Get in shape or let your suit do it for you.

a. The thin man

Mark Cho of the Armoury.
Mark Cho of The Armoury. Note the larger lapels and extended shoulder.

The thin man lacks breadth because he possesses narrow shoulders and a small chest. He should therefore select garments that add breadth to his appearance.

The thin man should select jackets with slightly broader shoulders as they will extend his shoulder line and therefore add breadth to his appearance. We recommend a slightly extended shoulder, up to 0.5 inches on both sides, for optimal results. A supported shoulder can also add breadth by creating a more structured appearance.

Lapels should be of a medium width or be on the wide side to add breadth to the thin man’s chest. Since the thin man lacks upper body development undersized lapels will only expose this and therefore should be avoided.

Drew Hoare, marketing manager for M.J. Bale
Drew Hoare, brand and marketing manager for M.J. Bale, sensibly opts for a double breasted jacket in an appropriate cut to avoid appearing too thin.

Jackets should never be too closely fitted as this will reveal the thin man’s lack of breadth. If possible, jackets should feature drape (excess fabric in the chest) in order to add fullness to the man’s upper body. Boxy cuts should be avoided as they will only make the thin man appear to be wearing garments several sizes too large.

Trousers should fall straight from the waist and be cut fuller in the leg. Though current fashions champion skinny fit trousers these should be avoided by the thin man due to their slimming effect.

Patterns with heavy visual weights such as windowpanes, plaids and checks can broaden a thin man’s appearance. Similarly lighter colours can make the body appear more expansive due to their tendency to cause the eye to linger.

b.The broad man

Ethan Newton, of The Armoury, Hong Kong, fame.
Ethan Newton of The Armoury, Hong Kong fame.

Because of the generous amount of breadth in his upper and lower body the broad man should select garments that are slimming. Garments which add breadth can contribute to the appearance of rotundity and therefore should be avoided.

The jacket’s shoulder should rest on the broad man’s natural shoulder. Firm or extended shoulders should be avoided as they will over-exaggerate the broad man’s natural breadth. A natural shoulder is also more comfortable and flattering as it contributes to a more organic silhouette.

Medium width or wide lapels are recommended for the broad man. Undersized lapels should be avoided as they will not only appear to the diminish the size of his chest but also exaggerate breadth in the upper body due to the large visual gap between the lapel and shoulder line.

Rubinacci Senior. Style runs in the family.
Large lapels can balance out broad shoulders as Mariano Rubinacci of Rubinacci Tailoring demonstrates.

The broad man should ensure that the jacket is cut in such a way it gives the body shape without being constrictive. If possible, the jacket should feature some tapering around the waist area as this aids the cause of the broad man immensely by balancing out his upper and lower body. Tight cuts are not recommended for the broad man as they can create the impression that the garments are several sizes too small.

Trousers for the broad man should be cut wide enough to be comfortable for him to move around in while also being slightly tapered. Tapering creates illusion of slimness without sacrificing space in the trouser’s seat or the upper leg where the broad man often requires extra space. Tapering is preferred to slim trousers as these can make the broad man’s lower body appear insignificant relative to his large upper body.

Vertical lines and dark solid colours also have a slimming effect and are recommended for the broad man. Vertical lines draw the eyes upwards due to their vertical vectors and dark solid colours  such as charcoal and navy allow the eye to travel unimpeded up the body thus slimming the broad man’s appearance.

c. The Athletic Man

Australian brothers Chris (left) and Nick Schaerf (of Double Monk, Melbourne caught at Pitti Uomo. Chris left is athletic.
Australian brothers Chris (left) and Nick Schaerf (right) of Double Monk, Melbourne snapped at Pitti Uomo 86. Chris is a good example of a man blessed with an athletic build.

The athletic man, being broad shouldered and slim waisted, should slim the appearance of his upper body and add breadth to the appearance of his lower body. This ensures that visual balance is maintained between his upper body and lower body and therefore ensures that his athletic shape is preserved and not exaggerated when wearing tailored garments.

Jackets should rest on the athletic man’s natural shoulder and feature little to no padding. As with the case of the broad man, an extended shoulder line only serves to over-exaggerate the athletic man’s upper body and therefore should be avoided. Furthermore an extended shoulder undesirably hides the athletic man’s flattering shoulder line.

Lapels should be of a medium width for the athletic man as this will preserve the shape and expanse of his chest. Skimpy lapels are to be avoided at all costs as they will make his shoulders appear unnecessarily expansive and diminish the appearance of the chest.

The athletic builds of the Bespoke Twins

Trouser legs should be cut fuller or be tapered to ensure visual balance between the upper and lower body. Skinny cut trousers can create the appearance of having thin legs because of their size relative to the athletic man’s broad chest. If a slimmer look is preferred slim cut trousers are recommended over skinny cut trousers.

Patterns which are most flattering to the athletic man include windowpanes, large chalk stripes and pinstripes as well as herringbone weaves, as they both broaden the lower body and slim the upper body due to their visual weights and horizontal vectors.


(photos via. The Armoury, The New York Times, Scott Schumann,  Guerrisms, W Magazine, Lee Oliveira)