In Search of the Perfect Tee As a Big and Tall Dude
My dad and I wear the same size of pants. We both need a 32-inch inseam, though I tend to buy a 34 because I’m a cool rock-and-roll guy who likes to cuff his pants. If we needed to trade clothes, we could, but pops probably hasn’t grabbed a new pair of Levi’s since Obama was in his first term. The stark difference between us is that my dad’s in the ballpark of 5’9” and I’m 6’4” and all torso, which means finding the right size of basic tee shirts, for lack of a better word, sucks.
Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it: I had a few extra pounds to deal with before the whole world shut down. Now, thanks to the pandemic and the subsequent year of Jameson and Lone Star tallboys in my kitchen, coupled with regularly copycatting popular recipes on YouTube, I need to hit the gym and drop these Covid-induced pounds. My hefty self is super tall, I’ve got a gut, and being trapped in the house for so long has only made shopping for clothes more cumbersome. I need a long shirt, but not untucked-dress-shirt long.
Hitting the Big & Tall is never not terrible for me. Nothing ever fits right. It’s always too wide or too long. I once bought a pack of shirts and they reached my knees. Who are these shirts made for? I know there are dudes out there taller than yours truly, but when a shirt hits a man’s knees and somehow doesn’t fit right in the center...what’s the point?
Workwear companies are typically a solid bet because the guys they’re made for are out there on the job — but that’s a gamble too. Some of the shirts fit and they can be quite soft, but they’re always pocket tees and that’s personally not my style. Each time I look for regular ol’ crew neck tee shirts, they’re out of stock. Meanwhile, the big workwear company, the one everyone suddenly started buying beanies from, sells shirts that are, like, six inches thick. That’s okay if it’s your style, but I live in Texas. Wearing one of those shirts is like wearing a small coat, and when you reside in a state that has you not even considering a pullover hoodie or a fleece bomber jacket for eight months out of the year, this can be a problem.
If a friend’s at a dive bar on the road and wants to grab me a shirt or I’m standing in front of the merch table at a concert, I always have to ask myself, “Is it a good shirt or is it a crappy, cheap one?” If it’s a high-quality shirt, I’ll gamble on an XL. If it’s one of those shotty tees, I’ll take a 2XL. The 2XL might hold up for length, but, depending on the make and the model, it could very well turn out to be all boxy and huge around the sides. Plus, the material winds up feeling like sandpaper and you have to wash it 70 times or so for it to be even remotely comfortable, and, by then, it’s lost all its color anyway.
So, whenever I find a quality-fitting, plain black crew neck tee, I’ll buy 10 of them. Seriously. I live in plain black tees. I wear them every day, and since I wear them so often, they get worn out on the regular. I take chances on shirt companies left and right. I’ll buy one as a test subject, and if it works for the long haul, I find myself swiping the plastic for a grip of new stock. Wearing any other color isn’t really an option since I’m a weirdo who hates anything brighter than the shade of doom. Finding a shirt that’s got the right length and doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a damn circus tent becomes an immediate obsession for me, since good shirts with the proper size and a slimming look are pretty much the holy grail for big dudes — who are all about passing trade secrets and swapping insider tips.
Last month, I bought and returned two different brands of black tees, initially hoping that at least one of them would be what I’m looking for, but no dice. It’s been an ongoing struggle, but now my tall, thick brethren and I can celebrate and hit the “Checkout” or “Subscribe” button with impunity and never again worry about finding the right size or the perfect cut.
That’s because Fresh Clean Tees just launched a 3XL collection of men’s basics! So now dudes of all sizes can find crew neck tees, v-neck tees, curved hem longlines, and Cali pullovers in sizes Small to 3XL.
Honestly, Fresh Clean Tees is the future for big dudes. I told them that when the big boy sizes launch, we’ll be poised with our big boy dollars ready to go. Sign me way, way up for clothing companies designing shirts for guys of all sizes. It’s insanely overdue. Now I’m going to buy, like, 20 plain black crew neck tee shirts because 10 just isn’t enough after writing this.
— Robert Dean
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