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Dress to Your Attributes

In one of our earlier articles, we wrote about a few of the traits well dressed men share. One of the key insights we gleaned from the best dressed men is that they know themselves.

What did we mean by that–knowing themselves?

We meant that well dressed men know the strengths and weaknesses of their appearance, and dress in ways to minimize their weaknesses and maximize their strengths. The mostly fell into two buckets: body type, and facial bone structure.

In this article we’re going to delve deeper into this concept of knowing yourself, as it relates to style and fashion.

General Body Type Fashion Ideas

Your body type is crucial in determining how to dress

While your social group, demographic, audience, and occasion often dictate most of what you wear, your physical attributes usually determine the rest. Of your physical attributes, your body shape is most important. For example, your body shape will determine whether certain items are even options: if something doesn’t fit, or fits awkwardly, it’s out.

Of our general body shape, the main factors to account for when building your wardrobe are:

  • Waist
  • Height
  • Gut / Belly Fat
  • Musculature / Neck
  • Limb length relative to Torso
  • Shoulder width relative to Torso
  • Foot length

Let’s break down all of these factors in more detail:

Waist

Your waist circumference isn’t just relevant if you’re carrying around some extra body fat or not: some men have a large waist despite having very little body fat, while some carry their fat a little higher, so it hangs over their waist. Even if you are lean, clothing that accentuates a wide waist, especially in relation to shoulder width should be avoided.

Height

Height can have a significant impact on the clothes you should wear. Pants can be hemmed, but not all shirts are easily tailored to fit shorter men. Many designer t-shirt brands fit best on men with a tall and lean build with proportionally narrow shoulders. Shorter men are less likely to have these proportions, especially if they take our advice and work out.

Gut / Belly Fat

While it’s best to not have much belly fat for, if anything, health reasons, it isn’t reality for many. Clearly, if you have a gut, you should be dressing in ways to minimize it, not draw extra attention to it. Major faux pas include shirts that show your belly when you raise your hands, jeans that have to be worn too low to fit, or clothing that is too tight fitting. Tight is in today, but if you’re on the husky side, tight works best tucked in, with business casual or formal attire.

If you’ve got a bit of a gut … don’t dress like this guy…

Musculature

Most people, men and women, admire a man with a nice musculature. If you’ve got muscles, it’s ok to show them off. With that said, shopping when you’re got a more muscular build is not without it’s challenges. The same issues that plague short men with designer shirts is even more pronounced with muscular men: their chest might be bursting out of a shirt that reaches down to their ankles: not a great look!

Fortunately, tight is in for pants, so unless you’re a serious powerlifter, you can probably get away with many pant options looks wise, if they aren’t too uncomfortable. I’ve included ‘Neck’ in this section because issues with neck size are highly correlated to musculature. For dress shirts, aim for slim fit shirts, but even then, tailoring is likely a necessity.

Limb Length Relative to Torso

Your proportions are often dictated by height and weight; however, that is not always the case. Unfortunately, most clothes are designed for people with typical proportions. If you’re proportions vary, a perfect fit won’t always be there.

Fortunately, apart from tailoring, there are ways you can take your proportions into account. If you have short arms relative to torso, consistently rolling up your sleeves is an easy adjustment to make. While skinny jeans are in, if you have really long legs and a short torso, consider jeans that are a little looser fitting.

Shoulder Width Relative to Torso

Another ratio that’s hugely important for shirts. Similar to the issues men with muscular builds encounter, having wide shoulders relative to your torso length can cause fit nightmares with most higher end designer clothing. Most high-end brands are not designed for people with that type of ratio, however, there are brands that typically fit better than others. Experiment with multiple options that don’t make shirts that fit your shoulders look like dresses.

Narrow shoulders and long torso folk, you don’t necessarily have it that easy. You may not want to accentuate your long skinny look, in which case you may consider a look that draws away some attention from your narrow shoulders. Less tight t-shirts and more looser fitting t-shirts, sweaters, and button downs are a way to go.

Foot Length

Body shape doesn’t only impact shirts and pants, it’s also impacts shoes. Fortunately, most shoe styles can work for people with feet of all different shapes and sizes, provided they are comfortable. However, we would caution against exaggerating already large feet with pointed shoes or boots. Today, tight fitting pants are in, which make feet stand out more than with other styles.

Facial Bone Structure

The shape of your body is not the only attribute that should impact your style. The shape of your face is also important, especially when it comes to shirts and accessories. The main factors you should be considering with regard to your bone structure are:

  • Neck — Masculine features such as a defined Adam’s apple and muscle definition are worth accenting, otherwise, consider polo’s or other collared shirts as a staple in your wardrobe. Accessories such as necklaces can also draw attention to your neck.
  • Jawline — The best ways to accentuate your jaw line or divert attention to it involve facial hair; however, clothes are still important. Similar to neckline, collars help divert attention, contrasting color shirts help draw attention.
  • Forehead — A large forehead can be concealed with hair styling or a hat. A large forehead will make your head appear larger than it is. In order to offset this appearance with clothing, looser clothing around your torso will help smooth out the relationship between torso size and head size. If you’ve already got a big torso, you don’t need to worry about it.

Maximize the good, minimize the bad

Hopefully you’ve gleaned some insights on how to dress to your attributes. We’ll get into more specific details, with examples and suggested items for various body types soon. But the gist will always remain the same: maximize your good features, minimize your bad ones. Dress to your attributes.

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