Best suit for the big man

Best suit for the big man

Q. It’s unlikely I’m going to lose any weight (at least any time soon), but I do hope to look my best. Of the supposed methods, does anything truly flatter (and look less fat) other than just wearing black? It would be good to have a better look among co-workers . . . and women.

A. A key element in searching for the perfect clothes is recognizing the body those clothes are going on and the shape it is in. Wearing clothes that offset any problems you feel you have can help. For every adjustment (or downplaying) one hopes to achieve, there are preferable choices . . . fool-the-eye techniques that can “slim you down” visually. While they apply to any clothes you wear, they are especially effective when you’re dressed in a suit; so, you might be wise to seek out more times to wear one. A blazer or sports jacket works almost as well.

If you are heavy and want to de-emphasize it, here are some basic suggestions:

  1. You are right that darker clothes can make you appear twenty pounds lighter. The rule is: Dark colors minimize; light colors emphasize. If not dark, choose muted colors.
  2. Focus attention on your face by wearing compellingly interesting and attractive shirts and ties.
  3. Create an illusion of slimness by using unbroken vertical lines when possible to direct the eye’s sweep up and down. Wearing a tie is one good way to do this.
  4. Meticulous tailoring matters even more when you are heavy. Be assertive with the tailor, so there is no tugging at sleeves or squeezing at armholes. Tipping him helps.

When wearing suits or sports jackets, choose these features to look taller and leaner:

  • Single-breasted jackets
  • Solids or subtle stripes (no widely-spaced stripes)
  • Jackets with slightly padded shoulders, nipped at the waist, a center vent, and long enough to cover the seat
  • Plain-front trousers (no pleats). If you are wide in the seat (hips) avoid carrying anything in your back pockets.
  • The fabric is critical, so select:
    • Jackets and pants of near-matching or similar tones, without much contrast.
    • Medium- or light-weights. Avoid bulky fabrics.
    • Simple, small patterns. “Busy” patterns, such as bold plaids, add bulk visually.

Other garments:

  • Wear long ties; avoid bow ties.
  • Choose vertically striped dress- and sport-shirts.
  • Select dress shirts with a narrow spread, straight points, or button-down collars. Avoid the horizontal lines of wide-spread collars.
  • Shirts worn unbuttoned (open-at-the-neck) can also help create the illusion of height.
  • For less dressy wear, consider wearing a vest or sweater vest, instead of a jacket, over a shirt.
  • For casual wear, sweaters camouflage/cover/disguise the waistline almost as well as a suit. V-necks and light-weight sweaters with vertical ribbing or stripes are especially elongating.
  • For outerwear, adding a scarf and/or a fedora is a flattering way to emphasize the vertical.

Notes of caution:

Pay meticulous attention to your neat grooming. No “relaxed” hair, unpressed garments, loose necktie knots, untucked shirttails – anything that suggests that old negative, “sloppy fat.”

Stay away from sharp horizontal contrasts (such as wearing a light top with dark trousers) or a strong line (dark belt with light pants and shirt) that draws the eye to, and across, your middle.

Be extra careful when tying your necktie, make sure it comes down to the belt line, not above it. Avoid any space between the tie and pants that would stop the up-and-down sweep of the eye.

Finally, as a mother, I feel compelled to point out that losing a few pounds would be a great idea. Besides looking better and feeling better, you will actually be better – healthier. Caring about yourself is a sign that others should also care about you. In a room full of people, women will be attracted to the man who reflects confidence, flair, and a strong sense of his own worth.

Please send your questions and comments on men’s dress and grooming to MALE CALL:

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