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Travel clothing for big folks

Hi all,
I'm looking for a source of high quality travel clothing for persons of size. I'm well outside the range of waist sizes for the major manufacturers and even finding a 3XL short/long button-sleeve wicking travel style shirt isn't easy. I love the exofficio shirts but they stop at 2XL, and Tilley slacks stop at 46 (I'm one or two stops higher up that register, alas).

I will be visiting Helsinki, Tallinn, and St. Petersburg later this summer and passport and credit card security is high on my mind, for both my wife and me. Any leads on where to look for slacks and shirts? Wrinkle-free would be a plus since I am hoping to pack light (or as light as possible) for a 14 day trip, and because of the extra fabric required for plus sizes, lighter physical weight is a huge bonus.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
16933 posts

I have the opposite problem ( too small for most standard-size clothing brands) but I feel your pain.

I noticed racks labeled "plus sizes" when I was at REI yesterday, so I looked online. They have Royal,Robbins and Ex Officious shirts in men's' 3X and even 4X.

https://www.rei.com/rei-garage/product/113543/royal-robbins-desert-pucker-shirt-mens

https://www.rei.com/rei-garage/product/101901/exofficio-air-strip-long-sleeve-shirt-mens

You can filter for desired sizes here:

https://www.rei.com/s/mens-extended-size-clothing?r=size%3A3XL%7C6XL&origin=web&ir=collection%3Amens-extended-size-clothing&page=1

Posted by
67 posts

Hello!

My husband and I are "plus sized" as well, and being prepared for overseas is difficult. If something breaks or we need an emergency shirt, we really can't buy anything over in Europe! Also, we JUST got back from a 2 week trip to Spain yesterday, so I can tell you how we packed this trip!

My husband typically packs one or two pairs of nice brand khakis - like Dockers, etc, not a Wal-Mart brand anything. This trip, he bought on hanes.com a bunch of polo shirts and t-shirts. They're really inexpensive for us plus-sizers, and they're higher quality cotton (so breathable). The polos were like $8 or something! He was also able to get two nice, wrinkle-free short sleeve button-up shirts from macy's online. I think they were like $40+ each, but they dried quickly and looked nice.

As for your wife, here's what I packed - since our location was warm (80F or so), I packed 1 pair of jeans (most people would advise against jeans, but they're the most comfortable for me, and I like Lane Bryant's jeans. They're lighter), and a cotton maxi dress. When wearing the jeans, I wore a cotton button-up from Old Navy (plus sized department). They're cotton and light, but tend to wrinkle if not dried nicely or laid flat. I like these because if it's a colder morning or night, I can wear a tank or t-shirt under it, or if it's warm, I can roll up the sleeves to my elbows - and they have a collar, so I look mostly presentable. With the dress, I would just wear a cardigan or "shrug" over the dress.

Hope I helped!!

Posted by
3521 posts

I am also a large person. I have found that I have no need for "travel clothes" and am happier simply wearing what I would wear on my days off around the house -- quick dry golf shirts, wrinkle proof khakis, and lighter weight blue jeans.

But the suggestions the others have made sounds great if you really feel the need to get such clothing.

Posted by
173 posts

My husband is size 2XL and he took golf clothes to Italy, golf pants and shirts. They are moisture wicking, lightweight, don't wrinkle and look classy. They don't have security features, but we're very safety conscious. We bought them at a department store, but sporting goods stores would also have them. Enjoy!

Posted by
57 posts

@Lola, The second link for the ExOfficio shirts. Those are my favourite shirts but unfortunately they don't make them in 3X, only up to 2X. I bought two of them before I went to Europe in 2011 and I adored them. But sadly they no longer fit me. I may be fine for shirts if I can't find anything exact, but the real issue is lightweight slacks with security features, at a 48 or 50 waist. Again, my normal everyday clothes are the default for business and casual trips within North America, but I'm a little paranoid when it comes to passport security, especially in Russia, where pickpocketing is an art form not to be trifled with. If a pickpocket gets a hundred roubles, I don't particularly care, but a missing passport or credit cards is a whole 'nother world of hurt.

So to be precise, what I'm after specifically is lightweight wrinkle-resistant fabrics, moisture-wicking and hidden pockets for valuables and probably my phone, in size "dirigible". Next year when I go to Friedrichshafen, Germany, I can just go to the Zeppelin works and find something there .

Posted by
27447 posts

I wonder whether it would be possible to find slacks that otherwise met all your requirements and take them to a tailor to have a hidden pocket or two added? Or perhaps the cord could be removed for a neck pouch and the pouch stitched inside slacks or a shirt? I'm not a seamstress and have no idea how hard it would be to do this in a manner that is not evident to onlookers.

I know at least one person here has reported using a pouch that loops over a belt and then hangs down inside slacks. That sounds alike a good idea to me, but I'm female and don't wear a belt.

