Today, I wanted to revisit a topic that I covered 6 years ago… way back in 2014 when I first started my blog. The topic.. and the question is, are your clothes making you look fat.
Alright gentlemen, so right out of the gate, it’s true. Your clothes, if not fit correctly, can make you look shorter, dumpy and bigger than you actually are. No matter how much time you spend in the gym or dieting, wearing incorrectly fitting clothes can ruin your look and hide everything that you’ve been working hard for. I get it though, wearing loose-fitting clothes is comfortable. But it can also make you look 10-20 lbs heavier, shorter, older, dumpier and they project to the world and to the people around you that you don’t care about yourself. Even if you’re carrying around a few extra lbs because we’ve all been stuck inside for so long, the standard reaction is to wear big, baggy clothes to hide any weight we’ve gained. Trust me, I get it. I’m up about 10 lbs from where I should be. But wearing oversize clothes actually makes you look bigger. Let me explain.
It’s not really your fault. Mainstream menswear manufacturers make clothing to fit the average, middle-aged male. If you have a gut, dress shirts may actually fit you better than trim guys or athletic built guys. Mass-produced, standard or traditional fit dress shirts are cut like a box. They have very little taper (if at all) from the chest down to the waist. So if you’re skinny or athletic, your body shape doesn’t mesh with how most dress shirts are designed. So you end up with puffy, billowy shirts with way too much fabric through the arms and waist.
Look for Slim-Fit shirts.
One solution: Start looking for “Trim Fit” or “Slim Fit” dress shirts. Those shirts have narrower sleeves, higher arm holes and less material in the torso. All of this combined allows the shirt to have a more streamlined look. Now, don’t mistake “Slim Fit” for tight. I’m not talking about wearing a shirt so fitted that your buttons are popping off. I’m just talking about a more fitted cut with a little room. Another option you have is to try sizing down. If you’re normally a XL, try on a few Large sizes. If you’re normally a Large, try some in a Medium. You get the idea and you might even be surprised that the smaller size looks a lot better.
The less material, the better you look.
We haven’t touched on jeans or trousers yet, but the same rules apply. The less material and the more tailored the fit, the better you look. With dress trousers and chino’s, I suggest avoiding pleats. Pleats are just folded over excess material that causes a bulky appearance at your belt line, right where you don’t want it. All this excess material continues all the way down the inseam with the leg openings being way too wide. They also typically have a lower crotch which makes your legs look a lot shorter.
Alright, let me show you a few examples. But in full disclosure, the photos I’ll be showing are from my original article. When I originally wrote it, I went to a thrift store to buy these pieces to show a decent ‘before-and-after’ comparison. I really wanted to do this again, however, with our current state of social distancing, I’m staying in as much as possible and I don’t currently own anything that would show this type of significant before and after. So for now, we’ll use my old photos. Also worth noting, I was in way better shape back then.
Jeans and a t-shirt.
Anyway, if you’re a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers guy, first up in my opinion, try avoiding logo t-shirts that make you look like a teenager especially if you’re going for a more sophisticated, grown-up and classy aesthetic. I’m not completely against logos, but for the sake of this video and keeping it age appropriate, I’ll suggest avoiding logo’s. Also, look for more current tailored-fit t-shirts or actually try sizing down from the size you think you might be. For jeans, go with slim fit in a dark wash with mild to no distressing for a more grown up look. And for shoes, instead of your running shoes or those chunky hybrid walking/hiking shoes, go with a pair of classier leather sneakers with a nice minimal streamlined silhouette.
As you can see, I’m still wearing a white shirt and jeans, but I went with a sized down v-neck t-shirt from the Gap and slim jeans from Banana Republic. The shirt on the left is a size Large and the one on the right is size Medium. And yes, I know, before the comments come in, the jeans on the right are a little long and could use a little taper down at the ankle. But like I mentioned, old photos. Okay, here’s the same look but with a black t-shirt. The choices on the right are more age appropriate, while still feeling the same. I mean after all, it’s still just jeans and a t-shirt. Notice that my legs look longer on the right because of the better fitting jeans. The crotch is where it’s supposed to be, at my crotch which makes me look taller and slimmer.
More dressy looks.
Let’s try a dressier look. You can obviously tell the differences here. The funny thing is, the puffy shirt on the left is my neck and arm size so it should ‘technically’ fit me. Same for the trousers. They actually fit my waist perfectly. And just for the record, I didn’t go out and buy these items two sizes too big just for the sake of making these photos. This shirt and this pair of pants is actually my size and it shows the point I made earlier about manufacturers trying to make clothing to fit everybody, which isn’t really possible.
The pants have way too much unnecessary fabric and the crotch is too low. The shirt sleeves are too long and way too wide. The arm holes are too low and there’s too much fabric in the torso causing it to billow out at my waist which makes me look heavier. The choices on the right are instantly slimming. The trousers are low-rise flat front, and the shirt is slim fit. Nothing here is too tight. It’s just the excess material is gone.
Don’t even think about wearing dress shirts like this un-tucked because it’ll look like you’re wearing a dress. Now, on the matter of sizing down; I found this cool orange & blue pattern on the sale rack at Banana Republic for $10. It’s one size down from what I normally wear, but I knew I’d only ever wear it casually and un-tucked. It fits great. The sleeves are just right, the length isn’t too long to wear untucked and the torso fits perfectly. So, the next time you’re out, if and when we can ever go back out, try stuff on you normally wouldn’t because you never know. You might find some gems.
Add darts to your shirts.
Let me end with a few words on tailoring. If you don’t want to go out and drop a ton of cash on new shirts right now, take one of your current shirts that may be a little puffy to a tailor. You can have the sleeves narrowed and shortened and have darts added to the back for about $20-$30. Way cheaper than buying something brand new. Adding darts is one of the best way to remove fabric and trim down the look of a dress shirt. They essentially fold over and remove excess fabric from the back which adds a nice taper to the torso and fixes the billowing problem at the waist. It’s definitely worth a few bucks to have it done.
Gentlemen, if you want to see what I’m up to in more real-time, give me a follow over on Instagram at @40overfashion, and don’t forget to grab your Free Style Guide from my site. I hope you enjoyed this one and I’ll see you in a few days for a brand new video. But until then, live well, stay healthy and I’ll see you soon.