Flawless Fit Series – A Big Men’s Clothing Guide
Harness the power of the custom made suit and learn how it makes big men’s clothing both stylish and comfortable.
Big men’s clothing choices shouldn’t be limited by their weight. So you haven’t been down to your “playing weight” since freshman year of high school. That’s okay. Big men’s clothes should still fit great and big guy fashion is not limited to the selections you’ll find on the rack of specialty stores.With the plethora of custom clothing makers out there (including Black Lapel) making clothes based on your exact measurements, heavyset men are no longer stuck in a style ghetto. If you see a fly suit on one of the men in this publication, you can get it in your size no matter what that size is.
Big Guy Fashion Secret – The Suit
While some big men’s clothes put you at a disadvantage fit-wise, tailored clothing, like suits, can flatter a wide range of body types because they can be tailored to fit your body. The full suit also has the added benefit of giving you a top to bottom, put together look. This elongates your frame. Heavyset men can wear non-matching jackets and pants (or Unsuits as we like to call them), but there shouldn’t be much color contrast between the top and the bottom. By keeping the colors cohesive from top to bottom you can achieve the same lengthening effect of a suit, but it’s a little trickier to pull off. The easier move is to go with a suit. And, there are some important things to consider that will help you the portly gentleman look great in a suit: fabric and fit. Since this is a part of our Flawless Fit Series, we’ll spend more time on fit, but for the heavyset gent, fabric is too important to skip over, so let’s start there.
Choosing the Right Fabric for Big Men’s Clothing
We’ve talked about choosing the right color for you in the past. (If you haven’t read it yet, we recommend you check out our How to Build a Suit story before deciding on a fabric color.) But heavyset men should pay special attention to the colors they choose. Light colored fabrics will stand out more and put the emphasis on the wearer’s body rather than his face. Larger men should stick to darker tones that frame the face, instead.
One of the classic ways men dress for their size is by using patterns to accentuate the positives. For the heavyset man, pinstripes are your best friend. Pinstripes, with their association with bankers, have gotten a bad rap lately, but the modern take on pinstripes is bringing them back into favor. Today more narrowly spaced pinstripes are changing the way guys approach this classic style and for larger gents, the narrow stripes make for even more of the visual lengthening effect that makes you appear more trim.
Big Men’s Clothing Keys to Fit
Once you’ve chosen a fabric that works for you, the choices you make about fit will play a big role in how your suit looks on you. If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for a flawless fit. That’s where custom suits come into play. When the suit is made to your measurements, it’s much more likely to fit you well, right out of the gate.
But before you take your measurements, think about how you wear your pants. For a heavier guy to nail the fit of a suit, he’s got to make a decision about where to wear his pants. If you’ve got a bit of a belly there are two approaches:
Wear your pants at the natural waist (an inch or two below the navel).
If you choose this option, avoid wearing belts that need to cinch around your midsection and opt for stylish suspenders instead. These will hold your pants suspended at the proper place and allow them to drape well as they slightly taper to your lower leg. Wearing your pants this way will aid in keeping your look streamlined since your suit will flow uninterrupted from the neck to the ankles without your shirt and stomach showing below your buttoned jacket.
Wear your pants below your belly.
If you’re particularly fond of belts and aren’t concerned with the streamlining effect, the other option for the portly gent is to wear your pants lower. This creates a more casual look, more akin to low-rise jeans. This look can work in a casual setting.
Why make this decision now? Because where you will wear your pants affects the length and the rise/seat of the pants. A man wearing pants at his natural waist will need a longer pant leg than he would need if he wore his pants down closer to his hips.
The other key to fit for the big men’s clothing when it comes to suits, is the jacket waist. While waist suppression (the taper through the midsection that you see on the Black Lapel models) may work for some guys, it doesn’t make sense for everyone. To avoid any pulling in the waist area, opt for a more generous cut jacket like a tailored fit or standard fit from Black Lapel.
A word of caution here: Choosing a looser cut is not the same as sizing up. Don’t make the mistake that guys of all shapes and sizes make, and get a jacket that is just too big all around. This mistake can make anyone looking like a shapeless blob.
The little things that make a big man look good
We’ve discussed cloth, we’ve discussed cut, now we’ll tackle customization. The there are a few things that you can choose in a custom suit that will help the overall look.
The streamlined look of a piped pocket minimizes extra fabric around the midsection and is a more formal look that’s good for a business suit. Too formal? Opt for an angled flapped pocket that take some of the breadth away from your hips and make you look slimmer.
The slim lapel trend is still alive, but big guys should stick with more substantial lapels that cover more ground on the chest. Further, the slanting lines of lapels have a slimming effect that can be accentuated by the pointed ends of peak lapels.
Despite all of the vitriol directed at pleats from the fashion world over the past decade or so, pleats are beginning to make a comeback in the stylish men’s wardrobe. This is good news for heavyset guys who want a little extra room in their pants for comfort when sitting. The pendulum of fashion is swinging back in your favor.
The World Is Yours
With so many made-to-measure clothing choices available, the heavyset man’s got options like never before. That means there’s no excuse for dressing like a scrub. Master these keys to a flawless fit and any big guy can look fly. Of course, if you have questions, we’re here to help. Send your questions to a Black Lapel stylist at email@example.com.
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