x .31 = 186 L
  • 600 x .23 = 138 XL
  • 600 x .09 = 54 2XL
  • 600 x .03 = 18 3XL

Hate math? No problem. This calculator does the math for you, applying our recommended ratio.

For smaller orders, say less than 100 shirts, you may want to omit the extra smalls and triple-XLs, and redistribute those percentage across the sizes, like this for an order of 50:

  • 50 x .10 = 5 S
  • 50 x .24 = 12 M
  • 50 x .32 = 16 L
  • 50 x .24 = 12 XL
  • 50 x .10 = 5 2XL

T-Shirt Sizing: The Ultimate Guide For Group Orders | STL Shirt Co.

If size distribution is too sporadic to estimate, difficult to pinpoint, or it is entirely unnecessary for your group, STL Shirt Co. has other services that may be able to help. We can assist in starting your own online store, as well as help you run virtual fundraisers in similar fashion. For these services, you simply need to give us an estimate for how many t-shirts you plan to sell, send us your design, and we can create a unique online store to be shared with your entire group. You won’t have to worry about planning for sizes, or keeping that spreadsheet or chicken scratch with Billy’s and Cindy’s orders straight, or collecting the money.

Call us today at 636-926-2777 or contact us online.