Is XL The Same as 1X? (Sizing Mystery Solved)

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Unconventional sizes can be confusing for plus-size and curvy individuals because they’re often lumped together. You might erroneously see yourself as plus size if you are simply curvy. But if standard ‘large’ clothes don’t fit you, 1X and XL might both do the job.

Is XL the same size as 1X? XL and 1X are not the same size but can overlap at a 36-inch waist. Otherwise, XL is smaller than 1X. 1X is used in women’s clothing as a size equivalent to XL and some XXL male clothing. Before buying 1X or XL clothes, please check the brand’s own size guide to ensure the article fits.

In this article, you will learn more about the differences between XL and 1X clothing and the best practices of buying unconventional size clothes and getting them fit perfectly the first time. So, let’s get started.

What Is the Difference Between XL and 1X?

Sizes for big guys and plus-size girls can be confusing. And that’s just clothing, let’s not even talk about men’s undergarments, bras, or shapewear. It’s hard enough to find clothes that fit, why do you have to confuse me with the size as well?!

The key difference between 1X and XL is that 1X is used for women’s size charts, whereas XL is used for men’s charts. 1X is short for 1XL, where the L is omitted because of the assumption that it would offend some customers.

Women who don’t consider the L to be inherently negative call it 1XL or simply XL. But before you take that as your signal to order anything 1X because XL clothing fits you, you must be careful about the brand-specific sizing.

If you’re about to purchase a 1X-sized article from one brand, while you usually shop XL clothes from another, you might get something too tight or loose for your body. XL is used in unisex clothing despite being predominately a male size metric. It is also used in some female clothing articles as well.

Groupon’s widely cited size chart, which represents women’s clothing brands sizing norms in America, indicates that 1X size entails a 36-inch waist. But it also includes 38 to 40-inch waist sizes in the 1X category.

According to the same source’s men’s size chart, XL size equals a 35 to a 36-inch waist. So 36 inches is where the sizes overlap. Otherwise, XL is usually smaller than 1X.

And according to a different size chart presented by the Imperial College Union, XL starts at an even lower waist size of 34 inches. This reinforces the importance of checking the brand-specific sizes and their equivalent waist measurements before buying an XL or a 1X article.

Usually, XL has a more unreliable size range than 1X clothing. Brands that are sensitive enough to use the 1X size title are more detail-oriented. The sizing term XL, in contrast, is used by every brand that makes clothes larger than the standard L size.

Should You Buy 1X or XL Clothes?

If you’re a male customer, you’ll not have access to the size chart that includes 1X, leaving behind only XL clothes. But if you are a female client, you might be able to choose between XL and 1X clothing, albeit from different brands.

It would be better to opt for 1X clothes wherever the size is available as it is more consistent across multiple brands than XL clothes. To make sure your choice fits you well, you should also ask for the brand’s sizing chart.

The size guide is available online for digital-native brands and can be taken from the store manager when shopping physically in a store. Doing this little bit of work sets you apart from the customers who regret buying clothes from brands with inconsistent sizing.

4 Best Practices for Buying XL or 1X Clothes

When you’re buying 1X or XL clothes for the first time, a few common errors can cause inconvenience and may leave you with clothes that don’t fit.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your clothes match your expectations.

1. Check the Return Policy

It would be best to look for a good return policy when buying XL or 1X clothes.

Body-positive clothing brands understand that their customers are dealing with non-standard sizes and offer a resolution for miscalculations. A good return policy provides a “no questions asked” refund or exchange voucher.

2. Try an Equivalent Article

If shopping in a physical store, you might encounter a situation where the product you want to try for size is sealed in packaging that can’t be breached. Let’s suppose you’re looking to buy a cotton button-up, but it is packed in a sealed cardboard tray box.

While you can see the color of the shirt, you can’t try it without breaking the seal, in which case the store will require you to buy it. Before deciding to buy it packed, you can ask the staff to give you “a shirt of the same size” that you can try.

Say something like this:

“Hey, I don’t want to open this box. Can you give me something of the same size that I can try to test the size?”

Most apparel store staff will understand what you mean before you start the second sentence and will accommodate your request.

3. Buy One Article First (When Buying Online)

If you’re not shopping in a physical store, you don’t have the luxury of trying outfits before buying them. In that case, buying more than one of each type of clothing article is risky. It is better to buy one item and try it before buying more articles like it.

4. Don’t Assume Consistency

Finally, you can never assume the consistency of sizes even within the same store.

Different brands have different size charts, and if you test a 1X shirt from one brand and it fits, you might mistakenly get 1X shirts from multiple brands. This can lead to a few shirts not fitting well.

I personally wear an XL in some brands and a 2XL or even 3XL in others depending on the fit.

Always take a trial product or try a product of your specific size from each brand before trusting it enough to get multiple articles.

Recap: Is 1X the Same as XL?

XL is not the same as 1X, except in rare instances.

In men’s clothing, XL refers to the clothes that go slightly above the standard L size. These clothes are still accommodated in the L category in women’s clothes.

Where XL clothing ends for men is where 1X clothing starts. The largest XL shirt is often the same size as the smallest 1X shirt.