“Whoever wears that which accentuates the way his body is, at the expense of how it should appear, is ruined.” -N. Antongiovanni, The Suit
If you know your body type and would like to jump to it immediately, please click the appropriate link below:
- Average Height & Weight
- Average Height & Heavyset
- Average Height & Thin
- Average Weight & Tall
- Big & Tall
- Tall & Thin
- Average Weight & Short
- Short & Heavyset
- Short & Thin
Body Type Modifications:
If you need help figuring out what body type best describes you, read on!
An Introduction To Male Body Types
Menswear is chock full of “rules” that theoretically apply to anyone wearing men’s clothes. Jacket sleeves end at a certain length, trouser waistbands hit at a certain point, and shirts fit in a certain way.
This is wonderful in the hypothetical world, but practically speaking, it’s a different ball game. Not all men are created physically equal, and we have to account for different body types when we talk about getting dressed.
To that end, we’ve put together a collection of articles that detail the ins and outs of various male body types. We have identified nine different body types (listed above and later in this article) and two body type modifications: Irregular and Athletic. Reading this article will provide you with the guidance you need to determine what your body type is, and from there you’ll be able to click on an article dedicated solely to your body type.
You’ll receive suggestions around what to wear, typical sizes for your body type, and more.
Our methodology was to use frame and height as base lines. We didn’t consider weight on its own as a metric. We took three typical height categories (tall, average, and short) and spread them across three different builds: average, slender, and heavyset. This created the nine body types.
The athletic and irregular modifiers can be melded with any body type.
Irregularities are random biological occurrences or perhaps the results of accidents. They occur in over 90% of men, so it’s highly likely that you will want to read that article in addition to the one for your body type.
Athleticism occurs less often as it requires a lot of hard work to look athletic. Most body types can also be subject to an athletic modifier, though it’s unlikely that someone would be Short & Heavyset with an Athletic modification, for example.
How To Determine Your Body Type
We made it as easy as possible:
- Determine your frame using the graphics below
- Confirm your height category as outlined below
- Account for athleticism and irregularities where applicable
With three height categories and three frame (not weight) categories, you’ll be able to figure out where you stand pretty easily!
A simple way to think of “frame” is to think of it as the proportional relationship between your height and weight. A guy who’s five feet tall and weighs 100 pounds is small-framed, and a guy who’s 6’4″ and weight 275 is large-framed.
Though the following terms are mostly used in the bodybuilding world nowadays, there’s value in being familiar with them. They’re called “somatotypes,” and this is our foundation.
- Endomorphs: Large-framed bodies, often with a preponderance of fat. Has difficulty losing weight, gains weight easily.
- Mesomorphs: Naturally muscular bodies of medium frame. Gains and loses weight easily.
- Ectomorphs: Slight-framed bodies, typically skinny. Has difficulty putting on weight.
You probably have a good idea where you fit in (pun intended) with this information. When it comes to menswear, we dive a bit deeper and break things down into height and frame categories, since we’re concerned with wearing more than a bikini bottom as bodybuilders do.
Bear in mind that the heights listed below are averages for North American men and that the words “tall,” average” and “short” are to be taken in an objective sense. We don’t think that tall guys are circus freaks, that short guys are puny wusses, or that average guys are boring and nondescript.
- Tall (5’11” or taller)
- Average (around 5’6″-5’10”)
- Short (5’5″ or shorter)
- Slender (ectomorph)
- Average (mesomorph)
- Heavyset (endomorph)
Again, we did not use weight by itself as a body type metric. Though there is some overlap, weight is not necessarily a good indicator of body type as it relates to men’s clothing. Its value is good for determining how healthy you are, and the only standardized way to determine if you’re technically underweight, overweight, or normal is to use the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale.
The problem is that BMI is a flawed system.
For example, if you take two men who are 6’4″ and 275 pounds, they will have the same BMI. But one could be muscular, and the other obese. You can see how this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as far as body type is concerned.
The take-away: dress for your frame, not just your height or weight.
Taking all this information in, we’ve determined nine different body types that are helpful when considering what items should be in your heavy wardrobe rotation:
- Average Height & Weight (classic mesomorph)
- Average Height & Heavyset (classic endomorph)
- Average Height & Thin (classic ectomorph)
- Average Weight & Tall (tall mesomorph)
- Big & Tall (tall endomorph)
- Tall & Thin (tall ectomorph, lanky)
- Average Weight & Short (short mesomorph)
- Short & Heavyset (short endomorph, portly/stout)
- Short & Thin (short ectomorph, a “shrimp”)
- Typical weight lifting frame.
- Chest and shoulders are noticeably wider than the hips.
- V-shaped torso, muscular arms, shoulders, abs and pecs.
- “Tree trunk” thighs, bulbous calves
- Causes difficulty when shopping for suits in particular.
*Editors’s Note:* Though runners, cyclists, swimmers, and other such athletes are obviously athletic, we don’t refer to them as such here. This is because their body types don’t often present the same issues related to clothing as a more muscle-bound athlete, like an American football player or wrestler.
All human bodies have some sort of irregularity. We have lots of body parts that come in pairs, so there’s inevitably a difference between them. Shoulder slopes can be uneven, one hip can be higher than the other, legs can be bowed, and much more.
You likely have some kind of irregularity regardless of your body type. As such, we suggest you read our article on irregularities in addition to the one for your body type.
You can simply click the link to any of the above-mentioned body types to read an article full of information on what you should wear to always look your best. As a reminder, getting dressed is as much an art as it is a science. What you’ll see are, as Glenn O’Brien once said, not rules but “guidelines based on aesthetics.” Good judgement and a flair for style will enable a man to pull off a look that his body type says he shouldn’t, so don’t be afraid to experiment with things you like, even if they don’t fit into your mold.