tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Too tall and too short

I have problems buying shoes. The reason for this is very straightforward: I have very big feet. Size 13 UK (which is 14 US, or something like 47 or 48 Euro) which basically means no normal shoe shops carry shoes large enough for me. Quite a few now have up to size 12, which I can sometimes fit for shoes but not trainers, but practically no-one carries 13s and above.

Normally, Brantano is worth a try, they have out of town big stores and have a small range of shoes and trainers in sizes 13 and 14. Unfortunately at the moment that range is about five trainers, none of which I like.

Well, I'm lucky, Brighton has two shops for tall people and I knew the High and Mighty store has some shoes, because they have a deal with Magnus, a mail order large shoe company, to show some in their stores. While I was checking out the shoes I thought I'd have a look around the rest of the shop to see what else they had.

In High and Mighty I get through the door, and get told by the salesman that did I realise it was a specialist shop for very large people. I asked if they still did clothes just for tall people and was told yes, but that I wasn't really tall enough.

Now, I'm 'only' 6'3" tall, but I have long arms and legs as well as the big plates, which means I have a lot of hassle buying clothes. Much of the time I can buy trousers, which only just fit leg-wise, although Marks and Spencer hav started doing the odd very long pair (35" inside leg) hidden away in a few of their ranges. I have three tops that fit my arms (one shirt and two sweaters) which isn't exactly what I'd call a wide range of clothing.

In the chap's defence, there was some dubious-looking people sitting on the step outside the shop that he was very nervous of, but this isn't exactly how you should greet your customers. High and Mighty isn't cheap, and normally I couldn't really afford anything in their clothing range, so being very dismissive of a customer seems, well, a bit stupid, sales-wise.

After a brief look around I headed over to Brighton's other tall shop, 'Big and Tall' in the East Lanes. In there I was also told that I wasn't really tall enough because I can just about buy clothes in 'normal' shops. I pointed out I have difficulty getting shirts long enough, and the saleswoman was good enough to find the three casual shirts they had in my neck size. Unfortunately, now we hit with the other problem the specialist tall shops tend to have: all three of the shirts were deeply horrible, and looked like they'd come out of the seventies and early eighties, rather than twenty years later.

So that's two specialist shops basically telling me I'm not right for them. But, other shops aren't fitting my needs either. This means I'm effectively in this annoying middle ground where I can't get shirts that don't have my wrists poking out of the bottom of the sleeves, but I'm either sniffed at or given bad choices in shops selling bigger clothes.

Many mainstream shops have started doing larger clothes over the last few years. This was started by C&A on the high street, which started doing XXL clothes almost ten years ago. Now Marks, Debenhams and BHS all have at least some of their mens range in this size. Unfortunately, they've made a basic mistake and sized up all dimensions of the clothes, which means they are like tents. One of my XXL shirts has enough room for me and someone else in the body. If I'm ever stuck whilst out in it I could pitch it and sleep underneath it's billowing volume.

What's really needed is an XT size - eXtra Tall. This has the same body dimensions as XL, but longer body and sleeve lengths. I am not unusual in my height, I see plenty of younger men and an increasing number of young women who are at least as tall as me around every day. Shops need to change their ranges to accept that as a nation we've got lots of tall people around and start selling clothes to us, not make us put up with a shoddy selection or items that just don't fit.
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