How to dress when you’re fat

November 15, 2010 · 27 comments

in Apparel, Classic, Tips

Or overweight. Or portly. Husky. Slightly chunk. Whatever you want to call it. Do the rules apply to you? Or do you have a separate set of guidelines that are unique to your own situation?

Well, maybe both. But before I ruffle any feathers, you may be asking,

“B, what do you know about dressing an overweight body? Why you gotta call us out like that? We’re already super uncomfortable in clothes as it is, and we’re doing everything we can to pretend like we’re not (uncomfortable / overweight).”

Okay, calm down. To be honest, I know quite a bit about being a big dude and attempting to blend in with decent clothing, despite size and personal insecurity. In fact, I used to be quite plump myself.

Please excuse the poor style decisions. I had a lot to learn in 2004.

That’s me about six years ago, 81 lbs heavier than I am today. It’s been a while since I’ve been that massive so most of the insecurity has faded, but I can still remember how tough it was to be okay in my own clothing, and my own skin.

To be honest I’ve always enjoyed clothing. I just hated I couldn’t achieve the look I was going for, because my size didn’t allow for it. Plus, in all honesty, when you’re big you tend to look a little sloppy no matter what clothing you wear. Again, speaking from experience.

So, what’s one to do?

The singular most important thing I could do for my look, my body, my appearance, my health, and my self esteem was to lose weight.

Seriously, there’s no way around it. No amount of positive self-talk or pats on the back from members of the Fat Acceptance Society can make you feel as good as the satisfaction you get from melting away excessive fat, becoming more lean, eating better, and making conscious decisions in favor of your health. As a bonus, the good looks just follow.

This isn’t a weight loss or self-help site, so I’ll leave that up to you to figure out a plan for your own life. (If you do want to reach out with questions though, you can always email me.) The takeaway from all of this is this: you have to take care of your body first before you can be your 100% absolute best.

Okay, now let’s talk about clothes. Let’s say you refuse to lose weight and you wanna know what you can do right now to improve your look. Where to start?

Know. What. Fits.

It’s a recurring theme over here at the Effortless Gent, because it really IS that important. Bigger folks that get it wrong are from both ends of the spectrum, interestingly enough. Here’s an example:

Peeps from Group A wear their clothes too tight. They clearly could go up two or three sizes, but refuse to do so. They’re held captive by the size they used to be. Either that, or they truly believe in their heart they’re a size Large, when in fact they’ve graduated to an XXL years ago, as evidenced by the shirt or sweater pulling in unnatural ways. If you’re not willing to lose the weight, do yourself a favor and start sizing up.

Group B is the exact opposite. Their clothes hang off them like Snuggies. They think draped, billowy clothes mask their size, when it actually does the opposite.

What’s the solution?

A whole lot of trial and error. Trying on a lot of clothes from a lot of different makers. See what fits.

How can you tell what’s a good fit?

In general, something between draped and spandex-like tightness. More specifically, a good gauge of fit is to look for shirts that fit right in the shoulder, meaning the shoulder seam lines up with the top of your arm. In suits (same with shirts), if the shoulder seam passes the tip of your shoulder, buy a smaller size.

If you stand against a wall sideways, and the shoulder pad touches the wall before your arm does, the suit is too big.

That’s a good place to start. You may dismiss slim cuts, but maybe you actually DO need a slim cut shirt, to minimize the excess fabric and appearance of bulk. Again this is all dependent on your specific body type and composition. Everyone’s different, so I can’t give specific advice, but you get the idea.

You may need to step away from the slimmer cut denim, but try the regular straight leg fits; they allow for more room in the leg but still stay relatively streamlined. Stay away from bootcuts or anything labeled baggy or wide leg. You don’t want extra volume where it’s unnecessary.

Seeing as though shirts, sweaters, and jeans comprise a majority of a man’s wardrobe, this is a good start. The most important thing is to dress your body appropriate to its size, while still maintaining decent proportions.

Lastly, if you don’t like your size, get off your ass and do something about it. I did, and it was the best style decision I ever made.

Photo credit: Esquire.com

About

Barron is the founder and editor of Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to helping guys figure out what looks best on them. He's based in San Francisco. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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