Posted by
57 posts

Travelsmith doesn't even come close, unfortunately. 2XL shirts and 44 slacks. Some nice stuff, but nothing at all for the very large sized person. With mobility issues, sadly losing the 40 pounds necessary to fit into these is no longer possible. OK, I guess what I'm after just doesn't exist. Thanks anyways :(

Posted by
8293 posts

" ...... what I am after does not exist". It can exist if you find a tailor or a seamstress who will provide you with made-to-measure clothes of your choice.

Posted by
1450 posts

Check out ricks "civita hidden pocket" designed to be threaded thru your belt and tucked inside your pants. OR Your drycleaner can give you the names of a couple of folks who could make in essence a watch fob pocket inside the waist band on yr pants large enuf to secure a couple of credit cards and some higher value bills. My mom has sewn a couple of pouches desined to be pinned to a bra....fine for cash...a bit pokey w a credit card inside :) for passport you might have to go to the dreaded neck wallet on travel days. Good luck!

Posted by
15717 posts

Belks and J.C. Penny both have big & tall sizes. They sell cotton/polyester shirts.

There is also Rochester Big & Tall, Casual Male and Destination XL.

Dockers makes larger sizes.

Posted by
57 posts

I think that's the route I'll probably go (having a hidden pocket installed). I was a huge fan of Tilley Endurables and their slacks survived for over 20 years—and if I still fit them, I'd still wear them regularly. They have a fantastic secret pocket that's velcro sealed, double belt loops and can survive pretty well anything. But they only go up to size 44 or 46 now. They used to take special orders at their Don Mills, ON store, back when Alex Tilley ran the place from the back room, but since Alex sold the company, sizes and quality have gone down, prices have gone up and the only thing they have now that fits me are their hats (of which I have several, from back in the 90s).

Posted by
1450 posts

Sounds like just taking a second look at clothes you own is the way to go. If you were wanting one of those travel vests w multiple pockets...a talented person could take out the seams and alter it. Im considering retiring at 59.75 and tailoring as a part time job....you have given me the idea for another niche market!!

Posted by
57 posts

Destination XL is where I shop normally and they have a reasonable selection. Rochester is high-end and more for the boardroom than crammed into a coach seat. The ExOfficio Air Strip shirts were the best shirts I've ever worn in my life, and I'd give anything to have them in my new larger size. Tilley has something similar, too (or had back in the day) and at least that one still fits me well enough to wear comfortably, if a bit snug. The roll-up button sleeves on the ExOfficio were the best selling point for travel wear, and I've never seen a dry-wick style shirt with that sleeve option since.

I have better luck with tops than bottoms, though, so I can probably muddle through with my office-casual wear. I was just hoping to find some really high-quality travel clothing that won't cost thousands to have custom made.

Posted by
57 posts

@Doric8, yes, if someone could come up with a line of big, tall, and short specialty clothing for the travel and adventure market that was well tailored and designed for folks who usually sit in the first two cabins of the airplane, you could probably do quite well. Tilley stuff was always expensive and not for the average joe, but dang, it lasts a lifetime (or at least their older stuff did). I bought 3 pairs of Tilley pants in 1997, and alternated through them for about 15 years. Washing instructions, per the tag: "Give 'em hell."

I own a full-size VOMP from them (Vest Of Many Pockets), and an ultra light weight one that comes on every trip I take. It's too small now (it won't close over my gut), but I still wear it open and has enough pockets to lose the ark of the Covenant in.

Posted by
57 posts

Sounds promising. There's one nearby that I'll check out tomorrow. I'm not expecting much for that price but if it fits that's a plus.

Posted by
1194 posts

I actually did a post on my blog about this. Here is a list of vendors (women's clothing):

  • Columbia – carries nice travel pants, tops, micro-fill jackets, and raincoats up to size 24W. Gert Boyle, the chair, is plus size
  • Royal Robbins – carries pants and tops up to size 18 (no womens sizes, though their regular cut fits curvy women)
  • LLBean – carries technical clothing such as packable rain coats, down jackets, travel pants and tops up to size 3X, 26W They also carry plus size long underwear up to 3X.
  • Lands End – thermal underwear up to 26W. They also have plus size rash guards up to 3X.
  • Minus33 – Merino wool up to 3X, including tee shirts, T-zips and panties! (and they are near Franconia Notch!)
  • Eddie Bauer – carries technical clothing such as packable rain coats, polyfill & down jackets, travel pants and tops up to size 3X, 24W
  • Dress Barn – carries unlined jackets up to size 24W. They also carry a lot of nice jersey tops.
  • J Jill – knit separates up to 4X, 28W that have a reputation as travel clothes
  • Goddess on the Go – light weight modal travel clothes up to 3X
  • Sealed With A Kiss (SWAK) – Plus size up to 36W. Many beautiful jersey pieces that travel without wrinkles.
  • Juno Active (Junonia) – plus size workout gear up to 6X
  • Hydrochic – Packable swim tops and bottoms up to 4X. Includes rash guards, swim skirts, swim capris. Many tops come with a separate swim bra.
  • Exelnt Designs – Custom swimwear and cover ups. Tankini and single piece sizes to I cup
  • Chaffree – chafe free underwear
  • Her Room – plus size bras including full size workout bras that look good under street clothes
  • Zappos – This “free shipping both ways” company carries wide calf boots and good looking comfort shoes. They also carry products from several plus size vendors.

