Clothing made for boys accounts for a typical masculine body type and includes measurements for specific areas like chest and waist. Finding the right fit for any boy is possible when you understand how sizing works and what to look for in terms of fit.
General Size Guide
Children's clothing sizes are often the same for babies and toddlers, but once they're out of toddler clothing, girls and boys sizes begin to be different. The exact sizing can vary. "There is no set rule for an industrialized standard in [clothing] sizes" says Vice President of Sales and Merchandising at Classroom School Uniforms, Bill Bosch. However, the Boys' Clothing Size Guide below gives you a basic idea what size to look for with ages five and up, including S for slim and H for husky sizes.
Mr. Bosch shares that "some manufacturers use body measurements and others use garment sizing," to determine boys' clothing sizes for their brand. So, he suggests: "The best advice for parents trying to buy the right fit is to actually have the boy try on the garments before purchasing them."
|Age||Number Size||Letter Size||Height||Weight||Chest||Waist|
|4-5||4/5||XS||38-43 inches||34-42 lbs.||22-24 inches||22-23 inches|
|5-6||6||S||44-48 inches||43-48 lbs.||24-25 inches||23-24 inches|
|6-7||7||S||47-50 inches||49-58 lbs.||25-26 inches||23-24 inches|
|7X||S||48-50 inches||59-61 lbs.||26-27 inches||24-25 inches|
|7-8||8||M||51-52 inches||62-68 lbs.||26-27 inches||24-25 inches|
|8S||49-50 inches||52-62 lbs.||26-27 inches||22 inches|
|8H||50-51 inches||67-73 lbs.||30-31 inches||28 inches|
|9-11||10/12||L||53-57 inches||69-100 lbs.||28-29 inches||25-26 inches|
|10/12S||55-58 inches||63-93 lbs.||28-29 inches||24 inches|
|10/12H||55-58 inches||81-110 lbs.||32-33 inches||29 inches|
|12-13||14/16||XL||58-63 inches||101-124 lbs.||30-33 inches||27-29 inches|
|14/16S||62-64 inches||94-114 lbs.||31-32 inches||26 inches|
|14/16H||59-64 inches||111-143 lbs.||35-36 inches||32 inches|
|14 +||18/20||XXL||64-67 inches||125-146 lbs.||34-36 inches||30-33 inches|
Popular Brand Sizing
Every manufacturer, brand, and retailer can use different measurements for the same number or letter sizes. Boys' sizes today include "regular, husky, and slim sizes" according to Bosch. However, he says: "Times are changing for boys as far as fashion goes." Bosch shares the example at Classroom where a popular girls' style called "matchstick" in bottoms began to sell rapidly. When he called customers to inquire Bosch found that boys were buying up this style. So, he says the brand has "added a boys' narrow leg pant and short which became bestsellers."
The bottom line is every brand has the ability to add, change, and design their own sizes and styles. What's best for each boy will be different, but Bosch says that "alphabetical sizing is much better for boys" because each letter size includes more than one numerical size. For example, "a size M at Classroom is a 10/12." These examples of popular brand size guidelines give you an idea on how diverse size charts can be.
Classroom School Uniforms
Classroom School Uniforms is a school uniform retailer with sizes (p. 25) for kids of every body type and age. Their standard size chart provides a guide for 2T through size 48-waist boys' and young men's clothing using height, chest, waist, hip, and inseam measurements and includes both alphabetical and numerical sizes.
Their chart for Husky sizes feature the same measurement options and they provide a chart for young men's sizes meant for older teen boys with waist sizes from 28 to 48 inches.
Basic clothing and undergarment brand Hanes offers size charts for their t-shirts and sweats in addition to underwear. Boys' shirt sizes range from XS-XL. They use a chest and weight measurement to calculate sizes for youth. For example, a size Small is recommended for boys ages 6-8 with a 22-26 inch chest measurement and weighing 42-55 pounds.
Hanes sweats also run from size XS-XL, but these also include a waist measurement and match up with common number sizes. An XL in Hanes casual wear or sweats is equivalent to a boys' size 16/18 and fits boys weighing 100-126 pounds with a 27-28.5 inch waist.
Popular athletic brand Adidas provides a comprehensive clothing size chart for boys ages 4-14. Height, chest, waist, hip, and inseam measurements correspond to product labels with an age range and single number designation. Apparel for a 5-6-year-old is a number 116 for 44-46 inch tall boys while a 63-65 inch tall 13 or 14-year-old wears a 164. For a more accurate fit, Adidas gives measurements in half-inch increments for most measurements and in tenth-of-a inch increments for inseams on larger boys' sizes.
Levi Straus & Co. separates their apparel sizes between Little Boys (2T-7X) and Big Boys (8-20). Little Boys' sizes are further split into measurement charts for toddlers, regular young boys, and slim young boys. For Big Boys, you'll find charts for Regular (8-20), Slim (8S-20S), Husky (8H-20H), and Alpha (S-XL) styles. Height, weight, waist, and hip measurements are used along with age ranges to differentiate sizes. Levi's typically uses measurements to the nearest inch or pound except in the larger Husky sizes.
Popular preppy brand U.S. POLO ASSN. offers customers two sizing charts for boys' clothing, one in alphabetical sizes from XXS-XL and one in numeric sizes from 4 to 18. Alphabetical sizes are calculated with height and weight alone while numerical sizes use height, chest, and weight measurements. For example, a Large covers boys 55-59 inches tall, but a 10/12 covers boys 51-58 inches tall.
Tips for a Perfect Fit
The best way to find a perfect fit for any boy is to have him try on every piece of clothing. Since brands have their own sizing guidelines, you will see drastic variations from one to the next. To find the best fit for your boy, make sure to check the size guidelines for the specific brands you purchase. Bosch says to make shopping easier, "remember the manufacturers and labels your son likes to wear" that way, "you can shop without him and not worry about the size problem."
Bosch also says to "keep in mind that children's sizes are calculated for growth." When trying on isn't a viable option, measure your child properly then compare his measurements against the manufacturer's size chart. If you're not sure on size, go with the bigger option you're considering; Bosch shares that most boys prefer loose clothing.
Finding the Right Size
Boys will feel most comfortable and confident when wearing clothing that fits their specific body and lifestyle needs. When you understand clothing sizes, you can make the best choices in boys' clothing, from school styles to casual and athletic wear.