Since everyone these days are fans of staying in shape (it’s a prerequisite for being Australian, no?) it’s high time we took a look at fashion for the gym heroes, muscular men or simply those with an athletic body shape.
We know it’s rare to house a runway-ready size 30′ waist and be 6ft 2′, which is why looking at fashion week and magazine editorials for outfit inspiration can go horribly wrong if you’re the chunkier bloke.
And by chunky, we mean muscular, fit, perennially beach ready. Got it? Your clothing tag may read L or XL, but we know it’s because you regularly hit the weights and care about your physical appearance. So, with the gym session done for the day and protein shake in hand, now it’s time to whip your wardrobe into shape.
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The Truth About Fashion For Muscular Men
Despite popular belief, muscly guys don’t need oversized fits to compensate for their big size. Because you’ve worked hard to be a large or extra large shirt, we have to tell you that brands vary between country and continent and while you may be an ‘L’ in London, you may very well be an ‘M’ in Melbourne. Know your size as ‘well’ as you know your favourite t-shirt maker. If you’re shopping a label for the first time, try it on.
Too big? Go down one. You have the arms to show-off and no gut to hide, so when it comes to fashion for muscular men don’t be afraid to downsize.
Keep It Natural & Neutral
Big guys should generally stick to neutral and non-look-at-me colours. People in the street generally feel intimidated by your gargantuan size so put away your fluoro, lightning bolt tee.
While bright colours have their place on summer tanks, singlets and polos for when the beach calls, in winter stick to monochrome and sombre colours – navy, blue, brown, olive and camel – especially on outerwear. Because of your towering physique, chunks of colour tend to appear more offensive on the eye than when worn by Mr Slim.
Because you don’t need any extra help in the Hulk department, keep your outerwear and knits (especially in winter) light. With little-to-no body fat, we know the cold must chill you, so opt for layering. Say no to cable knit sweaters and downed puffer coats, which will barrel-out your chest and make you look huge.
Instead, layer with light things – long sleeve shirts, roll necks, cardigans and thin sweaters (three or four if you need) before selecting the thinnest of trenches or macs to pull the winter look together. Opt for cashmere and mohair wool, avoiding thick tweeds. Biker jackets in leather or denim are also good for casual wear and summer time, avoiding the pumped-up look of knitted wools.
Yes, you have big quads, son of Thor – but that doesn’t mean you require acres of leg room in your jeans. With fashion for muscular men, staying in tune with modern day denim, opt for a slim fit jean or more relaxed fit for those heavy-legged lads. Denim is a natural fabric and is designed to mould to your body, which is why it can take a couple of wears to ‘break’ a new pair in.
With all that training time, we know you’re persistent, but selecting a stretch denim (as opposed to raw or selvage, which tend to be rather thick) is a good option. These days, denim is your best friend, coming in so many different fits (with equally absurd names) that you may have to try a range to get one that’s best for you. Final word on denim? A cardinal sin for fashion for muscular men, avoid skinny jeans; they will break your soul before even your legs get the chance to break them first.
Your local tailor is as imperative to your health as your doctor. Locate him and get him on speed dial. Because when it comes to fashion for muscular men you’ve chosen to ‘customise’ the shape of your body, your clothes don’t escape some alterations either. While bespoke suiting is the best option and not so expensive these days, buying a suit off the shelf is simple and can be easily custom-sized after purchase.
Make sure the pants and jacket fit in the key areas, and then everything else after that can be fit to you properly. Plus, buying your suit as separates – that is, selecting the jacket and pant size individually – will offer your a more succinct fit before seeking the cut and sew.
Find Your Brand Match
Take the time to understand your trusty go-to labels, for fashion for muscular men, those ones that fit your arms, chest and legs, and stick with them. At the end of the day, only you will notice that your wardrobe boasts seven same-branded chinos in seven colour-ways. Sometimes approaching hard-to-fit items, like pants, as a uniform takes the stress out of dressing and in the end makes you more confident and therefore, stylish.
You’ve probably discovered most super luxury collections don’t design for buff lads too, so search out your mainstream labels and weave them among your Armani’s and Gucci’s. Want more luxury? Work that into your timepiece and shoes.
Keep It Classic
Because you don’t fit the typical silhouette that most brands designs for, being classic instead of trendy is your best approach. A lot of retailers don’t produce fashion for muscular men, so fill your wardrobe with white crew-neck tees and neutral-hued sweaters, and slim-fit mid-wash jeans and khaki chinos with a tapered leg.
Then invest in a cropped pea coat, a minimal mac or trench that’s snug in navy or black. Keep patterns and prints obscure and let superbly cut suits and lush fabric be your style point of difference – not deep V-neck tees and zebra stripe pants.
Key Fashion Items
For accentuating the V-torso, the cropped at the waist the bomber or Harrington jacket offers the perfect silhouette. It rounds broad shoulders and gives the allusion of big arms (even on the skinny guys) so no one will know if it’s the jacket making you look a little tank or your own hard work.
Opt for one in a wool-cotton blend for breathability and depth in material for extra padding that adds to the allusion: Is he or isn’t he a muscle machine? For show-offs, polyester-cotton blend in a snug fit will turn you into a (stylish) Varsity jock.
Stay thin and layered with your approach to knits. Cashmere (never polyester) or wool are your winter friend and keep those pecks warm without the extra bulk. The openness of cardigans make them a casual coat in some respects, so work that for all its worth. Check out some examples from our 5 ways to rock knitwear article.
Single-breasted is your premier choice. Double-breasted and its crossover of front fabric can sometimes add unwanted bulge and like your casual wear, avoid heavy patterns: window-pane checks and large pyjama stripes particularly on blazers and jackets. Instead, stick to textural flecks and mohair fabrics for a subtle sheen. Linen is super in summer as it’s light and sits flat to the body. But check the athletic suit from Paul Smith; lightweight its wool rivals the practicalities of linen, but without the creases. Pair it with a crisp white tee and matching sneakers for an urban look; while a cotton button-down and pair of leather monks sees you off to the office.
Relaxed fit or slim and not tight on the butt or thigh is your best bet. Avoid skinny or baggy boot jeans, as your squat legs deserve some exposure. Key chinos mainstream brands are J.Crew, Dockers, Banana Republic and JAG.
Tees slim, always but not in the sense of work out skins – leave that in the gym. And the henley tee – the ones that offer mid-chest unbuttoning from the neck – will serve you well in freeing the chest area. Button-ups should be tapered below the lats to accommodate for the broad shoulder-to-hips ratio on account of your V-shape. Here’s your chance to add some colour – pastels are your type of hue – in green, pink and blue. And Hugh & Crye do a great athletic fit shirt, available online here.
Wing-tip dress shoes will give the allusion of wider foot and balance out the width with your thighs and shoulders than regular, pointed shoes. And go for a heel, which will elongate the muscles of your thick legs. Heavy-duty boots with industrial heels are great too – and best of, they are super on-trend. Trainers are an obvious and superb choice for you, Mr Muscles – so go all out with neon, retro Nikes and crisp white plimsolls. Shoes are where you shine, so play around.