When I take clients out on personal shopping trips for men we're trying to find the most flattering things for them. Although I often have smaller and shorter guys, I do work with bigger men too. I do all the research first and find out which shops have the sizes they need, and which items are likely to look best on them.
When we look at someone, we literally look them up and down, so if we can keep the eye travelling up and down the body, by creating vertical lines it gives the illusion of being taller and slimmer.
Conversely the opposite happens when you create horizontal lines with patterns, seams, buttons etc and the eye will follow those lines and go from side to side, making you look bigger and wider.
So here are some 'do's and don'ts' for dressing to make yourself look slimmer. Of course you don't have to follow these "rules", you can dress how you want, but these are the things that will help to flatter your shape the most if you're a big man.
DO: Wear vertical patterns, this keeps the eye running up and down the body and skimming over your tummy. You can do this with casual wear as well as pinstripe suits and formal shirts, as you can see from the shirt and cardigan shown above.
Navy striped short sleeved shirt - Sandro - £146.30
'Rat Pack' stripe pique wool cardigan - YMC - £225.00
DO: Iron a sharp crease into tailored trousers, to create that vertical line, which'll help to visually elongate your legs. This works if you have chunky thighs too, and sometimes you can get casual trousers with a sewn in crease down the front.
Don't do it on jeans though, unless they're a tailored style of jeans with side pockets rather than your regular 5 pocket style. For more tips on how to make your legs look longer, see this post.
Ecru straight leg pleat cotton & linen trousers - Loro Piana - £595
Grey wool flannel trousers - Incotex - £390
Green 'Venezia 1951' linen trousers - Incotex - £335
DO: Combine darker colours on top with lighter coloured bottoms if you're top heavy ie: if you have a big chest/tummy and skinny legs. Our eyes are always drawn to the lighter colours first so it'll help diminish the top half and bring attention down to your bottom half.
Scrap that if you have chunky legs and hips though, and opt for darker jeans and trousers in indigo, charcoal or black rather than lighter ones.
DO: Opt for more structured fabrics in t-shirts which will skim rather than cling to your curves. A heavier weight will hold it's shape more so you won't notice so much what's underneath - especially good if you have man-boobs as it'll really help to disguise them.
DO: Choose a V-neck sweater or quarter zip - this will help elongate your neck if it’s short and create space around your shoulders. And it's also gives a touch of angularity to a round face which is flattering.
DON'T: Accessorise with belts in standout colours or in a contrasting colour to the rest of your outfit. If your tummy is your problem area - (which is likely) then it'll just draw attention to it.
Also avoid shiny or statement buckles or anything with too much detail. Better to go subtle on your belt and add coloured trainers / socks / scarves / glasses to create some interest in your outfit.
DON'T: Go for double breasted jackets or blazers. The buttons will make your eye zig zag across your tummy, and you'll have an extra layer of fabric which adds bulk. Go for a single breasted one instead, so you just have a single line of buttons keeping the look much simpler.
Add a pocket square to draw attention to your chest if you like, or for casual go for a straight shape workwear style so it doesn't pull at the tummy when it's done up.
DON'T: Pick shiny fabrics like leather, or anything with a sheen to it. Matt fabrics like suede don't catch the light so much so won't draw attention to any problem areas.
Also, avoid patch pockets at the waist like the jacket on the left which will add more bulk. Instead go for a style similar to the brown jacket on the right with flap pockets at the chest, and slit pockets at the waistline. Again choose a matt fabric, not shiny like this.
'Gianni' black leather jacket - Office Générale - £1070
Brown shearling trimmed leather jacket - Loro Piana - £6835
DON'T: Wear horizontal stripes or garments with horizontal stitching such as this gilet. This is probably the most widely known tip - so avoid if possible. If striped t-shirts and sweaters are your absolute favourite, then wear a fine or broken stripe instead, so the eye doesn't follow the line so easily.
I know these quilted gilets can be super handy too, so if you do want to get one, look for the following....narrower stitching, matt fabric, diagonal quilting, or ones that aren't sewn on the outside so you get the warmth but the outer layer is smooth and doesn't have the horizontal lines created by the stitching.
DON'T: Select very chunky textured knitwear that adds extra bulk. If you want to go for a heavier knit in the winter, then try to find a smoother knit - ideally one without any ribbing at the hem so it falls straight - though admittedly these are much harder to find.
I hope the was useful, and do let me know if you've found something super flattering and would like to share with other readers!
But if you find it a nightmare to shop and just get frustrated and go home, then let me help - I'll do all the research for you ahead of our session to ensure we find the relevant items. We can do this on or offline, depending on where you are and how you like to shop.
Click the button below to check which service you'd like to book and then click through to pay online - don't delay getting your wardrobe sorted any longer!
"Thanks again for the planning & effort you put into our shopping trip yesterday! I tried everything on again with my wife this morning, and the success rate is very high."