Why Some Shirts Always Ride Up


Doesn't it drive you crazy when buy the 'perfect' shirt but when you wear it it doesn't fit like you expected? kupicoo/Getty Images
Doesn't it drive you crazy when buy the 'perfect' shirt but when you wear it it doesn't fit like you expected? kupicoo/Getty Images

It seemed like the perfect shirt at the store. Prior to purchase it fit beautifully — like a glove, even, if that's possible. So why is the top you sported so well in the fitting room riding up in inappropriate places now that you're wearing it in the real world? And the problem is hardly limited to shirts, or even one specific cause. In fact, it affects virtually all types of clothes, right down to your skivvies.

The Fit

Not surprisingly, some clothes ride up simply because they don't fit properly. This can happen because shoppers fixate on "their size," even though sizing varies widely by brand and style. To avoid a fit-related issue, Salvador Perez advises people to ditch their preconceived sizing notions. "Forget about the size on the label in the garment, buy what fits you the best, and remember not all brands fit the same way, so you will be a different size in different brands," he says via email. Perez is a film and television costume designer for the "Pitch Perfect" series and "The Mindy Project," among others. "Clothes should be fitted, not tight; there is huge difference," he adds.

The Fabric

Clothing made of fabrics like spandex and jersey knits are particularly culpable in the "riding up" phenomenon. "It is much more likely to happen with clothing made of stretch fabrics," says Stylempower wardrobe stylist Diane Pollack in an email. "The fabric will temporarily accommodate to stretch over that area, but when not positioned properly or due to movement, will tend to shrink back to its non-stretched-out shape."

Pollack advises shoppers try on two different sizes and make sure to move around and test a range of motion during the fitting process. She also notes that knit fabrics containing spandex are the most likely type of materials to ride up, thanks to their inherent stretchiness. Other fabrics are more reliable, however. "Wovens with spandex are generally not a problem. The spandex is a small percentage and really for comfort. Woven fabrics are more rigid in nature and hence tend to keep their shape," she says.

The Design

The people of the world are a diverse bunch, so it's simply impossible for every design to fit everyone. As a result, many companies identify target body types and tailor clothing to suit them specifically. This is why so many shoppers tend to find and stick with brands that work well for them.

"When clothing is designed and fit, it is often fit on ONE fit model" explains Mariana Leung, a fashion and design expert with Ms. Fabulous Media. "Of course, bodies of all types buy the clothing, so various shapes can cause clothing to ride up if the person is different from the model." For example, Leung says that people who are particularly voluptuous naturally make the hem of a T-shirt rise higher than their less-endowed counterparts, even if they have similar measurements otherwise. This can quickly throw the fit of a shirt out of whack, causing it to ride up.

Sometimes, designers are able to make adjustments to particular mass-produced pieces to mitigate the effect. For example, Bensly, a luxury line for men, recognized that the majority of boxer shorts bunch up, regardless of the type of fabric used. "To reach a solution that covers the entire gamut of leg shapes and girths, we had to re-work the fabric patterns instead," explains Bensly founder Miguel Madrid.

"We started by extending the legs to an 8-inch inseam and then tapered the extended length so that [the fabric] narrows as you go down to the leg opening," he says, noting that this results in a truncated cone or pyramid shape. "With the leg inserted, the shape wraps around the leg at the lowest and thinnest point of the quad. The quad increases in girth as you go up, so the underwear prevents ride-up by 'gripping' the quad using an ultra-soft stretch blend of our Elite Series Tencel [fabric]."

Tweaking the design of complex garments, like tops and skirts, to suit the differently shaped masses is more difficult on the front end. This is why many shoppers resort to using a good tailor to add darts and take in cumbersome extra fabric where needed, a strategy that Perez encourages. "Buy clothes that fit the biggest part of your body and take them in to fit to your proportions," he says. "All clothes need a little bit of alteration, and will look so much better on you."