I hate buying clothes. I hated buying clothes at 495 pounds and I hate buying clothes at 395 pounds. It’s just too difficult to find any well-fitting clothes for big guys, and I’m not even talking about finding anything stylish or fashionable.
Of course, this is a big person problem, and I’m still quite a chunky fella. Sadly, very few companies seem to make decent clothing for us chunky dudes. That’s a shame because I really think that’s an area where someone could make a killing if they only offered some nice-fitting and stylish clothes for big guys.
Now, I can only speak from my experience, and my experience is limited to buying clothes for big guys. I’d hate to think that women also have this problem, but I’m sure they do. I will say, however, I always see women of all shapes and sizes in some very nice-looking clothing, so I’m hoping they don’t have to deal with this issue too much.
So Where Do We Buy Clothes for Big Guys?
Well, there’s the typical Big & Tall brick and mortar stores and their associated online websites, and of course, Amazon also carries many Big & Tall options.
The online options offer the most variety (by far), but the tricky part is the fit. In my experience, these Big & Tall brands tend to assume that everyone who is big must also be tall, and I mean REALLY tall!
Seriously, I certainly don’t tower over each and every one I walk by on the street. I stand about 5ft 10.5in tall, which isn’t short, and probably slightly taller than average, but probably not considered tall, either.
However, I don't have a lot of options. The Big & Tall brands are the best bet. There just aren’t many other stores that offer much in selection beyond 2x in size, so I’m left to buying whatever fits my circumference and tailoring it the rest of the way.
I must say though, I'm RARELY am I ever happy with the results.
Common Problems with Big & Tall Clothing
One of the things that contributes to these problem is that clothing designers seem to assume the wider you are, the taller you are, which isn't always the case. I believe they either assume this, or they purposely target an “ideal” height/weight ratio that’s easiest to tailor to the various other sizes. Unfortunately, this strategy doesn't seem to work well with all of the varieties of chunkiness that exists in the world.
Problem #1: The Dreaded “Flappy Leg” Syndrome
This occurs when you slide on those new pants you purchased online. You’re happy, you had the pants “sized” exactly to your length. You feel good, a little loose, but good. You step outside into the wind and your pant legs take off much like a flag waving away in the wind.
This dreaded look is common for online purchases of pants. It seems the online process is to take pants of one length (a very long length) and tailoring them down as needed. The problem is, the width you end up with at the bottom of the pant (at the ankle) is the width that was originally at the knee before tailoring. Now it's WAY too wide!
Problem #2: The “Shirt Creepers” Syndrome
This occurs when you tuck-in that XL (extra-long) shirt, sit down and stand up, and like a horrible magic trick it’s now outside of your pants! And looking rather sloppy, I might add.
This is a problem of simple geometry. The shortest distance from point A to point B is a straight line, and that’s how they measure these shirts. Unfortunately, our big protruding bellies warp that straight line quite significantly. So, once that straight line curves over the belly the pants end up hanging a whole lot higher!
Problem #3: The “Yes, I Stretched it” Look
This occurs when you put on that new shirt and everything fits awesomely EXCEPT the arms. You don’t want to send it back because 90% of it fits like a glove, so you improvise. You put one hand inside the opposite cuff and give it a little tug. Walk over to the mirror for a quick glance, sure enough, that’s the “yes, I stretched it” look! You can spot that look from at least 100 feet away, with poor eyesight.
Of course, this process ultimately leads to doom as you hear the dreaded sounds of threads snapping as you gently stretch the material. Over time (and not long!) it will completely unravel and drive you bonkers.
So How Does a Big Guy Win?
The winning strategy is the strategy that lowers the risk of encountering the above 3 problems –
1) Always purchase from the physical store
I love buying online, but buying large clothing online is a sure way to either waste a lot of time or waste a lot of money.
More often than not, clothing purchased online simply will not fit, despite the size being correct. We all know the size in one brand doesn't always translate to the same dimensions in another brand.
For example, I've worn a 6x size in one brand and a 4x size in another brand. Now, the material and stretch-ability factor does come into play, but that's something that cannot be determined through a computer screen. You must be inside the store to inspect it.
Another example is the pants that are available in the store come directly from the manufacture tailored to the specific size on the label. Whereas the pants ordered online seem to be “tailored down” from the original manufactured size, which results in extremely wide pant legs.
Taking the time to buy in the physical store GREATLY reduces your changes of getting stuck with any of the previously mentioned unfortunate syndromes.
Seriously, I literally have a closet full of clothes for big guys that I purchased online only to be hanging there new and unworn.
2) NEVER buy tuck-in shirts, go banded-bottom!
Look, a belly is a mortal enemy of a tuck-in shirt. It will fight you every step of the way, and it will win.
Why fight it? Sure, I understand the need for a tuck-in for business or casual dress scenarios, but that’s where the “banded bottom” shirts save the day!
A banded bottom shirt (see left pic) is simply a business casual shirt with a band at the bottom that keeps the shirt in place without having to deal with tucking and shifting issues. These shirts are actually quite comfortable and easily keep wrinkle free over the course of a day.
Seriously, once you go banded bottom, you won’t give a heck about the tuck! (another word would have made that last part more catchy… but I'm too nice to say it, lol)
3) Get on the Big & Tall stores email list and shop clearances
We have to pay enough money when buying clothes for big guys, much more so than our smaller counter parts. I know, big clothes require more material. I understand. However, whatever cost gain there is in material they more than make up for it in the lack of style or fashion investment. Seriously, some of this stuff is a garbage bag with arm holes in it!
Keep in mind, clearances at Big & Tall stores occur quite frequently (usually several times a year). Some clearances can result in 50% or greater discounts. Additionally, if you get on the mailing list you will also receive $20, $50, or even $100 off coupons. And coupons can be used with clearance items.
Case in point, I recently purchased $350 worth of clothing for $140! That takes a lot of the sting away from clothing that isn't a perfect fit. 🙂
Hope these tips are helpful!
Of course, the best way to get rid of this problem is to eliminate the need to shop at these specialty stores. That's what I intend to do on my fitness journey. Check it out!