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Men's Clothing in Big or Tall Sizes: Which Size are You?

Posted by Judy Schmidt

May 18, 2015 11:18:00 PM

There is a difference.  And if you’re a big or tall sized man, the whole process can be very confusing. 

You may be a big size, but not a tall size, or visa versa.  In other words, just because you need a tall size doesn’t mean you need a big size.  And to make matters even more confusing, most stores that sell men’s clothing don’t even know the difference!  It's more than just finding the sizes. The key is to find a men's clothing expert who has the knowledge you need to get a proper, comfortable fit.


The Difference Between Big and Tall


A big man is a larger size in the chest, waist, and hips. A tall man who will need a tall size is usually 6’2” or taller, but there are exceptions depending upon where his body length lies. He could have an elongated body and shorter legs. Or longer legs and a shorter body. 

The person with the longer body might need a higher “rise,” meaning the length of the pants from the crotch to the waist is longer, but he may not need a longer inseam.  Conversely, the man whose length is concentrated in his legs may be fine with a regular “rise”, but need a longer length pant.  Similarly, a big man would need a larger shirt, but not necessarily a longer shirt.


 Why the Confusion?

If you’re a big or tall man, or the person shopping for one, and you have never heard this before, you’re not alone. Here are several reasons why:

1)   Clerks in most department stores are not trained clothing professionals.

2)   Most stores refer to men’s clothing in larger sizes as being “big and tall.”

3)   The phrase “big and tall” has been used incorrectly for so long that most people don’t question it.

4)  Most department or large national men's stores only carry a small inventory of big or tall men's clothing in the most popular sizes, so they only offer what they have and may not even be aware of the many classifications of big or tall sizes. It isn't profitable for them to carry inventories that include men's big sizes to a 10XL, or portly sizes, or even men's shoes to a size 16 wide. The end result? They try to fit you into what they have versus what you need and most people are never aware that there are other options.

Why Manufacturers are Part of the Problem

To make matters even worse, men’s clothing in sizes 2X through 4X purchased in a discount or department store actually measures differently than clothing in sizes 2X through 4X from a true men’s clothier.  So a man who buys a size 2X shirt at Charney’s that fits him perfectly will find the exact same size he purchases from a department or discount store does not.  If this is sounding like a BIG problem, you’re right! Here’s why:

1)  Manufacturers are extending the “XL” size category by making their own version of “2XL, 3XL and 4XL” sizes.

2) The size specifications for Big or Tall men’s clothing is set by the Big and Tall Associates (BATA), an cooperative trade association of retailers who specialize in the sale of Big and Tall men’s apparel (

3) Manufacturers for discount or department stores do not uphold these guidelines. Consequently, the Big sized shirt runs small, and the Tall men's shirts run short.

The end result is that those seeking the proper fit for big or tall men are left to fend for themselves . That is, unless they happen to walk into a quality men’s clothing store that upholds the sizing guidelines set by the BATA.  It is more likely however, that he or she will not be aware of better quality locally owned men’s clothing stores or their differences because these stores cannot compete with the larger advertising budgets of discount stores or department store chains.

The Knowledge You Need to Get the Proper Fit

You are now empowered with more knowledge about the difference between big sizes and tall sizes than most retail clothing operations! To find a retailer that knows as much as you do, call your local, quality men’s store and ask them if they uphold the BATA guidelines for sizing.  Go to a men's clothing expert who has the knowledge and experience to make sure you need to get the proper fit. You will save yourself from a lot of frustration and you will be supporting local retailers that are educated and who advocate for the big or tall, or big and tall customer. 

The long and short of it is that until you visit a store who does this, you will most likely remain with the large majority of shoppers who never find the proper fit for a big or tall sized man.  


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Tags: accurate sizing for men's big and tall clothin, BATA, big men, big or tall men's clothing, tall men

Topics: big or tall men's clothing

Making Men Look Good for 62 Years

Charney's Men's Clothing Stores is the largest, most complete men's store in Central New York.  With that much experience, we have a lot to share.  We hope when you read our blog, you'll learn a few tips about looking your best that you won't find anywhere else. Thank you for reading!

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