Know Your Body Type To Get The Fit
Here's a list of fairly typical men's shapes. Be honest and figure out which comes closest to describing you:
ATHLETIC: Stocky, muscular, bulky.
SHORT: Uh, well, short. Like, 5' 6" or under.
TALL: Above 6'4", tall enough to know your friends by their topknots.
HEAVY: This is the polite word for fat.
THIN: And this is the nice word for skinny .
IMPORTANT! You may fit two of these categories -- i.e., Short and Heavy or Tall and Athletic, so go with your best guess as to which you most closely resemble.
You can also refer to the other sections of this guide and combine the tips shown to see what works, and looks best for you.
ATHLETIC Body Type
Large Chest, Small Waist -- Must endure lots of envy!
Suit Style: There are special "athletic" styles sold with larger drops -- or you can purchase matching jacket and trousers separately. A drop is the difference between the jacket size and pants, by the way. Usually suits have a six-inch drop which means a 46 suit may have trousers that are 40" in the waist.
Two-button, single-breasted suits are best.
Jacket: If your weight is in your torso, then a ventless jacket can have a slimming effect. Boxy or straight cuts are flattering. Shoulder padding should be natural.
Patterns and Colors: Suits for guys with athletic shapes require dark colors and subtle or no patterns. When you wear a sports jacket and slacks, you can use a dark blazer with lighter color trousers if you have a broad chest and shoulders or if you own a body with a broad bottom and less developed upper body try a light blazer (camel) and dark slacks.
Fabrics: Medium or lightweight fabrics work better than anything bulky.
Shirts and Ties: Try a straight point collar rather than a spread collar. Vertical stripes work well.
Trousers: See body types below and the colors section above.
Accessories: Try braces (suspenders) to hold up your pants, unless you are barrel-chested. The vertical lines of a pair of braces helps reduce your chest bulk.
Topcoats: Single breasted with set-in sleeves will look good on you.
SHORT Body Type
Some of the most famous men in history were short.
Suit Style: Pick two or three-button single breasted. You can also wear Double Breasted suits, just button the lower button (like the Duke of Kent). This gives you a longer line in front and provides a taller look. Four-button, double-breasted jackets may be better than six to draw less attention to the upper body.
Jacket: Fit is crucial for the short man since every detail -- sleeve length, jacket length (should cover your bottom), pants length will make you look that much dapper. Center or side vents add a vertical line. Avoid pocket flaps and wide lapels; they add a horizontal line. Slightly built up shoulders will add height.
Patterns and Colors: Anything that elongates is good, like the vertical effect of pinstripes, chalkstripes and herringbones. If you opt for patterns try small or medium size. When you wear a sports jacket make sure there is little contrast between the jacket and trousers. A high contrast can cut you in half.
Fabrics: Light or medium weight.
Shirts and Ties: The shirt collars best for you are the straight point, button down or tab collars. Vertically stripes will be an asset. No bow ties. Ties should go to the belt buckle to avoid a horizontal gap and bold tie colors to accent your face are a good idea. Tie a four-in-hand knot for best proportion rather than the wider Windsor knots.
Trousers: Medium break on the trouser bottoms.
Cuffs are fine, just have your tailor make them 1- 1.25" instead of 1.5-2".
Accessories: Braces also give you a vertical line.
Topcoats: Make sure it is knee length, again for a vertical line.
Hair: Short hair works best. Long hair hides the neck and shoulders and can make a man look smaller.
TALL Body Type
How's the weather up there?
Suit Style: Two-button, single-breasted suits. Double-breasted suits can look great if you button the middle (waist) button. Look for suits in "Tall" size styles, they will have a longer jacket length and a long rise in the trousers.
Jacket: Shoulders should be squared, slightly padded and the fit at the waist should be loose or straight. Flapped pockets will add a horizontal line to the jacket. The length can be slightly longer than just covering your rear.
Patterns and Colors: Plaids (like glenurguhart) or patterns in medium to large size you can wear well, but avoid stripes. You can contrast your slacks and sportcoat since you're looking for horizontal lines. Try bold patterns in your sweaters or casual shirts.
Fabrics: You are lucky in you can successfully wear medium to heavy weight fabrics. Even bulky fabrics like tweeds look good on you.
Shirts and Ties: A wide spread collar and wide knot like the Windsor or half-Windsor work well as do button down and club (rounded) collars, but avoid long point collars. With a long neck tab or pin-collars work well. Try horizontal stripes on ties and shirts. And shirt patterns such as Tattersall, checks, plaid suit you when appropriate.
