If you or anyone else has ever referred to you as a “shrimp,” this article will show you how to dress better.
It’s tough being small, especially as a man. You’re not taken as seriously as your taller counterparts, you have to work twice as hard to get noticed at the office, and potential mates often overlook you, literally and figuratively.
Michael is a short man, and the first suit he bought was a “His First” Hickey Freeman. It was a boys size 16. He was 23 years old and had a Bachelor’s Degree, yet there he was buying a suit that could have fit a husky middle schooler.
It’s very difficult to find good-looking, well-made clothing for small-framed adult men. You’re not going to find killer sport coats in the boys’ section, fellas.
If you’re on this page but aren’t sure that its contents are right for you, see our high-level guide in which we cover nine different body types, two body type “modifications (“athletic” and “irregular“), and the methodology with which we created them all. You’ll be able to determine your body type and link to its article from there.
If, on the other hand, you’re here because you know you’re a short, thin man and wish to dress better, we welcome you. Enjoy.
What Is A Short, Thin Man?
We classify short, thin men as 5’6″ or shorter with a slender build. It’s likely that you weigh a maximum of 130 pounds on the tall end, and maybe close to 100 pounds on the short end. You’ve been called “shrimp,” “shorty” or “scrawny” at some point in your life.
The key for short, thin men is to make yourself look as tall as possible while giving the appearance of muscularity. We’re not saying that dressing well will make you look tall and ripped, but it will make you look less short and more cut.
How To Dress The Short & Thin Male Body Type
It’s a pain to be a small man. Brands rarely have anything off-the-rack for you that fits, and if something comes close, it needs a ton of alterations. Even then, it might not look good, or you’ve compromised on style. Read on to see how to make the best of it.
- Typical chest size for the tiny man: 34-36
- Typical jacket length for the short thin man: Always go with a “short” length when available
Though he was featured in our article for short guys of average frame, Mike is enough of a shrimp to be used a reference for this article too, despite the impending dadbod he’s trying to avoid.
Let’s just get this out of the way now: your best bet is going custom or made-to-measure. Very few brands make jacket sizes that will fit you, and if they do, selection is severely limited. There are so many made-to-measure retailers nowadays that the price has been driven down to ready-to-wear levels. If you were thinking about spending $500 on a jacket, don’t even bother going to a store. Head over to Indochino for a great starting point.
If you happen to be in Asia, we have a great set of reviews of the best tailors in Phuket, Thailand!
Fit is extremely important for small men. The minute your clothes are too big, you’re going to look like a little kid who borrowed his dad’s sport jacket for the job fair. you will not be taken seriously.
- Typical trouser waist size: 26″-30″
- Typical trouser inseam: 26″-30″, though this can once again be based on preference for the kind of break you prefer and how high (or low) your trousers sit in relation to your waist.
Make your trousers slim, with just enough room to move. You can’t have any extra material hanging off of you, lest you look shorter and thinner than you already are. We suggest plain fronts with no cuffs. This will maximize length while not adding any girth.
We suggest a generous taper from an already slim thigh, which will accentuate as much height as possible.
- Typical necktie width: Skinny ties range can be as narrow as 2″, and kipper ties can be as wide as 5″.
You’ll look very good in a 2.75″ wide necktie, which is decidedly slim. A 3″ wide tie will work for you if you have more conservative tastes. Either way, make sure the tie width roughly syncs up with your jacket’s lapel width.
Small-framed men are best served by wearing small-scale patterns. You should feel lucky in this regard. Most guys can’t pull off micro patterns well because their bodies offer too much real estate for the pattern to cover. It’s dizzying to look at a puppytooth blazer on a 6’3″, 250-pound gentleman. You, though? You can wear them to great effect.
We particularly like stripes for small guys. Thin pinstripes closely spaced work best. It’s best to avoid large-scale patterns, which can swallow you up and make you look smaller than you actually are.
Braces Versus Belts
- Typical belt size (remembering to size up from your pant waist size): 30-32″
- Typical brace size (“suspenders” in American English): Not applicable, as most are adjustable “one-size-fits-all” models
A slim tie and suspenders will help you appear less short.
We’re fans of braces for small men. The additional vertical lines add height, and they’re more comfortable than a belt regardless of frame. Belts also offer a horizontal line, which cuts you in half. Save belts for casual clothing, stick with braces for tailored suits.
- Typical shoe size for the average guy: U.S. 6D-8D (5-7 in U.K. sizing, with medium width)
Big, bulky shoes will make you look like you have clown feet, especially if they’re worn with tapered trousers. Try to stick to slim shoes that have tapered lasts.
More delicate shoes from Italian brands will work well on small frames. Even non-Italian brands make elegant, slim shoes like the black tassel loafers pictured above, which are from Allen Edmonds.
Small Build Celebrities
It is really really tough to dress well as a small man. By being persistent when shopping and budgeting properly for made-to-measure clothing, you can look good and not necessarily spend a ton of money either.
We strongly encourage you to read our article on irregularities in the male body to fully flesh out your wardrobe. Everyone, no matter their build, has some kind of irregularity in the body and its best to know what that is before you spend your hard-earned money.