Clothing can make a man look bigger, thinner, shorter, or taller. You can look well-kept and dapper, or sloppy and disheveled. While there is a lot to consider in men’s style, such as colors, patterns, materials, layering, and the like; fit is still king! A $399 suit from SuitSupply that fits well to your body is going to look much better than an ill-fitting suit that runs $30K! You don’t have to spend a fortune to look good or to have great style. Spend the most you can afford and get the best quality you can, then have it fitted to your individual body by a tailor.
Some men prefer a looser cut while others want their clothing to be a bit more form fitting. You might find that you like a full break and a wide leg opening, yet some of you will argue that a no-break with a very tapered leg looks best. These are the things that you can use to really express your own personal style! Wearing clothes that don’t fit well? It’s the quickest way to divert from any effort you’ve put into your ensemble. So, let me help! Here’s a user-friendly guide to well-fitting clothes based on your body type.
For the Shorter Gentleman:
Trousers – Keep to a no-break or minimal break on your pant length. While it is better to use a blind hem to elongate the leg line, if you really want cuffs on your trousers, then go with a smaller cuff width. A 1.5-inch cuff is a good place to start.
See how these trousers dwarf his leg line? This also makes you appear shorter and sloppy – not a good look.
Shirt – Wear it fitted. Baggy clothing will give the illusion that you’re even shorter than you are. No man wants to look like he is wearing his older brother or father’s clothing! You want a shirt to be tapered and follow your body. The excess fabric from loose clothing billows, adding visual weight. Look for a snug (but not tight) shirt collar that doesn’t gap, sleeves that are slim (but don’t restrict movement), and a length proportionate to your height.
If you prefer to wear your shirt untucked, it needs to hit about mid-crotch when untucked, never to entirely pass your seat. What I tend to do is buy shirts that are couple inches longer if my intent is to keep them tucked in and keep the shorter shirts for casual occasions that can be worn untucked. Take a look at the length on these two fits – huge difference!
Tie – Try a regular-length, slimmer tie. If it’s still too long for your frame, look for a shorter than average tie. If you tie your knot and the wide-end point is where you want it (close to your waist of trousers), but the skinny end hangs past it, you should size down.
For the shorter gentleman, you want to get both the wide and skinny ends to be roughly the same length, or at least within a couple inches. This will vary based on the trouser rise and where they sit on your waist, as well as the tie knot you use, so close is good!
Overall – Know your proportions. Making sure your clothing is tailored to your stature will give you an elongated appearance. It’s easy for the shorter gentleman to look like he’s swimming in his clothing, so be aware of the length of each of your garments and how tapered they are. Going too tight will emphasize your smaller stature, as will drowning in over-sized clothing.
*Same guy, two drastically different suited looks! See what I mean?!
For the taller, slenderer gentleman:
Trousers: Try a slight to medium break and wear a belt more often. All of these will help you appear a bit less lanky and balance your look. One more tip would be to slightly minimize your height through the use of cuffs (turn-ups) on your pants. Instead of an invisible hem or plain hem, have your tailor cuff your pants anywhere between 1.5 and 2 inches (with 1.75-inch cuffs being the standard). Of course, if you are like me, you skip the break entirely, and go for 2-inch cuffs! My reasoning is that I like a nice clean line without puddling of material on the shoe and wrinkling in the leg, but the wider cuff breaks up the long clean lines and add some visual weight at the same time! Keep the pants from being too tapered at the leg opening so that it doesn’t make you appear large up top with tiny little legs. Having bigger feet and thus shoes, will only emphasis this even more and can look very clownish.
Shirt: You need to pay special attention to the length. Make sure that you don’t have shirts pulling out of your pants or worse yet, riding up and revealing your stomach. I personally fall into this category and am always looking for ways to keep my shirt tucked in! Game changer: use shirt stays. They hold your shirt in no matter what you are doing without the fear of it coming untucked during your favorite wedding song and revealing
your my muffin top. Another area of emphasis should be the shoulder size and sleeve length as you don’t want to feel like you can’t move around freely in a shirt. You’ll be really uncomfortable and it’ll show!
Tie: Keep your eyes peeled for regular or classic width ties in a longer length that will knot in the correct spot and drape well. Choosing a standard length will give off the appearance that you’re too tall and that the tie is meant for a child.