Trousers: Make sure you have a long rise pant. It will fit and look much better. Cuffed trousers with a full break-high water pants look even worse on tall guys. You can have your tailor make your cuffs a little wider than the usual one-inch; try 1.5".
Accessories: Belts are good (horizontal line again) and you can contrast belt and suit or trouser colors.
Topcoats: Well tailored double breasted or any loose fitting coat. Ragland sleeves are good too.
HEAVY body type
To be heavy was a sign of wealth in the 20's. Aw, for those days again!
Suit Style: A three-button jacket will add height, but if that's not a problem, a two-button will work also. Double-breasted jackets are good if you are heavy in your chest; the double row of buttons can cut away thickness. Look for suit styles in "portly" (the "drop" -- or size difference -- between the jacket and pant waist in portly sizes is two inches) or "stout" (the drop in stouts is zero inches) sizes, depending on how the suit fits your body.
Jacket: Slanted, flapless pockets add to the vertical look. Avoid extra width in lapels. Slightly padded shoulders, straight sides and center vents. Avoid ventless jackets if you're wide in the rear (side vents can also emphasize the wideness). Tight fitting clothes accentuate bulges. Avoid tightness in the upper chest and shoulders. Think roomy -- but definitely not baggy.
Fabrics: Medium or light weight fabrics, avoid anything bulky (like tweed).
Patterns and Colors: Vertical stripes play up height and slenderize. Simple patterns or solids in dark colors. Bold patterns expand anything they wrap. Utilize the same color tones in sportcoats and slacks. Too much contrast breaks up the important vertical line.
Black, charcoal gray and navy, aside from being classic suit colors that command authority, acutally distance you from your observers and tend to unload some cargo! Dark, cool muted colors can make you appear 10 pounds slimmer.
In sportswear, blue and green witll also have slimming power. Conversely, steer clear of warm hues like red, yellow and orange. These colors bring you closer and bulk you up.
Shirts and Ties: The collars to avoid are spread, tab or pin and club (round) collars. Regular point collars are best. No bow ties please. Go easy on tie patterns. Make sure the tie hits your belt buckle to avoid that horizontal gap. Even in casual wear, long sleeves help with proportion and will look better.
Trousers: Wear your pants on your natural waist (in line with your belly button). Wearing your pants under the belly just highlights it. Pleated pants which are a style must for everyone else are a requirement for you.
Andy's Heavy Advice: Avoid carrying anything in your back pockets. Not just big guys, either. This piece of advice can be heeded by all men since there are nerves that go through that area. Sitting on a bulky billfold can cause nerve and muscle damage that can lead to back pain. Clean out your billfold. If you still have lots of stuff you just can't do without, buy two thin wallets, carry one in each of your front trousers pockets. You can even sort the important stuff (Driver's Licence, credit cards, big cash) from the insignificant (little cash) and hand over the insignificant wallet if you ever get mugged!!
Accessories: Vests work if they are the same dark color as your suit. Contrasting vests would draw attention to your middle. Avoid bold belt buckles which can act like a bull's eye pointing attention like an arrow at your waist. Wide belts make you look wider. Braces add another vertical line and may help hold the pants at the natural waist.
Topcoats: Single-breasted with a set-in sleeve is best.
THIN body type
Oh, to be in the shape your in!
Suit Style: Either single breasted two-button or double breasted suits work fine.
Jackets: Try softly padded shoulders, wider lapels (such as peak lapels), and double vents. Your suit should fit easily, almost loosely. Patch and flap pockets will help unless you are both short and thin.
Fabrics: Any bulky or hefty weave (tweeds, for example, or flannels) will add to your size.
Pattern and Color: Patterns will give you some width. Avoid vertical stripes. Contrasting sports jacket and slacks create a horizontal line.
Lighter, warm colors have the illusion of bringing you closer to your observers and tends to bulk you up. We're not advocating orange suits for you, but in sportswear you might want to add some color in your sweater and shirt wardrobe.
Shirts and Ties: A spread collar tends to broaden the face and a wide knot will help to accentuate the horizontal line. Avoid long point collars. If you have a long neck try a tab or pin collar. Wide ties and bold patterns and color are fine. Horizontal stripe shirts and ties. Avoid vertical stripes.
Trousers: Cuff width depend upon if you are Thin and Tall or Thin and Short. If you're tall, cuffs with 1 3/4" work well, just a little more than the usual 1 1/2" cuff. If you're Thin and Short try 1 1/4" cuffs.
Accessories: Vests and V-neck sweaters add bulk. Belts help cut the vertical line.
Topcoats: Raglan sleeves and double breasted styles are good if you are thin and tall.
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