Learning to dress my body better

Monday, May 17th 2021
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I've learnt many things over the past 13 years of writing Permanent Style, but one I've learnt most intimately is how different clothes suit my particular physique, and physiognomy.

This does come up on PS, in articles about collar height perhaps, or trouser rise. But I've never reflected on it as a whole, and I thought it would be helpful to do so - as a specific partner to the more general articles elsewhere.

Let's start with the positive. I am tall, and I am slim. These are probably the most important things in terms of making clothes look good, and I am very grateful for them.

If you are slim, it is much easier to draw a flattering line between your shoulders and your waist. While the shoulders can be more or less padded, widened or roped, there's little you can do to make someone slimmer. 

Even in a shirt or in trousers, it’s that waist that makes the most difference. And you notice this especially as you get older. People often say it, and with good reason: the best way to look good as you age is to stay in shape.

 

The visual advantage of being slim

This is much more important that being toned or muscly. In fact, being too muscular can often undermine the look of clothes - particularly smart ones. 

A jacket is most flattering when it runs sharply from wide shoulders to small waist, and has plenty of length to do so (hence the advantage of being tall). A big chest or big arms just get in the way. 

Even when tailors use drape to accentuate the chest, this is never to distract from the ‘V’ shape of shoulder-to-waist. 

Lifting weights also tends to round your shoulders. It makes the deltoids bigger (on the side of your shoulders) and the top of the trapezius bigger (between your neck and shoulder). But because it can’t move the point of your shoulder bone, making these muscles bigger just makes your shoulders rounded.

In fact, I’ve had tailors tell me it’s just impossible to make someone with a body like that look elegant in tailoring. Elegant being the operative word there.

This is also suggested by history. A quick look at the well-dressed men of the past also shows many were slim, but rarely muscly. They were in shape, but little more.

 

Robert Redford and Paul Newman, in great shape

The negative aspects of my shape tend toward the gangly: sloping shoulders, a long neck, a fairly big head. 

I’ve learnt that because of these, I always look better in something collared, like a shirt or a polo sweater. They encircle my neck and frame the face. 

I do still wear T-shirts, but always with the awareness that I’m giving something up when I do. I rarely wear crewneck sweaters on their own

Cutting out categories of clothing is painful when you love them as much as I do. But over time, as you grow into your style, I find you happily do this in return for knowing that the clothes you’re wearing flatter you. 

This is something else that happens more with age. Even if you stay in shape, things like wrinkles, stooping and exaggerated facial features encourage you to stick with things that bring out your best. It’s the best argument against old men wearing T-shirts.

 

Higher collars (left) suit my neck a bit more than lower ones (right)

When I wear T-shirts, as I said, I’m aware of a trade off. As with most things in menswear, there is no right and wrong here, no should and shouldn’t. Just certain effects created by certain clothes, which you can pick between. 

For example, low collars on shirts are a little less flattering on me than tall ones (see above). But tall collars are usually smarter: a workwear chambray shirt or a flannel overshirt looks silly with a high collar. 

So I either have to not wear that type of shirt, or accept that the collar will be a little less flattering when I do. Sometimes I go with one option, sometimes the other. But in both cases I’m making an educated choice. Not just blindly following a rule. 

Sometimes this trade off is not about good and bad, but good and great. 

For example, I don’t look bad in short jackets, like blousons. Sometimes I even think I look rather good. But my height means that longer coats always add a certain something. They make the most of a natural advantage I have, and usually look better

I choose not to only wear long coats, but I also never miss a chance to wear one when I can.

 

The advantage of length

Other aspects of physique, and their trade offs. 

My legs are a little bit short proportionately compared to my upper body. This means high-waisted trousers are particularly useful, given how much they lengthen the legs. 

But I don’t like high-waisted trousers from a style point of view. They’re too anachronistic without a jacket or knitwear. So there I'm always trading off flattery for style. 

Also my sloping shoulders. Many is the reader that has said I look best in structured tailoring: the thick shoulders of Edward Sexton or the wide ones of Anderson & Sheppard. 

But you can’t wear those jackets with jeans. And I really like wearing jackets with jeans. There’s no better way to enjoy tailoring and dress down. So I’m also happy to trade flattery for style there too.

 

Natural shoulders (left) v padded/extended shoulders (right)

Something no one in fashion really wants to admit is that your face is more important than your body. It’s what everyone is looking at, and it’s what they mean when they say you’re ‘good looking’. 

