2XL vs XXL – What’s The Difference? (Hint: It’s Dumb…)

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Working with and finding clothes within the realm of larger sizes can easily be one of the more complicated and frustrating things to do.

Not only are plus-size clothes difficult to find (for both men and women) but, once you do find them, the sizing is inconsistent and confusing.

For example, I always thought 2XL and XXL were interchangeable and it wasn’t until recently that I put two and two together to figure out that they’re not…and that’s one reason why my shirts never fit very well.

So what is the actual difference between 2XL and XXL? Well, it’s not super complex.

2XL is usually a half size bigger than XXL, which means that 2XL is the larger of the two sizes and is only used for obese clothing sizes. XXL is a linear progression of the size above the large size of clothing, whereas 2XL is a multiplication of the size XL, which makes it significantly larger than XXL.

We know this can sound extremely confusing, and that is because this measurement system is extremely confusing. Understanding the clothing sizes can be painful and require that you work not only through country size differences but also that you work through manufacturer size differences. 

What Are the Measurements Of 2XL And XXL?

To understand how these two sizes really are different, we need to take a step back and look at the actual measurements that these two sizes have. We will be looking at the two most common sizes that they are usually found in, both UK and US sizes. 

We know that these sizes change drastically when you start going towards countries like India, China, Australia, and Japan. However, the most common sizes that you will find, even in these countries, will actually be the UK and US sizes as they are easily the most often sold ones. 

Measurements Of 2XL

Unfortunately, there are no set measurements for true 2XL clothing as most manufacturers and measurement charts are also confused. We have researched finding the right size, and it should be around 44 inches around the waist when measured and made properly.

However, depending on the manufacturer’s own guidelines, a 2XL shirt could simply be a few inches smaller than an XXXL shirt. Moving onto other clothing can become even more confusing as the belts, shoes, pants, hoodies, and jackets all have different interpretations of the 2XL size. 

Measurements Of XXL

When you see a measuring chart that says 2XL, it is referring to this size, which has a lot of standards, such as shirts being 38 inches around the waist. However, even with this size, the definition of XXL can range from 38 inches around the waist all the way up to 40 inches around the waist. 

The shoes, belts, pants, and other types of clothing defined as XXL also have different sizes that drastically affect them. We have seen many people that buy XXL thinking that it would fit, only for one of the measurements to somehow be drastically different than what it should be. 

Why Is There a Difference Between These Two Sizes?

Normally, when people list their clothing sizes, they will adhere to the ones they have found sold the best. However, with the modern world of importing and exporting, there have been many challenges and changes to the way that clothes are made and where they are distributed.

A manufacturer that is making clothes for the US market may end up shipping these same clothes to the UK, Australia, or even into Africa. This has created multiple different definitions of the sizes, as each country may or may not even have regulations as to what the sizes should be.

Further, with the US still using the imperial system, many have become confused about how large clothes have to be. When something is made in inches, it is not as accurate as something made using centimeters, creating clothing that varies wildly in overall sizes. 

When Should You Consider Using the Smaller or Larger Size?

If you are still going up in sizes as normal, you should stick to just using normal XXL clothing instead of switching to 2XL clothing. 2XL clothing and others like it are made for obese people that need a larger measurement around their waists than they may need to have around the rest of their bodies.

Usually, you will be able to tell if something is too large for you when you are moving up in the sizes, with a great deal many people preferring to stick to normal XXL clothing. Further, you will not be able to find true 2XL clothing in the normal clothing shops that you may buy from.

2XL clothing is much more likely to be sold in specialist shops that are aimed towards the obese, allowing them to shop without having to search an entire city. Further, these shops have accurate measurements and purpose-built clothing for the obese that will allow them to easily get something that is comfortable.

Men’s & Women’s Sizing Differences (2XL vs 2X vs XXL)

Things can become a lot more complicated and painful when we start moving between women’s and men’s clothing. Clothing is measured in different ways, with women’s 2XL and XXL not being the same as men’s 2XL and XXL clothing.

We are taking a look at how these two differ and why you may not want to switch between them without care simply. We have seen many women that would look a lot better if they simply stuck to the clothing that has been cut for them; the same goes for men wearing something too tight. 

Women’s Sizes

We must point this out because even in the obese, the way that the body is shaped will be different to men, with women’s hips usually being larger. This means that wearing clothes meant for men may sit too tight while being much too long for you to comfortably walk in. 

Further, the shirts, jackets, and sweaters are usually made to be slightly tighter as well, creating clothing that fits the curves as well. If you are obese, you may be more comfortable wearing unisex shirts for the simple fact that the clothes aren’t sticking to you. 

Men’s Sizes

Generally speaking, whether for the obese or not, men’s clothing will not stick tightly to the body. Allowing you or whoever is wearing the clothing to hide a lot more of the general shape of the body that is underneath the clothing, which is why men’s shirts look baggy.

Often men’s clothing is the better option when buying something slightly larger, especially when buying jackets, hoodies, and sweaters. These fit a lot more comfortably and allow for more things to be worn underneath without looking like becoming unnecessarily baggy.


If you are looking for something larger, you should move onto the plus-size category where 2XL, 3XL, and larger plus-sized clothing can be found. If you are used to still wearing only XL clothing, you can safely move to XXL as this is just the next step to the sizing that you are growing into. 

Whatever you do, please always buy clothing that is comfortable instead of something that forces you to suck in the gut constantly!

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