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Finding a terrific-fitting shirt or pair of sweatpants for summer or workout wear can be quite an endeavor.

In larger sizes, many people assume that a men’s 3x and women’s 3x are similar in size.

However, a men’s 3X is actually a completely different size than a women’s 3X, and there are also several other differences between the two sizes.

Whether you need a bit more room or just prefer a looser fit, making sure that you get a good fit at the neck and across the shoulders is just as important as the fit at the hips.

As a tall female, I prefer men’s tees and sweats. At one time, I was confident that men’s garments would also be of better quality.

Sadly, it’s my experience that men’s and women’s garments are currently of similar quality. This is not because of an improvement in women’s garments.

As a general rule, men’s garments are boxy while women’s garments are rounded. Women’s tees and tops tend to be more pear-shaped.

They’re narrower at the shoulders and curve in slightly at the waist before flaring at the hip. Men’s garments may offer a slight curve in at the waist, but they’re generally matched at shoulder and hip.

men's 3x vs women's 3x infographic

Neck

The neck trim on a man’s 3X is generally suited to clear the circumference of the male skull with a bit of stretch.

Because the male skull is generally larger, especially around the ears and the jaw, the neckline of a man’s 3X may feel sloppy and loose for a woman who likes a closer fit.

Because the neck binding on a man’s shirt may also be designed to wick away sweat, it may stretch out more quickly and contribute to a worn out look.

large man sitting on sofa wearing a long sleeved shirt

Shoulders

The shoulders on a man’s 3X are generally the widest part of the garment. Women who want a bit more room in their tops will need to be sure that the shoulder fit doesn’t lead to too much slop in the sleeves.

The shoulders of a woman’s 3X will be narrower. Because the neck opening will also be smaller, women searching for shirts should check the fabric content to make sure that they don’t end up with a shirt that’s too small after the first washing.

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Check out: Is Men’s 2x the same as women’s 2x?

Sleeve Length

A woman who prefers a larger shirt may want a bit more coverage on the upper arm. In this case, a man’s 3X shirt may be best. The wider shoulders will offer more fabric at the top of the arm.

For women with narrow shoulders, those sleeves may actually reach all the way to their elbows. While this may be their preference, it is important to pay attention to how much fabric will also be bunching up under the arm.

Beautiful girl in a pink shirt. Woman standing near large building. Lady use the phone

Chest/Bust

Women’s shirts tend to be roomier at the bust than men’s shirts. Men who need more room across the chest may find that they’re actually more comfortable in a woman’s 3X.

Waist

Men’s 3X tops do have a bit of a taper at the waist, but women’s 3X shirts have more. For men who prefer to tuck in their shirts, women’s 3X shirts are also a bit shorter.

Women who prefer a looser fit and don’t intend to tuck in their shirts will probably be more comfortable in a man’s 3X

Check out: 4X vs 4XL: Clothing Size Differences Explained

Hips

Hip fit becomes more critical for women if their shoulders are on the narrow side. First of all, women’s shirts tend to be shorter than men’s shirts, so the hip fit matters less on a women’s 3X.

Whether you’re male or female, take care not to buy a sloppy, oversized shirt just to fit your hips or tummy.

A shirt that’s far too big in the shoulders will not be comfortable overall. If you need a bigger shirt to cover a sizable tummy, consider a cap-sleeve or a sleeveless shirt to avoid a lot of excess fabric at the sleeve.

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Longer, looser sleeves may be perfectly comfortable. However, if they’re too short or too snug, they will just bunch up and quickly become uncomfortable.

Photo of a woman posing with a blank yellow t-shirt

Overall Length: Shirts

From the top of the shoulder to the bottom hem, men’s shirts will be longer. As a general rule, choosing the best fit for yourself is a matter of taste.

However, those who prefer to tuck in their shirts may be much more comfortable in a slightly shorter shirt. Too much bulk under a waistband will not be comfortable or attractive.

Overall Length: Pants

A 3X pair of sweatpants or workout pants may be longer overall than a 1X or a 2X, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will fit right.

If you need the room at the hips and like a real waistband, consider women’s sweats instead of men’s.

If you’re OK with a drawstring waist, go for the men’s sweatpants and workout pants. Not only will you be able to customize the fit, but you’ll generally get to enjoy pockets.

Both men’s and women’s sweatpants can now be found open at the bottom instead of banded. This is another bonus that can give you a better fit overall.

Fabric and Care

It can be very tempting to never try on casual tees and sweatpants. However, today’s fast fashion is notoriously inconsistent.

It is entirely possible to find a terrific tee shirt that fits great and get one in every color, only to find that they all fit a little different.

Additionally, that terrific red tee may be a different combination of poly materials and cotton than the black tee in the same product line.

One trip through the dryer can turn a favorite garment into a donation item. Study labels carefully and consider the fit you’ll be facing after the garment shrinks a tad.

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