I’ve never been into fashion. I’m much happier wearing clothes that are comfortable rather than even bothering to consider what’s “in”. But when you’re quite tall and big (even ignoring the fact that I’m overweight) your options are quite limited.
If you’re a big guy it’s quite awkward to buy clothes and footwear “off the shelf”. Sure you can usually find something, but more often than not you end up having to go with the most bland option available.
Shoes, for example, are always available in average sizes in Ireland, but once you get into the bigger sizes (and I wear either a European 45 or 46, which is a UK 11 or 12) the options become more and more limited. It has got better in recent years, but it’s hardly ideal.
I remember years ago discovering Palais de la Chaussure when I lived in Paris. For the first time I was able to actually choose which style of shoe to buy! That was a whole new experience for me. (If you’ve got big feet I’d strongly recommend them).
With the advent of the internet you’re no longer limited to buying locally, which has made life a lot easier. Some of the online shoe shops offer a reasonable range in larger sizes, so buying shoes and boots from Schuh is fine for me.
I’ve also found a couple of online shops in the UK that have a good range of “big and large”. Big Tall Order, for example, stocks a lot of things that you simply won’t find in local shops unless you want to spend lots of time searching (I don’t!). When I wanted swimming shorts they had a good range to choose from, whereas any shop I tried locally only seemed to cater for fitness freaks or very average sizes.
Another thing I’ve found annoying is buying things like jeans. I wanted to get Levi’s and some Dockers, but for some stupid reason the Irish and UK site doesn’t carry the “big and tall” range at all. You’d swear we were all midgets!
You can, however, find some good options either on eBay or by going to the US Levi’s and Dockers sites. The only problem with buying direct from the US sites is that you need a US address and you can get caught for import duty and VAT. Even with import duty and VAT, however, you still save on Irish prices.
One downside to ordering clothes online is that they can take a week or more to arrive and in my case that meant that by the time some of the stuff arrived my waist had shrunk! Not that a shrinking waist is a bad thing – there’s a reason I have a belt! 🙂