Clothing and style can serve us in a variety of different ways. Our clothing can send a message about who we are, be a form of creative expression, and boost our confidence. But style definitely doesn’t fall into the category of one-size-fits-all.
The best approach to dressing well is to learn the basic principles of style, and apply them to your individual personality and body type. This can be especially true for guys who fall on either end of the body type spectrum, like the tall and skinny guy.
What works for tall and skinny guys?
Being taller with a slimmer build is awesome! Clothing will drape well on your body, your presence is hard to miss in a room; and when a slim guy puts on even a little muscle, it is lean, defined, and attractive.
But being skinny and tall does come with its own unique set of challenges.
Sometimes our height or frame can be a source of insecurity, and while we want to be unique, sticking out due to our height can be awkward at times.
Not knowing what to wear and how to wear it only adds to your feelings of insecurity and awkwardness. So while we may not be able to help with everything, we can at least give you a few casual style and fashion tips for your build.
These tips will help you mitigate some of the perceived downsides of your build, maximize the benefits, and of course, help you dress your best and feel more confident..
1. Avoid Extremes In Fit
Fit is the first rule of style, and this is even more true for men with a skinny / slender build.
You might think that dressing in larger, baggy clothing will hide your skinner build, but dressing in baggy clothing has the opposite effect: giving the appearance of “drowning” in your clothes (or that you’re a huge fan of 90s boy bands). While dressing in super tight clothing only highlights skinny limbs.
Err on the side of slim and fitted—but not too tight—when it comes to your clothing. Don’t hesitate to have your clothing tailored, even casual clothing.
Some examples of when to tailor casual clothing: maybe you have a button-up
Basically, any excess fabric that hides your physique should be brought in so that it fits you and shows you off a bit without being skin tight.
While a tailor will be well worth it, the easiest move you can make is shopping brands that make clothing designed for your build. We’ve also got you covered there with some suggestions, so read on!
2. Layering Is Your Friend
I’m definitely #TeamLayering.
Layering is a great technique any man can use to be more stylish, but it also has added benefits for skinny guys. Layering will go a long way to adding structure and size to your frame, giving you a muscular but lean look.
One of my go-to looks is a classic hoodie with either my motorcycle jacket or a down jacket layered on top. Another lighter option is to throw a flannel over that hoodie instead of a jacket.
Also, when it comes to jackets for your layering, choose something with structured shoulders, or a lapel. A blazer or a motorcycle jacket will be better for your build than say a bomber jacket.
The structure serves to make your shoulders appear broader and your waist more narrow, giving you a masculine “V” shape. (You’ll notice a trend: a lot of these tips are designed to help give you that aesthetically-pleasing shape.)
3. Dress To Balance Your Proportions
If you observe a full-body photo of yourself, where do you “carry” your height?
If you’re like me—long torso, relatively shorter legs with a 32” inseam—most T-shirts.
You may have the opposite problem, where all your height is in your legs, leaving you with a (relatively) short torso. That presents an entirely different set of challenges.
If you are in my camp, then long-line T-shirt will look like a “normal” length for your longer torso, which will help balance your proportions out visually.
Another way to balance your proportions as a tall guy with shorter legs is to wear a higher-rise pair of pants. This will visually extend your legs so that they are more proportionate to an otherwise longer torso.
For guys with longer legs, a mid- to low-rise pant could actually work to your advantage, making your legs appear shorter than they are. Again, this will give you that visual balance you need.
Another quick tip: Choose jeans or pants that come extra long/unhemmed and then cuff the ends. The cuff has the opposite effect of high rise pants and visually shortens the legs, balancing them with the shorter torso.
The idea here isn’t to hide your height, but to even out your proportions so everything appears more visually balanced.
4. Avoid Pinstripes Like The Plague
Vertical stripes will only elongate your look, adding to an already slender appearance.
Pinstripes are reserved for real neck-and-shoulders guys like The Rock or John Cena… the rest of us mere tall and skinny mortals need to choose plain patterns, and more “boxy” / full designs.
Most style tips are principles and not rules. This is the exception.
If you’re slim and tall, and you want to downplay that height a bit, don’t wear pinstripes. However if you love stripes, you can wear them elsewhere in your outfit, just avoid stripes that are bold and vertical.
