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No two men are precisely the same shape. But all men fit roughly into one of five categories. These provide a guide to which clothes will look best on you; different fits, patterns and colours will either complement or clash with different physiques. To help you pick the clothes that work – and avoid the ones that don’t – Thread stylist Freddie Kemp breaks down the five male body shapes and how to make the most of each.

Body shape


Shape: Narrow shoulders and roundness at your waist.

Doppelganger: Jonah Hill

The aim: “You should draw attention away from your stomach and towards your head,” says Freddie. “Clothes with structure and width up top are good go-tos.”

Embrace: Vertical stripes; “they draw the eye up and down, rather than across.” Dark shirts and tees are also good, as they minimise your body by hiding shadows. Look for tapered rather than skinny or loose trousers – they give you a smoother shape.

Avoid: Horizontal stripes and very loud prints, which create more size around your stomach.


Shape: Narrow shoulders and wider hips. That doesn’t necessarily mean overweight, just that your body’s a bit bottom-heavy.

Doppelganger: Michael McIntyre

The aim: “You want to create balance by widening your shoulders and making your waist seem narrower,” says Freddie.

Embrace: As above, stripes are good, as are blazers with some shoulder padding and a low button. “Longer lapels create a V-shape, which slims your waist.” T-shirts and jumpers with detail, or colour-blocking around the shoulders, will also give the illusion of size.

Avoid: Anything too skinny, or you’ll accentuate your waist and slim everything else. 


Shape: Shoulders the same width as your waist. This is most common on tall, slim guys.

Rectangle: Benedict Cumberbatch

The aim: To create some shape. “You’re after a subtler version of that taper from shoulders to waist,” says Freddie.

Embrace: Horizontal stripes, which draw the eye across and add width. Structured blazers create size more literally, as does layering. Detail around the shoulders is also good; look for military-inspired jackets with chest pockets and epaulettes.

Avoid: Anything rectangular, like photo print t-shirts or block of colour up the centre of your body. Double-breasted jackets are also a no-no, as they make you look blocky. 


Shape: Broad shoulders and a gentle taper into your waist.

Doppelganger: David Gandy

The aim: This is the easiest shape to dress for, so it’s really about nailing the basics. “Make sure your clothes fit well so they flatter your frame,” says Freddie.

Embrace: Bold patterns and prints, which draw the eye to your upper-body. Double-breasted jackets are also good as they echo your natural body shape.

Avoid: You can get away with most things, but very oversized clothing is best left alone as you’ll disappear inside it. 

Inverted triangle

Shape: Broad shoulders and a narrow waist. This the classic bodybuilder shape.

Doppelganger: Usain Bolt

The aim: To draw the eye down so your big shoulders don’t throw your body out of proportion.

Embrace: Horizontal stripes, particularly across your stomach. Patterned trousers will deflect attention from up top, which gives you some balance. You’ll also want tailored shirts, which are narrower around the waist, or find a tailor who can tweak them for you.

Avoid: Deep Vs – they’ll only make you look broader – and anything with shoulder detailing. Skinny jeans are also tricky, particularly if you've got athletic thighs, as you end up like an hourglass.

Illustration: Eric Chow