Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, making it tricky to find clothes that fit you perfectly without custom tailoring. That’s why clothing manufacturers make garments in various fits so you can match clothes to your body type. Two common fits are regular fit and slim fit.
The difference between regular fit vs. slim fit is how close the garment is to your body. Slim fit clothes are narrower and fit more snugly to the shape of your body. Regular fit clothing is a looser fit. The hips, waist, and shoulders are the main areas where there is a difference in these fits.
Many different garments can be slim fit or regular fit. Everything from suits to casual t-shirts can be tailored to a different fit. This guide will show you what to look for and how to know which is right for you.
Regular Fit vs. Slim Fit: Key Points
The differences will be obvious when you lay a slim fit garment and a regular fit garment side by side. Two t-shirts in the same size in two different fits will be two distinct shapes. The same goes for pants. Even if the waist and inseam measurements are identical, the garments will be different at key points. The table below shows what these key points are.
|Relaxed fit in the shoulders, plenty of fabric to move. Transitions into a boxier sleeve than a slim fit
|Narrower shoulders, with slightly higher armholes; enhances the difference between waist and shoulder widths
|Armholes are larger, hang lower for more range of motion
|Armholes are slightly higher, more closely showing the shape of the arm
|Straight across in the chest, room for broader more muscular builds
|Tighter through the chest; a better fit for slimmer builds and narrower shoulders
|Loose and relaxed, tend to start lower on the shoulder; uniform shape
|Closer fit, starting slightly higher on the shoulder and tapering towards the wrist
|Little to no waist shaping
|Shaped at the waist to fit closer to the body
|Relaxed through the seat; hangs slightly away from the body
|Tight through the seat but with room to move
|Mid to high rise
|Mid to high rise
|Uniform throughout to show the leg as a straight line
|Narrow through the thigh; tapers to show the shape of the leg
|Average, wide, or muscular
|Slender, skinny, or slim
|Full comfort, wide range of motion
|More formal, but with full range of motion
What Is Regular Fit?Regular fit is a standard cut for clothing. Whether it’s a shirt, jeans, or a whole suit, regular fit is meant to fit the average body without needing serious alterations. Regular fit clothing is looser and has straighter seems and more ease than other cuts.
Arms, legs, and waists in regular fit clothing are a uniform size. That is, the shapes do not taper. Rather, sleeves and legs are straight, with no size variation throughout. There is little to no waist-shaping, either.
Regular fit clothing will fit a wider variety of body types than other cuts because it is roomy. It’s a great cut for larger or more muscular bodies, especially if you have broad shoulders or wide hips.
However, a regular fit is a closer cut than a relaxed fit. Regular fit jeans aren’t baggy, but they shouldn’t cling to your skin. The key to a good regular fit is to have enough space in the garment to move comfortably without getting lost in the fabric.
What Is Slim Fit?Slim fit is a closer clothing cut that works best for slim or slender bodies. Slim fit garments taper towards the narrower parts of your body. The legs narrow towards the ankle, sleeves narrow towards the wrists, and side seams narrow towards the natural waist.
However, slim fit does not mean skin tight. Slim fit jeans, for example, will not fit as snuggly as skinny jeans do. There should still be enough room in the garment for you to move around comfortably.
Slim fit garments are a good cut for people who have trouble fitting into regular fit clothes because they are too baggy. If regular fit pants tend to pool at your ankles, or suit jacket shoulders don’t hit your arm in the right place, then a slim fit may be a better option for you.
What Is the Difference Between Regular Fit and Slim Fit?
The difference between regular fit and slim fit is how wide parts of the garments are. For regular fit, each portion of the garment is a uniform size. They hang slightly loose on the body. For slim fit garments, they are more closely fit to the body. Portions of slim fit garments narrow in line with your body.
Slim fit and regular fit mean slightly different things, depending on what type of garment you’re talking about. All bodies are different, so you may prefer a slim fit in your tops but a regular fit in your pants, or vice versa. It’s helpful to know the differences for each type of clothing so you can always pick the garment that fits you best.
ShirtsRegular fit shirts have a boxy structure. They have straight sides, so the torso is a rectangular shape from the armpit to the hem. The sleeves are slightly wider in the shoulder than the wrist, but on the body, they give the appearance that the sleeve is all one width.
Slim fit shirts taper in the waist. The side seams curve slightly so that the fabric hangs closer to the body. This also prevents the shirt from pooling or poofing out when you tuck it in, which regular fit shirts tend to do on slimmer bodies.
The arms of a slim fit shirt are also narrower than a regular fit shirt. They taper more towards the wrist than a regular fit shirt. The shoulders aren’t as broad, either, to prevent the shoulder seams from hitting too low on the top of the bicep.
T-ShirtsFor t-shirts, the fabric is less structured, so the fabric pieces’ shape influences the fit as much as the seaming. In a regular fit t-shirt, the torso pieces are a wide rectangle. The sides hang away from the body and there is room in the chest and shoulders for a broader build.
Slim fit t-shirts are a narrower rectangle. They are also narrower in the chest and shoulders than a regular fit t-shirt. The sleeves aren’t as baggy, and they sit slightly higher on the shoulder. Many slim-fit t-shirts hug the body closely, as the material is stretchy so you can still move comfortably in a tight shirt.