Opt instead for other variations, such as a repp stripe tie, a thin horizontal stripe T-shirt, etc. Thin stripes, or wide horizontal / diagonal stripes worn in less conspicuous ways (e.g. NOT a pinstripe suit) won’t elongate your appearance.
5. Buy A Great Henley, Wear It Often
A great henley is one that fits comfortably—but not loosely—on your shoulders with enough length in the sleeve to reach your wrist bone. I prefer them with a softer, stretchier fabric, but you can go with something more coarse as long as it is designed with an athletic fit.
What makes a henley great is that it’s design naturally gives you that V shape and broader shoulders we’ve been talking about—even forming an actual V with the open buttons. So be sure to let a couple of buttons down, otherwise you lose that effect.
The henley is one of those basics that are stylish, masculine, and perfect in a variety of outfits (meaning they’re great for layering). The henley pairs super well with a flannel or jean jacket for a very rugged look. A shawl sweater for a hipster look goes great over a henley as well. The henley also makes a great outer layer if you throw a crew neck
Other clothing options that will give you that same V effect are polos, button down
6. Perfect The Fit Of Your Sleeves
Obviously, you don’t need to be layered up all the time. When it comes time to just wear a T-shirt, the best thing you can do is make sure the sleeves are fitted around your arms, and come down to around the mid-tricep.
Excess fabric or short sleeves that are too long will not be flattering to your arms, but a fitted sleeve will leverage the advantage of being lean, while still making the “guns” look bigger.
A lot of T-shirts that have fitted sleeves.
One visual trick to looking bulkier when it comes to long sleeve T-shirt to either the mid-forearm or above the elbow.
A lot of tall guys have difficulty finding
Just another reason to check out some of the brands we’ll have suggested for you below.
7. Wear Lighter Colors To Look Bigger
Color is one of the best tools in our style arsenal and if you’re looking to have a bigger, more full look, opting for lighter colors will help you out. Some great options are white, heathered grey, and of course lighter shades of any color.
This isn’t to say you can never or shouldn’t ever wear dark colors. Dark colors are great! But they can have a slimming effect—something you don’t need. So this is just something to be aware of and use strategically.
But of course, have fun experimenting with all different shades and colors, and don’t rule anything out. There are no hard-and-fast rules in style, but as per usual this is a principle you can apply when making decisions.
A Few Brands We Suggest
Here are some menswear brands that cater to the tall and slim body type.
Cuts Clothing has some of the best T-shirts for guys with a longer torso.
True Classic Tees
True Classic Tees is making a name for itself by being an athletic fit
The Next Level (on Amazon)
The Next Level is a more budget friendly option for a T-shirt. It doesn’t excel in length or sleeves, but they get the job done and are a very affordable option.
Jeans and Pants
Here is a list of brands for jeans and pants that have at least a 36” inseam option, as well as
The brand is “youthful” but they have a nice quality and stretch to them. 36” inseams are available, and AE is a budget-friendly option.
The OG jean company has inseam options up to 40”. For tall and skinny guys, the 512 Slim Taper and 513 Slim Straight seem to work well.
Bonus: These two fits have a 36+” inseam option as well… great for you long-legged gents.
For chinos, Levi’s has the XX Slim Taper Fit, which is a great option.
Bonobos has jeans for any body type, with a variety of different washes and types of denim fabric (stretch, premium selvedge, etc.)
Bonobos’ chinos have a nice stretch, a wide selection of colorways and fits, and most importantly, 36” inseam options.
American Tall is a clothing brand dedicated to designing clothing for tall men 6’3” – 7’1” (and tall women as well, 5’9” to 6’6”). If you fall within that range, I encourage you to check out their site! Tons of great options that should fit you well.
While Asos is a retailer, they do carry brands that cater to taller men, and they have a specific “Tall” section.
Clothes Don’t Have To Fit You Awkwardly If You’re Tall and SKinny
Dressing for your body type isn’t about hiding who you are, because we want you to feel freaking confident and awesome in your own skin.
Instead, we hope these tips help you recognize that clothing is a tool— a fun and creative one—that can be an advantage if you learn how to use it.
Apply these style tips and you’ll be well on your way to dressing sharp (for your individual body type) and feeling a boost of confidence in no time.