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How to dress for your body shape

Dressing for your body shape will not only make clothes look better on you but will save you time as well

When you dress for your body shape, not only will you up your style game but your confidence also grow.

If we’re brutally honest with ourselves, we’ll agree that women are smarter than us — especially when it comes to fashion and style. The “I have nothing to wear” lament is more about how items fit than it is about the size of their wardrobes. And body shape plays a big role in this. 

But what is your body shape, and do you know how to dress it? Well, the answer could explain why so many guys simply have no clue about their wardrobes.  Getting to know your body shape — and, importantly, accepting it — is of paramount importance, as you’ll be able to accurately select clothes that look good on you. 

The average body

Marked by reasonable height for your age, broad shoulders and a taper down to the waist, this is what likely comes to mind when you think of the average build. The shoulders are broader than the torso and the legs are lean but with definition. While I can’t speak for every guy, you’re likely the type that hits the gym occasionally but aren’t bulking up. Muscles are defined, but not overtly athletic.

When it comes to dressing your shape, you probably have the easiest time. You might have slight definition, so highlight it. If you’re dressing up for formal events, keep your trousers and jackets tapered. This will emphasise the outline of your shape in a positive way, without leaving you with a billowing bottom half, or busting out of the lapels of your jacket.

The inverted triangle

Think of an upside-down triangle: You have broad shoulders and a smaller waist. Johnny Bravo, anybody? 

You need to look out for things that draw away from the shoulder and add bulk to the midriff. Opt for regular V-neck T-shirts over extreme V-necks, as they draw the eye down to your narrow waist, making you seem even more top-heavy. Embrace slim-fit shirts but size up — you can celebrate the body you work hard for without shouting about it. 

Straight-leg trousers and jeans work best. Many slim-fits will work too, but avoid the spray-on skinny jeans trend —it will only accentuate your slim lower half, giving the appearance that you skip leg day even if you don’t. 

Ignore structured tailoring and wide-peak lapels, and instead try a lighter constructed blazer with little shoulder padding and some detailing like patch pockets on the sports jackets or blazers to give the illusion of a more proportionate frame. 

The rectangle 

Fortunately (or unfortunately) this is my body shape: Tall, thin and all a bit samey. Your shoulders are roughly the same width as your waist and hips, so you’ll need to create the illusion of structure using clothing to widen the shoulders while also adding the effect of a subtle taper from the top down.

Horizontal stripes are great to widen your frame especially across your upper torso (think Breton tees). I’d also recommend building a relationship with a good tailor to create pieces tweaked to suit you. 

For more casual occasions, go for layered looks. A button-down shirt and fine-gauge crew-neck jumper is a no-fail pairing that’ll add instant bulk to your frame.

The triangle 

Let’s be clear — this shape doesn’t necessarily mean fat. Many of us are simply predisposed to being larger around the waist and hips and relatively narrow up top. Vertical stripes are your friend; horizontal stripes only help from the chest up. A pinstripe suit will elongate your frame and give you the appearance of being taller and slimmer. 

Choose jackets with structured shoulders to square off your frame, which gives a balance to your waist. T-shirts and sweaters with colour panels and detailing across the chest and shoulders are a great idea as they help broaden your narrow upper torso. Remember, the key is to draw the eye away from the centre of your frame, which is the roundest. Look for trousers that are straight or slim, but never skinny, and create balance on top at the chest by going for structure and stripes. 

If your triangular frame is on the larger side, look for tailoring that’s structured at the top but has plenty of drape as this kind of suiting won’t constrict around problem areas like your gut, seat and thighs. 

Stay away from loud prints, as fashion-forward as they may be; it will only accentuate your bad areas. You can incorporate it in the form of accessories such as pocket squares, ties or glasses. 

When you dress for your body shape, not only will you up your style game but your confidence also grow. And who doesn’t need that? 

The writer is the brand manager at Ascots & Chapels

When you dress for your body shape, not only will you up your style game but your confidence also grow.

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