Four Simple Style Tips for the Well-Built Man

by Manny De La Cruz  |  in Style Tips

arnoldBuffHey Gents,

There are plenty of resources out there that teach guys how to dress a tall / short / plump / skinny body type.

Interestingly enough, there aren’t many articles talking about how to dress a muscular body.

Well-built guys are presented with a unique set of fit issues that an average body may never experience.

Today’s guest writer, Manny, has plenty of experience with this, and he’s going to share with you buff guys some of the tidbits he picked up while developing his own personal style.

Take it away, Manny.

This guest article is written by Manny De La Cruz of Well Built Style.


Being a fitness enthusiast and men’s style aficionado, I’ve had my fair share of difficulties in trying to improve my style. I’ll be the first to admit that it is hard to find clothes that fit a more muscular body.

The problem is that our bodies just don’t have the same physical proportions as the Average Joe.

Our chests are too broad and our waists are too narrow. Not to mention our larger than average thighs, which make finding a pair of pants that fit a true expedition!

To make matters worse, I’ve noticed that most men’s style blogs hardly ever cover style for the well-built man. I’ve seen plenty of information provided to men of different statures (e.g. how a shorter or taller man should dress) or shapes (e.g. how a thinner or stockier man should dress), but hardly ever any advice is given on how a muscular man should dress.

That’s why in this article I want to share with you four simple tips that have helped me tremendously on my style journey. They have helped me navigate the sea of men’s style as a well-built man and I want to share them with you to make your journey easier.

Tip #1: Size Down

One of the first pieces of advice given to men looking to improve their style is to pay particular attention to fit. In most cases, men are advised to size down since most of the clothing they wear is at least 1-2 sizes too big. This advice is no different for men with a more muscular build.

I can tell you from my own experience that this was a hard concept for me to understand at first. I was a typical gym rat that was used to wearing baggy t-shirts and sweatpants in the gym and had it ingrained in my mind that I was a size Large in most men’s clothing.

It was just a given.

I figured, “Hey, I’m just shy of 6’0 tall and I weigh 190lbs with a 32 inch waist, I’m too big to be a medium or a small.”

Guess what?

I’ve discovered that I’m a medium in most shirts, including many “slim fit” varieties.

It’s not my fault though. It all has to do with vanity sizing – a phenomenon in which clothing of a certain physical size is given a much smaller nominal size (i.e. those 34 inch pants you are wearing are likely 1-2 inches larger in actual size).

With the obesity epidemic in full swing in North America, vanity sizing has definitely gotten out of hand. Companies are now attempting to accommodate their consumers by making garments physically larger while keeping the nominal sizes static. This presumably satisfies the wearer’s wishes to feel thin and attractive.

This is great for the average person’s ego but terrible for your style. That’s why you should treat labels as just a guideline.

For some brands, you may be able to wear a size Large, while for others you might need to size down to a medium or even a small. That’s why you shouldn’t get too wrapped up in nominal sizes.

The important thing is to try stuff on in multiple sizes and find a fit that flatters your physique the most.

The (noticeable) difference in sizing when a man is more muscular. (via Scrawny to Brawny)
The (noticeable) difference in sizing when a man is more muscular.

Tip #2: Find a Tailor

Unfortunately, as a muscular man, sizing down won’t solve all of your fit issues. That’s why you will need to develop a relationship with a good tailor.

The problem is that clothing today is manufactured on an industrial scale and items are mass produced based on the average dimensions of the consumer.

This means that men who spend even a modest amount of time in the gym will find that most clothes do not flatter their physiques at all. They are either too loose or too tight in the wrong areas. Having a good tailor can solve this problem rather easily.

example of Levi's 501 model on a well-built guy (click to enlarge)
example of Levi’s 501 model on a well-built guy (click to enlarge)

For example, one of the most common problems men with more muscular physiques have is finding a pair of pants that fit through the seat and thigh.

If you have been spending your time wisely in the squat rack you know that most slim/straight cut pants will never make it past your thighs.

In this case, I have always opted for larger cut pants and had them tailored to perfection. A prime example is a pair of Levi’s 501s that I own.

I found that this particular cut fit my glutes and quads perfectly but were too loose around the waist and below the knee.

So after purchasing them, I took them to the tailor and had the waist taken in and the leg opening slimmed just below the knee. At the end of the day, I found myself with an awesome pair of jeans that fit really well for around $75.

Of course, pants aren’t the only garments that tailors can work on. A good tailor can make a world of difference in the fit of your suits, blazers, shirts and outerwear. That’s why, as a well-built man, developing a relationship with a trusted tailor must be a priority.

Tip #3: Avoid anything “skinny”

Over the past several years there has been a resurgence of all things “skinny” in men’s style. I think a lot of this has to do with the popularity of Mad Men – a television show set in the 60s when skinny ties and slim lapels were all the rage.

As fashionable as this look has now become, I think muscular men do themselves a huge disservice by indulging in this trend. In my opinion, these types of garments end up looking anemic on well-built men.

Sure, if you are a tall, lean individual then skinny jeans, skinny ties, and chopped blazers will more than likely flatter your physique. However, if you are carrying an appreciable amount of muscle mass, then “skinny” garments will look as if you had just mugged a fifth grader for his clothes.

Instead, I suggest you opt for standard width ties and lapels (Ed. note: Shoot for anywhere between 2 3/4″ – 3 1/4″ for ties, for a “standard” width. Use your best judgement.) These traditional sizes will flatter your physique the most because they will balance well with your overall proportions.

Not only that, but “skinny” anything is just another trend that will eventually cycle out of men’s style. It is better to avoid these fashion detours and stick with classic men’s style.

Tip #4: Find your favorite brand

I’m a typical guy in that I don’t like to shop for clothes. In my ideal world, I would just go to the mall in order to get the item(s) that I need and then leave.

Unfortunately, the reality is that I have to try on several different brands and sizes of garments in order to find the one(s) that fit me the best. That’s why when I find something that fits me well, I try to buy multiple items in different colors and styles.

For example, I mentioned above that I own a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans. In fact, this is the only brand and style of jeans that I own. That’s because these are the only jeans that fit well at a price point that is more than reasonable.

This makes shopping for jeans immensely easier for me because I know exactly what I need to get. I do the same thing with other garments such as shirts and chinos. I know the brands that fit me best and I turn to them routinely for my style needs.

It’s sort of like finding a well in the middle of the desert. These brands become my trusted resource and make my life that much easier by cutting down the amount of time I spend hunting around in the mall.

So if you haven’t already found your favorite brands, spend a little bit of time up front and do your research. It will make your life a whole lot easier in the long run. As an added benefit, that extra time you save from shopping for clothes can be spent in the gym, which is truly a win-win situation if you ask me!

Final Word

A lot of men today are hesitant to change their personal style and this is no different for the more physically fit among us.

We don’t like change. We’re afraid of what our family, friends, or significant others might say. Plus, it’s just too easy to throw on some sweatpants, a hoody, and a pair of sneakers and call it a day.

But what’s the point of spending all of those hours in the gym if you are just going to hide all of your hard work underneath a layer of baggy clothes? That’s why I hope that these four simple tips will help you on your style journey so that you can get the most out of your hard-earned physique!

Here’s to staying fit and looking sharp!

Manny De La Cruz is a lifelong fitness enthusiast turned style aficionado. He is the co-founder of Well Built Style, a website dedicated to helping men around the world overhaul their look through style and fitness.


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