Are you a muscular guy who’s having trouble buying clothes? If so, this article will show you how to dress better.
We’ve put together a collection of articles that detail the ins and outs of various male body types. If you’ve landed on this page, you may have already read about your body type in this high-level guide. If you haven’t yet done so or are just joining us, please give that guide a look.
We consider “athletic” to be a body modification as much as it is a body type. You are otherwise short, tall, or average height, and you’ll benefit from reading the article that best pertains to you in addition to this one.
If you’re tall, for example, read our article on tall guys too.
What’s An “Athletic” Body Type?
By “athletic,” we don’t mean that you play softball in a 40-and-over league wherein there may or may not be a keg at second base. We mean someone with shoulders much wider than his hips, who more likely than not has a big chest, shoulders, and arms.
This is a mesomorph who works at it.
The key for athletic guys is to get jackets and trousers tailored in a way that accommodates the “inverted triangle” shape of his torso and his narrow waist.
*Editor’s Note: An athletic man can be athletic at any height or weight. This article is just as much for a 5’4″ flyweight as it is for the 6’5″ heavyweight. The important factor is the muscularity of the shoulders and chest in relation to the natural waist.
Clothing The Athletic Frame
The gym-going among us possess a torso coveted by many: the V-shape where your chest and shoulders are significantly larger than your waist. This is awesome until you need to buy a suit, at which point “drop” (the mathematical difference between jacket chest size and pant waist size for RTW suits) becomes a problem.
The average drop in the U.S. is about six inches, so if you have a 46-inch chest, that would normally be sold with trousers that have a 40-inch waistband. Someone who lifts will likely have a bigger drop.
Thankfully, drop is only an issue when RTW suits are sold as pre-ordained sets. Many places nowadays sell “suit separates” in which you can buy matching jackets and pants but pair the sizes up as is appropriate for your frame. If you’re on a budget, this is where to start.
If you can afford it, have a suit made. Your frame is tough to fit and your best bet at looking great is to have something made for you.
- Typical chest size: 42″-50″ depending on the degree to which you blast your pecs
- Typical length: Height-dependent
We suggest two-button, single-breasted jackets for athletic guys. Lapels should be wide enough to not get lost in your chest, so nothing skinny like we often see in GQ. A bit of waist suppression is a good thing, but don’t overdo it. If your tailor nips your jacket waist in too much, that will only further accentuate your chest and make you look like a capital T.
You can wear double-breasted jackets, but we feel they look best when worn as a 4×1 or 4×2. A 6×2 model will add a lot of breadth to your frame, and you don’t need that.
If for some reason you insist on a three-button model, don’t button the top button.
We suggest a somewhat fuller-cut trouser so as to avoid looking like you have chicken legs. If you do squats, you’ll need a fuller cut anyway.
This doesn’t mean go with full-blown Oxford bags or otherwise baggy pants. Just don’t wear mega-slim trousers.
Pants at the natural waist are best for an athletic guy, but they can sit a bit below your navel if you prefer. Pleats versus plain front is a style decision that you can feel free to make based on your preference, though we typically suggest plain front trousers.
A 3″ tie will serve most athletic guys well. We recommend avoiding ties with horizontal motifs, as these will draw the eye across your body, which commands enough of its own attention as it is.
Solids and stripes work best for athletic guys, as more conspicuous patterns will draw even more attention to your frame. If you want to branch out, we suggest doing so in as subtle a manner as possible.
Braces Or Belts?
This decision should be made based on your height. If you’re short and muscular, try some braces before putting on a belt. Tall men (muscular or otherwise) benefit from belts, which don’t further elongate them like braces do.
Athletes should pay particular attention to their footwear. Specifically, they should opt for something that’s a bit heavier in construction but still has an elegant last. Something daintier will look out of place on your frame and should be avoided. Think British as opposed to Italian.
Athletic Build Celebrities
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Dwayne Johnson
- Evander Holyfield
- Hulk Hogan
- Jean-Claude Van Damme (in a comically dated, ill-fitting suit)
A Last Word On The Athletic Male Body Type
As with many non-average body types, your best bet as an athletic man is to buy made-to-measure or custom suits. If you buy off-the-rack, you must buy suit separates, which may limit your selection in a very unhelpful way.
There’s also a good chance you have an irregularity or two about your body. As such, we recommend that you read our page on irregularities as well.