Finding the right size clothing is confusing enough, no matter what size you are.
But when you start mixing in extra variables like being big, tall, or both finding the right clothing can be really confusing.
So what are big and tall sizes and who are they for?
The exact measurements for big and tall will vary between brands but big sizes are ideal for anyone that isn’t comfortable in a 2XL shirt or needs a pant size larger than 42 for men or more than a size 20 for women. Tall sizes can work for anyone over 6′ 1″ in most cases.
Of course, it’s not always that cut and dry and everyone has their own unique shape. But if you fall into any of those categories then it’s probably a good idea to explore big and tall sizes. Even more so if you fall into more than one of those categories.
But let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about big and tall sizing along with the specifics of how these clothes are different from your regular off the rack garments.
It Should Really Be Big OR Tall
The first thing we need to clear up is that the phrase big and tall is really a bit of a misnomer or at least a confusing way of phrasing things.
Someone who is skinny but 6′ 9″ would need t-shirts that are labeled as tall but that doesn’t make them big in the same way as a 400-pound man. To take that point a bit further if you put that same 6′ 9″ skinny guy into a shirt designed for big guys, it might be long enough but the shoulders, chest, back, and arms wouldn’t fit at all.
Said another way, you don’t have to be tall to need big and tall clothing. Instead, you need to be big, tall OR both.
What Is Considered Regular?
Before we dive into what counts as big or tall, let’s establish what we mean by regular when it comes to garment sizing.
If you’re under 6 feet tall, under 200 pounds and your chest measurement is slightly larger or roughly the same size as your waist then you’d be considered a good fit for regular sizing and likely won’t need to explore big or tall sizing options.
Of course, there are always exceptions but if you fall outside that range then it’s probably a good idea to keep reading and explore the world of big and tall sizing.
Big and Tall Sizes Explained
So what makes a garment big or tall and just how different are these clothes? Just as important, how do you know when you should wear big and tall sizes?
While it will vary between brands, let’s break down some of the basic differences and how you know when you should explore these sizing options.
Tall Shirt Sizes Vs Regular Shirt Sizes
Tall sizes are one of the more straightforward options and you’ll usually only see this in shirts and other garments for your top half. When it comes to pants, tall guys will still use their inseam to find the right fit but will just need a longer inseam than what’s typically available in stores.
So how does an XL shirt compare to an XL Tall? Or what about any other size?
In most cases, the tall version of a shirt will add 2 inches (5 cm) to the overall length and around 1 inch (2.5 cm) to the length of the sleeves- including t-shirts. So while a standard XL shirt usually measures 32 inches (81 cm) the tall version will measure 34 inches.
To a get better feel for this, you can check out this chart below which compares the standard long sleeve shirt sizes to the tall versions but keep in mind that sleeve and shirt length can vary by brand so these aren’t set in stone measurements. Instead, you can use this to figure out if tall sizes make sense for you and confirm sizing with your preferred brand.
|L||31 1/2″||26″||33 1/2″||27″|
|XL||31 7/8″||26 3/8″||33 7/8″||27 3/8″|
|XXL||32 1/4″||26 3/4″||34 1/4″||27 3/4″|
How Do You Know When You Need Tall Clothing?
If you find that every long sleeve shirt you buy has sleeves that are simply too short, then it’s probably worth exploring tall sizes.
But that’s not the only way to figure out if tall sizes make sense for you.
As a general rule guys that are 6′ 1″ or taller with a chest measurement that’s larger than their waist measurement, or roughly the same size, will benefit from tall sizing but should avoid big sizes.
Men with that build are tall enough that they need the “tall” side of things but don’t have the other proportions needed to fill out a “big” garment. Again, this is why these sizing options should really be called big OR tall sizing.
Big Sizes Vs Regular Sizes
Big sizes are where things get a little more complicated. Unlike the tall options, there’s a lot more to big clothing than just adding some length and big garments are larger in almost every area. Some will even have larger features like bigger pockets, buttons, and collars in order to match bigger bodies.
Big sizing options also come in a lot more than just shirts, which means there’s even more variety to how these garments can differ from your traditional types including more room in the chest, waist, back, thighs, arms, and more.
