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How to dress for your body shape

How to dress for your body shape

Men are not made to a pattern. But clothes are. Which is why something that looks great on Instagram doesn’t always sit right when you try exactly the same outfit on at home. Different details accentuate and hide different aspects of the body beneath. To look your best, you need clothes that work with your physique, rather than fight it.

Which, understandably, is easier said than done. The key is to find pieces that hide or highlight the right areas. Different clothes hang differently on different bodies and knowing how to make the most of yours can help you lose pounds, or gain inches, in seconds. And it’s more fun than spending hours in the gym.

Tall and slim

Tall man

Photographed: MVP stripe T-shirt (£15); MVP chinos (£22); Anderson’s belt (£109)

If you’ve got height, but not width, you can disappear into your clothes. Get the size, shape and shade wrong and you'll look even longer, so you need pieces that break up your form. “Being tall is generally advantageous, but it can still be a pain when it comes to dressing yourself,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “Avoid wearing one colour and make sure there’s some texture in your outfit. A punchy knit with contrast trousers, for example, can break up a long torso, as can a Breton stripe up top.”

Fabrics won’t do everything, though. “Fit is also key,” says Luke, “so make sure shirts and trousers are cut long enough, but not so long that they billow. Shirts can often be too big around your torso, so consider darts as a way to get a snugger fit. And experiment with double-breasted blazers, which add width to tall, lean frames.”


Clothes for a bigger guy

Photographed: MVP shirt (£28); Reiss blazer (£285)

If you’re carrying a little bit extra, then you might think it’s best to size up. “But fit is everything,” says Luke. “Oversized garments won’t distract from your shape – they’ll emphasise it. Aim for smooth lines, not pools of cloth that hang off your body.” Fabric is your friend here; light materials like merino and cotton will give your outfits shape but not bulk.

You can also take advantage of some optical illusions. “A V-neck is generally better than a crew neck as it draws the eye up-and-down, rather than side-to-side,” says Luke. “Shirts with a spread or cutaway collar create the same effect, while vertical stripes are a quick way to make your torso look longer and slimmer.”

Average build

Clothes for an average build

Photographed: Oliver Spencer rollneck (£165); Jigsaw trousers (£130)

Not too bulky, not too skinny. Not too tall, not too small. As the fairytale goes, for most clothes you’re just right – which means that you can experiment a little. “Work with what you have to emphasise your shoulders and create the illusion of a slimmer waist,” says Luke. “A rollneck can achieve this by drawing the eye to your upper half. So too can tailoring with a deeper gorge, which broadens your shoulders and narrows everything below.”

Remember that your measurements are considered the average by brands, too. This means you’ll find it simpler to source pieces that cater to your shape – which makes it even more important that you nail the right fit. Veer up or down and your clothes will either constrict or swallow you.


Clothes for a shorter guy

Photographed: Oliver Spencer jacket (£319); YMC shirt (£135)

We wouldn’t recommend anything that literally makes you taller – stacked heels only draw attention to why you're wearing them – but you can use clothes to create the illusion of extra inches. Choosing pieces that seem to stretch you can make you seem statuesque. “The main tip is similar to that of a larger man,” says Luke. “Block colours in monochrome shades lengthen your body, by minimising contrast. Vertical stripes create the same effect, as do clothes that fit. Loose or baggy clothing will make you disappear.”

What’s more, you should aim for cuts that frame your torso correctly. “Shirts that finish just below your hips are better than anything too long. They keep your body shape proportional and make your legs seem longer. Avoid loud prints and patterns on your bottom half for the same reason. You want to draw the eye up, not down.”