I received a request after posting my Menswear Style Guide to do a little edit for the “huskier” male. Reading that comment was slightly shocking to me since I am usually so conscious of trying to adapt fashion, specifically womenswear, to curvier figures.
How silly of me to exclude men from that equation! So, this post is dedicated to all of my real life, huskier, stockier men. Fashion is frequently catered to skinny little waif men and women, and it’s important to remember that some of the greatest style icons of our time were not little skinny pixies but, in fact, people who could quite literally fill a room.
I’m no mens (or women’s) fashion expert, so I often look to celebrities for fashion tips. My best advice would be to find a male celebrity with a similar body shape to you, and look at their Google images page and see what looks of theirs you think look both good and bad on them. This is a good way to get a more unbiased view at your own figure. I do this with Mindy Kaling, as we are similar in shape, and I’ve learned more about my own body and what’s flattering by looking at hers. If you’re clueless about what kind of body type you have, I can sort of narrow it down for you. A few types generally fit everyone: 1) both broad and tall, think Vince Vaughn, Liam Neeson, or Samuel L Jackson; 2) short and stockier, think Jonah Hill or Jack Black; 3) average height but a little thick around the midsection, think Gerard Butler (now), Matt Damon (circa The Informant) or Josh Peck (circa Drake & Josh); or the often forgotten 4) “you just generally take up more room than the average human due to bone structure or muscle mass”, think Patrick Dempsey, Seth Rogen, or Jon Hamm. (Yeah I color coordinated this whole thing in case you’re lazy).
Hopefully you identified with one of those guys. If not, these tips will be more pick and choose style. Figure out what you’ve got going on up top and down below and apply the guidelines I’m about to pull out of nowhere.
Nothing will emphasize your problem areas like a piece of cheap fabric stretched over your body. If you’re bigger in the shoulders and smaller in the waist, buy your shirts to fit you in the shoulders. The waist can be taken in/tucked in. If you’re bigger in the tummy area, buy your shirts with a little extra room around the waist.
One tip for guys with a little bit of a bigger midsection is to buy shirts with defined shoulders. Your shoulder seam should be right on the edge of your shoulder bone. Round shoulders will draw the eye down to the larger part of your body. Along the same lines, (no pun intended), vertical lines are your friend IF THE SHIRT FITS. The beautiful illusion provided by vertical lines is nothing if the lines are curved because your shirt is too small. In addition, don’t buy things too big either. A good rule of thumb is that if you can sit down and feel like the fabric doesn’t pull too tight anywhere, and also not feel like you’re swimming, you’re on the right track. You know what feels comfortable.
Regarding patterns, the larger you are, the smaller your pattern should be. If you’re going with a plaid or flannel shirt, the size of the squares should be a little smaller and based in darker colors if you’re trying to appear smaller/narrower in the waist or shoulders. If you’re tall, horizontal stripes can help to visually shorten your torso. If you want to look longer, wear lines that draw the eye up, if you want to appear shorter, wear lines that draw the eye out.
One last word about collars and necklines. If you have a wider or chubbier neck, or a double chin, don’t button up all the way. Showing that little v-shape of skin will create the illusion of a longer and slimmer neck.
Last but not least for the top half we have outerwear. Coats/Jackets/Cardigans/Blazers are your best friend if you’re trying to dress a larger body. They can be used super strategically to make the best of your body type.
If you are wearing a coat the most important things to look for are warmth (obviously) and fit. If you’re broad and tall, get a long coat that stops around the mid-thigh area. This will create the illusion that you have shorter legs, making you look more proportionate. Peacoats are a great option for you. If you’re short and stockier, get a coat that stops right at or under your hips. This will, oppositely, create the illusion that you have longer legs. Styles that work especially well for this are those that have a section at the bottom edge that is tighter, think bomber leather jackets and varsity jackets. If you’re average height with a bit of a stomach, get a coat that cuts off just at or below your butt. It will cover up your midsection but also create a visual line down your body that will help to look slimming. If you’re just a bigger person in general, I’d go for a knee length or mid thigh length coat with an open collar.
With a blazer, the most important thing to look at are the shoulders. It’s really important when you’re wearing a blazer that the shoulder seam comes right at the end of your shoulder. If it’s too long, it will make you look bigger than you are.
If you’re tall and broad, I suggest a darker colored blazer, like the one Vince Vaughn is wearing here. Something that comes down almost over you’r butt will make your legs look a little shorter and your upper half feel smaller. If you’re the shorter, stocky type, a shorter blazer will help your legs to appear longer. See the one on Josh Peck above or the one below. If your midsection isn’t a problem, I’d also button one button in the middle of the blazer to show off your waist. If you’re bigger around the middle, I suggest leaving your blazer open, but getting one that does close. Leaving the blazer unbuttoned will draw your eye to the line of fabric you can see in the middle, creating a slimming illusion. . If you’re broader in general, a blazer with a low top button, like the one on Patrick Dempsey, will elongate your torso and help to balance your broad shoulders. Also, the grey one below is a good option as well if you want to break out of blacks.
Let me know what you guys thought of this! I know I didn’t get to touch on pants or bottoms in general because there’s just so much to say about all of this so if you’d like a part two let me know!