Suit tips for larger men

Suit tips for larger men

Q. What clothing should I wear that will make me look thinner? If you don’t mind, I’ll keep my question general and not provide my specifics.

A. If you are heavy and want to de-emphasize it, several fool-the-eye techniques can “slim you down” visually. Though they apply to any clothes you wear, they are especially effective when wearing a suit. A blazer or sports jacket works almost as well. Here are some basic suggestions.

  1. 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. When possible, create an illusion of slimness by using unbroken vertical lines to direct the eye’s sweep up and down. One method is to select jackets and pants of near-matching or similar tones, without much contrast. Wearing a tie is another good way to do this.
  3. Focus attention on your face by wearing compellingly interesting and attractive shirts and ties. One theory behind the creation of neckties and their long period of professional use is their ability to direct attention up to the face (which also means away from the belly).
  4. Another way to draw the eye away from your waist/weight is to know and wear the colors that are most flattering to you and that echo your eyes or your, hair. So, if you have blue eyes, wear lots of blue; silver hair looks great with a silver tie.

There are specific styles, cuts, fabrics, and shades that can enhance all elements of your appearance.

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 back vent, and cut long enough to cover the seat
  • Plain-front trousers (no pleats). If you are wide in the seat, avoid carrying anything in your back pockets.
  • The fabric is critical; choose medium- or light-weights. Avoid bulky fabrics
  • Stay with simple, small patterns. “Busy” patterns, such as bold plaids, add optical bulk.

Regarding Ties:

  • Avoid bow ties, they create a horizontal image and echo cheeks.
  • Wear ties of the correct length and be extra careful when tying a necktie; be sure it comes down to the belt, not above it and not below it. Avoid any space between the tie and the trousers that would stop the up-and-down sweep of the eye.

Shirts can also help to elongate you visually:

  • Choose vertically-striped dress- and sport-shirts
  • Select dress shirts with a narrow spread, straight points, and button-down collars. Avoid the horizontal line of wide-spread collars
  • Shirts worn unbuttoned (open-at-the-neck) can also help create the illusion of added height.
  • Stay away from sharp horizontal contrasts (such as wearing a light top with dark trousers).

Beyond traditional business clothing, there are definite smart options:

  • For less formal wear, consider wearing a 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 ribbing are especially elongating.
  • For outerwear, adding a scarf or a fedora is a flattering way to emphasize the vertical.

Remember these notes of caution. Nothing makes a man – and especially a heavy man – look better than clothes that fit him perfectly. Do not wear anything that is even slightly too small, or too large. Do not stint/ignore any needed bit of tailoring or altering for new clothes you are buying or for items already in your closet, such as a sleeve that is a half-inch too long or a slight tightness across the back of a jacket.

For precise tailoring, be assertive with the tailor. Tipping him helps. And, especially important, pay meticulous attention to your grooming. “Neat” is the key word.

My strong advice: The man who is too heavy should make sure he is the most perfectly well-groomed man in the room. No “relaxed” hair, unpressed garments, loose necktie knots, untucked shirt tails – nothing that suggests that old negative term, “sloppy fat.”

For most men fastidious attention to details and certain clothing styles might come off as overdoing it, but they can be positive options for someone heavier. On him, they are signs of care (as long as they do not draw attention to his waist as would a pocket watch or a bejeweled belt buckle). A heavy man does not need to worry about looking “too good.”

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