Visual Trickery - how to dress if you're a large man

The other day I was at a Toastmasters meeting and there was a rather large, rounded man giving a talk. As I listened to him I also studied what he was wearing and came to the conclusion that he was doing practically everything in his choice of clothes to make him look even shorter and wider than he was!

When we look at someone we literally look them up and down, until there's something to stop our eye. So any horizontal lines or details will stop our eye from travelling seamlessly up and down the body.......making a person look taller and slimmer......and cause us to look from side to side which makes someone look shorter and therefore wider.

On a large man some visual trickery comes in very handy. Below I've put together 3 looks with details of what to look for when shopping if you're a larger man.

How to dress if you're a larger man - Sartoria Lab blog on men's styling

Larger men are better in simpler styles. This shirt has a subtle check on it and the contrasting buttons bring your eye into the middle of the body.

The jeans are a straight cut which is generally best - you don't need to go wider unless you have very big legs, but too skinny will look unbalanced if you have very wide shoulders or a large stomach.

The jacket is flatteringly simple with slanted pockets instead of patch pockets which won't bring so much attention to a generous mid section. Balance the size of your body out with chunky boots otherwise you're in danger of looking like you have ballet shoes on. A scarf will be best loosely knotted or hanging down to form a flattering vertical line.

Button down gingham flannel cotton shirt: Steven Alan at Mr Porter

Fleece lined knitted cotton coat: Blue Blue Japan at Mr Porter

Regular fit dry selvedge jeans: A.P.C. at Mr Porter

Nuance degrade cashmere scarf: Begg & Co at Mr Porter

Fred grained leather brogue boots: Grenson at Mr Porter

How to dress if you're a large men - Sartoria Lab blog on men's styling

Round glasses will have the effect of mirroring a round face, so choose squarer or rectangular frames to create sharper angles. Avoid the tiny sized collars that have been around lately and instead opt for a more generously proportioned one. Look for more of a downward point and avoid extreme cutaway styles.

Waist adjusters on your trousers will alleviate the need for a belt and give a streamlined look so the eye skims past the tummy.

A dark blazer will be flattering and go for a sharper shoulder line to give yourself some angles and widen the shoulders. A peak lapel and higher gorge also elongate you and bring attention to the shoulder line. Avoid ticket pockets on your jacket which add an unneccesary horizontal line around the stomach area. Monkstrap shoes make an unusual change to lace-ups but again, avoid a very thin sole.

Pale blue octagonal check shirt: Stefano Ricci at Harrods

Navy basket weave blazer: Armani Collezioni at Harrods

Light grey Jort trousers: Suit Supply

Almond leather double monk strap shoes: Magnanni at Harrods

Taupe Jack Huston RX glasses: Oliver Peoples

How to dress if you're a large man - Sartoria Lab blog on men's styling

There's no need to go completely plain if you're large, but keep the shapes streamlined and ensure you have a perfect fit when wearing tailoring. It really is worth the extra effort and makes a huge difference to how good you look.

If you're short, get the sleeves altered to reveal a little shirt cuff but not too much as that would shorten your arms, and also have the trousers taken up enough to leave a small break. You don't want to have loads of fabric "puddling" around your ankles which gives an unflattering silhouette and will just bring attention to your lack of leg length!

If you have a long body and short legs, look at shorter jacket styles and ensure the top button is a little higher than your stomach area if this is your widest part. Avoid turn-ups on your trousers, choose a higher waisted style if possible and keep them well pressed so they have a sharp crease down the front to create that all important elongating vertical line.

Navy Prince of Wales checked wool suit: Canali at Mr Porter

Royal Oxford cotton pink double cuff shirt: Kingsman X Turnbull & Asser at Mr Porter

Striped textured silk tie: Dunhill at Mr Porter

Double faced patterned wool pocket square: Brunello Cuccinelli at Mr Porter

Kentio pebble grain leather brogues: Hugo Boss at Mr Porter


For more tricks on dressing different body shapes, check out this great article on How to Dress Your Body Type that I spotted on Mr Porter recently.

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