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Short Guys Get Short Shrift When it Comes to Fashion

     French emperor Napoleon I stood at 5 feet 2 inches. Actor Danny DeVito is 5 feet tall. And sex symbol actor Tom Cruise ó married to 6-foot-tall Nicole Kidman ó hovers at 5-fooi-9. Men come in all sizes and shapes. But when it comes to shopping for their clothes, short guys have a long way to go. Most towns have plenty of shops for tall and big men, and for short (petite) women, but not that many ó if any ó for short men. They often have to travel to reach shops specializing in clothing to fit their size needs, or order from catalogs. Today, the average height for men is 5 feet 10 inches; for women, it's 5 feet 4 inches. Often local department stores do carry short sizes for men, but supplies are generally limited.

     Most short men's apparel stores are on the West Coast. There are few mail-order houses specializing in clothing for short men. Some men choose to have their clothes custom made, a costly option. "There's some denial out there ó a lot of (short men) are wearing their clothes wrong," says Dave Wittmer, owner of a Seattle-based short men's shop named Wallaby Station. "They're saying, I don't have a problem,' and the crotch of their pants is down to their knees." Wittmer is president of the Short Men's Apparel Association, a national retail business\group of about 20 members founded in the late 1970s. The difference between regular sizes and short sizes is in cut and proportion, experts say. Short men's sizes are usually broken do\\n this way: Suits run in sizes 35 extra short (5-foot-3 and under) to a 54 portly short. Dress shins run from about a 14-2-inch neck/30 sleeve to a 17'/2-inch neck/32 sleeve length. Labels in short men's clothes run the gamut from small to short, to LS (large short), SXL (short extra-large), LS (large short), MS (medium short), or SS (small short) or PS (portly short). The general belief in the short menswear industry is that many short men are not as comfortable as petite women are when it comes to shopping for clothes to fit them. Owners of short men's clothing stores say they save men the embarrassment of having to shop in the teen boy's department for a correct size. Most of the clothing is more moderately priced, and doesn't need to be altered.


By Rhonda B. Seweil
The Toledo Blade
Syracuse Herald-Journal
September 25th, 1996

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