Youth XL vs. Adult Small (What’s the Difference?)

Have you ever wondered about the difference between Youth XL and Adult Small shirts? If your child has outgrown the youth clothing range, you might be wondering whether a small adult shirt is a right swap to make.

There is plenty of data and sizing charts that contain measurements for Youth and Adult t-shirts, but aside from the proven industry documents, what is the actual difference between a Youth XL and Adult Small?

Is there a difference between Youth XL and Adult Small?

Yes. While there is not much difference between a Youth XL and an Adult Small, they are rarely identical. Most brands will make the Adult Small a little longer in the torso, as adults tend to be taller. This may vary between brands, and some will make the adult small shirt narrower, as well as longer.

kids wearing youth xl and adult small shirts

Understanding the transition between a youth size and an adult size is a very common question, and many people struggle when choosing. In this article, we’re going to look at how to handle the sizing of t-shirts.

What Is The Difference Between Youth XL And Adult Small Shirts?

The biggest difference between these two sizes is often that the adult small shirt will be narrower and longer. It is designed for a tall man, rather than a large teen, and this results in more height but less girth. The youth XL is often shorter and has a boxier fit. If you have a tall child, the adult small is often going to be the best choice.

youth xl vs adult small size chart

However, you should always look for size charts when choosing suitable shirts for kids that are between kids and adult sizes, as these will give you accurate measurements for both the youth shirts and adult shirts. This should help you determine whether the shirt will fit and if you should choose it.

Remember to consider what the fabric that the t-shirt has been made from and think about the amount of shrinkage that it might undergo when washed, too. Allow a little extra fabric to make sure the t-shirt will still fit after washing.

How Can I Guarantee A Youth Shirt Will Fit?

youth throwing football

There are no ways to guarantee that a shirt will fit, but if you are buying online, your best option is to check the manufacturer’s sizing chart for both youth XL and adult small. Use a tape to measure your child and compare it with the sizing chart before purchasing.

If buying in the store, it’s always great to try on the shirt in-store or have a tailor measure your child to make sure you get the right fit.

Remember that too big tends to be better than too small, especially with a cotton t-shirt, which is usually designed for comfort. Smaller sizes are rarely better, so make sure that the garment you are buying fits in terms of both the girth and the length before you purchase it.


The biggest difference between a Youth XL and an Adult Small is usually that adult shirts are longer and narrower, so the fit may not be quite right for a child who is used to wearing a Youth XL. Using sizing charts or visiting your local store may help you to determine this.