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Great big and tall t-shirts are hard to find. Retailers like Nordstrom Rack don’t stock many (if any) shirts larger than men’s XL, presumably because they see a smaller audience and the larger side of the bell curve – this may be a distorted vision given that 41.9% of adults living in the United States are considered obese according to the CDC. This has created space for big and tall stores like DXL, but these outlets tend to be more practical than fashion-forward. There are only a handful of brands making great big and tall t-shirts from higher quality materials and giving them a vibe.
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Proportion is king in fashion and men’s big and tall shirts have unusual proportions. Shirts are created both wider and longer to accommodate tummies, chests, arms, and more expansive waistlines. Different brands tend to cater to different types of big guys. Some are better for men who are simply large. Others are better for me who are overweight. It’s important to understand which is which because the wrong shirt can leave a guy feeling like five pounds of shit in a two-pound bag.
Take Carhartt for example. A typical large Carhartt tee will have a chest size of 42-44”, waist of 36-38” and hip of 42-44”. A large in a big and tall format will simply add two inches in length to regular sizing. Because Carhartt tees are already larger and loose fit, there isn’t much of a need to rewrite the stars. Compared to Madewell, this is a brand that does not offer big and tall sizes but still makes a solid shirt for big and tall men, even without labeling it as such. Here, the typical XXL has a 47-49” chest, 41-43” waist, 18-18.5” neck length and 36-36.5” arm length. While unbranded as big and tall, it remains a solid option to consider for big and tall men.
Ratios will look different shirt to shirt depending on which brand buyers are shopping at. Some big and tall shirts won’t even be listed as big and tall shirts, which is a serious shame for big and tall buyers. In addition, despite many newer brands offering big and tall sizes, most are prioritizing a soft, loose fit that looks better on smaller guys. This is why a larger size of a small men’s shirt rarely gets the job done.
Brands like True Classics, Carhartt and even Amazon’s Goodthreads are finally making the push big and tall men deserve to receive tees that actually fit and look good. The big and tall world will continue to morph, but for the time being, brands like these are providing optimism for an otherwise ignored community of men.
How We Tested
To find the best men’s big and tall t-shirts, we turned to my most reliable source in the big and tall community: my dad.
Bob Schoeber is an average American dad who happens to be above-average American size. Standing tall at 6’2” rocking a beer belly he’ll “lose one day”, Bob is the classic Homer Simpson type regarding his figure — and he’s always had an issue finding clothing that fits him because of it.
As a man on the overweight side of “big and tall”, Bob favors short-sleeve shirts and shorts. It’s his cartoon character outfit. Even during snowy Jersey winters, Bob shovels in shorts and a tee. He is, in short, resilient; he’s also picky. He needs a material that’s sturdy and not too soft. He wants a length that’s not too short but not too long.
Dickies Short Sleeve Heavyweight T-Shirt
Dickie’s is synonymous with workwear (and the workwear trend), but the Fort Worth-based company also makes great basics, including thick, comfortable t-shirts, which come in sizes soaring all the way up to 5XL in big and tall.
Dickies has an extensive size guide that will help big and tall men better understand the way a shirt might fit before purchasing. Shirts also come in a number of cool colorways to allow big and tall men the ability to create a sense of style when throwing on his tee. While the shirt might be on the heavier side, this is a weight that drapes nicely over larger framed bodies and big and tall men.
This handsome tee is made from 100% jersey cotton for a tough, durable feel that won’t get ruined in the wash. The fabric is dense, so it might be a little warm in the summer, but that’s a fine tradeoff – it doesn’t get stuck in cracks or folds. And the remarkable thing is that it’s not boxy. It’s a shirt that both looks and fits great all over. Dickie’s also slapped on a handy chest pocket to make it a tick less boring.
True Classic Crew Neck T-Shirt
Why It Stands Out: True Classic is a newer t-shirt brand that makes incredible shirts for smaller folks. Come to find out, they also make solid shirts for big and tall folks. These shirts come in a number of styles, colors, and multipacks so big and tall guys have just as many big and tall t-shirt options as anyone else shopping on the site.
Made For: These shirts are made for guys who wear sizes S to 3XL. They’re ideal for guys who make the t-shirt the main event of their fit thanks to the true-to-fit, reliable body coverage.
How It Feels: First feel might make bigger dudes feel skeptical. These shirts are buttery soft to the touch. Typically, softer fabrics drape awkwardly on bigger guys. However, after testing, it was discovered that one should never judge a shirt by its softness. This shirt fits and keeps its uber-soft consistency after multiple washes.
Hot Take: True Classics is becoming the t-shirt brand everybody needs to know about. Owning one of these tees will definitely make the wearer an instant trendsetter.
Carhartt Loose Fit Heavyweight Short-Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt
Why It Stands Out: Here’s something unusual for men wearing big and tall shirts to hear: size down. “I only wear a 3XL, but I had to return my 3XL Carhartt tees for a 2XL,” Bob said. “That’s the first time I had to size down in years.” Carhartt tees are still trending hard in 2023 and for good reason. They look good with jeans. Simple. Easy.
Made For: These shirts are for guys looking to pull off a more stylish t-shirt look.