Unless your aim is to specifically show off parts of your body, clothes should really just be a attractive frame for the face - sending the eye happily upwards to where the action is. 

I raise this because when I look back at old pictures of myself on Permanent Style, the biggest difference I notice is not in the clothes, but the face. (See comparison above.)

I have come to accept that I have very little hair, and that cutting it very short is the best option. It has come down slowly from a grade 2, to 1, to now 0.5. 

I also know that while glasses are a nice style choice, I’m basically better looking without them. And I’ve grown out my beard as well as shaped it better.

 

Then and now: Less hair, more beard, no glasses

Occasionally a reader on PS or Instagram will call me good looking. At that my thirteen-year-old self (which still lives somewhere inside me) laughs out loud. 

I’m not that good looking. Anyone that’s seen my younger brother will know that to be true. He is - as a kind friend once put it - like me just with hair and a chin. 

But I think, over time, I have become good at making the most of me. I know what looks best, and I know what trade offs I’m making, when.

And that’s all any of us can ever do.

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Alessandro

Any specific advice for someone tall (186cm) and thin (70 kg / 30 inch waist)? Hard to find good resources online, so I’m learning through trial and error: oversized clothing makes me look like a scarecrow, I have to pay extra attention to make sure things don’t look too short (sleeves) or cropped (pants).

Anyway, great post as usual. You treat the topic with the nuance it deserves, and you’ve really improved your looks by owning your strengths and weaknesses!

Felix

I believe that within healthy limits, men nearly always look better with a little more weight. Incidentally my experience is that this is also what women find more attractive. Being slightly taller than you, Alessandro, and having been equally slim in my early 20s I would say that while I dress better now, gaining about 10kg has been the most relevant aspect about looking better these days (in my thirties) not only in tailoring, but also in shorts and tshirts. So I think some straightforward advice would be to eat more and lift some weights – you’re far from being so muscular it would become inelegant.

Also, I believe that for tall and slim men particularly slim clothes actually don’t look good. Nowadays I always err on the side of slightly too wide rather than too slim and find it much more appealing and elegant. In fact, casual wear that’s intentionally cut to be oversized (think large coats, sweaters) really only look good on slim frames.

When I had my first mtm shirts at about 18/19 I was so excited to be able to finally get something fitted I had them made really, really slim. I cringe when I see myself in old photos now – what I thought was the epitome of elegance really just looked skinny and somewhat frail (and, to be honest, a little gay – which is completely fine, but not ideal when you’re in fact not).

Sam

“I believe that for tall and slim men particularly slim clothes actually don’t look good”
so true! people always say “fit” is the most important thing, and they usually mean that clothes should be somewhat close fitting and outline the contour of your body. But a skinny guy that wears “well fitting” clothes really just bring to attention his tiny waist, and that is just not flattering on a man at all. IMO the skinner guy and the somewhat big guy should both try to wear the same size that the normal guy wear. This kind of creates an illusion that their bodies are “normal”, the last thing they should do is to accentuate their abnormalities.

Steve Killen

Some interesting insights into your personal journey Simon.
I appreciate very much your thoughtfulness and candour.
Thank you.

Andrew Thompson

Thanks, Simon. Reading that, with coffee, was a nice way to begin the week.

Dario

I can say the same here… Nice way to end a Monday, enjoying a beer under the sun and reading this article (and the comments).

J

Am I mistaken (might as well be the more open quarters) or does the natural vs padded shoulders picture also show the difference between lower rise trousers (left) and higher rise trousers (right)?

J

Yes, the sharp line definitely also made me think this. Thank you!

Hugh

The difference I notice between the jackets is the height of the collars.

Is this something that you can ask a tailor to tweak (like lapel width), or is this a structural thing that really can’t (or shouldn’t) be modified?

Anonymous

Not sure whether you’d be interested Simon but a post on keeping in shape would be useful.

Anonymous

Thanks Simon. Would you say that this journey has also made you vainer?

TT

Great reflective article Simon and very informative.

Although the article is about your own experiences, it provides some very educational landmarks for newer readers like myself to build their own style and make better buying decisions.

The writing and pictures within this article really helped me identify how different details contribute to the overall appearance rather than trying to guess from images alone.

Thanks Simon!

