Over the years, the notion that bigger guys don’t care about their appearance has been an underlying misconception rampant among the menswear industry and society at large.
Still, according to this same society, if you can’t squeeze into certain brands’ size ranges, then “fat” is exactly what you are. This doesn’t seem fair, particularly if most of your weekday evenings are spent in the gym instead of eating that large pizza or scoffing on some burgers.
Stating the obvious, there are still a certain percentage of men who struggle to find clothes to suit their body shape, whether because they’re too big, small, round, narrow, etc. Also, this isn’t hugely surprising when you think about the fact that, owing to biological diversity, we really do come in all shapes and sizes – something most clothing manufacturers who produce on a huge scale simply don’t take into consideration. Or perhaps more accurately, can’t afford to if they want to make a profit. In other words, size and fit are two very different things, and not all brands and retailers have the expertise or the money to design with that in mind.
The average menswear brand takes a rudimentary approach to size diversity. They start out by designing a garment, probably a Medium (typically a 38-40-inch chest), based on the measurements of their fit model – that is the real-life mannequin whose dimensions are as close to what the brand believes its customers are in real life. Then, in order to design bigger and smaller sizes to complete a size range, most manufacturers will simply add or subtract inches while maintaining the ratio, failing to consider the fact that that’s not really how bodies work.
Luckily, the millennial generation is pushing to completely break this cycle by keeping up with the movement of inclusion of all body sizes and types into fashion. No more discrimination and body shaming; every plus size man deserves to be loved and be given an opportunity to “rock” any trendy outfit.
A perfect example of a plus size man in such situation is Zach Miko; he was never exactly a shoo-in for the entertainment industry’s body ideals. However, he became the very first plus size model to be signed to a major model agency IMG in 2016, thereby sparking so much of the debate around male size diversity – mostly for being the first ‘plus size’ male model to appear on American retailer Target’s online store. A lesson every brand should note and emulate.
That being stated, there’s still a simple rule of thumb here for every ‘big’ man: the better the fit, the more comfortable you will feel and the more body confidence you will have when wearing your outfit. If an item is ill-fitting and has strains, bulges, sagging, or wrinkles it is unfortunately amplified on big men’s clothes.
One of the biggest mistakes that a [slightly] chubby man can do is buy clothes that are several sizes too big in a bid to disguise his shape. If your clothing is too big you will draw attention to your weight, add bulk to your body, and give off a sloppy impression.
Instead, you want your clothes fitted – not tight – which means touching your body but not being too tight or too loose. You want your clothes to ‘frame’ your body shape, not hide it or hug it. The best option is to buy an item that is slightly large and then have it professionally altered by a tailor.
However, the aforementioned can be narrowed into the following style tips to help boost the confidence of any plus sized man:
Know Your Body
As we know, bodies vary significantly, from the length of our arms to the width of our calves, and everything in between.
You might have narrow shoulders, for example, but the thighs of a skinny girl (not in transit). Or your stomach might be disproportionately large in comparison to the width of your neck. So, to properly dress, or more specifically flatter your body, you need to get an accurate idea of it. That means taking your measurements and looking for clothes in sizes that fit those measurements.
Try Before You Buy
You might be pressed for time, but if whatever you grab and purchase off a rack on your lunch break makes you look like a bag of rice then you are in for a major wardrobe malfunction. So make sure you take just a few minutes to quickly try something on for size and study how it fits in the mirror. It’s worth it. And if at all you buy off an online store, ensure you must have read and understood its return and exchange policy.
Tailor To Fit
Buying off the rack is a relatively modern approach to having your wardrobe be up to date with the latest style trend. But, on the other hand you might not be able to afford to have your entire wardrobe custom-made, but enlisting a tailor to make such outfits is needed and can make all the difference to store-bought style.
Pay Attention To Patterns And Prints
Stripes, florals, etc, all of these patterns and prints instantly draw the eye. Which means it pays to know when, where and how to deploy them. Reserve punchy patterns, prints and even bright contrast colours for the parts of the body you’re happy to put on show. Wide horizontal stripes, for example, will only accentuate an already large belly – which is cool, of course, but only if that was your intention in the first place.
Know What To Pass On
This goes for everyone really, but particularly for men who aren’t exactly model-build. Get to know what suits you and stick to it.
That’s not to say you can’t incorporate a fashion trend now and then, just make sure that trend works with your body, rather than against it. For instance, Cuban collar shirts? Great for everyone. Bare-chested suits? Nahh, pass!
This article was written by Violet Johnson