Cutting Shapes: Choosing a Suit that Fits
Men come in all different shapes and sizes: Dad; athletic; rugged; waifish — whether you’re short, tall, skinny, plump or ripped, every man has to play the hand they’re dealt. But that doesn’t mean you can’t dress in a way that flatters your figure. Buying an outfit that suits your shape is the best way to embrace your body and accentuate your best features.
Don’t let your natural frame inhibit your sartorial choices. In this post, we’ll look at how tactical tailoring can help enhance and transform your build, and how you can find a suit that fits.
If your height leaves a little to be desired, don’t resign yourself to having to wear cuban heels. Creating the appearance of longer legs is simple. To give your stature a boost, focus on emphasising long, linear lines in your outfit. The more consistent the line from head-to-toe, the longer — and, therefore, taller — you’ll look.
- Jacket and shirt: To lengthen out your torso and legs in one fell swoop, opt for a shorter jacket with two buttons and a long lapel. The depth of the jacket’s ‘V’ shape will give an appearance of length. Make sure that the sleeves of the jacket come up a little short to reveal more cuff — shorter men can pull this off better than their lankier brethren — and avoid long sleeves that extend over the hand. At best, no one will notice; at worst, you’ll look like you’re playing dress up with your dad’s clothes.
- Trousers: Keep trousers tapered and avoid turn-ups or drop crotches, as these will only emphasise short pins. To really give the illusion of long limbs, wear your trousers a little higher on the hips.
- Fabric and/or pattern: Shorter men should avoid bold patterns and prints, as this will only break up the consistency of the line. Block colours are a good shout, as are pinstripes that create the illusion of a lengthier frame. Our dark grey pinstripe Empire Elite two-piece combines slim-fit tailoring with vertical pinstripes to give you a long and lean look.
Shorter gents should also avoid wearing belts. Belts, especially those with a big shiny buckle, disrupt the flow of your outfit. Remember: it’s all about the lines. Keep a line from head to toe and, before you know it, you’ll have gained a couple of extra inches — without having to whack out the platforms.
Willowy physiques may adorn the catwalks, but, for gents that stand head and shoulders above the crowd, a suit can make you look lanky and out of proportion — more Dracula than David Gandy. If you’re a tall man, the opposite rule applies. You’ll want to avoid creating long lines in your outfit and, instead, break up the continuity and consistency with bold patterns and colours.
- Jacket and shirt: Predictably, tall men should opt for a longer jacket and avoid having too much shirt showing beneath the bottom button to offset the appearance of gangly legs. You’ll also want to accessorise to break up the vast swathes of material. A pocket square, for example, will direct the eye line horizontally, rather than vertically.
- Trousers: As fashion rules for men go, there’s nothing worse than having trousers that stop short at the ankles and look like they’ve been shrunk in the wash. Long legs look better in trousers that stop at the shoes — ankle swingers will only emphasise your gargantuan stature.
- Fabric and/or pattern: Tall men can afford to go to town when it comes to patterns — the busier or bolder the better. Our goal here is to create a disconnect in the appearance of length. Bold checks and herringbone designs, such as our grey blue windowpane plaid jacket, are perfect for the job. Its distinct design directs the eyes across to give you a broader look — so if you’re also conscious that you’re on the thinner side, you’ll not only look less lanky, but also more confident and imposing — in a good way.
To really shave some inches off your height, go for separates, rather than a three-piece. Pair a herringbone jacket with plain suit trousers to look stylish, without emphasising your height, and add as many accessories as your sartorial sensibilities will allow. Belts are also a great way to break up your outfit — and, since we now know that men on the shorter side should avoid them, perhaps your smaller friends will be able to hook you up!
When it comes to finding an outfit to suit your shape, rakish gents have similar problems as their tall brothers. As a slender guy, you’ll want to add some heft to your slight frame, so avoid pinstripes or anything that emphasises your lack of breadth.
- Jacket and shirt: To bulk out a slim torso, opt for a padded jacket that gives you a stronger shoulder line. Keep your lapels slim, so that your head stays in proportion to your narrower shoulders. To really add some girth, opt for a double-breasted jacket: the overlapping materials will give the impression of a more substantial chest.
- Trousers: Many women would be envious of your long, thin pins, but it’s something that can make many men self-conscious. Pleated trousers can work wonders. The extra fold in the fabric works in the same way as the double-breasted jacket, by tricking the eye into seeing more than is actually there.
- Fabric and/or pattern: As with tall guys, skinny fellas should go for big, bold patterns and avoid block colours that will drown an already diminished frame. Houndstooth and plaids are always a good bet: our sharply-tailored brown red houndstooth tweed, for example, with its busy pattern, bulks out a skinny frame, without making you look like you’re wearing a suit that’s two sizes too big.
Thinner men often make the same fashion faux-pas of dressing in poorly-fitted clothes. Whether you add swathes of material to hide skinny limbs or go for a super-tight fit to emphasise the little mass you have, both are fashion fails. Rather than creating an illusion of a bigger build, a poorly-fitted suit will only highlight a slight frame. Instead, stick to a slim-fit suit that works with — not against — your body.
Chunky, stocky, more rugged types can have a bad time when it comes to finding a suit that fits. However, with a few smart tailoring choices, you can easily get that svelte look. The larger lad wants to contour his shape, so creating long and lean lines is key.
- Jacket and shirt: Men with a bit of extra padding should opt for shorter, two buttoned jackets that both elongate and narrow the torso. Even if your waistline protrudes, a tapered jacket will give you a more shapely look.
- Trousers: When it comes to shopping for trousers, it’s vital to get the right fit. You want the fabric to skim your skin, but you don’t want a look so taut that it seems like you’re bursting at the seams.
- Fabric and/or pattern: Unless you’re looking to channel jolly St Nick in your sartorial selections, avoid bold colours and heavy fabrics. Pinstripes will draw the eye to your length, rather than your girth, while dark colours naturally slim a bigger build. Our black Empire Essential three-piece is both slimming and stylish if you’re packing a little more weight.
Heavier men, like skinny guys, are often guilty of opting for baggy suits that drown out their natural shape. Unfortunately, this only exaggerates a larger build and will make you look scruffy. A bit of clever tailoring is all you need.
Have you been putting in time at the gym? In that case, you probably have the so-called perfect physique for a suit: the classic V — broad, shapely shoulders and a tapered waist. However, even with a fit body, you can’t expect to be able to rock any suit — it should emphasise and show off your shape, rather than conceal it.
- Jacket and shirt: You’ve put in the hard work to get a solid, sculpted bod, so you don’t need an overly-tailored suit. Unpadded shoulders will show off your toned biceps — just avoid peak lapels that will make you look disproportionate.
- Trousers: Unless you’ve got a perfectly balanced body, chances are that the width of your shoulders won’t align with your waist. In the tailoring world, two and three-piece suits for the broader man are often made to accommodate those with bigger guts. To get the perfect fit for your upper and lower body, opt for separates instead.
- Fabric and/or pattern: A man with a gym-honed bod can essentially wear whatever fabric and pattern he wants. As the saying goes: if you’ve got it, flaunt it — don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment.
There may not be a single suit that fits all body shapes, but, thanks to clever tailoring and simple, but effective, tricks, every discerning gent can look great in a suit. Browse our full collection of suits and accessories and find the perfect suit that will work with your build, rather than against it