Overall: Being tall is a little bit easier to account for in your clothing than if you are shorter or heavier. You don’t want to look too lanky and it is very easy to help minimize this with a few easy alterations and choices. Don’t go too wide or too slim in your trousers, shirts, suits, and ties. Try to find something that works with your height as well as your build, go a bit wider if you are more broad and a bit slimmer if you are very skinny. Try to find items that are long enough to account for your extra height, whether it be body length, sleeve length, or tie length. Adding cuffs and/or more break to your trousers can also help downplay your height by breaking up your natural height.
*Here’s a picture after a trip to the tailor. Hemming the pant legs and adjusting the sleeve length didn’t cost more than $40! The body of jacket fits a bit better now that I dropped a few excess pounds I accrued since the last visit to tailor!
For the heavier gentleman:
Trousers: Heavier-set men can usually benefit the most from pleats, usually one or two or a reverse pleat. Additionally, it will provide comfort in the thigh and hip and help balance your overall proportions. Stick to a straight or regular leg, wider if needed, instead of the skinny or slim fits. The latter will result in a top heavy, awkward appearance. Trousers that fit well, don’t restrict movement, and balance your upper body are going to be your go-to!
Shirt: Almost all men wear dress shirts that are too large – I see it every single day. The real issue here is the added fabric on over-sized shirts. Picture an already billowy shirt, tucked in, adding extra material which puffs out around the waistline — you’re giving a visual appearance of an added 20+ pounds of weight to your midsection. Go as slim as you can without restricting movement. Keep in mind that your shirts will need to accommodate for added pressure and width when you sit or eat a large meal. If you also plan to wear undershirts sometimes or always, try on or have made wearing those undershirts to really get a great fit! Reserving a couple extra inches for these situations is plenty and will make you confident and keep you from feeling restricted which will show.
Tie: Try a regular to wide tie (3.25-3.75 inch works best but you can also go bit wider if needed), and look for regular or longer length ties depending on your height. Don’t settle for ties that are too short and limit your knot selection and overall outfit choices. Instead, find companies that sell a longer tie in a 62 or 63-inch length as it will give you the added length to do more knots and get both sides hanging roughly the same.
Overall: Do not wear clothes that are over-sized on you. You aren’t “hiding” anything. Find clothing that fits you well, with enough room to move unrestrained, but not overly baggy. On the other hand, dressing in too slim of clothes will make you look like you are even bigger, and simply outgrowing your clothing. Finding clothing that falls in-between these extremes will give a nice, balanced look. Following these guidelines will give the appearance of a man who knows his body, is confident and knows style! Take a look at my buddy Dan in these pictures – he nails it every time!
For the Athletic Guy:
Trousers: The seat and thigh is going to be the most important part of the trousers for anyone, but this is especially important that you have the room here for very athletic men. You need the extra room here due to increased size and you want it loose enough that when you sit and bend you don’t look like you are about to bust a seam. You will also want to pay close attention to the leg also, you can still go for a nice tapered leg but be careful it isn’t so much so that it makes you appear top heavy. This is an area a lot of athletics guys drop the ball and end up with trousers way too small and tight when compared to their already larger upper bodies.
Shirt: This is something I see done wrong all the time, for all body types but it is especially unfortunate for athletic men because it hides all the hard work they put in! You just look big and bulky due to all the excess fabric that usually accompanies the cut and sizing athletic men need for their larger shoulders and chest. This means you need to find a cut that is specifically made for athletic men and have a larger shoulder and chest but a tapered look throughout the waist of the shirt. Anyone that doesn’t fit within the “normal range” which is very brand and country specific, are usually best served going custom here. With the wide range of custom clothiers out there and the many Made to Measure Companies online, it can be very affordable to get something custom made for your specific body measurements! The added benefit is you can also customize garments with numerous details and styling elements to express your style a bit more than something off the rack!
Tie: For athletic guys, your ties are mostly going to same the same as the others above. Just try to find the right length and width for your individual height and body proportions. If you are quite muscular up top finding regular width ties can help maintain proportions, as a skinny tie may just highlight the difference between your upper and lower body.
Overall: For all the athletic gentlemen out there, you are going to be amazed at what proper fit can do for your physique. You have worked hard and put in the time and sweat to get a fit body, now you can emphasize it without covering it all up in unneeded fabric! Find clothing specifically made for you, something like “Athletic cut” that many brands have finally began making in recent years, or simply go custom for a perfect fit! Once you get your fit and measurements down, it is as easy as minor tweaks if your body changes, or simply ordering different fabrics and details with your stored measurements!
If you don’t neatly fit into one of these categories, that’s okay! Feel free to leave a comment, send me a picture, or shoot me a private message on Instagram – I’m more than happy to help! Thanks for reading along.
Stay Dapper, friends.