Determine Your Actual Shoulder Measurements
When it comes to finding the perfect shoulder pads for your jacket or sports uniform, knowing your precise shoulder measurements is the most important step. Simply guesstimating based on your usual clothing size won’t cut it. Taking accurate shoulder measurements will ensure you get shoulder pads that fit your body type and posture correctly.
But what’s the best way to measure your shoulder width and shoulder slope? Here are a few pro tips to get measurements that translate into well-fitting pads:
First, have a friend take the measurements for you. It’s difficult to accurately measure your own shoulder dimensions on your own. Enlist someone to help mark and measure the key reference points.
Use a cloth measuring tape, not a rigid ruler or measuring stick. A flexible, soft measuring tape will contour around your shoulders for the most precise measurements. Place it gently without pulling or indenting the skin.
Measure shoulder width from the bony point on one shoulder horizontally across your upper back to the other shoulder point. Keep the tape measure parallel to the floor and have your helper record the measurement in inches (or centimeters).
For shoulder slope, have your assistant measure vertically from the bony protrusion at the tip of your shoulder up to the base of your neck. This quantifies the exact angle of your shoulder’s slope.
Compare your measurements against a sizing chart from the shoulder pad manufacturer. Or better yet, bring your measurements with you when visiting a tailor or uniform supply store for fitting.
Recording your personal shoulder dimensions, rather than guessing based on your jacket size, takes the uncertainty out of buying new pads. Well-fitted shoulder pads will make you look and feel your best while avoiding discomfort from poor fit. So take the time to quantify your shoulder width and slope before selecting new pads. The few minutes spent measuring can make all the difference in finding your perfect pair.
Compare Your Measurements to Sizing Charts
Once you have your precise shoulder width and slope measurements, the next step is comparing those numbers against manufacturers’ sizing charts. Most major brands that make shoulder pads for sports, tailoring, or uniforms will provide detailed size charts.
These charts allow you to match your measurements to their recommended pad sizes. For example, if your shoulder width is 18 inches, the chart may recommend a size “large” pad for that dimension. And your vertical shoulder slope of 5 inches could correspond to a “medium” slope pad shape for that brand.
Some things to keep in mind when cross-referencing your measurements:
- Sizes, dimensions, and terminology vary between manufacturers.
- Consider if you need standard, moderate, or wide padding width.
- Account for adjustments if you have an athletic or muscular build.
Rather than assume a medium or large pad size, utilize sizing charts to dial in the exact match based on your unique proportions. The size guides account for the nuances of that company’s pad size scale and design.
However, it can be tricky to compare if you only have access to one brand’s chart. Visiting a tailor or uniform store allows you to cross-reference several sizing guides side-by-side. Their expertise can help you filter out any size discrepancies between different manufacturers.
If possible, bring your actual shoulder measurements to the store on a slip of paper. That allows the assistants to crisscross between options to pinpoint your ideal pad sizing.
With the array of sizes and styles available, selecting new shoulder pads is part art and part science. Referencing your objective measurements against producers’ sizing charts simplifies the process tremendously. Let the dimensions lead you to a data-based shoulder pad size selection.
Consider Your Jacket Size as a Starting Reference
Although shoulder measurements are the primary factor in choosing pad size, your regular jacket size can provide an initial ballpark estimate. Knowing whether you typically wear a small, medium, large, etc. jacket gives you a rough benchmark for sizing.
For instance, if you are normally a medium in most jackets or coats, then a medium shoulder pad could be a reasonable starting point. However, your precise shoulder dimensions should take priority over your overall jacket size.
Here are some tips on using jacket size as a shoulder pad guideline:
- Take into account if your jacket size runs small or large overall.
- Consider any tailoring, fit adjustments or shoulder padding already built into the jacket.
- Think about the intended use and structure of the garment or uniform.
- Reference both men’s and women’s size charts since shoulder widths can vary.
Additionally, keep the following factors about your body type and posture in mind:
- Athletic or muscular builds may require larger pad sizes.
- Petite frames often need narrower, less bulky pads.
- Prominent slopes need extended pad lengths to square-off shoulders.
With those considerations, someone who normally wears a size medium jacket could be anywhere from a small to large pad size depending on build and fit preferences. Use jacket size as an initial estimate, not the final basis for pad selection.
Think of your typical jacket size as a general guidepost that gets you in the ballpark. But for optimal fit and comfort, your specific shoulder measurements should drive the decision on proper shoulder pad dimensions.
Determine Pad Size Based on Shoulder Width
When selecting a new set of shoulder pads, one of the most important criteria is getting the proper width to fit your frame. Wider, narrower, and moderate pad widths are available to align with your unique shoulder width.
Here are some tips on choosing pad width based on your shoulder measurements:
- Measure shoulder tip to shoulder tip across your upper back for width.
- Compare to size charts – “narrow” around 14″, “moderate” 15-17″, “wide” 18″+.
- Athletic builds may size up, petite frames size down.
- Consider garment use (formalwear, sports, military, etc.).
