Although t-shirts used to just be sold as unisex as standard, this did not take into consideration the many differences between male and female torsos. Designers created the women’s t-shirt to correct this, working with a different shape and fit that is much better suited to the female form.
Are unisex shirts for men or women?
The answer is both, which is where the name “unisex” came from. However, we have found that Unisex sizing caters more to men than women. If you are wondering about how a unisex shirt will fit, it is very similar to how a men’s t-shirt fits.
In the rest of this article, we are going to examine the differences between male and female t-shirts by looking more closely at where they differ in the waist, the hips, the bust, the sleeves, the neckline, their sizes, the fit, and the fabric that they are made from.
One of the most obvious differences between the male and female torsos when seen from the front is the waist. While men’s torsos will tend to be largely straight from top to bottom, women will have narrower waistlines compared to the rest of their torsos.
Unisex or Men’s t-shirts worn by women would often leave a whole lot of material sitting loose or getting bunched up in unsightly ways. To prevent this, women’s t-shirts are cut narrower around the waistlines so that they complement the natural curves of the female torso.
You may think that the responsibility of accommodating the shape of women’s hips falls more onto trousers, but there is still a role to play for t-shirt designers when it comes to creating articles of clothing for women to wear.
Women’s t-shirts will already incorporate a narrower waist, but the cut was further perfected by the inclusion of a flaring out at the bottom of these items. In other words, rather than the waistline evening out to where it was above when it gets to the bottom, it ends a little bit wider, leaving hips covered without being too tight or getting bunched upward.
When wearing unisex t-shirts, women with larger busts will have the options of either a t-shirt that is far too tight and uncomfortable around the chest or ones that leave a lot of unsightly loose material around the abdomen.
Women’s t-shirts are designed to incorporate bust sizes, meaning that they can have more material around the chest while still fitting appropriately and comfortably elsewhere, especially below the chest. Although separate sizing for busts, waists, and hips is uncommon in women’s t-shirts, the general inclusion of the bust adjustment leads to a much easier time finding the right fit for women.
Men’s and unisex t-shirts will tend to have longer sleeves. This can be frustrating for smaller women who are after a short-sleeve t-shirt, only to find that the options they have available end up reaching their elbows.
The types of sleeves that are often found on women’s t-shirts are called cap sleeves, and they tend to be both shorter as well as a lot tighter fitting to accommodate the significantly slimmer arms that women have on average compared to men.
The vast majority of men’s or traditional unisex t-shirts will have a rounded neckline that fits quite close around the neck. It is true that some t-shirts designed for men will have V-necks, but most of the variations in the necklines of t-shirts will be found in those designed for women.
The most common necklines that appear on women’s t-shirts are the V-neck and the deep-V. You can recognize these by looking for necklines that are lower at the front and meet in the middle at a sharp angle rather than a smooth rounding. The deep-Vs, as the name implies, meet in the middle much lower, leaving more of the throat and upper chest exposed.
Another type of neckline found in women’s t-shirts is the scoop neck. This neckline is rounded but is a lot lower than the traditional unisex t-shirt neckline. Square necklines emulate what you might find on certain dresses. By incorporating them into a t-shirt, you end up with a distinctly more feminine design.
The sizing of unisex t-shirts is a “middle ground” but not always the best because men and women on average have different dimensions. This is not to do with things like the ratio of the waist to the hip, but rather the underlying body size. With men much taller and with broader shoulders than women on average, who is a “medium” sized t-shirt fit for?
By making men’s and women’s t-shirts distinct from one another, the sizes the manufacturers and retailers use become a lot more intuitive. You can now look at a t-shirt designed for women, see that the size on it is M, and gauge what kind of body size it would fit without all the guesswork of wondering whether they geared their sizing more toward women or men.
This may seem like it is implied with the smaller size and different shapes, but women’s t-shirts have a more snug fit even separate from these other changes. Men’s t-shirts and the unisex t-shirts that were common before the development of women’s t-shirts tended to hang quite loose even on men. This was preferred by the men, but not so much by women.
Women’s t-shirts are designed with a more snug fit to accentuate the shape of the female torso much better. This creates a more feminine look to them, making the t-shirts aesthetic as well rather than simply practical.
Perhaps the most subtle difference and the one most frequently forgotten, men’s and women’s t-shirts tend to be made from different fabrics. Men’s t-shirts are generally made with thicker and rougher fabrics. Because of the difference in design, this can be very uncomfortable in women’s t-shirts around pressure points like the waist or armpits.
To accommodate for this, women’s t-shirts will often be made with fabrics that are thinner and lighter. These will feel softer on the skin and therefore be less abrasive. These kinds of fabrics are also more breathable, meaning that more air can flow through them, preventing you from feeling stuffy or too warm.
These 8 differences are the biggest we’ve seen between male and female t-shirts. We hope this helps you in your own search for the best shirts for you or your business!
Bryan E. Robinson is the owner of TshirtGrowth. He has sold t-shirts since 2006 through dropshipping, screen printing, vinyl printing, DTG, Print on Demand, and more. Bryan has created his own t-shirt designs through Photoshop, Canva, and other platforms, as well as worked with freelancers to create many of his designs. Besides t-shirts, Bryan has 18 years of experience in online marketing with eCommerce, B2B SaaS, B2C products, and more.