Clifton Doehmann

“I like the new you better than the old you” (from an album by Laptop, 2001). On a similar journey as the rest of us, older and somewhat wiser…..

Dutch Uncle

Sorry to disagree, but you do look good in eyeglasses.

Peter Hall

I took me many years to understand why my father always returned to ‘his tailor’. He had very wide shoulders and huge arms, which meant he always had his jackets cut a little longer to give the drape. However, his stylish first choice was always the long coat. Sadly, I don’t have his height.
My wife always compliments me when freshly scrubbed and face framed by a collar. I would suggest grooming is more significant than clothing.
PS has educated me on the neck and face area. It was something I had given few thoughts about.

george rau

This is a very relevant article. If I may ask you about your opinion of what we call ” northern lights” in America. Most menswear opinion mavens stress that wearing light pants with a darker jacket is the correct way to wear a sportcoat. But it seems to me that wearing darker trousers with a medium or lighter jacket creates a better contrast than wearing trousers with a similar tone. I usually wear charcoal, dark brown or dark olive trousers with a medium or light jacket rather than mid grey or tan trousers. I think this creates a more flattering shape. I also like charcoal trousers in general, another look that seems to be frowned upon. What do you think about this? Darker trousers seems to give me a more masculine look.

Harry

Packing on the muscle might make you look intimidating, but elegant it ain’t. Been there.

BB

Simon, enjoying this with tea. Don’t even need no honey.

Alexander

I for myself really like weight lifting to stay in shape for all the benefits you get from it (f.e. testosterone level). But I am well aware of the fact that it does not really help in terms of looking elegant or tall. Though I would argue that if you don´t overdo it and manage to keep the balance, most people will get away with it. And I find that neapolitan tailoring for example can be a really good partner for a slightly more muscly physique.

Peter K

I agree. I lift regularly to maintain strength and bone density. As we age we lose muscle but this can be counteracted by lifting weights. As an older father it is very important to me to stay strong and active so I can enjoy life with my children.

I’m by no means muscle bound but I can honestly say I am trimmer, more muscular and flexible than most men my age.

Stephen

Very candid article, which is appreciated.

There is no greater motivation to staying in shape than having a wardrobe full of bespoke suits. When the suits don’t fit, it’s time to trim up.

Hugh

Really enjoyed this, Simon. Thanks

Neil

Hi Simon,

A great post about understanding yourself and adapting style to fit rather than the reverse.

You touched on an underlying issue for many of us, which is about tailoring to try and elongate and define our bodies to be elegant. This naturally leads to the question of a starting point with our bodies. You have clearly stated your dimensions good and bad.

As someone who has done the classic middle age spread, e.g. growing by 2 lbs per year after the age of 40 and I have now lost 20 lbs.
We can all adjust our weight, not height, shoulder etc.

Whilst tailoring can modify what we can not, do you have a view point / suggestions regarding body fat or other measurement, at which one should look to stabilise before looking to remediate with tailoring.

Edric

Hi Simon,

I think its possible for muscled people to look elegant in tailoring. (with exception of course to the extremes such as those who have the bodies of professional bodybuilders). Henry Cavill has a picture in a double breasted suit where he actually looks great (this is the famous picture-turned-meme with Jason Momoa in the background).

Peter K

I think Simon’s recent piece on dressing like Angel Ramos shows how a muscular man can dress elegantly.

Thomas A Powell

Simon, if there is anything I have learned about dressing, it is to do the best you can with what you’ve got. PS has been invaluable in helping me stick to my adage. I am not a fine specimen, and never was, but I do get random compliments when I have taken the time to care about what I look like. I will be 70 on my next birthday, and I still make every effort to follow my own guidance.

Lewis

Some very useful points here, Simon – thank you. In my experience, dressing for your body type can be tricky when bombarded by menswear “rules”. Being slim and square-shouldered has lent me the advantage of being able to pick up many garments of the rack and have a good fit. But being shorter means that long coats with raglan sleeves, for example, drown me. So a longer trench coat has obvious practical advantages but looks sloppy, while a shorter one doesn’t keep my knees dry but is far more elegant, even though it would annoy purists.

The key, I think, is to acknowledge the rules but also recognise that some of them exist for an “ideal” body type. Others can be bent or broken to your advantage depending on your physical make-up.

And posture is a better reason for keeping in shape than putting on muscle.

Anonymous

Rather odd picture to finish on. Putting socks on outdoors?