Generally, if your shoulders measure less than 14 inches across, you will want to look for narrow or moderate width pad options. The narrower profile prevents a bulky, oversized pad appearance.
For shoulders measuring between 15-17 inches in width, moderate width pads around 1-2 inches thick can provide a balanced fit. This is the most common proportions for the average frame.
Wider shoulders over 18 inches across do best with wide width pads in the 2-3 inch thickness range. The additional padding fills out the jacket without gaps or an ill-fitted look. Football players and powerlifters often require these wider pad sets.
However, personal preference plays a role as well. Some people opt for a more discreet narrow pad, even if they have broader shoulders. Test fit different widths to ensure comfort and appearance. Err on the wider side at first, and size down if needed.
Getting an accurately measured shoulder width makes selecting the right pad width much simpler. Let your exact measurements determine which pad width will complement your body shape for optimal fit and aesthetics.
Account for Shoulder Slope and Posture
Along with shoulder width, the degree of slope from your shoulder point down to your neck is a key variable for sizing shoulder pads. Pads can be adjusted to square-off sloped shoulders or minimize poor posture.
Here are some fitting considerations based on shoulder slope:
- Measure vertically from shoulder point to neck for slope length.
- Taller length pads help reduce excessive shoulder sloping.
- Shorter pads work best for upright posture and minimal slope.
- Opt for adjustable strap positioning if between sizes.
Sloped, rounded shoulders typically require pads with an extended length in the 2-3 inch range. This extra length “squares off” the shoulders to counteract downward curving.
For ideal posture with shoulders held straight and aligned, shorter pad lengths around 1-2 inches help avoid a bulky, oversized appearance. The minimized pad profile complements naturally upright shoulders.
Those with posture and slopes between extremes can benefit from pads with adjustable strap positioning. Moving the side straps up or down slightly customizes the fit and slope angle.
Testing out different pad length options is advisable to find the right balance for your body. The ideal pad minimizes uncomfortable sloping without over-squaring shorter, straighter shoulders.
Take the time to measure your precise shoulder slope and posture. Then select a pad length that flatters your unique proportions for comfort and confidence.
Adjust Size for an Athletic or Muscular Build
Determining the right shoulder pad size becomes a bit more nuanced if you have an athletic or muscular upper body build. Broader, more defined shoulders may necessitate certain fitting adjustments.
Here are some tips for getting great pad fit with a muscular physique:
- Account for larger muscle mass when measuring width.
- Consider wider pad sizes to accommodate shape.
- Allow flexibility in armholes for free range of motion.
- Prioritize adjustable straps and removable epaulettes.
Measuring shoulder width on a muscular frame should be done in a relaxed state for an accurate representation.Accounting for extra mass, an athletic build might go up a size in width to prevent shoulder bulge.
Likewise, evaluating shoulder slope on a thicker, more rounded trapezius muscle may require extended length pads. This avoids a disjointed fit between the padding and rounded shape.
Seeking out pads with stretch panels and adjustable elements caters to a wide range of motion needed for sports or physical activity. Detachable epaulettes also allow customization.
While objective measurements are still important, an athletic physique needs to factor in the shoulder muscles for appropriate sizing. Getting pads tailored to your unique proportions prevents restrictiveness and discomfort.
So take your body type into account when selecting pads. Tuning the fit for athletic bodies achieves great looks along with full mobility.
Measure Your Body and the Pad Dimensions
To achieve the perfect custom shoulder pad fit, it’s wise to measure both your actual shoulder dimensions and the sizing of the pads themselves. This extra step verifies alignment before purchasing or wearing.
Here are some tips on taking body and pad measurements:
- Have a helper measure your shoulder width and slope first.
- Record your shoulder dimensions on a sheet for reference.
- Then measure the specific pad’s length, width, and thickness.
- Cross-check your numbers against the pad’s specs.
Measuring your shoulder width from point to point provides a benchmark number for comparison. You can then accurately gauge whether a given pad matches or exceeds that width measurement.
Likewise, quantifying your degree of shoulder slope lets you verify if a particular pad’s length and shape complements your posture.
Since size charts are just general guidelines, physically measuring the pads themselves removes any guesswork. You can confirm firsthand whether the dimensions correspond to your shoulder fit needs.
If possible, have samples to test and measure at home before purchasing. Or visit a tailor and take advantage of their expertise by measuring pads together.
Matching your custom shoulder specifications against tangible product dimensions takes the uncertainty out of the process. So don’t rely solely on size charts or assumptions. Take the time to measure for confidence in fit.
Start with Wider Pads and Size Down if Needed
When trying different shoulder pad options to find an ideal fit, it’s often best to begin with a wider size and adjust down if necessary. The incremental sizing approach helps nail down your perfect pad width.
Here are some tips when starting wide with pads:
- Begin with a width at the upper end of your measurement.
- Notice if pads extend past or bulge at shoulders.
- Size down incrementally until finding the optimal fit.
- Consider personal preferences and aesthetics too.
For example, if your shoulders measure around 16.5 inches wide, first try pads sized at 18 inches. The slightly larger width accommodates any measuring variability.
