How To Dress For Your Body Shape
From left: Messrs Jonah Hill, Daniel Craig and Paul Bettany
It doesn’t matter how well-made or stylish you consider your clothes to be, if they don’t fit correctly, they won’t look good. The cliché that Italians are the best dressers in the world is well-worn for a reason. Quite simply, our European friends are more likely to frequent a tailor. We are not saying you ought to alter everything you own (although, if you have the time, money and inclination, do go ahead), but there are certain things you can bear in mind – whether buying off the rack, or visiting a tailor – to ensure you are wearing clothes that fit, and work with your body shape. From the well-rounded chap, to the shorter gentleman – here is our guide to dressing for your frame and size (with a little help from some famous friends).
Mr Xavier Dolan
Left: Mr Xavier Dolan at Cannes Film Festival, May 2016. Photograph by Ms Joanne Davidson/REX Shutterstock. Right: at the Louis Vuitton SS16 show in Paris. Photograph by REX Shutterstock
At 1.69m, Canadian director Mr Xavier Dolan is not blessed with great height. But you wouldn’t necessarily spot that from afar, because his clothes work perfectly with his proportions. Shorter sleeves and trousers, as seen on his suit, will make you appear taller. Another nifty trick is wearing socks that are the same colour as your trousers – this serves to “lengthen” your legs. In terms of casualwear, Mr Dolan understands that cluttering your look accentuates a shorter frame. You want to draw the eye upwards. Monotone clothing will serve you well, as will a high waistband. Dark trousers worn with a light T-shirt add to the illusion of height.
Mr Paul Bettany
Right: Mr Paul Bettany at the Captain America: Civil War London premiere, April 2016. Photograph by Mr Jonathan Hordle/REX Shutterstock. Right: in New York, October 2016. Photograph by REX Shutterstock
Being tall certainly has its advantages, but wear incorrect clothing and you could appear rather gangly. Avoid this by breaking up the vertical line of your silhouette and creating a clear distinction between the top and bottom half of your body. A jacket that’s cut tighter at the waist – such as actor Mr Paul Bettany’s denim piece on the right – can provide such an effect. This is particularly useful for men who get their height from long legs. In terms of formalwear, a double-breasted jacket will broaden the upper body, and is tailor-made for the taller, slimmer man. Slim, not skinny trousers, which Mr Bettany wears in both looks, keep your top and bottom half in good proportion. Make sure your jeans or trousers are mid- or low-rise to further avoid elongating the legs. Have them cut without a break or bare a bit of ankle to further break up the length of your silhouette.
Mr Daniel Craig
Left: Mr Daniel Craig at Jimmy Kimmel Live in LA, November 2015. Photograph by RB/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images. Right: at the Hotel St Regis in Rome, October 2015. Photograph by Mr Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images
Although you might work hard maintaining your chest, abs and arms like Mr Daniel Craig, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should show them off all the livelong day. There are few things more unbecoming than a man in a too-tight T-shirt (we don’t need to see your nipples, thank you very much.) That said, you shouldn’t feel you have to hide your assets; rather, that your clothes need to compliment them. Wearing unstructured jackets and jacket-like knitwear is a good path to go down, as such garments will stretch to accommodate your considerable proportions. It’s also a good idea to opt for a slightly longer jacket, to avoid looking barrel-chested. Avoid double-breasted jackets, which broaden the torso and look better on slimmer men. If you’ve got a lot of muscle up top, there is a good chance you will need your suit altered. If so, purchase one which fits well (not too tightly) on the shoulders, as this is the hardest element for a tailor to tweak – the rest can be altered to your measurements (and will look all the better for it).
Mr Dev Patel
Left: Mr Dev Patel at Santa Barbara International Film Festival, February 2017. Photograph by Mr Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock. Right: at an event in New York, January 2017. Photograph by REX Shutterstock
Many men who were born skinny (if you’re a personal trainer you might call them “ectomorphs”) are self-conscious about their frames. So, with a casual look, try bulking out your silhouette using a baggy knitted jumper, much like Mr Dev Patel achieves here on the left. For this body type, skinny jeans are absolutely permitted, even advised, but they shouldn’t be so tight that they stretch in any places; and if in doubt, opt for a more generous slim pair, which are far better at hiding particularly knobbly knees. Pleated trousers, such as the pair that feature as part of Mr Patel’s suit, add a bit of shape to the leg, which can be a boon to this kind of figure. In fact, slim tailoring in general is a good bet, just be cautious about how tight it all is – woollen suiting fabrics tend to be far less forgiving than denim.
Mr Jonah Hill
Left: Mr Jonah Hill at the SAG Awards in LA, January 2017. Photograph by Landmark Media. Right: in LA, December 2017. Photograph by Mr Sam Sharma/PacificCoastNews/Photoshot
Some larger men find purchasing clothes that complement their body shape a troublesome task. But, with a bit of care and attention, Hollywood star Mr Jonah Hill demonstrates how it is possible. It can be tempting to go for extremes if you’re a similar shape – opting for clothes that are snug in an attempt to tuck everything in, or, equally, for oversized garments that obliterate your silhouette completely. Instead, we advise taking the middle ground, and finding clothes that drape on your figure, rather than cling to it or swamp it. Mr Hill’s white T-shirt, above, is a great example of what we mean, as it’s slightly oversized, but still clearly in proportion to his torso. When it comes to tailoring, he’s mastered the art of finding a suit that really fits – whatever shape you are, a jacket should button up comfortably at the front and still give you a figure. In general, dark colours work best for this body shape, as they help to flatten and streamline the silhouette.
The celebrities featured in this story are not associated with and do not endorse MR PORTER or the products shown