What T-shirt Sizes Should I Order?

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Loads of extra cake left over from a party that you’re never going to eat (unlikely). Worse still, not enough cherryade as the fridge runs dry! It’s hard to get the numbers right.  If only there was some advice somewhere on this big ol thing we call the internet. Well your luck’s in! (Well not on the cake and pop front, you’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.) 

We share a few things to consider when deciding on your size breakdown.

Which sizes are available for your chosen garment styles?

First, check what sizes your chosen garment style is actually available in. 

It’s relatively easy to get confused on this one.  For example the Creator Unisex T-shirt in black or white come a tremendous size range of XXS all the way through to 5XL.  But other styles are only available in S-XL.  

Is the available size range going to work for your purposes, or do you need to switch to another garment style with more available sizes? 

Don’t spread yourself too thin

Think about the total number of garments that you’re ordering: if you’re ordering 100 or more, you can afford to have split the order between a number of sizes, as you’ll still have a decent number of each.  But if you’re only ordering 25, you may want to limit the sizes to 3 or 4, as you may otherwise end up with very few in each size and go out of stock of certain sizes right away.  

Size up your garment

Stanley/Stella and EarthPositive garments are considered to be continental sizing (as opposed to American sizing).  In practise this means they’re slightly smaller than the American sizes. If your customer is borderline, they might be better off going up a size, unless it’s a more forgiving looser fitting garment style.

Take a look at the sizing chart for the garment you like (ask, if you can’t find it).  Measure your favourite T-shirt to compare.  

Is it worth ordering a blank sample or two to try out on a few people? 

Consider your target market

Who are your target market?  How old are they? A younger audience (teens and twenties) is likely to be slimmer than an older audience (40’s+).  Do they have a shared interest that affect their size? Those bodybuilders are going to need bigger than an XL.

What about fashion or genre?  Are your target audience likely to favour fitted garments or baggier ones?  How does this work with the style that you’ve chosen to order?  

S-XL sizes are likely to be the most popular and most of our clients order higher numbers in these sizes, especially the M and L. 


Be careful for pre-orders and when you’re ordering specific sizes for individuals.  It’s possible that there may be misprints and, although we generally ensure there are spares for this eventuality, the spare may not be in the same size as the misprinted garment.  

Do you absolutely need the exact size breakdown you’ve specified?  If so, let us know it’s crucial so that we can ensure we end up with the exact size breakdown.  This may incur a surcharge, if we need to order spares in every size. Even better, order a spare or two in each size, which you can carry on selling to those that didn’t place their order in time.

Ordering rules of thumb

  • Order at least 70% of the garments in the S-XL range, unless there’s something particular about your target market, e.g. they’re all body builders!
  • Order at least ten of each size, unless it’s a test order, so that you don’t go out of stock of some sizes right away.
  • If you’re not sure between two sizes, go up a size.  Stanley/Stella and EarthPositive are continental sizes (and slightly smaller than American sizes). 

And don’t forget

You’re unlikely to get it exactly right as there are so many variables but, if your design is popular, you’ll be able to adjust your size breakdown for the next order and the next one until you’re happy you’ve found what is right for your market.  And if the design proves popular, you can increase the quantity with repeat orders too, to make the most of lower print price points.

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