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Body / August 22, 2022

vintage short and tall man together 1920s 1930sMen come in all shapes and sizes, and for every man there are fabrics and styles that best compliment his individual body type. A tall man in an overcoat wants to look regal, not like a giant. A short man in a suit wants to look professional, not like a kid wearing his older brother’s clothes. A large man wearing a blazer seeks to project a stately image, not of a sack about to burst at the seams. All men want to be taken seriously; to ensure our audience does not focus on our physical flaws, it’s important that we de-emphasize them. Let me be clear – no suit is going to hide 100 pounds of excess weight; you can, however, minimize the attention paid to certain physical features and thus downplay their significance. A large man will look big, but he doesn’t have to look fat.

Please note – In an effort to eliminate redundancy, I will state now that every man could improve his appearance with the help of a skilled tailor. A tailor with both talent and an eye for style is rare – if you find one, build and maintain this relationship. Also for this article I focus on working with what a man currently has; diet and exercise, although the ideal solution for many, are not considered here.

The Man of Average Build

nicholas soames british parliament large man suitThe man of average build is neither tall, nor short; neither too heavy, nor too thin. He does not have huge muscles, and most clothing seems to just fit him off the rack. He is the average man, and he is fortunate in that almost anything looks great on his frame. If you are in this category thank your parents, dress neatly, pay attention to your complexion/fabric combinations, and wear the right clothing for the occasion.

The Tall Man

The first important choice a tall man has to make about a suit is what type of fabric will it be made from. Both checks and windowpane fabrics are excellent choices – besides being both unique and classy, the horizontal lines of these patterns help the tall man appear more substantial.daniel day lewis pinstripe suit with wife Tall men can still wear stripes, but they should consider patterns that are spaced farther apart and have some weight to them such as chalk stripes (vs. thin pin stripes).

Garment style features that help the tall man look more proportional include a ticket pocket (a smaller pocket above the right side pocket on the jacket), larger trouser cuffs (try 1 7/8 inches), a jacket that’s ¾ to an inch past the bottom curve of the backside (to help cut the leg line), and details such as pocket squares and a boutonnière. Individually each of these has only a small effect, but together they work to break up the vertical lines which make tall men look abnormal. Overall the key to a tall man looking proportionally sound is to ensure that his clothing is built relative to his size. Thus when choosing a garment he should look at details like the pocket flaps and lapel widths and ask himself whether they appear too small for the garment they are attached to.

arnold schwarzenegger governor california suitA great example of a modern tall man who downplays his height is Tim Robbins. At 6′ 5”, he is one of the tallest actors in the world. But most of us don’t pay attention to his height; instead we focus on his acting. And that’s the purpose of wearing clothes that proportion you correctly – to ensure the focus is on you and your talents, not your height.

The Short Man

The problems of the short man are in many ways the opposite of those the tall man faces. Where as a tall man wants eye catching detail, the short man should seek to streamline his outfit as to allow an observer a smooth path from the shoes to the face. Short men should avoid horizontal lines; whether they be in the fabric of his suit or in the subtle line drawn across his chest with a square pocket fold (instead opt for a double point fold). Vertical lines, especially thin ones close together, should find their way into your wardrobe. Solid fabrics are perfectly fine, especially dark colors that have a slimming effect, but a man shorter than average should be careful of textured solids such as plaids and bird’s eyes that cause the eyes to fixate vs. moving smoothly up and down.