Jtkuga

I notice you mention that clothes aren’t really to make the body look good but to send the eye to your face. Yet you don’t mention anything really about color or complexion? Do you feel fit and proportion are just more important? What else drives the eye towards the face?

I’m not disagreeing just curious, I get more compliments on my navy suit than any others, despite complexion “rules” suggesting mid grey or dark grey but not quite charcoal being better colors for me.

MBB355

I definitely empathize with this post. I share many of your features–I’m tall and slim with a long neck and torso, but I veer more toward “lanky” than you. Like you, I tend to eschew crewneck sweaters on their own these days, which is a shame because I love them and I don’t like feeling confined to wearing them in only particular ways. But I recognize it’s for the best. My only point of disagreement is on high-rise trousers. I recognize that “high rise” may mean different things to different people. But I’ve embraced a higher rise on all my trousers–smart wool trousers, chinos, and jeans. Brands like Berg & Berg, Drakes, and Natalino have been exceedingly helpful in this area. I love it. And I don’t think there’s anything anachronistic about it–it’s just a subtle tweak that no one would be able to identify, yet it makes all the difference in lengthening my legs and creating a more flattering silhouette. I’d have thought that it’s precisely those kinds of discreet refinements that you’d appreciate most of all.

MBB355

That is what I mean, yes. Now, I do see where you’re coming from in part. I would feel a bit uncomfortable wearing high-rise *pleated* trousers without a jacket or knitwear. Why exactly that is, I’m not sure–I’d have to think about it more. But, I wear, for example, Drakes’ new line of jeans without a jacket or knitwear all the time. They are quite high-rise, sitting on my natural waist, above my belly button. But they’re not pleated or excessively roomy in the waist/seat, so they feel contemporary while creating that leg-lengthening effect. It’s actually for this very reason that I contacted the Natalino founder and asked him to create a line of chinos with the same fabric and high rise as their brushed cotton trousers, but with a flat front and belt loops. I thought that’d make for a great casual chino with a flattering drape, rise, and silhouette that’s much more contemporary and wearable in casual situations (where you’re less likely to be wearing a jacket or knitwear). Otherwise, I wear a jacket and knitwear so often that the “anachronistic” concern just doesn’t arise.

MBB355

Another example of high-rise trousers that feel contemporary to me are these military fatigue chinos by Informale:

https://informale.com.au/products/t102-fatigue-pants-chocolate

Again, they’re genuinely high-rise, but neither pleated nor overly roomy in the waist and seat. I love them. They drape beautifully but look right at home with the most dressed-down ensembles, so I can maintain that “tailored” look in even the most casual settings. I don’t think there’s anything anachronistic about them–I think they’re wonderfully innovative and interesting, yet not at all “too much.”

hugh

Simon,

I think some of this will be cultural and contextual. In my context, suits are themselves somewhat anachronistic, so a small difference in rise doesn’t push the effect into costume, whereas something like shooting breeches would.

hugh

You would think that the difference between a Neapolitan and a Sexton jacket would be quite obvious, too; but to a lot of people for whom this isn’t part of their every day, they’re both a “suit”.

In some ways it’s a shame (thrifted tailoring just isn’t an option), but in others, it offers some latitude to experiment within certain parameters (shooting breeches may be too far, though!)

Anonymous

What trouser fabrics, weights, and colors do you recommend wearing under denim jackets (or trucker jackets as they’re so called)?Also curious whether you like wearing these kind of jackets and why.

Anonymous

Do you think tailored brown cords would work? Or still too dressy?

Zo

I’ve always worn my denim trucker with cords and flannels because I like that slightly incongruous look. I think there is a casual chic article here where Simon talks about how tailored trousers can smarten any casual outfit.

MBB355

One other quick point that seems fitting for this post: I am quite envious of the UK climate as it makes it easy to wear jackets and knitwear year-round. It’s much easier to use clothing to flatter your body type when you’re free to wear more of it. Here in the southern US, we only have weather like that for half the year. For spring/summer, we either have to get creative in maintaining a flattering, tailored silhouette, or else dash madly to the nearest air-conditioned room. So in addition to being tall and slim, you also get to enjoy the perfect weather for wearing elegant clothing!

darryl

The UK climate is frequently much warmer than imagined. It’s often too hot for jackets or knitwear in spring and summer, and similarly too hot for overcoats in winter. Which is quite annoying at times, when you do want to wear such items.

