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collinsdictionary.com:

If you describe a piece of clothing as roomy, you mean that you like it because it is large and fits loosely:
roomy jackets

On hinative.com two American English speakers said "a roomy shirt" is unnatural.

Why is "a roomy shirt" unnatural whereas "roomy jackets" is natural?


Also I'm curious about whether we can also use "spacious" with clothes or not. E.g.:
Is "spacious jackets" natural?

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    roomy is opposed to tight for clothing. No not spacious.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 14 at 19:51
  • 1
    This might be more of a fashion question than a language question (not a fashion expert by any means, but) I suspect it might be that a "well fitting" shirt is neither too loose or too tight. I.e my implication is that shirts have a "higher standard" for accurate fit than Jackets - again not a fashion expert.
    – DavidT
    Commented May 15 at 7:07
  • In my experience, this use of "roomy" is not very common in modern AmE, though I would certainly understand it. That may be where commentators who find it unnatural are coming from. But I don't think it is any more (or less) unnatural for shirts than it is for jackets. Commented May 16 at 17:08
  • If you told me you preferred roomy shirts I would know exactly what you meant.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented May 16 at 18:28
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    I can't stand "wikipedia" being used as a reference, but, am not going to win that one now :/
    – Fattie
    Commented May 16 at 19:58

3 Answers 3

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roomy clothes is a well-attested collocation in both British and American English. Check Google Books for details.

I like a really roomy shirt. I hate feeling constricted.

Here's a pattern for a roomy shirt.

roomy shirt has been used for over 150 years.

There, it means "loose fitting". room is often used in the context of clothing. When being fitted for trousers, say, one could tell the tailor:

There's too much room in the seat.

They need more room in the seat.

"Spacious clothing", no, not as a collocation.

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    'Spacious' isn't natural, so I wouldn't use it unless I wanted to make a point about how very large something is: "That jacket my mother bought me, it's... spacious. Perhaps I'll grow into it in 30 years." Commented May 15 at 14:03
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    @user1908704 It would be a sardonic use of spacious, well "over-the-top". This jacket is so capacious it's spacious.
    – TimR
    Commented May 15 at 14:48
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    I would like to point out that while ‘roomy clothing’ (and other similar uses) is well attested, that does not mean it sounds natural in any arbitrary dialect. In at least some dialects, ‘roomy’ tends to have an association with rigid structures, which doesn’t quite fit naturally with most types of clothing. Commented May 15 at 15:21
  • @AustinHemmelgarn Which dialects in particular are you referring to?
    – TimR
    Commented May 15 at 15:43
  • @AustinHemmelgarn fair enough, but your comment, your caveat, applies to every utterance in English.
    – Fattie
    Commented May 16 at 18:32
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It's not unnatural as a rule, but it might be unnatural in context, and there may be a better word: a "baggy shirt", an "oversize shirt", even "comfy shirt" might carry some of the same of the same sense.

For formal writing just use simple words like "large".

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    "Roomy" is generally a positive term: it's good because it's large. While "baggy" can be negative. So it depends on whether you want a larger item of clothing. A tight jacket made of heavy fabric will be hard to put on and will restrict your movement, so more space is better. In contrast, shirts are often worn cut close to the body, especially to fit under other layers of clothing and avoid getting sleeves etc caught up, and being made of softer, thin fabric shirts don't restrict movement as much. So it might make sense sometimes to praise a shirt as roomy, but not often.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 14 at 16:53
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    I wouldn't use roomy of a shirt. Apart from anything else, because I'm from UK South, the vowel in my room is short (like book), but my vowel in roomy is long (like rheum, and who wants snotty mucusy clothing?), so I'm always a bit diffident about using it at all. I'd just use words like large, loose, generous,... for clothing, and spacious for more literal contexts (so my "roomy room" would be a "spacious room"). Commented May 14 at 17:24
  • Your choice of adjective, I think, depends not only on the general statement you are making (i.e. that the shirt is loose-fitting), but also on the subtler, more precise message you are trying to convey. “Roomy” has a positive connotation. You’re saying you are happy with the looseness of the shirt. “Baggy” usually has a negative connotation since you’re comparing the clothing article to a bag, which is generally cheap and lacks the refined structure of nice clothing. Other adjectives have their own subtle implications.
    – Eric
    Commented May 16 at 15:29
  • "Comfy" does not necessarily mean "roomy". "Comfy" can simply be a result of soft material. For example, a sweater or a flannel shirt can be "comfy" while not being "roomy". Shoes and socks can be "comfy" when they are made of soft material, even when they are not "roomy". Commented May 17 at 8:35
  • Yeah, that's already mentioned in the answer, what would you have me change
    – James K
    Commented May 17 at 19:09
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To my Canadian ears, "roomy" only applies to things that can hold their shape, so a "roomy shirt" is incorrect.

Many jackets are stiff enough that if you put one on that's too large, it's essentially a container, and your arms or body can move relative to the jacket.

Shirts, on the other hand, tend to just hang off the body, and not create any room inside that you can move within. If you move your arms or body in a shirt, the shirt moves with you.

But not always. TimR found this "roomy shirt" which holds its shape because the corduroy fabric is so stiff.

So yes, it's possible, but not at all common.

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