To get a better feel for how this plays out in the real world, this chart shows you the chest and neck measurements of a standard shirt compared to the same measurements on a shirt using “big” sizes from the folks at KingSize who specialize in big and tall sizes:
|L||41 – 43″||35 – 37″||42 – 44″||38 – 40″|
|XL||44 – 46″||38 – 40″||46 – 48″||42 – 44″|
|XXL||47 – 49″||41 – 43″||50 – 52″||45 – 48″|
Because the sizing of pants and other garments for your bottom half are more focused on inseam and waist measurements, big measurements function a bit differently there. Rather than seeing “big” sizing options, you’ll find that big and tall brands will usually offer more options when it comes to waist sizes along with more liberal use of stretchy fabric and extendable waistbands.
It will depend on the type of garment but pants like khakis are great candidates for extendable waists since they can easily blend into the pants.
You’ll also find that many “big” brands use a relaxed fit which includes bigger leg openings for bigger thighs. Whether you’re trying to fit big legs in your jeans or just looking for shorts that aren’t too tight on your behind this extra breathing room can make a big difference even if it’s a bit harder to measure.
Other measurements, like the inseam of shorts, will typically remain the same and big-sized clothing is about going wide and not long.
How Do You Know When You Need Big Clothing?
If shirts or other clothing are constantly too tight and tugging at your body (especially around the belly) then you’re generally a good candidate for big sizes.
There’s no specific height or weight guidelines for big size clothing but if your waist measurement is larger than your chest then you could probably benefit from a more relaxed fit in the midsection that will not only look better but also feel more comfortable.
However, the exception here are bodybuilders and athletic guys that may have exceptionally large chests and backs that still demand big-size clothing. They may have a chest that’s much bigger than their belly but they still need bigger cuts than regular off-the-rack options.
Whether it’s because you’ve been hitting the weights or have a little extra in mid-section, just because you qualify for big sizes doesn’t mean you’ll also need tall so make sure you understand what you’re buying.
What Is Considered Big AND Tall?
We’ve looked at the qualifications for being big OR tall but what about folks that are big and tall? What does that look like and what exactly does big and tall mean?
If you’re 6’1″ or taller then you’d be considered tall by garment sizing standards. If on top of that your waist is bigger than your chest OR you’re especially athletic with a muscular chest and back, then you may be a good fit for big AND tall sizes instead of just one or the other.
If this sounds like you, then you’ll want to look for clothing options that offer a combination of big and tall sizes.
Big and Tall Sizing Chart
Okay, so what does big and tall sizing look like in the real world?
Remember, that pants play by slightly different rules since it’s normal to use inseams and specific waist measurements to get the right size so let’s look at a big and tall t-shirt vs a regular t-shirt for a clear idea of what big and tall sizes really look like:
|Big and Tall
|Big and Tall
|Big and Tall
|L||41 – 43″||35 – 37″||31 1/2″||42 – 44″||42 – 44″||33 1/2″|
|XL||44 – 46″||38 – 40″||31 7/8″||46 – 48″||46 – 48″||33 7/8″|
|XXL||47 – 49″||41 – 43″||32 1/4″||50 – 52″||50 – 52″||34 1/4″|
As always, this is just a general guideline and different brands will use different measurements. For example, the folks at KingSize use a standard length of 34″ for their tall-sized t-shirts regardless of whether it’s a 6XL or XL.
That means you should use these big and tall size charts as a starting point but also refer to the individual brand for the most accurate sizing choices.
So Do You Need Big Or Tall Clothing?
Even though we’ve laid it out pretty clearly with sizing charts, it’s still going to be based on feel in some cases. Some smaller guys may prefer looser clothing or a more relaxed fit in the waist which means big sizes could be a good look for them.
The opposite is also true and some athletic guys may want to show off with a smaller size even if they’re big enough for big sizes. If you’re unsure, I’d stick the sizes above since big guys look best in trendy clothes that fit! That means not too tight and not too loose but just right.
Still, at the end of the day, it’s up to you!
Everybody has a different body and clothing companies are finally starting to take notice with more sizing options that fit more guys. That means more clothing choices for big guys from sweaters to dress shirts and everything in between.
But one of the biggest misconceptions around big and tall sizes is that you have to be both big and tall for it to work. Instead, it should really be marketed as big OR tall which is a much more accurate way to describe these sizing options.
Once you realize that, suddenly these sizing options start to make a lot more sense and you can get a better feel for how you fit into them.
What do you think? Do you fall into a big, tall, or both category?