All men were not created equal! Whoever said that we were didn’t understand fashion or style. Our female counterparts have it much tougher than we do; many more shapes and curves to be aware of and try to accommodate or camouflage. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t have to pay attention or understand the basics. Remember, fashion refers to the clothing itself, while the word style is the way in which you manage and coordinate the fashion you wear. Just because something is stylish, does not always translate into something you should include as part of your style. Your age, situation and body type play a major role.
Understanding your body and how to dress it to minimize your flaws, and accentuate your positive attributes is crucial to your good image. The true test in determining what to buy and wear is always clothing’s fit. Just because something costs an arm and a leg doesn’t mean that it fits you or your shape. Don’t just buy things you know are fashionable without analyzing whether or not it works for you.
There are 3 basic body types: heavy, average and thin. There are also 3 height variations: tall, average and short. The guy who is average in build and height has it pretty easy. You can wear just about anything and have it work for you. The key is to dress in clothing that fits you well. Garments should neither be too big, nor too small. But if you don’t fit into the average category, we need to look at you and how you should be dressing, or what you need to avoid in order to optimize your appearance.
- Avoid horizontal stripes or patterns: If you have a belly, or are a bit on the “teddy bear” side of things, avoid horizontal stripes and patterns. Instead, choose stripes or patterns that are vertical (top to bottom). A person’s eye will follow the lines, and it will give you the visual illusion of length and a slimmer build.
- Avoid pants with pleats or tapered legs: Pleats only add extra fabric around your mid-section and body. Tapered pants will cause the fabric of your pant leg to bunch at your ankle; only causing you to look bulkier and larger than you are. Opt for the flat front straight leg pants. This will give you a slimmer appearance; creating a straight line from your hip to your shoe.
- Avoid shoes that are bulky or overly square or round in shape: A bulky shoe gives the illusion of heft. Instead, choose footwear that is sleek and stream lined. This will also give you a slimmer appearance.
- No large prints or patterns: Large prints or patterns only draw attention to your shape. Wearing shirts with a large pattern or print will only draw attention to your upper body, and if you are tying to conceal your belly, this will only do the opposite. Choose prints and patterns that are small and discreet.
- No loud or ultra bold colors: Loud and bold colors, or drastically contrasting tops and bottoms, will break the visual line of your body in half. This also will draw attention to your midsection. Instead, go for a monochromatic color scheme. This will instantly make you look 15 pounds lighter and create a seamless line from your neck to your feet.
- Avoid turtle necks or crew neck shirts: This will only make you look heavier than you are. Instead, go for a neckline that is more open, such as a v-neck. This will make you look much better and ultimately thinner.
Skinny and Tall:
- Stay away from vertical stripes: Vertical stripes will only make you look thinner. Choose shirts that have horizontal stripes to give you the appearance of bulk. Horizontal stripes will make your shoulders and chest look larger.
- Wear fitted or tailored shirts: Large shirts with a square cut will only make you look like you are wearing a tent. Fitted shirts will create a great v shape and give you a more muscular look. To add a little extra girth, wear a shirt underneath or layer overtop, which adds visual weight to your body.
- Choose lighter colors: All black or dark tones will only make you look skinnier than you are. Choose colors that are lighter in tone and ultimately give you a heavier appearance.
- Avoid baggy pants: Baggy pants will only make you look shorter. Choose pants that are fitted or straight leg to give you the look of height.
- Avoid pleated and cuffed pants: Pleats and cuffs will break the visual line of your body and ultimately make you look short. Instead, opt for flat front non-pleated pants to ensure a crisp, clean line from you waist to your feet.
- Wear pants that have a low rise: Rise refers to the distance between the bottom of your crotch and the top of your waist. Don’t buy pants with a normal rise; instead choose a pant that is designated as low rise. This will prevent a baggy or sagging crotch and give you the appearance of longer legs.
- Avoid large prints: Large prints will eat you up. Choose shirts and pants that are small in print to make you look taller.
By understanding and paying attention to your body shape and build is essential to you looking your best. The reality is that we are not all equal in terms of shape and height, but the way you dress and wear clothing will help bridge the gap.
Aaron Marino is the founder, owner, and senior style consultant at Atlanta’s alpha m. Image Consulting. He also runs alpha m. Dot Net, which features accessories for men, and I Am Alpha M. , which is a lifestyle and personal development zone for men. He authored the book, “The Guy’s Guide to Image, Style, and Impeccable Grooming” and appeared on VH1’s Glam God and also Man Made Style. He frequently makes public appearances, giving his expert opinions an advice, and his highly sought after videos appear on YouTube.