Dressing the (Larger)Man
Contrary to what you see in men’s magazines and on your girlfriend’s Pinterest page, not all men are either rail thin or built like an Olympic gymnast. Furthermore, while this is the goal for many, there are a lot of men who take pride in their overall heftiness. For those men, and those who don’t necessarily feel great about carrying around the extra pounds, it can be difficult to find clothes that fit well and in a flattering way.
When most people think of larger men, unfortunately they think of this:
Thankfully, it’s nowhere near impossible to dress well as a big guy – even if it is a bit more difficult. Here are a few basic guidelines to get you going.
- The first thing is to embrace the fact that you’re larger. Work out and start lifting but accept that you’re a bigger man. Being a relatively-small guy myself, I can tell you that larger men are physically dominating and intimidating. Keep this already-existing masculine frame in mind as it can be attractive to women and command more respect from other men.
- Next is to have everything either custom-made or tailored to fit you properly. Don’t make the mistake of believing a larger body is flattered by baggy clothing. You can still wear slim-fitting, well-tailored clothes to keep you looking sharp and well put together. Any excess fabric will make you look sloppy and this is especially punishing on a bigger guy.
- Stick with two-button jackets and suit coats and opt for a lower stance as this creates a deeper V shape with your lapels and will draw people’s eyes towards your face. You want the button to sit directly on your belly instead of on top or beneath it. This will slim you down a bit without detracting from your overall size and strength. Remember to keep that jacket buttoned unless you’re sitting down.
- Don’t untuck your button-up shirts. This is another big-guy fallacy and it’s a costly one. Think of a circus tent – that’s what it looks like.
- Wear flat-front pants. Yes you can still wear pleated pants but they’re in that in-between stage of looking like grandpa or being extremely fashion forward. Flat front pants can still fit and flatter you well and they’ll look current without being trendy.
- Wear a pocket square. It draws the eye upwards and away from your belly.
- Opt for angled hip pockets in your jackets. These also draw the eye upward and can visually slim you while keeping people focused on your face.
- Vertical stripes in larger options like a bengal or butcher stripe shirts and a chalk stripe suit are your best friend.
- Go with peak lapels. They give more visual heft to your shoulders and help make you look stronger and larger overall instead of just in the gut.
- Avoid skinny ties and skinny lapels. They don’t slim you down, they accentuate your size and make you look larger. That doesn’t mean you need to wear massive, five-inch ties from the 70′s, but don’t look for skinny stuff either.
- Look for shorter collars. Guys with more weight in their face and neck often feel choked by a normal collar height. A shorter collar will look flattering without feeling like a noose.
- Try suspenders. A belt will visually cut you in half – which adds more visual weight. A belt will also force you to either wear your pants beneath your gut – which makes your legs look like a stuffed sausage, or above it – which makes you look like an old man. Suspenders keep your pants where they should be and mean you don’t have to cinch them up because they’re being carried by your shoulders.
- Go with slim or straight-cut jeans and chinos. Loose and relaxed fits are sloppy.
- Wear shoes with a substantial sole. They still need to be nicely-rounded toes made of a quality leather, but a heavier sole will help anchor your overall look. There isn’t much dainty about you and your shoes shouldn’t be either.
- Keep your hair short and well-groomed. If you wear facial hair, keep it nice and trimmed as well.
Like it or not, you have one, very significant assumption you have to fight against – the belief that large men are large because they’re lazy and sloppy. Even if this is true, you’re reading this site and wanting to dress better because you’re improving yourself. The best advice I can offer to big guys is to always dress one step above the situation. This means you show up to Sunday dinner with your family in a button-up shirt with either a sweater or a blazer. No one should see you in a T-shirt unless you are performing some serious manual labor.
Follow the guidelines above and you can go from a Big Lebowski look to something much more classic and flattering, even if you don’t opt for a three-piece suit all the time.