Reader Submission: Fitted Pants for the Muscular Man

This time our reader submission comes by way of question instead of showing what he already has.

I’m one of those men who has recently seen the light and is now upgrading my wardrobe, but I’m running into a problem that I thought you might be able to help me with. I’m an athletically built guy… broader shoulders but a skinny waist, and legs that can’t fit into skinny (or sometimes even slim) jeans. It’s not like I’m built like a stocky linebacker type, but more like a swimmer. My problem is finding pants that fit for a summer look. When I wear pants for the summer and try to roll the cuffs up, or try on the styles of pants that would be considered appropriate for such a look, I look like a ridiculous inverted triangle….very top heavy (because I have broader shoulders and a long torso) balanced on stick legs (even though my legs aren’t that skinny). I notice in perusing most summer looks/links that most of the looks features guys that are pretty straight up and down, so the slim fits and cuffed pants work for them, but seem to make me look kind of silly. So any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated on what to look for in pants for summer on a person built such as myself. If it helps at all, I’m going for the upscale yet casual European Mediterranean summer look (as I’ll be spending my summer in southern Spain…so warm weather pants are what I’m after as I think I look normal in shorts). Thank you for your time.


So there are two good questions in here. First is how to wear flattering pants when you are built instead of slim, and second is what to wear during a summer in the Mediterranean. I’ll answer the second question in another post later today.

Believe it or not, finding pants that look good for a man with built legs is not as hard as it seems. The only real problem is that nothing will look good off the rack. Whatever you get, you’ll have to take it to a tailor.

When most men think of getting their pants slimmed down the first thing that comes to mind is the size of the cuff openings. They believe if those are slim, then they’re set. Unfortunately, it’s actually the exact opposite. A well-fitting pair of pants is determined by how well they adhere to your thighs and your ass.

Here’s what I recommend R and any other reader do to solve the problem of looking disproportionate on bottom.

Buy a pair of pants that absolutely fit you in the waist and look as good in the thighs as you can. I’d even suggest dragging a chair or a lady friend into the dressing room to put in front of yourself from the shins down so you don’t get distracted by how the lower portions look. If you can’t find anything that’s ideal in the thighs, get as close as you can, you’re going to have to visit a tailor regardless.

When you go in to your tailor let him know the problems that you’ve had in the past as far as your pants fitting. He’ll have you put on the pants and then start pinning them up. This is where you have to be assertive, especially if you don’t have a relationship established with the man. Take all the time you need to get things fitting correctly. When I’m getting pants done, I’ll even swing my legs up into my just and jump around to make sure his pinning wouldn’t restrict any movement. The ideal balance is to have the pants follow your thighs and show off their size without reflecting their movement. You also want him to pin up any excess fabric in the seat so it doesn’t look like you have a soggy diaper on.

After you have the thighs where you want them, you can start playing with everything below the knees. If you’re worried about looking like an inverted triangle, I recommend having your pants go straight down instead of adhering to the shape of your legs. This will add more visual weight to your legs and help balance them out, but having the thighs fit properly will still ensure your pants look like they fit well instead of seeming baggy or sloppy.

Bigger guys are also the only time I recommend a boot cut and this is even more true for jeans. You don’t want it to be excessive, but the little bit of flair at the bottom creates a balance of weight with broad shoulders.

As far as the break goes, I wouldn’t recommend going with no break. I’d say a slight break and if you ever roll your pants up, make sure you get them half way up your calves instead of just above your ankles.

Say what you will about Tim Tebow but his style has been slowly improving. I know this shot isn’t the best, but look at how his pants follow the line of his thighs but are loser in his calves.

I also recommend taking some cues from the king of style in the sports world – Lebron James

In that second one compare how James looks to how Jay Z does. It’s all about the length, and the fit in the thighs.

And here’s a good shot of Dwayne Wade.

All these guys are wearing pants that would look baggy on a skinnier guy, but because they thighs fit, the bagginess of the cuffs looks good and gives them the right proportions.

Take pictures like these into your tailor when you go visit him. Let him know what your problems are and you’ll be able to find a workaround that looks good.