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Custom T-Shirts - Affordable custom printed t-shirts and apparel from Underground Printing, offering online ordering with no minimums, no set up fees and no art fee. Custom T-Shirts - Affordable custom printed t-shirts and apparel from Underground Printing, offering online ordering with no minimums, no set up fees and no art fee.

T-Shirt Sizing: The Ultimate Guide for Group Orders

T-Shirt Sizing: The Ultimate Guide for Group Orders

Allyson Sprague
7 minute read

When it comes to custom shirts, we often get asked “What size shirts should I get?” This is especially common when it comes to ordering for large groups of people where everyone has different sizes. Whether you’re buying in bulk for a big event, ordering for your employees, or ordering for yourself, it can be hard to decide what size to get! 


Average Size Distribution for an Array of Sizes


To find basic size distribution, we looked at the industry size statistics and found that the percentages below are the best way to breakdown sizes when ordering for large groups with an array of sizes:


S - 15%

M - 25%

L - 25%

XL - 20%

2XL - 10%

3XL - 5%


For these percentages, we found the average percentage per size when comparing to others within the custom apparel industry! While this definitely differs from group to group and is only an average, it’s a great starting point for bulk orders. 



This may all seem very confusing but bear with us, it’s a lot easier than it seems! You can actually use these percentages to calculate the exact number of shirts to order for your group. Hypothetically, you need 1000 custom t-shirts total for your event. Let’s see how many you should order of each size!


1000 x 0.15 = 150 S Shirts 

1000 x 0.25 = 250 M Shirts 

1000 x 0.25 = 250 L Shirts 

1000 x 0.20 = 200 XL Shirts 

1000 x 0.10 = 100 2XL Shirts 

1000 x 0.05 = 50 3XL Shirts 


It’s really that easy! Also, if you get a decimal in your math, we suggest just rounding up or down depending on if it’s above 0.5. This formula makes it easier than ever to complete stress-free bulk orders for any size group! 


Now let's take this further. Obviously, if you’re ordering shirts for a group of children, a collegiate event, etc. the sizes will be a bit different! See below for our size suggestions:


Average Size Distribution for an Elementary School


For elementary school students, it’s usually safer to size up as kids are constantly growing! If choosing youth sizes, it’s safe to choose an array of youth small through extra large with the majority of the order being medium and large. A rough estimate could look like this: 


Youth S - 20%

Youth M - 30%

Youth L - 35%

Adult S - 15% 


This prediction of sizes can be useful for field days, field trips, and just to show some school spirit! If we were to plug these percentages into our equation, saying your elementary school needs 100 t-shirts, it would look like this:



100 x 0.05 = 5 Youth S Shirts

100 x 0.4 = 40 Youth M  Shirts

100 x 0.4 = 40 Youth L Shirts

100 x 0.15 = 15 Adult Small Shirts


If you’re ordering for an elementary school, be sure to check out our kid’s collection! Some great t-shirt options are the Comfort Colors Youth Ringspun Cotton Tee and our Gildan Dryblend 50/50 Youth T-Shirt. If you’re looking for shirts with long sleeves, a favorite is our Gildan Youth Heavy Cotton Long Sleeve T-Shirt! While children’s sizes are usually universal, it’s always safe to size up if you’re nervous about the fit! Kids are constantly growing so sizing up is never a bad idea. 


Average Size Distribution for a Collegiate Event 


Choosing sizes for a collegiate event can be very tricky. There are many variations of events and attendees to events that can make it hard to pinpoint a perfect size distribution! If you’re ordering for a Sorority event, you may want a lot more smalls than a Fraternity’s event. Furthermore, if you’re ordering for a mix of men and women, that will look different as well. For most collegiate groups, it’s safe to cut out XS and 3XL or larger. This is not guaranteed but it’s usually safe to do when it comes to college students. Let’s break it down. 


Events Featuring Primarily Women

S - 30%

M - 40%

L - 20%

XL - 10%


Here’s a scenario, let’s say you’re the t-shirt chair for your Sorority. You need 50 t-shirts for your Philanthropy event but you aren’t sure what sizes to order. This size distribution may work for you:



50 x 0.3 = 15 S Shirts

50 x 0.4 = 20 M Shirts

50 x 0.2 = 10 L Shirts

50 x 0.1 = 5 XL Shirts


Events Featuring Primarily Men

S - 5%

M - 20%

L - 50%

XL - 20%

XXL - 5%


Let’s say you are ordering recruitment t-shirts for your Fraternity and need 80 t-shirts. A safe size distribution could be this:



80 x 0.05 = 4 S Shirts

80 x 0.2 = 16 M Shirts

80 x 0.5 = 40 L Shirts

80 x 0.2 = 16 XL Shirts

80 x 0.05 = 4 XXL Shirts


Events Featuring a Mix of Men and Women 

S - 5%

M - 50%

L - 30%

XL - 10%

XXL - 5%


Say you’re an event coordinator for your college or university and you need 300 shirts for your school’s homecoming. The size distribution might look like this: 



300 x 0.05 = 15 S Shirts

300 x 0.5 = 150 M Shirts

300 x 0.3 = 90 L Shirts

300 x 0.1 = 30 XL Shirts

300 x 0.05 = 15 XXL Shirts


As we know, this is solely just an estimate and can vary depending on who your actual target group is. If your group prefers t-shirts with an oversized fit, you may need to order more mediums, larges, and extra larges than if your group prefers a fitted t-shirt! 


While this formula is extremely easy to use, there is always an issue of different brands having different fits and measurements in themselves. It is always important to know if the garment is pre-shrunk, runs large, etc. as these can all impact how the shirt fits you! Don’t worry though, we’ve created a size chart that breaks down the exact measurements of the width and length of some of our top selling shirts such as our Gildan Heavy Cotton T-Shirt, Bella Canvas Unisex Jersey T-Shirt, and Hanes Authentic Short Sleeve T-Shirt



The size chart above is pretty standard across a number of brands however there are other brands, like Comfort Colors, that tend to run a bit larger.  For Comfort Colors shirts like the Ringspun Garment Dyed T-Shirt, the sizing looks a little different from some other brands! 



Overall, our suggested sizing percentages are your best bet when ordering a bulk order alone. When it comes to specific product sizing and what runs big outside of this article, your best bet is to talk to one of our amazing sales representatives! Sizing in custom apparel is a lot less confusing than it seems and it is always an important factor in any size order. 


If size distribution is too difficult to estimate for your group, no worries! We have other services that may be able to help. With UGP, we can help you start your very own online store. We can also help you run virtual fundraisers in the same way! For these services, you simply need to give us an estimate for how many shirts you plan to sell, send us your design, and we can create a unique online store to be shared with your whole group. With these services you won’t have to worry about planning for sizes or collecting the money! Plus, we can ship the shirts all together with each person's name and size on each garment or individually to each person. 

For more help with size distribution or starting your own online store, please email help@undergroundshirts.com or talk to one of our qualified sales representatives in-store at a UGP location near you! 

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