As painful as it can be (being a stylish larger gent), sourcing and wearing stylish clothes for the skinny guy also has its obstacles. Failing to find clothing that flatters the thin, most guys fall into the habit of letting clothes engulf their frame. So, before you drown in voluminous cotton and suffocating tweed, cling to the lifeline I’m about to throw to you. Don’t look back. Swim, skinny boy, swim.
Breaking It Down
Say No To Super Slim-Fit Shirts
From the button-down to the comfort tee, nothing second-skin thin is permitted on the skinny guy’s bod. For fear of drawing attention to your petit size, this includes shirts labelled super-fit or ultra-slim and shirts that are stretchy or clingy in fabric. But, wearing shirts that are too large will highlight your lean build just as much, creating a pool in which you’re swimming in your clothes. For button-downs, choose shirts that fit your shoulders, and fall slightly tapered down from top. Nothing says ‘clumsy intern’ more, however, than a billowy, tucked-in business shirt. So, try shirts on before you buy.
You’re Skinny, Not Your Jeans
You might have the legs for skinny jeans, but that doesn’t mean it looks good. Instead of super tight denim that only highlights a lack of quads, go for straight leg. Dark denim is slimming, so keep this in mind, favouring classic wash or light. Unfortunately, a relaxed fit is another style you should avoid, creating a messy silhouette that looks like your playing dress-ups in dad’s clothes, rather than being a stylish dude.
Pleats, Folds & Pads
Double breasted suit coats and jackets are your best bet. The crossover of fabric at the front will add depth to your frame and it’s a classic way of looking more ‘grown-up’, instead of boyish. Go for a style with prominent buttons and denser fabric for winter (think wool or flannel), adding extra punch to your size. For the super narrow up top, opting for padded-shoulders in jackets will broaden you out too.
Suit trousers are your chance to bulk out – opting for pleats this time at the front to fill out the waist. Another way to bulk up the leg are window-pane checks with a tapering from the knee down. The shape and pattern will give a visual allusion that you’re bigger than you really are.
Layer For Massive Gains
Layering like a boss allows you to build size in an instant and makes you look and feel heftier. Winter is the easiest time to do this, compiling a tailored outfit that includes a shirt, waistcoat, shawl cardigan, suit jacket and finally, the overcoat. You can add even more kilos to your frame by selecting a denser, wool suit. Heavier cloths look a lot better, keep their shape and drape better across your perfectly tailored form. Go for a 13oz suit fabric weight and you’ll be huge – in the style stakes.
Off-duty layering is all about the knit. The chunkier the better, heavy sweaters such as cable knits and roll necks add easy size, under an equally dense pea-coat with wide-lapel.
Like Your Whites
Light colours such as white, cream, beige, grey marl and pastels, show off every lump and bump. So, because you’re the skinny guy, these hues are key. White or taupe pants are a great summer look and will widen the appearance of your leg, while a cream linen blazer will show-off any definition you do have – making sure the shoulder is square and don’t always button up, creating the look of extra room.
Pastel shirts and sweaters are perfect and instead of black or navy outerwear, work camel, ochre or marsala on to a mac or pea coat, so you don’t get swallowed up by the darkness.
Keep watches, eyewear, scarves and bags small – in proportion with your waif-like limbs. No bug-eye shades, and a heavy, chunky watch will only draw attention to your slim wrists. Keep ties straight and narrow and bow-ties streamline. Any big accessory – not matter the brand and quality- will look like a novelty piece if it’s outrageously disproportionate to you face, waist and chest. So, think small.
Dressing your top half the same as the bottom half will stop you from accentuating skinny legs or narrow shoulers. You want symmetry and the look of being ‘bigger’ overall. Thick and layered fabrics on top need to be met with equally substantial bottoms like wool chinos or selvedge denim or cuffed track pants. Tapered pants in stretch denim under a puffer jacket would only make you look top heavy and emphasise your pins.
Key Skinny Guy Items
Double-breasted and clean-lined jackets are you go-to. The Kingsmen X Mr Porter collection offer a superb light grey in check suit in English wool for that needed density; while Hardy Amies’ white grey linen blazer is a lighter double-breasted option for summer.
Cord is a great bulking fabric. For casual cord, look to Acne’s camel jeans; while Berluti and Boglioli offer a more suave, Italian trouser for work. Pleats are supplied by J.Crew for casual trousers and for shorts, head to Paul Smith. More office-ready pleating in silk and cotton blend is yours care of Maison Margiela.
Selvedge’s thickness is a great choice for skinny legs, looking to brands like Nudie Jeans, Balmain and Levi’s. Slight distressed denim with offer some distracting detail on jeans. Check out Ron Herman, The People Vs. and Michael Bastian for straight-cut fits. Acne Studios in the ultimate skinny guy jean; offering straight-up-and-down fits that are minimal and easy.
Boxy and longer coats can overwhelm a thinner build so go for a three-quarter length mac, which cut just above the knee. The density of the shearling shawl coat from Berluti will have looking bigger immediately, and the buttons and shoulder straps on military coats will add more bulk. Duffle and pea coats, which sit just past the waist, are perfect, too. Opt for the green duffle from Burberry and the cotton canvas pea in red from Hardy Amies – avoiding slim-look black.
Roll and crew neck sweaters and tees are great for increasing surface area. V-necks tend to accentuate thin necks and collarbones and button-up shirts, fastened nearly all the way up are a good way to add shape to your shoulder (compared to tees). And go for plaid and macro prints to add size. Hit up Sunspel and Officine Generale for basic and patterned tees, and Thom Browne and Club Monaco and Incotex for cool plaids. Barena and Cos do slim formal shirting that’s not too skinny.