It is sometimes difficult for a big man to dress to impress. Clothes don’t always fit us right, and even when they do, they LOOK like they don’t. Off-the rack clothes can be especially unforgiving on us, given our unique shapes and sizes. So what’s a big guy to do? Well, here are 8 ways that a big man can dress to impress.

1) Solid Colors Are Your Friend. Yes, we want to dress snappy in flashy clothes sometimes like everyone else does. The problem is that we run the risk of looking like a walking circus tent. The common wisdom is that if a tall, thin man wants to look like he has a little more bulk is to wear horizontal stripes, and a big man with a lot of bulk who wants to look thinner should wear vertical stripes. Like most common wisdom, this is untrue most of the time. The fact is that big men should avoid stripes as well as most other patterns. We should stick as much as possible to solid colors. Not only that, but I would recommend sticking to dark or muted colors. Chris Christy is a perfect example of this. This is a man who unfailingly looks natty and sharp when he appears in public.

2) Untucked Shirts Are A No-No. Especially for a man with a lot of bulk. Another piece of frequently wrong common wisdom is that an untucked shirt will hide a belly. In point of fact, an untucked shirt that hangs loose ACCENTUATES a belly. As long as the pants that you are wearing are of the correct size for you, a nicely tucked in shirt will make YOU look big, instead of just your belly. Which brings me to my next point…

 3) Make Sure That Your Pants Are The Right Waist Size. Men, just like women, are frequently in denial about their size, especially if they came into their size relatively late in life. Too often, a man with a fifty inch waist will squeeze himself into a forty-six or forty-eight inch pants waist. If someone measures your waist with a tailor’s tape at fifty inches, then buy fifty inch pants. Smaller pants sizes will simply make your belly hang over your waistband, which doesn’t look good at all.

Big Man Suit

 4) If You Wear A Tie, Pay Attention To The Neck Size On Your Shirt. This may be the measurement that men pay the least attention to when they buy a shirt, which is fine, if you’re going to wear the shirt open-throated. I am one of the few men that I know that actually enjoys wearing a tie. This is because I know that I have a seventeen and a half inch neck, so if I’m going to buy a shirt to wear a tie with, I know that’s the size that I need.

5) Don’t Wear Dainty Shoes. Narrow, dainty shoes just make a big man look like he’s about to topple over. Wear boots whenever possible (not cowboy boots or other pointy-toed shoes), but good, solid shoes or boots.

 6) Buttoned-up Dress Jackets Are Good. Again, pay attention to the size when you buy. An unbuttoned jacket simply highlights a big belly. A properly buttoned jacket will actually work to slim you and give the appearance of a nice flow with no bulges.

7) Buy Tailor-made Whenever possible. Yes, it’s more expensive, but the cookie-cutter, “one size fits most” mentality of off-the-rack clothes will do nothing to avoid the bumps and bulges that big guys are prone to. My problem is that I am tall with a barrel chest, so frequently when I buy off the rack, I find shirts that strain at the buttons at my chest, and pants that ride above my shoes, doing nothing but accentuating how tall and barrel-chested I am. Whereas a shirt made by a tailor to my specific chest and waist size, and pants that sit on the top of my shoes prevent this embarrassment.

8) Be Okay With How Big You Are. Don’t let embarrassment over your size prevent you from buying the correct clothing. We are big guys, and we need to acknowledge that. When we try to dress in the style of average-sized men, it makes us look as silly as small men wearing clothes designed for the “big and tall”.

There are many good shops out there that cater specifically to us, with clothes designed by people who know and follow all of the above rules, and allow us to wear clothes that actually look good on US, not on some societally-dictated ideal of what a man SHOULD look like. Too often, we try to hide our size instead of rejoicing in it.

So what this all comes down to is to shop at the right shops and buy clothes that are designed for us. If you don’t live near a shop that caters to the big and tall, online ordering is a good option. Many times, online stores that cater to the big and tall will allow you to choose multiple measurement criteria, including neck, chest, waist, hips and inseam instead of the two or three logistical numbers that most off-the-rack clothing companies use.

If you are going to order online, though, have someone that you trust take your measurements with a tailor’s tape. Someone that you know will be honest with you about the numbers instead of trying to diminish them to salve your ego.

Image credit to: Only Hangers Website