We Sent One Man Into Five Shops To Try Five XXL T-Shirts – Here’s What Happened

Ok, ok, ok – we all *know* that sizes are completely off the chart stupid. We know it in our heart of hearts. That’s why we all experience that crushing gloom when we think of ourselves as an L, XL or XXL and suddenly a shop slaps us in the face and tells us, “Oh, no sugarlumps, you’re wayyyyyy worse than that.”

What we wanted to show with this little experiment is just how bonkers the sizing situation has got to. So this is what happens when you take one XXL guy and send him into five shops to try on the first XXL shirts he finds. Adam Barrett dusts off his credit card and spends an evening at the Trafford Centre, poor sod.


Shopping for clothes has always been one of my most hated activities in life. Being a big lad for most of my life, its been a struggle to remain positive about clobber. As a fat man you dont have much choice on the high street in regards to fashion or style. Instead I tend to go for clothes that make me look thinner, and cover up my bumps, manboobs and hearty love handles. The words or phrases slim-fit, tailored, or skinnydo not enter my vocabulary when shopping, in fact I avoid these like the plague.

For this test I went to the Trafford Centre and aimed to try similar tops in each store, polo shirts type tops and I marked them 0-5 on the Barrett Tightness Scale – 0 being not tight at all and 5 being boyband. Of course, I should point out that John Lewis (which includes brands like Gant, Barbour, Ralph Lauren) and H&M there was no XXL. And why would you try and provide something for 66% of the UK’s male population to wear – what do you think they want, to make money?

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I didn’t even bother going into Calvin Klein, All Saints, Zara, French Connection, Lacoste and Super Dry, because let’s face it – they all assume that everyone weighs seven stone when they’re wet through. So of the shops that realise that larger men do exist heres what I found.

Marks & Spencers


I was surprised this was so tight as M&S are usually a good fit. On later inspection the label said ‘tailored fit’. Rookie error.





The worst of the day. Would barely fit over my moobs. Highlighting all my worst bits in one fell swoop. The other point to make about Primark is that the t-shirts are cheaper than particularly cheap chips and one wash usually takes them down a size or two.





Probably the best shop of the lot I visited. The t-shirt I tried was a bit tight around the middle and chest but not too bad. And the polo shirt fit perfectly and looked decent so I bought it.





This was a weird one – even in the same shop two different XXL t-shirts resulted in two massively different fits. One was terribly tight and looked awful and the other was a bit tight on the chest but otherwise ok. How can there be so much difference in an XXL from shirts twenty yards apart?!





Similar to Next, one t-shirt fit ok and the other was like rolling yourself into a child’s wetsuit. The quality of some of the fabric is very poor and you can see the shape of my nipples through it. Was expecting much more from Burton’s, feel let down.

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Like most shopping trips I go on, I was left disappointed and indulged in a bit of self-loathing whilst staring at my portly figure in the unforgiving circus mirrors of the changing rooms. Not one managed to make me feel thin and desirable! Do none of the retailers understand how big (literally) the market is? If they could design clothes that make bigger men feel good then they’d make a fortune. If they can make a dress out of meat for Gaga I refuse to believe that a good-looking XXL shirt is beyond their skills.  

On the plus side my eyes have been opened to shops I could possibly get stuff from in the future. Up until now I dont think I would have attempted to shop on the high street instead opting for one of the big supermarket clothing ranges (Tu, George and Tesco’s). But River Island definitely deserves another look and Ive now got a couple of new shops I can frequent to improve my wardrobe.

Good luck and let us know if you’ve found any shops that cater for the bigger guys.  

About the Author /


I'm Andrew Shanahan, I started MAN v FAT when I lost over 60lbs and realised that there was naff all help for men who wanted to lose weight.


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