Ask A Woman: The big, the tall, the stylish.
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I’m a bigger guy but I’m sick of falling into the big guy style trap. I’m working on getting thinner, but I want to dress better now. Because of the trend toward slimmer fit clothing, it’s difficult to find affordable, stylish clothes that fit well enough to not accentuate my size. So I usually end up in golf polos and the two or three shirts I’ve found that look good on me. How’s a bigger guy supposed to look good in a world of thin?
Finding flattering clothing for a larger frame can be a bitch, son. I’ve written two previous columns on the topic, but it continues to be an issue for Dappered readers (and really, consumers everywhere), so let’s revisit it once again. Plus, every time I write on this topic, readers flood the comments section with great recommendations for big guys, so we have an ever-growing arsenal of information from which to work.
First, I don’t think the trend toward slimmer fit clothing means you’re out of luck. Slim fit doesn’t mean button-popping, it means the clothing fits close to the body. Depending on your body shape, you may very well be able to wear slimmer fit styles. It’s just going to be a bigger cut for you, than, say, someone with Usain Bolt’s body shape.
Polo shirts, button-ups, sweaters, vests, blazers–all of these styles are available to you. Again, cut is going to be your main consideration. Buy clothing that skims the surface of your body, but doesn’t cling or pull. Look at the buttons on a button-down shirt–they shouldn’t pull or gape. Look at the surface of a sweater–the pattern/texture shouldn’t be distorted. But don’t pick clothing that billows around your body. Many large people think that enveloping their bodies in layers of cloth will hide their true size, but instead it makes you look bigger and unkempt. You shouldn’t be able to feel a breeze through the bottom of your sweater.
Some retailers sort for you on the web. Both GAP.com and BananaRepublic.com have sections for Big & Tall.
Jeans, chinos, dress pants–these items are all viable options. I would advise against tapered legs, which will make you look top heavy. You may even want to avoid a straight leg and go right for standard or classic fit. Especially if you carry a lot of weight in your chest, shoulders, or mid-section, pick a wide enough leg that will balance you out a bit. By that I don’t mean you should buy your pants two sizes too big. Get the fit right at the waist, hips, and inseam, but choose a leg that retains a wider leg from the hip to ankle.
Other tips and tricks: don’t go too crazy with layering. Yes, it’s a big trend, but extra layers add lumpiness, so I’d advise even medium-sized guys to be careful not to overdo it, because it does add pounds. Stick with vertical stripes. If you’re a sucker for horizontal, pick very thin stripes–larger stripes add bulk. Finally: try, try, try on clothing. Everyone has some type of issue when it comes to fitting their body: super long torso and shorter legs, monkey arms, no neck, you name it. The key is figuring out what brands and cuts fit you best. Go online and order a bunch of clothing from the big retailers that offer big and tall sizes: Eddie Bauer, Orvis, Nordstrom, Jos. A. Bank, Macy’s, LL Bean, Land’s End. Head to the Bonobos sale section. Often times their sale section is filled with larger sizes, they’re known for their fit, and you can search by your size. Shipping is also free both ways.
This finding-what-brands-fit-you-best strategy will require work on your part, but it’s worth it if you begin to feel like you’re really dressing to suit your tastes. Then in six months…do it again. If you’re consistently losing weight, your body will change frequently, and thus you’ll need to figure out what your new body looks best in.
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