Robert

Hey Simon-
Interesting read as always. I love the look of DB blazers , but at 5’10”, I just can’t pull them off. I have learned to steer clear.

Regarding the last photo….those candid shots are always my favorites. I can imagine Jamie behind the lens barking “…c’mon Crompton, loosen up for the folks back home…”

Fun to see the real Simon flashing those pearly whites in an unguarded moment.

Daniel Ippolito

Robert, are you saying that one needs to be taller than 5’10” to wear DB blazers? If so why? The DB doesn’t necessarily make one look wider (it depends on cut) and 5’10” would be tallish in most countries outside of Scandinavia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa….

Robert

Hey Daniel-
Not saying height is a requirement, but with my under 6 ft trim physique I get “swallowed up” by the extra fabric and large peaked lapels. Just hasn’t been a great look for me. So I have stuck with SB jackets.

Anonymous

I’m 178 cm and wear DB blazers and suits regulary. Look a Mr. Matteo Marzotto, Google says he is 165 cm – pictures prove he’s sporting the DB game very well.

Scott

This is a superb article and very timely. I agree completely with the importance of men staying in shape as we age. This is the single most important activity that a man can do to help him wear his clothes well in the years ahead. Weight lifting is very helpful in maintaining good health as we age and avoiding the dreaded “little old man look”. Using kettle bell training methods, or other compound exercises, that emphasize lighter weight and repetitions will help avoid the muscly look that you mention.

Il Pennacchio

I must dissent, slightly. Bodybuilders often perform light weight/high repetition sets for the purpose of maximizing muscle growth. And they perform compound exercises such as deadlifts and squats because they engage so many different muscles and therefore stimulate more muscle growth. To avoid the muscly look of a bodybuilder, the key is to avoid going to failure, which can be done with both high weight/low repetitions and low weight/high repetitions.

I am, however, in complete agreement about the value of kettlebell exercises. Done correctly, they work wonders for the posture, which makes anyone look better.

Scott

Well said and quite correct. I should have mentioned those caveats and am happy that you did, thank you. Your point on posture is very important.

Dr Peter

All excellent points, Simon. Knowing how you are put together is very important in putting together a good look for yourself. I am fortunate because my proportions are all pretty consistent and go with one another and there are no departures from the average, in terms of neck length, shoulder slope, etc. Ready-made clothes are an easy fit for me.

One of the important things in all of this is, I believe, psychological. It is the attitude with which one wears clothes, and the way one moves wearing them, that matters a lot. Being comfortable in your clothes is critical. My male students at the university rarely wear suits, but when they do, for some event like commencement, they look awkward — it’s not the suits, it is just that they are uncomfortable wearing them, do not know how to walk or sit wearing them, and are simply not used to them. Once they move into a profession, they learn the essential things and adjust to wearing tailored clothing.

Dario

I also think that there is a psicological component to it as well, being both physically and mentally comfortable with it. If you rarely wear it, it will show when you do, whether you are dressing up or down.

Miles

I think it’s worth calling out specifically how well this article relates to two other articles:

1 – your interview with Ethan Newton. He has quite a different frame, which serves as a nice counterpoint to your examination of yourself here.

2 – the more recent article examining “outfits I got wrong.” Perhaps an underlying reason why some of those outfits don’t work as well as they should is that they don’t draw attention to the face in the way you’ve highlighted here.

Christopher

Dear Simon,

thank you for that personal and helpful post. I have a problem with trousers. To get a fit, which makes them wearable without a belt, they have to be quite tight at my waist. Wearing these trousers with a tailored shirt or polo can look, as I had gain weight and a belly, which I don’t have (not yet ;-))
Often I realize it on pictures, and struggle with myself. Looking odd is not what you’re expecting when wearing tailored garments. It does not happen quite often, but sometimes. Maybe I haven’t find the right style of trouser (where exactly the waistband should be, etc…) and going for too slim shirts…

Charlie

Fascinating reflection piece.

I fall in the column of average height (182cm), extremely well-built ex front-row rugby player (115-125kg), with a fluctuating waist anywhere between 38-42 inches. I am also blessed with shorter limbs and a longer torso. I live in Australia and so it’s hot, therefore I have the added joy of being excessively sweaty most of the time. They are personal and geographical conditions which are almost the antithesis of those which create elegance. Sometimes I’m more at peace with this than other times.

