Ever see a picture of an amazing outfit then try to replicate it?
You carefully buy the clothes, piece by piece. You take care to copy the colors and style. And after all that effort, you try your new outfit and realize you look nothing like the guy in the picture.
The chances are, you overlooked a small but important factor – body type. You probably don't have the same body type as the guy in the photo. The result? What works for him doesn't work for you.
In this article, we'll teach you how to avoid this mistake in the future by showing you how to dress for your body type.
Before we get started, there are a couple housekeeping rules.
- Your body type and shape should always take preference over fashion trends.
- Know your tailor on a first-name basis. You should trust them like your best friend.
- Dress for the body you have NOW…don't put off wardrobe improvements for that 2-year diet plan you've been working on.
Learn to emphasize the best aspects of your build and divert attention away from your undesirable features. Let's get into it.
Body Shape #1 For Men – TRIANGLE
Most men are predisposed to being larger around the waist and hips in relation to the top part of their bodies, especially as they get older. This creates a natural triangular shape with the base at the waist and the tip at the face.
Having a triangular body shape does not mean you are in bad shape, but it presents a challenge in finding clothes that make your entire body appear proportional. Most men's clothing is designed with the opposite effect in mind – broad on top and narrower at the waist.
Creating balance and shape with your clothes is a key consideration for you.
Clothing for men with triangle body shape
- Tailored patterned blazers: Wear checked blazers and fitted waistcoats with solid trousers. The mix of prints and solid colors will create the illusion of shape and take the focus away from the larger waist.
- Vertical stripes: This pattern creates a streamlined effect that elongates and slims down the upper body. Horizontal stripes are preferred only if they are visible from the chest upward.
- Jackets with structured shoulders: Slouchy shoulders on jackets (bomber jackets, for instance) will exaggerate your already sloping shoulder line. Structured shoulders (on a topcoat, for instance) square off your frame.
- Single-breasted suits: Instead of going for double-breasted jackets which bulk to the waist, opt for a single-breasted jacket to allow for a more relaxed and slimming fit. Get your jackets tailored for a structured fit on the top but with extra room around the waist.
- Brighter color panels: Patterns and detailing across the chest and shoulders help broaden the narrow upper torso. Wear jumpers and crew neck tees with color panels across the chest but a slimming darker color like gray, navy, or black around the mid-section.
Clothing to avoid for men with triangle body shape
- Fitted polo shirts and roll necks: Both these styles tend to make the neck and shoulders appear slender while accentuating any roundness in the waist.
- Brighter colors and busy prints: Bold and bright patterns will draw attention to your triangular-shaped torso. Work them into your outfit as accents in the form of pocket squares (how to fold a pocket square), glasses, socks, and trainers. Bold belts will only draw attention to the width of your waist.
- Skinny fits and extreme tapers: Narrowing trousers draw the eye of an observer to the center of your body. Swap them for wide and straight leg fits that add proportion to your silhouette.
Body Shape #2 For Men – INVERTED TRIANGLE
The shape of this body type is a big triangle with the base at the shoulders and the point at the belly button.
Your well-developed chest and shoulders are significantly broader in comparison to your waist and hips. You probably spend hours at the gym every week working up an enviable muscle pump. Hectic training sessions in the gym result in accentuated shoulders and thighs and a narrow waist.
Since most manufacturers cater to men who are out of shape, buying clothes off the rack can be challenging for this body type.
Clothing for men with inverted triangle body shape
Your goal should be to show off your toned and fit body.
What should you wear if you're muscular? Wear close-fitting clothes that reduce visual clutter and emphasize the clean, sharp lines of your torso. Add bulk to your trim midriff and lower body while balancing the proportions of your well-developed upper body.
- Horizontal stripes: Especially from the chest down, to broaden your comparatively narrow waist.
- Slim-fit shirts: You can wear shirts to show off your incredibly fit body but remember to size up. You want to hint subtly at your fitness, not scream it by wearing figure-hugging costumes.
- Slim cotton polo shirt: A spandex mix will allow stretch across a broad set of shoulders and chest while creating a tailored look around the waist.
- Regular V-neck T-shirts: The collar shape has a narrowing influence on your chest and draws the eye down and away from the broadest part of your torso. Stay away from plunging V-neck t-shirts.
- Straight-leg trousers and jeans: men's skinny jeans will accentuate your chicken legs. Slim-fit pants will do just fine. Wearing patterned pants, camo shorts, or checked trousers distracts from your comparatively broad upper body.
- Trousers with larger seat drop: Athletes have the common problem of finding pants that are roomy around the groin area. Look for a larger drop measurement between the waistband and the crotch seam.
- Jackets: Slim-fit jackets that follow the natural line of your silhouette, with a bigger difference between the width of the torso and the width of the waist.
Clothing to avoid for men with inverted triangle body shape
- Structured tailoring: Suit jackets and blazers with shoulder padding and wide, especially peak lapels, will emphasize your heavy upper body. Unstructured silhouettes work better in streamlining your frame.
- Prints, patterns, and scoop necklines: Any detail, especially around the shoulders, will focus attention on your wide frame and throw your body out of proportion.
Find a good men's tailor you can trust (and try them out!). This is an indispensable part of building a stylish wardrobe for this body type.
Body Shape #3 For Men – RECTANGLE
Men with a rectangular body shape usually have a tall and thin frame. Their shoulders are roughly the same width as their waist and hips.
Clothing for men with rectangle body shape
Use clothing to widen the shoulders and add the effect of a subtle taper from your top-down. You’ll need to create an illusion of structure.
