When You’re One Size to Big: Shopping for XXL T-shirts

Old Navy Tee size XXL

Shopping for clothes can be a challenge when you’ve got a beefy body, myself included. I’m not big enough for Casual Male but I’m also at the edge of mall sizes. When I say mall sizes I’m referring to the quasi standardized sizing in most mass market retail mall stores. (Gap, J Crew, Macy’s etc) I usually wear an XL or XXL t-shirt depending on the store. A lot of my friends have expressed the same frustration because they are looking for cute t-shirts but find it difficult to find ones that fit. Having so many friends ask for help made me think there’s probably a lot more of my readers with the same problem. The Gay Gasp is here to help.

Before I go any further, I should give you some background info on myself to help you better understand my recommendations. I’m 5-11 and 275lbs, I wear waist size 38-40 depending on the store. I prefer t-shirts more fitted rather then over sized and my pants are always under my belly (not over). With that out of the way, here are tips for finding clothes that are beefy friendly: 

Old Navy Tee Size XXL bought same day

Try It On Whenever Possible– Trying a shirt on in the store can make a huge difference. Stores that sell more expensive and higher quality clothes generally have more uniform sizing. Bargain stores however can have a huge fluctuation within the same store. Old Navy is infamous for this. Within the last year, Old Navy’s t-shirt selection has improved with more fun graphic tee options but the sizes are still all over the place. As you can see from my pictures, I bought these two shirts on the same day from the same Old Navy store. The first XXL fits perfectly while the dark gray one is like an over sized tent. Try it on. Trying on a shirt in store can also help even when the shirt doesn’t fit. It gives you a good idea of what size you really need if they have extended sizes online. For example, the XXL may fit perfectly through the shoulders and chest but it’s simply to short. Then you can look online for and XXL Tall on their website.

Try Something New– Go into stores you’ve never shopped at before. I was out shopping for t-shirts with my boyfriend yesterday and he wanted to go into Haggar. I’ve always seen Haggar stores but I’ve never felt the need to go into one before. I was pleasantly surprised to see they have pretty decent clothes. The store’s vibe was definitely business casual with kahki’s and solid color polos lining the walls so it’s not the best place to look for casual tees. Over all I gave it a thumbs up though. It just proves that sometimes it’s a good idea to go outside your comfort zone. If nothing else, going into a foreign store may just re-enforce your choice of a favorite store.

Shop Online– It’s a necessary evil. I wish there were more sizes available in stores but the fact is most stores only go up to sized XL. American Eagle and Banana Republic are good examples of stores that have a good selections of Big and Tall sizes on their website. If you’re like me and you’re right on the cusp of sizes this is a great option if you need that next size up. If you’ve never order something from for a site before always check their return policy first. For example American Eagle lets you return online orders in store. If you’re really nervous about your first e-commerce purchase, buy something as a test. Look for super cheap clearance shirt if possible to test out the ordering process and size. If it doesn’t fit at least you haven’t wasted a lot of cash.

You’re Going to Have to Spend More Money– We’re fat and our clothes cost more. Its sad but true. I’ve noticed a lot of my friends want cute stylish clothes, in a physical store, for bargain basement prices. I’m sorry life isn’t that perfect and usually something has to give. The best way to get the shopping trifecta is to find a garment on sale. However you can’t always count on a stores having the shirt you want in your size at 50% off. I was a retail store manager for many years and here’s a secret, stores get the biggest volume of sizes medium and large. There is usually a very limited amount of the largest and smallest sizes. If you wait for it to go on sale, it may be gone. (Probably because I came in after you and snatched the last XL up at full price. lol) You’re other option is to shop at more expensive stores. As I mentioned earlier, Banana Republic has a great selection of Big and Tall sizes (XXL shirts and 42 waist pants/shorts) but their average price point is a lot higher then Old Navy or Marshalls.

Shop at Outlets– This is probably the best advice I can give. A lot of outlet store’s have sizes that are a little more generous. J Crew and Gap outlets both go up to XXL for shirts. Plus you get the added benefit of discounted prices. I should also clear up one common misconception, outlets stores usually carry their own specific line of merchandise. They are not designed as a dumping ground for old or damage merchandise. I shop at outlets whenever possible.

General Information:

Stores to look for- Macy’s, Polo Ralph Lauren (in store, outlet and online), Kohl’s (I don’t shop there but a lot of my friend’s have had success), Old Navy, American Eagle, American Eagle online, Gap Outlet, J Crew Outlet (specifically for cute and soft XXL tshirts), Haggar (good for work attire), Target, and Lacoste Outlet.

Stores to avoid- H&M (expect for suspenders and underwear), Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch, Banana Republic in store, Express Men, Walmart (purely for their bad quality), Aeropostale.

One last note. Right now it’s February and if you’re searching for clothes you should know one important fact. This is the retail crap in-between season. There are still andom winter items out and only a trickle of the summer selection is available. It’s a mish mosh of boring. Come March, April, and May there will be much more (and better) items to choose from.

Happy Shopping!


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