When I think of how I could dress, at its highest, it is not a million miles from Ethan Newton on a bad day – at least that’s what I tell myself. Ethan in some respect has been able to defy the comment you captured from the tailor about elegance, by leveraging the art and the science of dressing well; it’s possible to still be a well dressed gentleman with those proportions.

Venturing into the MTM/MTO market has allowed me to wrestle some control back and have clothes that, at a bare minimum, could be described as fitting – nothing off that rack ever does (bar t-shirts and underwear). At this point, I know high-waisted helps. Jackets need to be tapered at the waist whenever possible, and also not too short or they make me squarer. My round shoulders only really work in soft shoulder jackets, English cuts just add another inch either side that I do not need. As for patterns, collars, colours, I am still working that out and enjoy your writing for helping me to visualise, and make informed decisions, before I make investments.

As always, thanks for the insightful piece. I’m always interested in learning how to work better with what I’ve got, rather than wishing I had someone else’s body to dress. It’s easy for me to see a great looking piece on someone else online, only to dive in and be utterly disappointed because i failed to think about how it would look on me. This sort of knowledge can buffer that at the very minimum!

Alli

Great article, thank you!

The way my clothes suit my body type something I am noticing more and more. I went through a massive transformation have lost a lot of weight (40Kg), and am planning to lose more. I have been overcoming a long history of trying to make sure people cant see my body shape.

I have come to realise that I will never be tall, or very slender, and am slowly starting to like my big chest, wide shoulders and thick thighs. However, sometimes I find it really difficult to dress for my frame, I find it hard to wear jackets in a more casual style for example. Do you have any tips for garment choices that suit a shorter & more broad gentleman?

Il Pennacchio

Alli,

My build is similar to yours, and I came to the same realization: that losing width around my midsection wasn’t going to narrow my broad shoulders or slim my barrel chest, nor would diet and exercise lengthen my arms and legs. This is the only body I have, so I might as well embrace it.

Based on my own experience, my advice is to learn the proportions that flatter you. For example, I know not only my trouser waist and inseam, but also what trouser rise—front and back—I should wear; I also know my thigh, knee, and calf circumferences. I can, and have, given these numbers (plus my preferred hem and outseam measurements) to bespoke and MTM clothiers to obtain trousers that fit and flatter me better than anything ready-to-wear ever could.

And comparing those measurements to the size guides on the websites of different brands gives me a good idea of how well a ready-to-wear garment will fit me. For example, Private White VC recommends that I wear its Size 7, based on my chest measurement. However, the actual measurements of the garments themselves tells me that Size 7 would swaddle me and that I should wear Size 4 or 5 instead.

Philippos

From what height on do you consider men to be tall?

Anonymous

Are you 183cm Simon? I am about there and consider myself v much average (sadly). Maybe I just have tall friends but about half of them are over 6.2!

Ben

This post highlights a primary limit of this site: advice regarding style and fit are both specific to someone of Simon’s physical characteristics and reflective of the aesthetic judgement of some someone with those characteristics.

Less a criticism than an observation. It would be very interesting to see style breakdowns of bespoke commissions on different bodies.

Stephen

Hi Simon,
I find these rather thought provoking articles very interesting regardless of whether I agree. In this case I can’t disagree with any of the observations that you have made. Just building on the point about staying in shape. Doing so as one gets older has the dual benefits of looking the best you can in clothes and more importantly keeping healthier. I once read that a reasonable does of vanity is healthy in the literal sense of the latter!
I agree a trim physique is generally (but not exclusively) better for looking better in clothes. In my personal experience swimming is a good all round exercise combined with a sensible diet, for toning muscles without building too much mass.
All the best.

Nathan Bateman

I was a competitive power lifter for years and then a competitive mma fighter for a few more after that and my musculature certainly gives way to a unique relationship with tailoring.

As much as I love sport coats it’s difficult to not look like a Dorito when you have a 42 inch chest and a 29-31 inch waist (depends on how much shawarma I’ve eaten). Thus, I often find I look best in collared, high quality knitwear and trousers; my physique provides the structure usually granted by a jacket and the knit makes the fit a bit more forgiving to accommodate my muscles. In the summer my go to is a cotton knit polo (Bryceland’s makes a lovely one) and high twist trousers or linen. For winter, simply swap that for a long sleeved wool polo sweater and flannels.

