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How to Dress Sharp for Your Body Type

by nick

Tall, short, fat, thin or muscular; men come in all shapes and sizes so it’s very important that every man knows how to dress that best compliments his individual body type. It’s surprising how many men I see failing to dress appropriately in relation to their body type; a few examples, short men wearing suits that are too baggy, large men wearing shirts that are about to burst at the seams, tall men wearing clothes that emphasize their height. To dress properly, it’s important that we de-emphasize our physical flaws. Let me be clear – no suit is going to make you look 2 foot taller; but you can reduce the attention paid to certain physical features and thus downplay their significance.

The Man of Average Build

Let’s start with the average guy that’s neither tall, nor short; neither too heavy, nor thin. Most clothing seems to fit him and everything looks great on his frame. If this guy is you, think yourself lucky, dress sharp, pay attention to your complexion/fabric combinations, and dress correctly for the occasion.

The Short Man

The short man should go for a streamline outfit to allow the onlooker a smooth path from the shoes to the face. Short men should avoid horizontal lines, whether it be in a suit or a subtle line design across the chest. Vertical lines, particularly thin ones close together should find their way into your selection of clothes.

One of the main problems a short man faces is that his head often appears larger than it should in proportion to the rest of his body. To offset this, he needs to ensure that his hairstyle does not exaggerate his heads width. He should also build out his jacket’s shoulders and always wear a matching jacket and trousers – a light/dark combination only cuts you in half. His jacket should be as short as possible (just covering his backside) as a long jacket will make his legs look shorter. He should show some cuff to lengthen the look of his arms. He should avoid wearing fat ties and wide lapels to avoid overwhelming his frame –slim ties and peak lapels is are better options as they’ll help elongate his physique. The short man should also consider wearing square-toed shoes. Long shoes or really big bulky ones will look disproportional. He should wear a pair of shoes with a substantial heel. Dress boots are a great option for shorter men, and there are plenty of styles available that can be paired with a suit. To make himself seem taller, he should wear dress boots with a longer pant leg with very little break that comes closer to the floor to disguise the heel.

The Tall Man

The tall man should avoid wearing clothes that make him appear taller, such as tight-fitting clothing. In addition, he should also avoid suits with oversize, padded shoulders as it’ll make him look frailer, not bigger. Fabric choice is important; checks and windowpane fabrics are excellent choices as the horizontal lines of these patterns help the tall man appear more substantial. Tall men can still wear stripes, however, they should consider patterns that are more spaced apart for example, chalk stripes.

Suit style features that help make a tall man look more proportional include lighter colors that add width to a narrow frame, larger trouser break that ensures that his legs don’t look too long, a jacket with high cut lapels, and accessories that cut across his body, such as, a belt, a pocket square and a horizontally striped tie with a bit of width.  As for shoes, a tall man’s height can be balanced by wearing shoe that is square-toed. He should avoid wearing pointed-toe shoes that will make his legs look even longer, while round-toe shoes will make him look disproportionate.

The Heavy Man

Men that are overweight whose waists are larger than their chests have the constant problem of finding clothes that hide the fact they’re big. What fits the heavy man in the shoulders is often too small in the waist. Therefore, the heavy man should try to find a jacket with a large cut and a complimenting drape. He should avoid wearing baggy clothing, which can make a large man look even bulkier. He should choose clothing that is form fitting, but not too tight. Clothing should skim over his body, so as to not to draw attention to self-conscious areas. It’s better to have a loose fit around the midsection instead of compacting it all in. A man that’s overweight cannot hide his size, but his clothing can help refocus others attention to his face.

The heavy man should choose vertical lines and dark colors as it creates the impression of height and thin the silhouette, which will lessen the attention on the midsection. As for style, he should opt for a two button jacket with a deep V to lengthen the chest. Peak lapels on a single breasted suit will help stretch his physique. Single vented jackets are best as double vented will draw attention to his rear and make it look too big or bulky. He should avoid super skinny ties as they’ll look disproportional. Wearing a pocket square will bring the focus on his chest and not his gut. A man with a large midsection should wear trousers above the hip so they cover the bottom of the stomach and give the impression of longer legs. Wearing suspenders should be considered. It will help float the waist and avoid having to choose between strapping the pants above or below his belly.

The Thin Man

The thin man needs to add weight to his body, so fabric choice is important. Tweed is a great fabric as it’ll add some body to his frame and he should choose horizontal lines. A tall man needs to wary of his clothing’s fit – slim fit will only emphasize his narrow frame while loose-fitting will amplify his lean structure. He should look to overlap layers in subtle ways such as a double breasted jacket and double pleated trousers with cuffs. The thin man should pay attention to his shirts fit, especially in the neck( two fingers only) and wrists (shouldn’t be able to slip the cuffs off without unbuttoning them).Even wearing a pocket square and a spread collar will give him a little more bulk.

The Muscular Man

Suits that fit a muscular man in the shoulders and chest are always too large in the stomach area. If he does find a suit that can be tailored, he then has the problem of his lower body looking disproportioned. The muscular man’s aim is to tone down his upper body while increasing the presence of his lower half to create an integrated, natural appearance.

The muscular man needs to choose a suit jacket that has minimal padding in the shoulder area. Since he’ll already have a broad chest and shoulders, jackets that have padding will increase the size of the chest and make the waist and lower body look too narrow. Muscular men should also look for jackets with larger lapels to make their chest appear more proportional to the lower body.  Pleated trousers offer more room in the seat area which provides more bulk to the hips and balances out the width of the chest and shoulders. A heavier shoe with some design can also make the lower body appear more proportioned. Finally, for men that have a lean upper body and a muscular lower body, I recommend trousers that are carefully tailored around the hips. Waistbands should be comfortable and not too tight, otherwise pockets will bulge out.

Suit Your Shape  – Conclusion

Compared to women’s bodies, men definitely have fewer curves. However, variation does exist and knowing how to dress for your body type as well as knowing how not to dress is essential in improving your overall appearance. Remember that an expensive suit will look bad if it isn’t right for your body shape. Likewise a cheaper suit  that highlights your assets and hides the things you’re  self-conscious about will look great, even without the hefty price tag. If you want to learn what to wear and how to dress right for any occasion, I recommend you read The Handsome Factor by Mark Belmont. He tells you exactly how to do that and more!

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