How to Dress For Your Body Type

While we often associate the ladies with dressing for their figures, guys could use just as much help. No matter if you’re into shopping at a premium boutique or your local mall, any well-dressed man will tell you that it always comes down to fit. There’s nothing more uncomfortable (or more unflattering) than wearing clothes that don’t fit your body correctly.

With this in mind, we’ve isolated four general body types (emphasis on general), and the strategies that will help each type of guy, regardless of size or shape, look great. Before you go insane, understand that these are general rules of advice. We understand that the body profiles are broad descriptions, and like anything in life, every body is different—so when it comes to this advice, take it with a grain of salt. That said, this is How to Dress For Your Body Type.

Before we begin, understand what certain cuts of clothing do to your body.

A few basic points before we get into it. No matter what your body type, certain prints and cuts will do things (visually) to any silhouette that will expand or reduce the size of a particular attribute.

Repeating, thin, vertical lines? They’ll slim you. Patterned pants? They’ll make your legs smaller. Skinny jeans? They widen the torso and midsection as they trim the leg.

Remember that any advice given to you on this topic is a blanket statement, but also that recommendations for certain clothes in relation to a particular body type is all about an aesthetic give-and-take. Certain things work better for specific body types because they enhance the positive and detract from the negative. Keep that in mind as we go forward.

Type 1: The Average Build

Let’s start with a blank slate. Reasonable height for your respective age, broad shoulders with a taper down to the waist. This is what likely leaps to your mind when you think of the “average American build.” Shoulders are broader than the midsection, and the legs are lean, but still with definition. While we can’t speak for every guy (literally, every body is different), you’re likely the type that hits the gym occasionally, and aren’t bulking up. Muscles are defined, but not overtly athletic.

When it comes to dressing your body, you probably have the easier time than others. Basically, there’s a natural visual balance between your upper body and your waist, so wearing something slightly oversized (like drapey shirt) or something slightly skinny (like stacked slim jeans) aren’t going to mess up your visual proportions too much. Unlike the other general body shapes on this list, the “trapezoid shaped” guy is also quite flexible when it comes to wearing prints. While there’s usually general rules regarding what body types should avoid horizontal or vertical stripes, this shape has the visual balance to pull off either while not appearing stretched out (in the case of vertical stripes) or widened (in the case of horizontal stripes).

More to the point, you have slight definition, so emphasize it to make you look lean and athletic.

If you’re dressing up for formal events, keep your trousers tapered, and your jackets too. This will emphasize the outline of your shape in a positive way, without leaving you with a billowing bottom half, or busting out of the lapels of your jacket.

Type 2: The Inverted Triangle

Simply put, this is the athlete. This shape is similar to the trapezoid shape that the “average” build may have, but with more extreme proportions. Moderate to heavy muscle definition means that your shoulders are broad; with a narrow, defined waist, and muscular arms and legs.

While slimmer guys may find that they can throw on a medium shirt right off the rack and walk out, you need some extra assistance when it comes to shirting. Considering your chest is broad, the conventional wisdom is that you should wear a v-neck. In theory, this creates a natural visual line that narrows your chest and draws the eye to your trim waistline. While that’s all well and good, V-necks are admittedly pretty corny when not worn under something else, so instead opt for crewneck shirts that utilize graphics, or horizontal stripes. Horizontal stripes (like Breton Stripes) broaden the figure. While this is ill advised if you’re packing extra weight around your middle, the fact that your stomach is lean means that you can aesthetically add to this part of your figure without looking wide.

Always look for shirting that can accommodate your brawnier upper body, chest, and arms, while going for a tailored waist. If you’re looking for a department store trick, try going for a shirt that says “slim fit,” just buy one size larger than you normally would.

When it comes to bottoms, look for “slim” items, but not skinny. While your time on the treadmill may leave you able to fit into something skinny, you’re pants have a high chance of looking like running leggings—or worse, like you skip “leg day.” This doesn’t mean you should only wear straight leg trousers, just be mindful of when too skinny is, well, too skinny.

For suiting, opt for double breasted suits, but be cautious. Double breasted jackets make the body look bulky in the upper body, but when sculpted, can support the added visual weight of the shoulders and chest, while emphasizing a narrow waist. Think of a dark colored, unstructured suit. You want to be aesthetically supported, but not disproportionate.

Type 3: The Rectangle

Skinny as a rail, or simply narrow in build, like a rectangle this body type is straight up and down. More pointedly, the waist and the shoulders are the same width apart. This distinction makes this shape deviate slightly from an average, or athletic build, where the hips and waist are narrower than the shoulders and chest. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re skinny or undefined, it’s more of a shape that’s less likely to show muscle definition, or simply appears narrow.

The name of the game for this figure is to add definition where this is none. Adding this definition via clothing can be done in a few ways. Layering is really the simplest way to begin. With a smart layered knit, you’re adding to the upper half, while emphasizing your neutral waistline. Add a jacket to create depth and visual strength in the shoulders. These things will make you look muscular, even if you’re stick skinny.

