A "Real Man's" Guide to Fit

Let’s face it guys, developing personal style can be scary.  We see these impossibly framed guys, you know the ones, — 6’2”, 140 Lbs., all arms, legs and torso – looking great in lookbooks, catalogues, and runways and although we may love the looks, we feel too intimidated to even attempt pulling it off.  So what do we do?  We fall back on “comfy” clothes and take on an attitude of just not caring. Well, let me tell you, just because you don’t care about your appearance, doesn’t mean your boss / exclusive restaurant host / girlfriend /colleagues don't.  No matter the body type, for better or worse, people will judge you on how you are put together, so it’s up to you to project the image you want perceived.  Sure, you can cite a certain internet billionaire’s dressed down lack of style as the new norm, but unless you’re a Harvard drop out with a gazillion-dollar invention, then you probably don’t want to hurt your chances of succeeding in this world by not caring about your appearance.

The biggest problem men come to me with – as far as wardrobing themselves goes – is that they feel like modern clothes aren’t cut for “real men.”  Real men who play sports, go to the gym, like heavy food, and drink beer.   And it's true, many of today’s styles don’t have “real men” in mind, but with a little understanding and education, I would argue that most of the current styles will translate perfectly on a “real man” frame.

So, here are a few tips to make your next shopping experience a little more friendly:

1. Wear clothes that fit.  Seems simple enough, right guys?  But no.  Most men don’t know their own sizes and certainly don’t know how to fit their bodies.  Just because you’re packing some bulk (whether muscle or gut, I won’t judge) doesn’t mean you should wear oversized clothes.  More fabric means more bulk making you look bigger, magnifying the things you’d rather hide.  Moreover, baggy clothes make you look young and sloppy.  Suits or jeans, it doesn’t matter.  Make sure they fit slim but not tight.  Conversely, clothes that are too tight to enhance your muscular appearance, they make you looked squeezed into clothes that don’t fit.  Again, slim tailored clothing will accentuate all the hard work you’ve put in at the gym without making you look like you’re in a superhero costume.  Take a look at Lebron in his suit compared with Raja Bell in his.  Who do you think looks more put together?

Make sure you clothes fit slim, but not tight.

2. Pick you patterns.  Not every pattern looks good on all body types.  Checks, plaids, and horizontal stripes make you look wider.  Vertical stripes, herringbones, and any other type of vertical pattern will give height and make you look leaner.  So, it would follow that if you spend most of your time in the gym doing heavy lifting and you were once a lineman on your college football team, horizontal sailor stripes are not for you.  Lastly, you bigger guys should stay away from busier patterns.  A small detail is a bigger detail on a bigger guy.

Which leads us to:

3. Proportion, proportion, proportion. A slim lapel looks pretty darn narrow on size 44 plus jacket.  A really wide lapel looks ridiculously wide on a size 44 plus jacket.  So what do you do?  Well, if you want a slim streamlined look, grab a jacket with around a 2 3/4” lapel.  It’ll look pretty traditional in a small size, but on a broader frame, it’ll look slim without looking wrong.  If you want a fuller, more macho look, go full, just not too full.  There’s a fine line between broad masculinity and 1970’s Burt Reynolds machismo.  Make sure you’re on the right side of that line.  Tie knots and width should follow the same basic rules, as should shirt collar sizes.  Big tie, big collar, big guy.  Skinny tie, small collar, slim guy.  But remember, no matter the build, too far in any direction will look bad on all body types.  See on Lebron here, the medium width tie and full faced watch actually look realtively slim and sleek.

4. Casual doesn’t mean sloppy.  The rules of fit are pretty well established when it comes to suiting and although far too many men wear their suits a size too big, it’s an area that’s been talked about to death and even covered in one of my earlier blog posts.  However, when it comes to casual clothes far too many people throw all the rules out the window.  Saturday is not an excuse to where pajamas in public.  Once again, clothes that fit the body are the key here.  Big or small, you look best in clothes that fit you and that means jeans, button ups, t shirts, and casual jackets should be your size.  If the shoulder seam on your casual shirt is halfway down your bicep, then your shirt is too big.  Period.  Find a shirt that fits your body, don’t try to make the shirt you found fit.  It’s a losing battle.  And remember, people will still judge you on the weekends and you never know who you’ll bump into, so it would behoove you to try and always look your best.

So with these basic guidelines in place, hopefully your next shopping experience will be a little more pleasant.  Not every store will carry something for everyone and not every designer will cut clothes that fit you even if you love their concepts.  But, with some basic understanding of fit, proportion, one’s own body, and of course some patience,   I’m pretty sure you’ll be looking your best.