SuitsThe main fit difference in suits between a regular fit and a slim fit is in the waist of the jacket. For a slim fit suit, the waist of the jacket narrows, which keeps your silhouette closer to the shape of your body. The shoulders are usually narrower, depending on your tailoring.
Suit pants for a slim fit suit are narrower through the hips and thighs without being skin tight. This keeps the pants from looking baggy or bunching up when you sit. They’ll also narrow slightly toward the ankle.
Regular fit suits are a classic silhouette. They nip in at the waist slightly, but it’s a much smaller angle than a slim fit. When the jacket is unbuttoned, the shape is almost rectangular. Regular fit suit pants are roomier as well. They stay wide throughout the leg, so your thighs and calves will appear to be a uniform shape.
PantsThe primary difference between regular and slim fit pants is that slim fit pants form to the shape of your legs. Slim fit pants are tighter all the way through the leg, showing the size difference between thighs and calves.
The legs of regular fit pants are more relaxed, giving the leg a straight line appearance. There’s also more room in the waist and rise of regular fit pants, as they’re designed to accommodate a wider range of body types.
The type of pants will also influence the shape of the cut. More formal pants like chinos or dress pants will have more subtle shape differences than jeans. Additionally, some retailers might have slightly different names for their fits.
Some manufacturers use classic fit and regular fit interchangeably, while others use them as distinct fits. A slim fit in one brand might be more similar to a straight fit in another. It’s important to try clothes on your body to determine which fit is best and what alterations you might need to make.
Regular Fit JeansHow jeans fit your body involves multiple components, from the rise to the leg cut to the overall fit. Regular fit jeans for most brands refers to the average, basic cut in their line.
Regular fit jeans have a straight leg. The line from thigh to ankle will be a single width, neither flaring out nor tapering in. This cut is less likely to show the shape of your leg than slimmer cuts. The ankle opening is wide, and the cuff will sit slightly forward toward the top of your foot.
In the hips and seat, regular fit jeans should be roomy but not baggy. When you sit, they shouldn’t bunch up, but they shouldn’t pinch either. The fabric should hang slightly outward from your body rather than sitting snugly against it.
Regular fit jeans exist with various rises, from mid to high. Some brands may also carry a low rise or a super high rise with a regular fit, but these are rare, as those rises tend to form more closely to your body. A regular fit jeans will give you more room in the rise and waist than other cuts.
If regular jeans feel baggy or loose on you, but the measurements are correct for your body, try a slim fit. Regular fit jeans can swallow up slender, leaner body types. On the other hand, more athletic builds may do better in regular fit jeans.
Regular Fit Cargo PantsRegular fit cargo pants fit similarly to regular fit jeans or other casual pants. The defining feature of cargo pants is the pockets. Cargo pants have large, utilitarian pockets, usually along the outside of the legs.
Like other regular fit pants, cargo pants should have a wide, untapered leg that gives you room to move. The hips and seat should hang away from the body rather than conforming to its shape. Regular fit is a good choice for cargo pants because the extra fabric and the extra room make the pockets more useful.
A slim fit cargo pant will be less comfortable as the items in the cargo pockets may poke you. If you aren’t wearing cargo pants for a utilitarian purpose, then a slim fit cargo pant is a good fashion choice if you normally wear slim fit pants.
Slim Straight vs Slim FitFor pants, the combinations of the leg shape, the rise, and the overall fit lead to a wide variety of terms and names. When you’re talking about jeans, the fit of the waist and seat is frequently noted separately from the shape and fit of the legs.
Slim straight jeans are straight leg jeans with a slim fit in the hips and seat. Slim fit jeans are usually slim in the legs as well, falling between a straight leg and a skinny jean in terms of leg opening.
Straight leg pants look more like regular fit pants than slim fit pants in the leg. Rather than hugging the shape of the leg, they hang straight down so that the leg line is unbroken from hip to ankle.
Manufacturers combine and use these terms in different ways, depending on the different cuts they offer. The more styles they offer, the more specific their terms will be to the type of pants. The more specific the fit, the less likely you need tailoring to get the perfect fit for your body.
How to Choose Which Cut Is Right for You
Picking the best cut for your body type can be a challenge. If you’re not sure which fit is the right one for you, try on a garment in the same size in both fits. That will make it easy to compare the two and choose the more comfortable one.
Regular fit clothing is meant to fit a wide variety of body types. It’s loose so that it can fit well for wider bodies or bodies that need more room. Athletes or very tall people may be more comfortable in a regular fit.
Slender people or people with shorter torsos and narrower frames are more likely to look and feel comfortable in a slim fit. The closer fit of the clothing will prevent the garment from swallowing your body.
You may also have different fit preferences for tops versus pants. If you have narrow hips but wide shoulders, you may be more comfortable in slim fit pants and regular fit shirts. This may be more difficult to accommodate in a suit, where tailoring and alterations are important.
If you’re unsure which fit is best, opt for the regular fit and get the garment tailored. More fabric means the tailor will be able to make more adjustments; it’s easier to take a seam in than to let it out.
The differences between regular fit garments and slim fit garments come down to how closely the fabric hangs on your body. If a garment mimics the shape of your body, it’s likely a slim fit. If it gives your body the appearance of straight lines, it’s more likely a regular fit.
Either fit can be flattering and comfortable, as long as it fits your body. Which fit is your favorite? Tell us in the comments how you decide which fit to wear.