I’ll also mention TravelSmith and Appleseeds just because they exist. Their clothing is marketed as travel clothing, but I find it bulky, heavy, and slow drying. I abandoned them years ago.

Edit:
Both Columbia and Eddie Bauer have men's sizes up to 54 waist, shirts up to 5x. Try looking at LL Bean and Lands End too. You'll have to go to the vendor web site to see their extended size collections.

Posted by
2455 posts

I have been very happy traveling with these lightweight slacks: Haggar Cool 18 slacks. They come in a large variety of colors, my preference is Heather Brown, neither too light or too dark, good at not showing dirt. They come in plain front or pleated (I prefer plain.) In the Men's Dept they run up to a 44 inch waist, in Big and Tall up to 60 inches. Various lengths, 29 to 34 it appears. I get mine at Kohl's, in the store or online, often on sale. I see the Big and Tall on the Haggar's web site, reg $70 but on sale for $49.99. They also have shorts. These do not have hidden pockets for security. I usually use a neck wallet for safety, but I know that the Rick Steves store has an inexpensive, lightweight money belt of the type acraven mentioned, you put it over your belt and then hang it inside your pants. I must admit I bought and carried one on my last trip, but never actually used it. I figure it would be very secure, but I'm not sure how easy it would be access when out and about.

Posted by
57 posts

DXL is my go-to, but they're not really much into travel-specific clothing--i.e. ultra lightweight, fast-dry, moisture wicking, stain & wrinkle resistant. There are plenty of options like this for "average" sized people but nothing found for my size.

I did manage to get a couple of Columbia Trimiami-II fishing shirts and they're good. Not as good as the Ex-Officio but still decent. Nothing in the way of lightweight, stain/wrinkle-free slacks or polo shirts, though. Plenty of office business wear and cheap polo or T-shirts, but not in the lightweight, high-tech fabrics.

Posted by
16894 posts

Travelers in this office don't tend to buy travel-specific clothing. We don't generally rely on those clothing pockets for safekeeping valuables since we use an under-clothes money belt or neck wallet that is separate from the clothes themselves.

As far as wrinkle and quick-dry issues, the fabric blends used for "travel clothing" are not all unique to them. (As well as some travel catalogues offer some things that need dry cleaning, which I don't get.)

My travel clothes just come from my usual sources, such as Land's End, Nordstrom, or Eddie Bauer. (I haven't actually shopped Eddie Bauer lately, but I had a pair of rip-stop cotton blend pants from them that lasted for years.)

Posted by
57 posts

I went the money belt route in 2011. It lasted 2 days before I just stuck to the "secret pocket" in my slacks for 2 credit cards and the ~€200 I was carrying. I really disliked it. For most of my business travel and some leisure I would agree, just pack normally. I fell in love with my Tilley clothing that I purchased about 15 years ago and is still in good shape, but now that I'm too large for their products, I'm trying to find something similar in my sizes. At this point, I am firmly of the opinion that it simply doesn't exist so, it's back to my regular heavier clothing. If there's one saving grace, where I'm going it's going to be very cool in August (especially at night, when we'll be out a lot), so heavier might be a bit warmer.

Posted by
15717 posts

I tried the money belt a la Rick and hated it. Then I tried a neck wallet and it easily showed under my shirt

But for the past 25 years I've been using the "hidden pocket" style. I hardly know it is there

Posted by
57 posts

That's my preference as well. If only large-size clothing was available with this feature it would be ideal. I've asked several menswear shops to do this and none will, unfortunately. I'll try at the local dry cleaners next.

Posted by
15717 posts

When I say "hidden pocket," I don't mean something permanently attached to clothing. I mean one of these:

Eagle Creek Hidden Pocket

RS sells them as well but I prefer the one above. (I have both.)

If you are looking for something permanent, have you tried these? Any tailor should be able to sew them for you.

Posted by
1450 posts

That second item, a package of 10 pockets to be installed , looks perfect! Amazon also showed me some women's underwear w a pocket across the front. It would be good for a small bankroll but miserable for a train ride or esp international flights w a Credit card poking you