Think men have it easier than women when it comes to formal wear? You’d be surprised – a suit can be tough to get right, especially when men’s physiques come in so many different sizes and shapes.
There’s a good reason why gents’ tailors remain very much in demand – when your formal attire is limited to the same few garment styles that are worn by every other guy, it’s even more important that every component is ideal for your height and body type.
Guys, you may not have curves like ladies do, but your figures can also be categorised into four distinct body types. Instead of apples, pears and hourglasses, we will look, instead, to geometric shapes. Want to know if you’re a triangle or oval? Read on to find out where you fit and how to find suiting that works better for your shape.
BODY TYPE: STRAIGHT OR RECTANGLE
Your figure is straight all the way from top to bottom, and that’s actually quite a good proportion to work with for men. Except for a little volume around the shoulders and chest, you should have few body-shape issues to address. If all that time spent at the gym isn’t doing much to help you acquire that athletic build, try these dressing tricks instead.
Shoulder pads in your blazer can lift and widen your frame and are particularly effective on those who are a skinny rectangle.
Shoulder pads in your blazer can lift and widen your frame and are particularly effective on those who are a skinny rectangle. But if you are thickset, ask your tailor to keep them thin or, if possible, avoid them. Apart from that, try layers if the occasion and weather allow for these – a vest worn with a suit will add bulk as well as a smarter look to your formal wear.
Prints and colours, worn in the right way, can also help emphasise your upper body. Wear light colours and prints on shirts, while keeping your pants dark-toned and simple. Don’t forget the details – accessories like ties or pocket squares can be similarly used to create volume near your chest.
BODY TYPE: OVAL OR ROUNDED
Many guys develop this body shape as they approach their middle-aged years – you lose muscle mass around the chest, shoulders and upper arms, while the beginnings of a paunch are visible. This shape also applies to men who have sloping shoulders or are disproportionately wider around the hips or mid-section.
Your aim is to play down the girth of your mid-section and build structure around your shoulders.
Your aim is to play down the girth of your mid-section and build structure around your shoulders. Crisp shirts that hold their form well will help you achieve the latter – avoid shirt material that is soft or silky. Tailored blazers will also do the same but go strictly for single-breasted styles, which won’t further widen your mid-section like double-breasted jackets will.
A light, vertical pinstripe can help elongate your figure and will be visually slimming. Horizontal lines are not a good idea – if you’d like to go for a check print, pick one that is smaller in scale and subtler in terms of colour combinations.
BODY TYPE: MUSCULAR OR INVERTED TRIANGLE
The bulked-out weightlifter type has a highly disproportionate figure that is difficult to dress. While guys with a muscular build don’t need much help with definition, many of them have to deal with a massive chest and huge shoulders that look unbalanced in comparison to their narrow hips.
Shoulder padding should definitely be kept to a minimum, while a double-breasted style will broaden your torso and balance out your wide shoulders.
Keep these pointers in mind when buying jackets and blazers, or getting them tailored: Shoulder padding should definitely be kept to a minimum, while a double-breasted style will broaden your torso and balance out your wide shoulders.
As for shirts, get them in a size that gives you enough room to move around the arms and shoulders. If you can’t find one that accommodates your bulk without fitting too loose elsewhere, consider getting your shirts tailored to your measurements – they will save you a lot of frustration and prove to be excellent investments.
Avoid getting your pants in an overly tapered cut or tight fit, as doing so will only emphasise your top-heaviness. A straight cut is best for balancing out your inverted-triangle shape and concealing skinny legs.
Another important thing muscular men tend to overlook: Check if you need a wider tie or jacket lapels, because a standard width for both is likely to appear comically small on your build.
BODY TYPE: ATHLETIC OR RHOMBOID
Lucky you if you have the much-coveted swimmer’s bod. You may have strong shoulders and slim hips, but your proportions are not extreme and your physique is lean, instead of burly. You shouldn’t have much difficulty finding off-the-rack suits that fit nicely, even if made-to-measure may bring out the best of your figure.
The one figure flaw that some of you are likely to have is a lack of height – in which case you should try out some of the dressing tips recommended for guys with an inverted triangle body shape. These will detract focus from your top half and, in turn, help to visually elongate the lower half of your body.
A higher waistline will help conceal your figure imbalance.
If your legs are short, considered in proportion to your torso, pay attention to the waist and rise of your pants. A higher waistline will help conceal your figure imbalance – the waistband of your pants should fall on your natural waistline, which lies near your navel. Take care to find the right hem length, too: Aim for somewhere right below the ankle – the hems should barely rest on the top of your shoes.
If, however, you are tall and are well-balanced from top to toe, go forth and experiment with prints, colours and suits in modern cuts – if there’s anyone who can carry off a bold style, it’s you.