How It Feels: These shirts feel extraordinarily sturdy. They’re truly built to last. They might not be the softest big and tall t-shirts, but the heavyweight cotton construction is no joke.
Hot Take: Nobody wants to throw on a t-shirt and instantly look like they’re wearing a Snuggie. Size down. Seriously.
Madewell Garment-Dyed Allday Crewneck Tee
Why It Stands Out: Madewell’s Garment-Dyed Allday Crewneck Tee offers a muted selection of otherwise vibrant colors. This is something you could probably find in a women’s size small over at Urban Outfitters that doesn’t typically exist in big and tall men’s sizes. “This one reminds me of my favorite shirt from high school,” said Bob. “It has a worn feeling to it and a color that matches.” It’s also stylish enough to wear solo without layering by covering with a flannel or sweatshirt.
Made For: For bigger guys in search of self-expression, this subdued tee has a vintage vibe that’s hard to match.
How It Feels: This supremely soft tee is cozy yet strong for everyday wear. It doesn’t have the same sturdiness you might find from Carhartt or Dickies but still feels tough enough to stick around for years.
Hot Take: With all of the varying colors to choose from, Madewell gives bigger guys options which is something not typically found in big and tall t-shirts. For those who aren’t interested in color, Madewell also rides the grayscale tones.
BEST ON AMAZON
Goodthreads Slim-Fit Short-Sleeve Cotton Crewneck T-Shirt
Buy Now On Amazon
Why It Stands Out: Amazon is usually unreliable for good clothing, but there’s a reason they named the brand Goodthreads.
Made For: Prime members.. Point, blank, period. It’s a shock to discover just how comfortable this Amazon-branded tee is, but for big and tall dudes who like fast, free shipping, this is the one.
How It Feels: This shirt is soft, yet stiffer than one might imagine. It’s comfortable, sturdy, and fits well for a big and tall t-shirt.
Hot Take: Amazon might seem like a smart place to begin a search for men’s big and tall t-shirts, but the site isn’t the most reliable for clothing. It’s almost always a hit or miss. After trying this t-shirt from Goodthreads, SPY learned that Amazon served up a high-quality, cozy, t-shirt for big and tall guys.
BEST FOR SUMMER
Bombas Pima Cotton Pocket Crew Neck T-Shirt
Why It Stands Out: To keep it frank, it’s likely the thinnest shirt we’d recommend for big and tall men.
Made For: Heat. This is a shirt that has warm weather written all over it. With Peruvian Pima Cotton, this shirt is thinner than the average t-shirt without having that “borderline nothing” feel – but it does have significantly less weight than all of our other options.
How It Feels: This shirt is soft, butut, it’s also thin. It’s the kind of style most guys shopping for big and tall shirts might not love upon touching, but once on, the relaxing drapery will come as a surprise.
Hot Take: Although thin materials aren’t as popular with big guys, this shirt is the exception. Shirts on the thinner side aren’t necessarily top-tier options for bigger guys, but there are exceptions. Sock-brand Bombas has more recently delved into the t-shirt game with their Pima Cotton Pocket Crew Neck T-Shirt — a summer must-have.
Robert Barakett Georgia Crewneck T-Shirt
Buy Now at nordstrom
Buy Now at rB
Why It Stands Out: Robert Barakett is the Gucci of men’s t-shirts. While these shirts are expensive, they deliver on quality. These shirts also have a way of effortlessly marrying stretch and durability.
Made For: While these tees are built to be worn solo in casual spaces such as the office, Bob has another idea in mind. “This shirt is a bit too stretchy and I’m more of the firm shirt type,” he explained, “I’m going to make this my go-to for wearing on the beach so I don’t get a sunburn.”
How It Feels: Stretch can’t be emphasized enough here. These shirts stretch so far that they make Elastigirl from The Incredibles look like she’s made of metal. Although that makes them great for big and tall folks, they do feel quite heavy and swim shirt-like.
Hot Take: Hey, maybe a $70 swim shirt is exactly what you need.
Frequently Asked Questions About Big & Tall T-Shirts
Where should I buy big and tall t-shirts?
Big and tall t-shirts can be purchased from a variety of online retailers. From more obvious sites like Amazon and Walmart to newer online t-shirt retailers such as True Classic and Bombas, big and tall t-shirts are becoming easier to find.
What materials are typically used in big and tall t-shirts?
Materials vary per brand, but SPY found that the best material used in big and tall t-shirts was 100% cotton. In addition, cotton hybrids such as cotton mixed with polyester jersey also feel great.
How can you ensure a good fit when purchasing big and tall t-shirts?
The trick is measuring a wearer’s body followed by checking the size chart in the shirt’s description. Most sites will have a size chart to accurately help buyers pick the correct size for them. If there is no size chart, don’t even bother.
How do you style a big and tall t-shirt?
Styling big and tall t-shirts is something that will vary based on personal style and seasonality. Try pairing it with a handsome pair of shorts and casual sneakers if the sun is out. If wearing in a chillier climate, throw on an open flannel, a pair of blue jeans and rugged-looking boots.
Can big and tall t-shirts be used as a portable hammock for a cat?
Absolutely. Here, kitty, kitty!
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