In this article, we’ll be addressing how guys under 5’6″ who are a bit on the heavy side should dress for maximum effect.
It’s tough being a big guy during a time in which society is venerating ultra-slim clothes. Wearing such clothes when you’re thicker about the middle will result in you looking like a stuffed sausage, but you also don’t want to wear a shapeless sack of a suit, either. What are you supposed to do?
In this way, short men and heavy men are kindred spirits. Both types of guys want to maximize length, though for different reasons. While the short man wants to appear taller, the heavy man wants to appear slimmer. Accentuating every vertical line you can is a great way to do this, so we suggest referencing our page on how short men should dress for pointers.
There are, however, a few things that heavy men should do differently.
If you’ve landed on this page but aren’t sure if its contents apply to you, please see our high-level guide which covers nine different body types. From there you can determine your body type and easily access its own article.
On the other hand, if you’re here because you’re short and heavyset, read on for some useful ideas about how to best dress your frame.
What Is A Short, Heavyset Male Body Type?
- 5’6″ and under
- Hips sometimes wider than shoulders
- Forward stomach (pot belly)
- Can be generally obese, pear-shaped, or barrel-chested
Much of the advice we gave for short men will be applicable for their larger comrades. We suggest you peruse that article as well.
- Typical jacket size: 42″ and up. May require “short,” “stout,” or “portly” sizing in off-the-rack options
Whereas slim men regardless of height should have some waist suppression in their jackets, this is not always advisable for a man who’s natural waist is bigger than his shoulders. Attempting to nip his jacket waist in will result in the stuffed sausage look we mentioned above, and this will make you look horrible and feel uncomfortable.
Our suggestion is to have your jacket tailored as smartly as possible but to emphasize the elimination of wrinkling and pulling as opposed to shape. This will appear neater and you will look better dressed because of it.
Button stance is extremely important for men with what tailors diplomatically refer to as a “forward stomach.” Jackets with higher buttoning points will draw the eye upward but run the risk of buttoning at the top of your gut, thus allowing the bottom of the jacket to open up and expose your belly for all the world to see. It’s an unflattering look, and as such we advise wearing a two-button jacket whose top button closes at the most forward part of the stomach.
Avoid three-button single-breasted jackets. If you enjoy wearing double-breasted jackets, then we suggest a 4×1 Kent model.
Dark colors will help to minimize bulk, and we suggest sticking to such worsted wools as this will de-emphasize your middle.
- Typical size: same as jacket size
We suggest single-breasted waistcoats for heavy men because they serve to cover up your middle with a single vertical line of buttons. The line occurs just where you need it most, and so long as it’s cut long enough to cover your trouser waistband (that is, cut to a proper length), you’re all set.
- Typical trouser size: 36″ and up
- Typical inseam: 28″-30″
Men with thick middles must -MUST- wear their trousers at their natural waist. This may seem high up on your body compared to what you’re used to. Fine. But you have to try it, as it will lengthen your leg line (again, adding verticality and thus slimness) and will do a good job of concealing your gut.
The alternative is to wear your trousers low around the hips, underneath the belly. Not only will this throw many proportions off, but you will be forever pulling your pants up as they fall. It’s not a good look, and uncomfortable to boot.
Slim neckties will make you look more rotund, but too-wide neckties look foolish. We suggest a 3″-3.25″ necktie in mostly solids and subtle patterns. Make sure your jacket lapels are roughly in sync with your tie’s width.
It may also be advisable to get extra-long ties if you have a forward stomach. Typically these are reserved for tall men, but the tie will need additional length to knot properly and fall to the appropriate spot relative to your trousers and fully cover the belly.
Stick to solids or stripes. If you wear stripes, keeping them about a half an inch apart is a surefire way to look great. Stay away from windowpanes and bulky plaids, which will emphasize what you want de-emphasized. Very subtle textures like a laid-back herringbone will work nicely too.
Belts Or Braces?
- Typical belt size: 38″ and up
Braces, braces, braces. Get some brace buttons sewn to the inside of your high-waisted trousers and brace up. Instead of feeling cinched at your waist, your trousers will feel as if they’re floating around your waist, hanging from your shoulders. You’ll move around more easily, have to re-tuck your shirt less, and look more dashing.
Also, you get a couple more vertical lines, adding further slimness.
In general, we are huge fans of braces and recommend them for any body type due to their comfort and stylishness.
As with neckties, you may benefit from having braces custom-made to accommodate your stomach.
- Typical size: 8-10, either medium or wide (7-9 in U.K. sizing)
Like other bigger guys, you’re going to want substantial, well-made shoes to support your frame. You’re an Allen Edmonds guy, not a Ferragamo guy.
Go for shoes with double soles and a gentle taper at the toe. The double soles will add strength to the shoe, and the tapered toe will elongate you a bit.
Short & Heavy Build Celebrities
In the same way that short men won’t appear tall and tall men won’t appear short, heavier men won’t appear slim. What you can do, however, is tell a few noble lies and minimize your bulk at every point you can.
As far as tailored clothing is concerned, you may find that going the made-to-measure or custom route will offer you the best fit. While this is the case with anyone except the average guy, it’s particularly true for a stout man, as off-the-rack clothes aren’t necessarily forgiving, and style options may be limited.
We strongly encourage you to read our article on irregularities in the male body, as the vast majority of us have some. Made-to-measure suits will help accommodate irregularities as well.