How to dress for your body shape
Whether you are tall and sleek (or wide) or short and slender (or stocky), choose clothes that accentuate your body shape and you’ll always look elegant. In fact, selecting the right fit and style can make you look taller and slimmer. What’s not to like about that?
There’s nothing worse than a short man in a tall man’s suit or vice versa. Looking like you’ve borrowed your suit from a mate (or your dad) is a mistake all too often made in the world of suiting. So we felt it was time to address the elephant in the room and talk about suiting up the right way for your body shape.
SHORT AND SKINNY
If you’re short and slim, your suit must be a fitted style that hugs the contours of the body, especially the shoulders. This presents you with a taller looking silhouette which is, of course, a good thing.
Showing a little cuff gives the impression of longer limbs. There’s a fine line here, however, because if you show too much, it accentuates the shortness of your arms.
This is a fine example of how a master tailor can create just the right illusion of additional height by adjusting the jacket sleeve to the perfect length. Pair this with a jacket length that finishes at the bottom of your buttocks and you’ll be rocking your sartorial style while flattering your body shape.
Vertical patterns, like pinstripes, draw the eye up, which makes you look taller. However, if pinstripes or patterns are not your style, you can achieve the same effect by going with a monochromatic colour scheme, which creates the illusion of a taller silhouette. Finish the look with a pocket square as this draws the eyes up and keeps the focus on your face.
SHORT AND STOCKY
If you’re short and stocky, your goal is to look taller and slimmer. You can achieve this by choosing a simple look with plain block colours.
When choosing patterns, resist the urge to use too many vertical stripes. A patterned shirt is fine but when paired with a suit, the stripes may bend in the wrong places drawing attention to your girth.
Some other tips are to:
- Choose smaller shoulder pads to balance the overall look.
- Wear trousers high on the waist to give the impression of longer legs.
- Wear a jacket that is fitted at the waist and slightly flared at the bottom for the illusion of an hourglass figure (yes guys have that too).
- Avoid checks and square patterns as they may create the appearance of chunkiness.
TALL AND SKINNY
When you’re tall and skinny, doesn’t it seem like others envy you or inundate you with comments like “I wish I was skinny like you?” If they only knew how difficult it is to get a good fit!
Here’s some suggestions for ways to look “bulkier” and shorter by adding horizontal elements to your suit such as stripes on your tie, check patterns, or optical illusions.
For example, at first glance, you might think the buttons on the waistcoat in the image above would just add to your height, but the key here is balancing the look proportionally by pairing the jacket and waistcoat with odd trousers. The eye is automatically drawn to the V in the bottom of the waistcoat and the portion of the belt buckle peeking through. This creates a horizontal line bisecting the body at midpoint and making you look shorter and wider.
Here’s some other tips:
- Broad belts add the appearance of more bulk than braces do.
- Waistcoats add the illusion of bulk.
- Trousers cuffs make the legs look shorter; they can be wider than usual but keep them in proportion to your height.
- Thicker shoulder pads add more mass to your frame but should still fit correctly.
- Jackets should hang midway down your buttocks, thus appearing to shorten the length of your legs.
- Peaked lapels provide a broadening effect that once again adds that all important bulk.
TALL AND WIDE
Choosing the right styles and fabric patterns to flatter your body type when you’re tall and wide can be challenging, because the same elements that make you look shorter (think horizontal patterns and accessorizing techniques) will make you look wider. So what’s a gent to do?
While it may seem difficult, it’s not impossible, and we’re here to help with some expert advice based on our years of experience in helping clients dress for success.
Our top tips for this category are:
- Lighter shoulder padding will showcase your build rather than exaggerating it.
- Solid colours are fine as patterns can draw attention to your width.
- The fit must be tight on your muscles yet looser on your thinner parts. This keeps the body in proportion.
- Lapels and pockets should be wider so as not to look undersized in your wider frame.
Unfortunately, the fact is that many off the racks suits are designed with the average build man in mind.
Truth be told, if you are wider, shorter, or taller than the average bloke, you’re going to be best off working with a tailor who can provide you with both expert advice and a killer suit that fits your body type like our style experts at Montagio Custom Tailoring.