Whether you’re naturally big-boned, have an under-active thyroid or experience a little self-induced largeness due to the fact you enjoy consuming several meat pies at once, the overweight guy shouldn’t be exempt from looking like a star. Here’s our guide to fashion for the larger gent.
Even if you’re already en route to weight loss, you still need to learn how to dress for your current body type. We’re not saying you have to lose weight in order to look good (we’ll leave Michelle Bridges to convince you of that).
What’s more important when it comes to fashion for the larger gent, the acceptance that most ready-to-wear fashion brands are not your friend, nor are the magazines and the fashion lads that parade their clothes. So turn over that glossy page for good. We’re here to help you suck up that gut, puff out that barrel chest and throw your style weight around a bit.
Because looking good is all about confidence, capped off with some simple fashion tips. We’ll have you going – from the fat man, to the big man – in no time.
Breaking It Down
The key to looking sharper and slimmer is using visual trickery. Firstly, minimise surface area. This means always tucking dress shirts into trousers and with a belt to break up the belly from the crotch, even if it tends to hang further down than it should. Create a vertical line – with a v-neck or a row of buttons – drawing the onlooker’s focus to the centre of the body, not your gut.
Darken out the big places – belly, butt or thighs – that you don’t want to emphasise, and wear lighter tones over your slimmer areas. We all have our not-bad-to-better assets, so understand yours and make them work for you.
Solid Neutrals & Classic Prints
To prevent yourself from looking like a giant piece of fruit, avoid blocked bright hues such as red, purple, green, yellow and pink, on shirts and tops. Coloured pants are fine but solid neutral colours are where you shine: navy, chocolate, olive, black and grey. These broad, block spaces in dark shades help complement your shape, perfect for tees, jackets and knits.
Look to standard patterns like checks and stripes on button shirts, as they have a distractive element and spice up a boring work look. Try working checks into shirts on dark hues and subtle stripes on blazers in muted tones. It’s all about light textures with prints rather than anything with busy graphics or patterns.
Every man needs a tailor, and with fashion for the larger gent it is no exception. Because you’re beyond normal proportions and most likely can’t buy a suit off the retail rack, skip the boutique straightaway and see the man with the tape measure and thread. Made-to-measure suiting or bespoke, where you can select everything from button colour to lapel width, will cost more than an in store suit but it will fit you like glove.
And a quality fabric in a timeless hue will last you through the ages. For trousers, opt for full break on my pants, with the pant skimming heel or slightly shorter. Jacket should cut the shoulder sharply and when fastened should sit flat with no pulling, obscuring nicely the belly or ‘frum’.
Light yet sturdy fabrics should make up your wardrobe. Too thick, and the materials will add bulk to your frame; too thin and you’ll be exposing your lumps and bumps. For suits, separates, coats and knits, go for wool, cashmere and silk, avoiding polyester. Heavy, cheap fabrics retain heat and lead to increased sweating.
Cotton is key for shirts, tees and chinos but all need a small amount of polyester (so read the label in the seam of the garment). The synthetic fiber can add durability and sturdiness, as well as offering shape and less crinkles. In summary, go for smooth, natural fabrics (with a touch of polyester) that hang close to the body without looking chunky. Selvedge denim is key for jeans, and will mould to your shape for a customised fit. But push through the first uncomfortable months, where the denim can be a little stiff.
When it comes to other pant styles, and a important rule with fashion for the larger gent, natural fabrics will keep you cool, and made of a sturdy fabric, will create a clean line from the waist to the ground.
Structural & Simple
Simplicity is your fashion friend. Search for clothes that are clean and shaped to the body. The key is structural suits, jackets and blazers that add a nice ‘squaring’ from the shoulders down and give shape automatically. Then, as the coat drapes, the body becomes naturally framed and contained within the garment. Again, structure is key for bottoms too.
Trousers are the silhouette you want, as opposed to track pants and athletic gear, which can offer sloppiness – unless you’re working out. Separates provide a nice flat front but ensure they are clean, without pleats. If the occasion is more casual, chinos are the big guy’s off duty go-to as well. Other simplicity tips: eliminate chunky wallets and keys from pockets by investment in a document holder, briefcase or back pack for a more streamline stride.
Key Large Gent Fashion Items
Get your suit custom-made. Go for low-rise trousers, with a short-break and cuffed leg length. The jacket needs to be sharp on the shoulder and avoid double-breasted; single button is great for creating a focal point that streamlines.
A cropped bomber or leather biker jacket provide a cool, lean silhouette. In warmer weather, an open shirt over a V-neck works too. In colder weather a long overcoat is a great way to make a solid impression with your whole body. Opt for traditional brands like Hackett or Burberry.
Sweaters need to be wool or cashmere in slim fit. This helps flatten the front over the belly too, but only if close and without bulge. And opt for v-neck, to create the vertical line. Knits can be chunky, but fitted and cardigans are key wardrobe necessities. Opt for one with a collar, like the shawl type, for the appearance of tailoring while being casual.
V-neck tees and Henleys should be your staples due to their slimming neckline and vertical focal points. And striped business shirts, too – just remember to tuck that thing in. Solid brands include Ralph Lauren, Saturdays NYC and Perry Ellis.
Shorts aren’t kind to you, so opt for knee-length ones if the summer weather beckons, avoiding cargos with bulky pockets. Opt for low-rise (a shorter distance between the top of the waistband and the crotch) chinos or pants and don’t sit trousers under your belly as this lengthens your torso to appear short-legged and stumpy. Check out short and trouser brands, Nautica and Maine New England – made for larger lads.
Perfect big-guy brands for jeans include Wrangler’s Texas fit, Lee’s Brooklyn Big & Tall, and J by Jasper Conran. Nudie Jeans and 3Sixteen do a great selvage denim, too.
Suspenders are key, under a blazer or suit jacket, in ensuring your trousers don’t slip below the belly. And pocket squares, lapel pins and ties are where you can add extra colour, texture and patterns into your look.