Creating a nipped-in silhouette across the middle of the body is both key and easy to achieve.
- Horizontal stripes: Especially across your upper torso (short and long-sleeved Breton tees), as they’ll add width to your slight frame.
- Structured tailoring: Once you’ve found structured blazers and suit jackets that add size to your shoulders, have your tailor take them in slightly at the back to emphasize your waist.
- Layered looks: A button-down shirt and fine-gauge crew neck jumper is a no-fail pairing that’ll add instant bulk to your frame.
- Scarves: A neatly tied or draped scarf is an easy way to add a point of difference to your look, as well as flesh out your upper torso.
- Prints, color pops, and detailing: Pops of brighter colors up top or details like epaulets will expand the dimensions of your otherwise slim frame.
Clothing to avoid for men with rectangle body shape
- Double-breasted jackets: Unsurprisingly, tailoring cut in the shape of a rectangle does little to nothing for the rectangle-shaped body. Try a single-breasted style with plenty of structure in the shoulders instead.
For tailoring, make sure you opt for single-breasted styles. When off-duty, create shape by contrasting layers such as a shirt or a cardigan over a crisp white T-shirt or vest to create an extended V-shaped panel on the upper section of your body.
Body Shape #4 For Men – OVAL
In a bigger guy, the center of the torso is wider than the shoulders and hips. The rest of the build tends to reflect this as well, with shorter, broader limbs that widen at their midpoints.
Oval-shaped men want clothes that do a bit of slimming and framing.
Clothing for men with oval body shape
Keep it simple and dark. Solid colors are always good.
- Trousers: The trouser waist should always be comfortably loose, never belted so tight that it pinches and wrinkles.
- Suspenders: Men's suspenders (“braces” in the UK) are your best friend. Wear them whenever you get the opportunity. They hold the trouser front out slightly, letting it fall in a smooth front all the way past the crotch. Whether belted or worn with suspenders, the trousers should always be worn at the natural waist, where they can drape smoothly over the bottom of your stomach instead of squeezing it all upward. You don’t want the belly sagging down in front of the belt or trouser waist.
- Pleats: will help the pants widen slightly when you sit, adding a bit of comfort for men with large thighs and bottoms.
- Shirts: A good fit is crucial in avoiding either pinching and wrinkles (too small a shirt) or billows that add even more bulk (too loose a shirt). Find a brand that works for you, or else have your shirts tailored. A wider collar spread works well for broad men, especially when the neck and face are broad. Want to know more? Read – how should a man's dress shirt fit?
- Jackets: Dark, single-breasted, and only slightly tapered are the keys to a good jacket for big men. A sharp taper at the waist will be hard to button and stretch over the stomach. Just a hint of an inward bend right around the buttons is all that’s needed. The jacket gives the torso a frame, essentially putting it between two narrow lines, making it a worthwhile addition to almost any outfit.
- Neckties: Bow ties can be a good way to avoid a tie that drapes over the bulge of the stomach. If you’re not a fan of bow ties, then something decently wide and, more importantly, long enough to reach the belt will work.
Clothing to avoid for men with oval body shape
- Tight fits in the torso are a bad choice: and trying to squeeze into clothing that’s too tight is the worst choice of all — it does nothing but emphasize the body’s bulk, and it makes you look desperate besides.
- Patterns and visual clutter are a bad idea: as is anything that draws attention to the midsection. Work on outfits that guide the eye smoothly up the whole length of the body and focus attention on your face.
Body Shape #5 For Men – TRAPEZOID
An “average” build refers to what most designers use as the foundation of their designs.
In other words – Most off the rack clothing will fit you well – pending minor adjustments.
The waist is the narrowest point on an average man’s torso. The rib cage widens steadily up to the collarbone and shoulders, which are the broadest parts of the torso. This gives the body an overall trapezoidal shape with the shorter side at the bottom.
Clothing for men with trapezoid body shape
Showcase your athletic body shape in slim and fitted clothes. Take advantage of sports-inspired modern looks.
If you’re both average build and average height, you could be in danger of blending in with crowds. Try to have a few distinct details in your outfit at all times. Just a colored pocket square in the jacket’s breast pocket goes a long way. A good watch and shoes have a similar effect.
- Trousers: Avoid baggy clothes. Find a brand with a close fit, or have your trousers tailored. Stylistically, most colors and patterns should work just fine with your build. Cuffs and pleats are up to personal taste.
- Shirts: Vertical stripes will make you appear a little taller. Checks and plaids add horizontal bulk, so pick which one you need based on your height.
- Jackets: A blazer or suit jacket tapers your waist, making your stomach seem slimmer, and your shoulders seem broader. Wear it buttoned with a single button at the waist for maximum effect.
- Neckties: Stick to a normal length (the tip should be right around your belt buckle) and a normal width (about 3 to 3 1/2 inches). Short, skinny, fat, or otherwise oddly-sized ties throw off the balance of your torso.
Clothing to avoid for men with trapezoid body shape
A perfectly paired ensemble is easily ruined by wearing clothes that don't fit your body correctly. Any well-dressed man will tell you that the secret to comfortable and flattering style comes down to fit.
An average build needs clean lines and a good personal style to look sharp. The biggest no-nos are anything loose and saggy and any outfits that are completely bland and generic-looking (unless you want to vanish easily in groups).
A little visual clutter is a good thing, as long as it leaves the basic shape of your body (and especially your torso) intact. Start by implementing these men's style upgrades.
Recognize your body shape? Just right to it using this handy contents section:
Click below to watch the video – How To Dress For Your Body Type