Like you I have a wide variety of clothing I like stylistically and will wear despite not necessarily flattering me perfectly — I love long coats but I’m quite wide and 5 foot 6. I think it’s important to be confident enough to wear things despite not being the perfect compliment, clothing should be fun after all. But it’s also important to know what’s most flattering, from colour to cut to fabric.

Thanks for reading

Il Pennacchio

Now that you mention it, Nathan, I’ve noticed the same thing: Knits that fit closely in the chest and shoulders (and less closely around the midsection) flatter me more—much more—than a tailored jacket.

Peter O

Dear Simon,

You are tall and you are slim (you are a dancer, Simon) and you have already accomplished magnificence with PS! Time to switch professions, learn Eurythmy and teach in a new Eurythmy school in UK!

Leo Oettingen

Any advice for someone of similar build with a similarly large bum/thighs and small waist for finding OTR trousers and jeans? Have to get everything made it seems which doesn’t allow for much spontaneity if need be. Either the waist will fit but the back length too short to get around my posterior and allow the waistband to sit even or the waist will be enormous.

Dan

I disagree with some of the statements in this article. I get that being slim will make you look better in clothes than being overweight. That’s not hard at all. However, if you work out and build muscle you will look even better in your clothing than some skinny guy who has never picked up a weight. I sometimes cannot believe how much money some clothing enthusiasts spend, but their clothes do not look good on them because they are frail looking and have the body of an 8 year old. Of course, I am not talking about bulking up like the awful actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But, building muscle is one of the easiest ways to make your clothes look better.

Simon, shrugs and lifting weights for your shoulders may help out with your sloping shoulders. Your beard looks great.

Matt Spaiser

Do you believe that proportion in clothes has to do with fit? For instance, if the trouser rise is too low because someone has a long torso, is that a fit issue despite also being a fashion choice? Where does one draw the line between fit, proportion and fashion? I know it’s a matter of taste.

Adam C

Do you have tips for those that are more muscled? Like you, I’m tall (183cm), longer torso/shorter legs, longer neck, but I’m definitely on the more muscly side (93kg) with some serious proportional disparity (44/54 chest, 17 neck, 32-34 waist).

I try to stick to many of the same rules: higher collars, higher rise trousers, and Neopolitan tailoring to soften the drape.

Il Pennacchio

An extremely slim man might benefit from bigger deltoids because they would help him create a ‘V’ shape from shoulder-to-waist.

Rupesh

Hi Simon,

With reference to the last image of you wearing a cream oxford shirt with your levis jeans, are the jeans from the bespoke process by Levis?

Julian

Thank you for a simple, grounded and ‘mindful’ article, Simon! Knowing what we have and learning how to work with it helps immeasurably in defining our personal style.

As you have grown older (with us), have you noticed any physical changes which have caused you to adapt your choices in clothes? Has your waistline expanded (you were previously a 32″?) or have you stopped that tiny bit more?

zo

Great write up. I am very fortunate to have a slim, average build and most RTW clothing fits me well with minor adjustments. I do however have a relatively large head (accentuated by big curly hair) and I prefer wide lapels, extended shoulders and larger collars to balance it out.

Oliver

Good piece Simon and very useful advice for us all.

Paula always comments on how handsome you are after our meetings. Must be the attractively framed face!

Anonymous

This is off topic, but would you consider doing an article presenting a capsule for hot weather / summer? I think that would be useful both for readers who live in very hot climates but and those who love in areas with hot summers.

Aleksandar Ivic

Off topic.
Ben reading this blog for 10y now, never wrote anything. Always was interested in clothes, changed my stile peu à peu, moved towards ( affordable) bespoke suits…Appreciate the information, also in the comments!
Thank you all
Sasha

Claus Lüpkes

Hello,
again such a beautiful article, especially at the end! Real soulfood, so good to read such words. Thank you, Simon.

Matt

Hi Simon – Do you need to wear a belt with a suit if the suit has belt loops? Thanks!

Richard Valentine

Excellent article and something I have been coming to realise over the years as well. I know you have covered this elsewhere but I would also add understanding the colour palette that works to enhance how you look (including which bright colours added for interest work and dont). Despite trying several “trends” my wardrobe is pretty much based on 3-4 colours. A lot of the other colour purchases ended up not being worn or sold shortly after buying for a loss. Your blog has been really helpful in refining my style but has also been responsible for some expensive purchases that haven’t quite worked. I don’t regret it though as its certainly been fun playing with ideas!

