It’s probably no surprise to you that most men fit into one or more of the following categories when it comes to personal style: shopping as an undesirable and unpleasant experience; shopping on impulse; shopping directly from the mannequin or window in stores without trying on the products; purchasing clothes directly from online retailers that aren’t familiar with our measurements, leaving the responsibility to our spouse to conduct personal shopping. And quite often our spouses are just as unfamiliar with our size and shape as we are. Now! I’m not saying that doing one or a multitude of the aforementioned is a recipe for disaster, but it does make defining our personal style a bit arduous. Most men lack the understanding or simply don’t care about the intricacies of fashion so much so that a large portion of men are punch drunk to learn of the phenomenon of marrying size with body shape. Even more fascinating is that there is still a large populous of men that are unaware that this phenomenon even exist.
At some point in our life we have all been guilty of shopping by way of the mannequin. We go to or favorite spot and see a piece or pieces that make us weak in the knees. Pieces that have been safety pinned, stapled, tucked, and/or all of the above to fit a very slim mannequin. Don't get me wrong, it works for some of us that happen to have the frame of a mannequin, but this doesn't often fit the majority. Things on us just don't look like they do/did while thrust in a very calculated and methodical fashion on the mannequin. We all find ourselves in this predicament, because many of us are not familiar with nor do we care to determine what out correct body type is; and then shop according to it. There are scientific terms that describe the three basic human body types. These scientific body types are gender-agnostic, meaning they apply to women and men. The scientific terms are 1.) the endomorph, characterized by a preponderance of body fat; 2.) the mesomorph, marked by a well-developed musculature; and 3.) the ectomorph, distinguished by a lack of much fat or muscle tissue. It's all about the illusion these structures create. Interesting aspects about each of these is that an ectomorph will naturally look skinner than he or she is, an endomorph will look heavier even when ripped, and a mesomorph will look well proportioned even with a little added weight. Anyway! My MO is not to wax poetic about the science behind body types, but to speak on this very topic in using layman's speak.
To those who are sartorially- deficient be not afraid! Solving the proclivities of your fashion conundrum is over. The solution to building your unique personal style is based on understanding personal body shape. Understanding the five horizontal body shapes and the do’s and don’ts will enhance your personal style accoutrements as well as a sound sense of fashion. The five male body shapes are: triangle (upper body has heavy frame), the rectangle (thickened abdomen), trapezoid (well-proportioned body), inverted triangle (exaggerated upper body), and oval shape (undefined waist and large low stomach). See the picture at the end of the article for more details.
Triangle body shape: Men with this body shape tend to be very bottom heavy, have a chest that is smaller than their hips, and have a slope in their shoulder area.
Do: Suits that accentuate the shoulder line. Suit with slight padding in the shoulders such as the boxy suit are your best choice. Dark suits are your friend; they tend to slim the body line.
Don’t: Over-exaggerated baggy clothing. Triangle shaped males should also stay away from tight fitted clothing. If it pulls when you put it on, size up.
Rectangle body shape: This body shape is just how it sounds. The shoulders, waist, and chest are proportional.
Do: Go for padding in shoulders of suits, layer the top half to give it shape, and buy suits with more than 3 pockets (this will draw attention away from the straightness of your frame)
Don’t: Wide leg jeans or trousers is a major fashion faux paux. Dark suits are your friend.
Trapezoid body shape: If you are ever so blessed to have a trapezoid body shape; you have what is considered the perfect body size for men.
Dos: You can choose from the greatest of.
Don’t: Clothes with a boxy fit. Your clothes should have a tapered fit.
Inverted triangle body shape: Men with this body shape tend to have broad shoulders, broad chest, narrow wait, and narrow hips.
Do: The key to your style is balance. A V-shaped body needs V-Shape tailoring. Custom tailoring suits to fit the contour of your body is key!
Don’t: Stay away from suits that have exaggerated padding in shoulders and double breast suits.
Oval body shape: The oval male body shape has an overall round appearance with a large stomach.
Do: Pay close attention to the rise of your pants. Your pants should sit on your hips minimizing the distance between the waistband and the crotch area. This gives the appearance that your stomach looks much smaller. Vertical stripped pattern suits or casual shirts are great for oval shaped men.
Don’t: Loud colors and ostentatious patterns. Stay away from layering.
We touched on the five male body shapes. The next step is to conduct self-examination and determine your body shape. Once we’ve done so, we can use the basic dos and don'ts that are delineated above to begin to build our personal style. We are called to excellence in all that we do and though clothes don’t make us, they certainly reveal who we are and are how we market and brand ourselves. When putting your personal looks together always take the time to evaluate your body type and what types of clothing will suit you best. Of course we will always have to re-evaluate as our physiology changes, but having a basic foundation is a great start.