When it comes to bottoms, you should opt for a skinnier pant. This way, you’re creating a inverted triangular line that goes from your chest to your bottom—much like the inverted triangle type. Fortunately, considering this figure is generally lean looking, you’re able to be flexible with what you wear, and still look skinny.

However, be careful when buying things off the rack, as brands that provide more generous cuts—whether they’re T-shirts are—will leave you looking swallowed up by your clothing if you’re not careful. You can (and should) look for “slim fit” items, especially when it comes to buttondowns and suit jackets. While other guys may pass on structured blazers, look for something that fills out your shoulders and chest.

And before you think that your trim physique means you don’t need to see the tailor, think again. Most clothing off the rack (particularly suits) will fit in one section, but swallow up your arms or waist. To avoid looking boxy and unbalanced, considering taking your jackets to a tailor to have the sleeves narrowed. The result will be a strong upper body, with the sculpted torso and slender leg that makes this silhouette distinctive.

Type 4: The Triangle

No, we’re not talking about Phil Jackson’s signature offensive style. It’s not a negative thing to have a more pronounced midsection. While this body shape doesn’t mean you’re overweight or unhealthy, it does mean that you’ve got to dress around your proportions. Much of clothing design is built for the complete opposite of this shape, so how do you accommodate this figure while wearing clothes that look dope?

Like any of the other silhouettes, you’re looking for visual balance. While your shoulders are narrow compared to your midsection, focus on adding structure up top. This means passing on polos or narrow necklines (see: turtlenecks). Similarly, don’t use opt for billowy shirting either. You don’t want to seem like you’re pinching your neck with your T-shirt, but that doesn’t mean you need to look like you’re dressed in a burlap sack.

Pay attention to color. There’s a reason black has been popular for so long—it’s a slimming color. Dark colors, like charcoal, navy, of course, black, instantly slim visually. Going all in, and being monochromatically dressed further streamlines your silhouette. If you’re going to go for a print, vertical stripes are a solid solution, whereas horizontal stripes will leave you looking wider than before.

When it comes to bottoms, go for straight leg trousers, and tailor the leg as you dare. By going with a slimmer leg, you increase the visual width of your waist. When your figure already has a fuller waist, you’re creating a visual imbalance that the rest of your outfit is likely trying to fight.

Looking at suiting, avoid the bulk that a double breasted suit brings to the table. Cop a single breasted, two button suit. Not only is it the most streamlined suit for your money, but it’s universal appeal and simple style makes it something that’s a smart buy for any body type. Follow this advice, and you’ll be doing more with the triangle formation than the 2014-2015 New York Knicks.

How high?

While we’ve pointed out a broad picture of, four common male builds, we understand that bodies are also in 3D; height matters. Whether you’re tall with a broad midsection, or short and muscled out, you’ll need to take your overall height into consideration if you’re going to really nail your wardrobe.

For smaller guys, begin by wearing your pants at your natural waistline (meaning closer to your bellybutton). This increases the leg line and makes your waistline look higher—thus extending the leg line further. Avoid light color, stacked, or printed trousers, and things like gaudy belts—these things will either cut your figure in half, or draw attention to the smaller parts of your body. When it comes to your upper half, make sure that your shirts are comfortably cut, while simultaneously no longer than just past your wrist. If you’re able minimize, do so.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re taller than the average guy (somewhere above 5’11” to 6’3”), you’re looking for length to match your own. Make sure shirts are tall enough to tuck into your waist line, even if you’re not wearing them that way. When it’s comes to your bottoms, you can wear your denim stacked, or your pants cropped. Each hemline, whether stacked or cuffed, will shorten your leg and add balance. Jackets should never be anything but tailored—you don’t want to look like you’re swimming in your clothes. The overall length of a jacket should also hit somewhere between the top of your wrist and the middle of your palm. To avoid looking like an awkward NBA player, make sure the proportions of your entire outfit, from the bottom of your jacket, to the hemline of your pants, are in check.

Know when to pass on a trend.

Sometimes, when trends blow up, we try to make it work in our wardrobes. Ever try on a pair of light wash denim and hate the look? Or attempt to buy a traditional fit, cropped MA-1 jacket and think it makes you look top heavy? While the final decision is up to you, sometimes, certain trends (and the clothes therein) look better on some body shapes than they do on others. That’s not to say you shouldn’t experiment—the best trends usually spawn variations that will indirectly accommodate variations in shape and size. However, you should also trust your gut. If you don’t think you can pull it off while you’re looking in the changing room mirror, you should take that into consideration.

Regardless of your size, get close with a tailor.

If you take away nothing else from this advice, at least use it as a motivator to establish a relationship with a tailor (or someone who can help make alterations to your clothing). Even if you’re of an average build, almost everyone is better served by having a skilled tailor tackle their clothing. It matters, whether it’s narrowing sleeve width for the skinny guys, or tweaking shoulder bulk and pant length if you’re stocky. While individual brands may fit better than others, very rarely will something fit off the rack, even for the same guy. And before you complain about how expensive hiring a tailor is, think of it this way: you spend your hard earned money on your wardrobe, why not pay a little extra to make it look even better? That’s not even including alterations you can get for free.

source: BY


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