Fat guys have a hard enough time in life, and looking good in clothes is one of those chores that is inherently difficult and fraught with shame. The main difficulties for dressing while fat are lack of options, poor fit, weight change, the expense of big and tall clothes, and, of course, sheer embarrassment. A common pitfall for fat guys is looking dumpy, when one’s clothes are poorly worn, ill-fitting and weirdly proportioned, giving the impression he is slovenly and bigger than he truly is. Looking dumpy is the first thing a person notices about a guy. It’s human nature to notice flaws first and dumpy details about your dress can speak louder than the real person inside the clothes.
I spent a year working in a men’s Big & Tall suit shop during college and fit big and tall guys in suits daily, and I found myself addressing the same issues over and over again as I tried to help my clients look their best. These suggestions became my personal guidelines. I wanted to check myself so I hunted up other fashion advice offered for fat guys on the internet for a comparison and I found what passes as fashion advice for fat guys was mostly written by skinny guys and amounted to choosing clothes for the purpose of hiding yourself in shame or somehow tricking people into not realizing they were dealing with a fat man. Most articles felt obliged to offer an admonishment about exercise and eating healthy, sending the message, “If you want to look good, don’t be fat.” I know these are the wrong messages for guys looking for actual help so I felt obligated to publish my suggestions in case others might find them helpful.
My pointers aren’t about camouflaging your flab and I promise you aren’t going to get health advice from me. This advice is about choosing the right clothes and wearing them properly, and a little bit about accepting who you are, at any size. If a guy doesn’t care about how he looks, and that can certainly be a defensible position, then this list isn’t for him. I know there are guys who want to look their best in professional settings and everyday life but their intuition isn’t serving them well, I am writing for that guy; I love that guy and I am that guy some days, still.
Nothing you wear is gonna make you look skinny.
This isn’t a rule as much as it is a guiding principle. You are fat; accept it. Forget all the tips and hints you think you know about vertical stripes and baggy clothes and dark colors. It’s all useless. The objective here is to look your best and avoid looking dumpy. You want to maintain all the visual proportions of a normal person, because that is what you are. If you are fat, you need to dress like a fat person, and you need fat clothes. By “fat clothes,” I don’t mean baggy t-shirts and sweatpants, I mean good looking clothes made for a bigger frame and girth that are going to fit you well. You don’t need to hide yourself under a tarp and you certainly shouldn’t squeeze into skinny person clothes. If you want to look skinny, consume less calories than you expend. If you want to be well-dressed, then make sure your clothes fit you right and start to choose the right garments that suit you
Start with your measurements.
If you don’t know your sizes, walk into any reputable, upscale suit shop (avoid retail) or legitimate tailor (not a dry cleaner) and ask them to measure you. It will take two minutes and most are happy to oblige and all will insist if you say you are shopping for a suit. Write down every measurement and either commit them to memory, record them in your phone or write them on a card and stick it in your wallet. Ask to be remeasured anytime you are buying anything north of a dress shirt. The essential measurements are your neck size and sleeve length for dress shirts, chest size and waist size measured for suits and sport coats, and waist size and inseam for pants.
The most common reason some fat guys look dumpy is wearing clothes that are the wrong cut for their bodies, creating unnecessary volume and bagginess that is not substantiated by actual flesh and bone underneath, or restrictive tightness that pulls clothes in weird directions, creating unnatural shapes and silhouettes of your body that deviate from the normal proportions of a human being. It is crucial to choose the right clothes for your shape and proportion, with the right cut, and walk away from the rack if the store doesn’t have what you need. Common designations for Big & Tall clothes like Big, Portly, Long, Tall, Short, Regular, and Relaxed all have specific implications to the overall cut and shape of an article of clothing and you cannot assume you know what they mean because you know those words generally, and you also cannot ignore those categories when it comes to choosing the right clothes. The objective difference to your eye may be subtle, perhaps a half an inch or an inch here or there or the angle or depth of a pleat or a dart when comparing the different cuts side-by-side, but when those clothes are on you, variations in cut make a huge difference in the way you look. You cannot squint at something and settle for “close enough” if you want to look your best.