Tips and Tricks on Buying T-Shirts for a Group of People


One of the most common questions we get asked is “What sizes should I buy?”…..Well, since you asked, let me help! In order to answer this question, don’t we need a little more information such as gender, age, level of fitness, etc.? Technically, yes, but for most groups, you can follow some really simple, easy buying tips.  Keep in mind, these are just a starting guideline and you should adjust as your intuition tells you to.

Here is an industry wide accepted standard buying size guide:

S- 2%
M – 13%
L – 36%
XL – 36%
2XL – 11%
3XL – 1%
4XL – 1%

S- 13%,
M – 37%
L – 33%
XL – 15%
2XL – 2%

This means that if you want to buy 100 mens t-shirts, you would initially use 2 S, 13 M, 36 L, and so on.

Does this actually work? Yes, for the most part it does but adjustments are needed! I personally have the fortune of working with our largest fulfillment customer and helping them with their size buying for the masses (these guys sell internationally, not just within the US). If they were to buy 100 shirts and asked me what size breakdown they should get, the only adjustments I would make are to buy a few more 2XL and 3XL then what is recommend above. If I sold them 100 shirts, I would suggest they order S- 4, M – 8, L- 21, XL- 25, 2XL – 24, 3XL – 18.

Here is a photo of the largest “group” purchase I had the pleasure of being a part of (photo is courtesy of Juice Magazine). In 2013 the prized Butter Cow at the Iowa State fair was vandalized and we ran a special edition Butter Cow Security T-Shirt. Over 1,000,000 people attend the state fair and thousands of shirts were sold. We used the buying guide above as a starting spot and the buying patterns matched! Check out this video if you are interested in seeing the quick turnaround of all these shirts:

The photo is of people lined up to purchase the Butter Cow Security T-Shirt.

Buying for women/ladies is really an entire different ball game, which I should leave for another blog post to explain how to determine the difference and correct sizes. This by far is one of the trickiest groups!

Another thing I always remind people of is that people will wear a size that is too large, but most wont wear a size that is too small. If in doubt, don’t get too many small ones (unless of course you are buying for a bunch of middle school children).

Remember  – there is no substitute for using your noggin and logically thinking about the demographic, fitness level, gender and age of your group. Start with the chart, adjust as those factors require and you should be headed down the right path of not having a bunch of left over shirts because you ordered the wrong sizes!

Good Luck and of course, call us if you need help! My expert staff is here to guide you.




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