If there’s one item that causes me more headaches than any other, it would be the pilot uniform shirts. “Bane of my existence” really doesn’t begin to describe my loathing for this particular item. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked! It boils down to two basic aspects: 1. There are way too many varieties, and 2. The sizing always causes issues. I. Hate. Dealing. With. These. Shirts.
No one ever knows what they want, and no one ever knows what size they wear. And don’t get me wrong: I absolutely get it. If you’ve never worn an actual dress shirt, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. For those of you who haven’t, here’s a crash course. All of our shirts are by neck size, at half inch increments, unless they’re long sleeved shirts, which are both by neck size, but at one inch increments at the half inch, and sleeve length. There are three different styles, which have slightly different features and fits. Also, they’re available in tall sizes and tapered, but not both, and not in long sleeved. Confused? So am I.
When a customer asks about shirts in the store, my first question is always: “Short or long sleeved?” It really helps narrow it down more than you’d expect. Then comes the big question that never gets a straight answer: “Which size?” Deer in the headlights 90% of the time, and that’s no exaggeration. Really, in my experience, that’s par for the course with any item in my shop. Normally, the answer I receive is a prolonged “uhhhh…” but occasionally I’ll get some interesting ones. The other week, I had a customer come in looking for a shirt. I asked him which size he needed. His response? “My size.” Shoot me in the face with a bazooka. Please.
The eventual answer I get is, “I don’t know.” That’s fine, so I simplify: “What size do you normally wear in shirts? (Small, medium, etc.)” When you get an “uhhh” there, then you can begin worrying about that person and their ability to function properly as a human being. When you know the general shirt size, you can narrow it down from there. It just becomes a trial and error situation.
Minivan Moron was my most recent fly-in-the-ointment. He came in one week to try on some shirts and order a bunch of them. After going in circles for a few minutes, we finally land at a size 18.5. (He’s a big dude.) However, he feels the 18.5 is too baggy (because it is; that’s a lot of fabric), and the neck of the 18 is just a little bit too tight. So, we suggest the 18.5 tapered. We order them, and he returns to try them on. He thinks the tapered ones are too short (they’re half an inch shorter than the regular cut), and he’s worried about having to tuck in his tail all the time, while I’m honestly seeing no contest between tucking in my shirt constantly and looking like a fucking blimp all day long, but whatever, they’re not my shirts, and I no longer gave a crap.
So, we ordered the eleven shirts and told him that if they were here by Friday, they’d be waiting here for him to pick up on Sunday. Spoiler alert: They didn’t arrive by Friday. Come to find out Monday morning, he had raised a stink, saying he had an appointment with me for Sunday and a whole bunch of other nonsense. Go figure.
The bottom line is I get more trouble from these shirts, and I get more pushback from customers here than on anything else in the store. I mean, what do I know? I just stare at them all day and fit people in them and fold them (Oh, god, the folding!) and repackage them. Every. Single. Day.
What do I know? I just work here.
-The Retail Explorer