Pay attention to how the wider pads overlay your shoulders. If you notice they overhang past your natural shoulder width, size down to a 17 inch option.
Continue gradually moving to moderately wide, then narrower sizes until the pads align flush with your frame. The perfect fit should contour smoothly without gaps or bulges.
Beyond objective fit, also consider your desired aesthetic and comfort. Iteratively test widths to find the sweet spot between function and personal shoulder pad preferences.
Starting broad and dialing in the exact width prevents underestimating your needs and ordering pads too small. Test incrementally broader to narrower for the ideal measurement match and appearance.
Get Professionally Fitted for Shoulder Pads
While you can take your own shoulder and pad measurements at home, getting a professional fitting from a tailor or sporting goods retailer helps fine-tune the perfect size selection.
Here are some benefits of an expert shoulder pad fitting:
- Experts can measure tricky shoulder points and slopes.
- They have access to a range of pad brands and styles.
- Can cross-check multiple size charts to identify best match.
- Recognize proper vs improper fit on your body shape.
Even if you’ve carefully measured shoulder width and slope on your own, a second opinion ensures accuracy. Professionals know precisely where to quantify key reference points for padding fit.
At a tailor or sporting goods shop, you also gain access to numerous pad options to test. Rather than purchase blindly online, you can try on different sizes and brands to experience the fit firsthand.
With an array of sizing charts available, experts can directly compare your measurements against various scales to identify correlations. This prevents any size conversion errors when referencing different manufacturers.
Lastly, a seasoned fitter’s eye recognizes proper and improper shoulder pad fits from years of experience. They provide an objective perspective on how the pads should contour your frame.
Investing in a professional fitting removes uncertainties and helps select shoulder pads that complement your body correctly. Let the experts take the measurements and size trials off your shoulders!
Replace Old, Worn, or Compressed Shoulder Pads
Over time shoulder pad foam and padding can wear down, compress, or lose its shape. Replacing aged pads restores structure and fit.
Here are some signs it’s time for new shoulder pads:
- Padding is visibly compressed or misshapen.
- Fabric covering is ripped or frayed.
- Pad shifts out of place during wear.
- Jacket no longer fits properly at shoulders.
Compared to new pads, old foam quickly compacts with use. This causes deformed, uneven shoulder shapes. Also inspect pad fabric for tears which compromise structure.
If pads are loose or twisted in garment armholes, their seam binding and backing have likely stretched. This allows unwanted pad movement.
Finally, look for poor jacket fit clues like gaping across the back or shoulder divots. If fabrics don’t drape cleanly, flattened pads could be the culprit.
Test old pads by pressing down – they should bounce back, not leave fingerprints. Or try newly constructed jackets with fresh pads to compare fit.
While pristine pads hold shape indefinitely, foam and fabrics slowly degrade. Stay vigilant for deterioration and don’t wait for total failure. Replace at first signs of wear to maintain silhouette.
Buy Pads with Adjustable Strap Positioning
Seeking out shoulder pads with adjustable side strap placement caters to more shoulder shapes and allows custom positioning.
Here are benefits of adjustable pad straps:
- Lets you raise or lower front and back strap points.
- Accommodates variances in shoulder slope and posture.
- Adapts fit for muscular, athletic, or rounded shoulder builds.
- Useful for tweaking between seasonal garment layers.
Movable straps effectively adjust pad length and shape angle to match your shoulder. For instance, raising straps mimics a square shoulder, lowering them fits sloped postures.
This adaptability helps fit in-between slopes without compromising on pad size. Straps also contour extra mass from athletic shoulders without gapping.
Adjustable pads work across wardrobes as well. As seasons change, strap positions can be tweaked to work with light or heavy fabrics. No need to buy new pads.
Test different strap placements in front of a mirror to compare shoulder shapes. Mark go-to settings with garment chalk once you find an optimal, proportional fit.
Pads with static, non-adjustable straps lock you into a single position. Seek out adjustable varieties to customize your shoulder line no matter the garment or occasion.
Care for Pads Properly to Maintain Shape
To extend the life of your shoulder pads and prevent premature breakdown, it’s important to care for them properly between wears. Follow these best practices for ongoing pad maintenance:
- Allow pads to fully air out after each use before storing.
- Hand wash or dry clean only, no machines.
- Use mild detergent and avoid harsh chemicals.
- Gently shape and smooth padding while drying.
- Store in breathable garment bag, not plastic.
Letting pads rest on garment hangers allows moisture and body oils to fully evaporate rather than be trapped. This prevents fabric degradation and compressed foam.
Hand washing with gentle cleanser removes soils while avoiding the jostling of a washer’s spin cycle against delicate padding materials. Let air dry.While drying, lightly massage and shape pad materials back into form, smoothing any creases. Avoid overly tugging or twisting the fabrics.
Finally, breathable storage maintains airflow and resists humidity buildup which can breed mold or mildew. Inspect periodically.
Well-cared for shoulder pads maintain their structure season after season. Follow these simple steps to get the longest life from your padding investments.