Anonymous

I too find the high-collared shirt more flattering. The problem is that I cannot find an rtw brand that offer such; do you know of any, Simon?

Vegard

So what clothes would you recommend for someone who does lift weights and wants to keep doing it?
Not necessarily to the professional bodybuilding level, but classic physique like Frank Zane – small waist, big chest/shoulders/arms; a classic V-shaped body.
I work in IT so I don’t need to wear a suit, but I still like to dress more formally than others.
I mostly wear polos, shirts and in winter a turtleneck or a shawl collar cardigan.
I prefer darker (mostly black) clothes which make me optically smaller.

Simon K

Knowing yourself is hard. So texts on this is very appreciated.
I was a little surprised by your view of a muscular frame not being elegant. Isnt that when you reach the physique of the Rock as brought up? Perhaps hard to draw a line but Daniel Craig for example can look elegant, or?
Im built like an asparagus myself so in a way I hope you are right, but Ive always envied athletic looking guys. My bony shoulderblades and skinny neck are not ideal for a smart dress. And I agree with the view above that getting a little more V-shape can change a guy’s appearnce a lot to the better.

Simon K

Very sorry If that sounded nagging! It’s hard sometimes with writing and English isnt my first language.

Simon K

“I think in general, I just want to push back at the modern trend you see on social media, of everyone going to the gym”
Ok, I see. Good point. Moderation, right?
‘Spose I’m currently pushing back on my owm couch potato lifestyle. Easy to get trapped in bad posture and simply weak. Kettlebells is the weapon of choice for me too.

BB

I think Simon and PS readers will come to see this piece as one of his defining essays in time. The burgeoning comment thread looks like a testament to how men feel about the way they look. I have been no different. Holding a mirror up to oneself can be quite daunting and I have never really given much thought to most of my features as I advanced through life. At a point, I did not even know how tall I was and always just made a guess which was wrong for many decades. I always attempted to be presentable but without much thought or effort. Grooming was a non-existent routine.

As I grew up, I got teased a lot that I had lost all my good looks (whatever that meant) and it made me approach my latter years with some non challance and a devil-may-care attitude. But somehow I discovered running in my early 30s and cycling which staved off the middle-age spread. Hence, when I emerged into my 40s I seemed to have been given the chance to reconsider my attitude about how I looked. Advancing years certainly forces you to make lifestyle changes and perhaps sartorial ones too.

As Simon says, the face is where the focus ultimately settles. I never even realised I had dimples … which I now get compliments on. If only I had bothered to look. Height is great, a slim frame too, but we all have signature, latent characteristics and features that sets us apart from others. I think Simon’s clarion call is to harness them.

TM

Would you consider a bespoke sawtooth with a higher collar more useful than the standard smaller collar Brycelands model?

Matt

Hi Simon.
I’ve been talking to some gym-rat friends I know regarding what you said here about bodybuilding rounding people’s shoulders. They think that in order for that to really impact your silhouette you would have to really over-work your traps and delts, or be on steroids.
Their example is none other than Mr Schwarzenegger. Who looked decent in a suit, whilst being huge.
comment image
https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse2.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.pWlNp2MinOQ_kFUPYxrtTQHaJ0%26pid%3DApi&f=1
Granted it’s easy to find photos of Arnie when he was younger in the gym 8 hours a day, and had the massive delts, but I digress.

Con

You say at the end know what looks best and describe further up why. I think this is the ongoing battle many of us have and for most people, judging by looking around at how people generally are dressed, it’s difficult to get right and it doesn’t come naturally.
I find I don’t like t-shirts that don’t have a higher, thicker collar (closer to mock neck). I’m not sure why, it just doesn’t look or feel right to me. I don’t have a long neck, it’s more on the thick side for my build. I don’t ever remember a shop assistant ever telling me what type of collar might suit me better. It’s usually a “Suits you, Sir. Suits you!”.
Reading again the article linked on your barber visit and the value gained by even someone such as yourself who is deeply knowledgeable and has dedicated so much to personal style just shows how a second pair of eyes can make such a difference. I remember when I first read that article I thought how much better your beard/face looked.
You mention in that previous article how much at ease you felt when you felt Stefan was giving you advice and you didn’t feel you were being steered into more frequent visits.
This is an approach I think clothes shops can gain from.