[Worn] Merz b. Schwanen - Sizing and Shrink Tests

Merz b. Schwanen Sizing Shrinkage Test

[Note] Originally posted on 07/08/2018, updated on 05/20/2023 to include links to Merz b. Schwanen brand spotlight and Merz style comparisons, and for improved clarity on sizing.


One of the hardest parts about operating Withered Fig as an online store is assisting customers with sizing. Sizing denim and pants can be hard, but we make do with as much information as possible, to include information from you – our customers (such as providing us your measurements from your best fitting pair). When it comes to shirts and tees, we think there’s a little more leeway, and that most people can get by with a couple basic measurements (chest and shoulders). We’ve generally found sizing on our “shrink-to-fit” shirts (the 3sixteen Heavyweight Tees and Merz b. Schwanen knits) to be pretty accurate in terms of sizing up one full size, but we wanted to provide some additional clarity on how and where the shirts shrink, specifically when it comes to Merz b. Schwanen.

For additional background on Merz b. Schwanen, the company and their loopwheel knits, check out our Brand Spotlight with co-owners Peter Plotnicki and Gitta Plotnicki, as well as our Merz Loopwheel Tee Comparisons article featuring the 1940s, 215, and 2S14 tees.


There’s not too many hard numbers for sizing and shrinkage for Merz, except that they will generally shrink about 1-2” in length and minimal shrinkage in width. So we’ve done a few shrink tests to help narrow this information gap. The first shirt we’ll use is the 206 L/S Henley, one of their most popular styles to date.

206 Two-Thread Long Sleeve Henley – Grey Melange (6 | L)

Wear: Worn numerous times for several months.
Wash: Washed at least 6-7 times with a machine wash warm and tumble dry on medium heat. Please note, Merz does not recommend tumble drying; however we experimented with it to understand how it may affect the fabric.
Note: The following measurements are taken after wearing the henley for a couple hours:

206 L/S Henley (measurements in inches)ChestShoulderSleeveLength
Brand New20.2516.7525.530
Post-Wash & Worn-in2016.52328

Comments: Here you can see how the shirt shrank after wash, but then stretched back out a little after wearing it in for a couple hours. Nevertheless, even with the slight shrinkage, it did make the henley feel much more fitted all around. As expected, the length shrunk 2” and the sleeve length about 1.5”. The biggest change was definitely the length, as you can see the bottom hem of the shirt rise from below my pocket bag opening, to above.

1950s Single-Thread Crew Neck Tee – Light Army (5 | M)

Wear: Worn once prior to washing.
Wash: Washed once with a machine wash cold and hang/air dry.
Note: The following measurements were taken after the garment was dried and steamed.

1950s Crew Neck Tee – 5 | M (measurements in inches)ChestShoulderSleeveLength
Brand New1916.258.2527.75

Comments: Here we see about a 0.5” shrinkage in both the chest and shoulders. Generally, the shrinkage is only slightly noticeable in the chest area, but more noticeable in length. If you prefer a very tight tee, you could go TTS (which is what I did in this case, however based on the length of the tee after it shrunk, I would opt for a 6 | L rather than stay with a 5 | M).

2M15 Two-Thread Crew Neck Tee – White/Light Army (6 | L) [Not Pictured]

Wear: Never worn.
Wash: Washed once with a machine wash cold and hang/air dry.
Note: The following measurements were taken after the garment was dried and steamed.

2M15 Crew Neck Striped Tee (measurements in inches)ChestShoulderSleeveLength
Brand New20.75171029.75

Comments: This tee shrunk one full size in the chest and slightly in the shoulder. Although the shirt has not been worn in after wash, we’d expect it to stretch out a tiny bit similar to the 206 Henley. As expected, the length shrunk close to 2” and the sleeve length about 1”. Due to the 2-thread fabric, these are a heftier weight and we’d caution sizing TTS unless you want an extremely tight fit or never want to wash your shirt. Unfortunately the shirt we tested was given to a friend to wear before we were able to take before and after fit pics of this one.


Overall, we found the shirts to reliably shrink 1.5-2” in overall length when using machine wash and machine dry, and depending on the specific style, 0.25 – 1” in width immediately after wash. However, after wearing in the shirts, they typically stretched back out to the original width. For machine dry and hang-dry, you’ll get much less shrinkage. What that means is that most people should size up one due to the potential shrinkage in the width and definitely length; however, for those who may want a tight fitting shirt, or who may be in-between sizes (i.e. you typically wear a M, but it runs slightly large and going to a S would be too small for you), then you could stay TTS and go with your typical M in this case (exception is for the two-thread tees such as the 2M15 and 215 tees as they are more structured and less stretchy).

Lastly, as we mention on the Merz product pages, due to the irregularities in loopwheeled fabrics, there will be slight variations in the measurements even within the same size and across same styles but different colors. We are always happy to measure a specific size for you to ensure you get the exact fitting shirt you want, or if there a larger size within the same size, but in general we have not found the differences to be significant enough to warrant sizing up/down from your regular size.

See our entire Merz b. Schwanen collection at our store here. If you don’t see your size in stock, e-mail us for an estimate.