Let’s face it, it’s the 21st C and Gentlemen are not getting any smaller or thinner. Fashion industry seems to be mostly concentrated on the petite sizes both for woman (often to ridiculous so) and men. As its all about mid- Century styles I am passionate about, I am here with some suggestions for the portly Gent on how to look cool – and comfortable ! The Golden rule of Style regardless of build is always wear garments that compliment your body structure and features.
So if you are of a big build, this means avoid slim fitting clothes which simply accentuate this. This does not mean one needs to take the North American route of wearing gi-normous sizes simply because you are big (they launched the terrible fashion of wearing huge, oversized baggy clothes regardless of build, which was the death of Style IMO), but it does mean stocky, aging men of the 21st C should avoid trying to look like teenagers (I guess this applies to any size aging man) as this is not only un flattering for the figure but also uncomfortable for the physique.
This is where wider, more comfortable and more compatible styles of cool clothing come into the picture. High waist trousers that hug the navel or simply cover it with wide, pleated trousers, is preferred and makes much more sense. Worn with a narrow belt (avoid the wide bulky belts and buckles adding structure to structure) or better yet, button suspenders /braces. Make sure that they are hemmed correctly, just touching the shoe and not folding over it repeatedly. This is a very bad look regardless of body size but often happens when the trousers are too low below the belly line and tend to fall off. You end up with trouser length way too long and your buttocks exposed at the back end. To compensate often shirts are worn over the trousers and that is where it can head south. Hence the importance – as mentioned above – of wearing a high enough waist rise topped with a belt and/or braces (is this a faux pas? Another topic for another Talk). Shirts should be generous so as to allow movement, but not ridiculously over sized. Shoulder hems should not fall off your shoulders but rather gently, comfortably contain them. Sleeves should not be overly baggy and is imperative that the sleeve length is correct (at the end of the wrist, not over the hand).
Far too often rotund men buy very big shirts that are far too long on the sleeves. It’s an easy fix so take the time to do it. Go for wider collars if they are spread or camp, but stay away from exceptionally high collar bands, making your head even smaller than it already will look. If you wear a tie do consider its length, as if your trousers are higher waist you do not want your tie too long. Too short of a tie is also unflattering so make sure you check this. On the topic of ties, avoid, big bulky knots (regardless of body mass in this case), and buy ties which are unlined or are thinly lined (jacquard is thus to be avoided as it makes for a big knot). Jackets, regardless of the (time frame) Style you are going for, try a lower buttoning 1 or 2 button jacket. A high button closure (like in the 3 button) calls for a narrower lapel, and this often doesn’t sit well with a bigger frame. If the coat does have 3 buttons only do up the middle one. Avoid bulky shoulder pads as again this adds structure to structure. Again, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to get the sleeve length right. And finally, the shoes. I am aware that heavy set men need extra comfortable and often extra wide and/or big shoes, but in the case I’d suggest a wider trouser bottom so as to balance the bigger/bulkier shoe. Invest in quality, always. A well-made pair fo shoes, with quality natural raw materials – in the right size – will always look well and be comfortable in a classic Style.
This is about classic timeless Style, and all the well dressed men of the mid 20th C who were over sized, be it muscle-mass big (Kray Twins) or tall and rotund (Oliver Hardy) or short and stocky (Al Capone), they all looked marvelous each in his own special way. Don’t shy away of looking sharp simply because of your body mass, big can also be cool and cutting edge, you just got to get the basics right, and have the confidence to pull it off. Afterall, it’s always about the attitude and how the clothes are worn, not about the wear’s size.