Those lucky enough to have been given a tall and skinny frame reap many benefits in life. They can reach the top shelf in the supermarket, they can see above everyone else’s heads at gigs, and most of all they automatically stand out in a crowd – quite literally. But one dilemma us giants are faced with is how to dress correctly for our body type. I can count several occasions where I have left the house looking lanky, freakish and almost clown-like, and I often see other guys with my frame facing a similar problem. So how then can guys with a tall, slim frame ensure they dress properly for their body type and remain in proportion at all times? Well, hopefully my tips can help you. This series of posts will take you through the best ways to dress for your body this summer; looking firstly at tops and tees, then shorts and trousers, and finally footwear.
Firstly I want to remind you that although I will try and create a variety of diverse looks for you, they may well be based on my personal tastes. I think one of the number one rules in dressing well is to always keep to your own individual style without dramatically changing your look. If some of the following looks are perhaps not something you would usually wear then I hope that the tips I provide can also be applied to your wardrobe. You don’t need to go out and buy a new wardrobe to fit your body type, most guys already have the essential pieces, it’s just knowing what to pair them with and how to adapt them to fit your shape. Anyway, enough of my philosophical declarations on fashion, and onto my ‘how to dress for your body type’ top tips!
Introduction – Colours and Patterns
Most guys with a tall, skinny frame are often referred to as ‘wooden planks’, and this is due to their straight up and down, stick-like appearance. The main goal when dressing this type of guy then, is to break up this ‘linear’ structure as much as possible by adding bulk and deceiving the eye into thinking their bodies are in proportion. This can all be done just by the colours and patterns that we wear. By wearing contrasting colours on our top and bottom halves we are automatically cutting the body in two and breaking up that ‘linear’ effect. Of course by ‘contrasting’ colours, I am not suggesting you delve into the depths of your wardrobe to find the two colours that clash the most – this is a big no. Colours must still compliment one another, but it is important never to wear all one colour or all black, as this draws the eye straight down the body.
By wearing different (yet complimenting) colours on the top and bottom half, we are cutting the vertical line in two. Creams, neutrals and pastel colours are great for tall guys as they emphasise shadows and folds in the material with their tones, which in effect can bulk out the body a bit. Don’t be afraid to brave bold patterns and colours also. These help distract the eye from your linear structure (just don’t go too over the top or you will end up looking like an 80′s reject – one bold item is all you need to make a statement). So that’s colour, now onto shape and styling of individual pieces! In this first post of the series we will look at what to wear on your top half this season.
This week’s focus: Tops!
For a tall guy who doesn’t want to look too lanky, what he wears on his top half is essential in maintaining a proportional look. Tall men often have very long, skinny legs and perhaps shorter torsos, and if dressed incorrectly this could look out of proportion. Summer is a great time to create focus on the upper half of the body because we can wear shorts etc. to create a top-heavy effect. I see many guys walking around with large white t-shirts that are a size too big and seem to be hanging off them like tents – this is not a good look. It is important to get t-shirts that are slightly fitted but not so tight that they emphasise your bony structure. It is also important not to get a tee too small, as they often appear to fit at the front, but at the back rise up in an arch and float off your back. Again this can give the tent look and should highly be avoided!
For those with skinny arms, give the sleeves of your tee a couple of rolls for a retro, on-trend look. This not only adds additional bulk and contours to break up the long length of your arms, but also helps to make your muscles look bigger – which is always a bonus! With jackets and long-sleeved tops I find that if you push up the arms to the elbow they create shape in the upper arms and shoulders, whilst also breaking up the length of your arms.
The scoop neck is a great item to have in your wardrobe if you are a man of tall build. The large, curved, ‘scoop’ of the neck line automatically breaks up the vertical linear structure of your body and brings attention to your torso without drawing the eye down to your feet. An additional advantage to this piece is that many scoop neck tees are designed to fit well but also have additional material for creases and folds down the torso in a ‘ripple’ effect. These add instant bulk and again help to break up the linear structure.
However, when worn on their own they can look as if they are merely hanging off your structure; mix with a denim shirt to stay on trend this summer or alternatively pair with a light weight cardigan or casual jacket to add bulk and definition to the shoulders as I have shown above. Dressing for your body type isn’t about covering up or disguising your structure, but rather accentuating and showing off the best features of your body type. The scoop neck tee is perfect for this build as it shows off those strong collarbones or that defined chest – two proud members of the ‘tall and thin’ family.
The blazer is a key piece of your wardrobe as it will take you through all the seasons, depending on what you pair it with. A casual, lightweight jacket or blazer is very on trend this summer, and I’m pretty sure the majority of you will own one of some sort. A casual blazer is perfect for adding bulk and shape to the torso. They are often designed with larger, defined shoulders, and add additional depth around the chest. Blazers come in many shapes and sizes so you have plenty to choose from to suit your exact shape, it’s all about going into the shop and experimenting with what they have available to see what fits you best. Pair with a graphic tee or scoop neck and add a bit of jewellery for that perfect relaxed summer look. Alternatively wear a denim shirt over a tee for a similar effect on the shoulders. These often come with military-style shoulder tabs that add instant shape to your flat frame. With either of these items, push up the sleeves to break the length of your arms and to emphasise the relaxed, ‘casual’ look.
Similar to how vertical stripes can be slimming and lengthening, horizontal stripes can break up our linear structure whilst also broadening our torso. Luckily for us, stripes are on trend this season with the nautical theme, and you won’t have trouble finding the perfect stripe for you in store. I find that a larger, wider striped pattern has the biggest effect, but either way the natural horizontal flow of the stripes instantly breaks up your vertical structure and broadens your figure. Pair with a denim shirt or jacket as mentioned earlier, or wear on it’s own (don’t forget to roll up short sleeves and push up long sleeves for that extra touch!). When wearing stripes it is important not to overdo it. Although we are concentrating on dressing for our body types, we don’t want to forget the basic dress code rules! Never wear more than one striped item, or you will risk looking like a zebra. Pair with solids and neutrals to be bang on trend.
So there it is, my three looks for dressing your torso apparent to your body type. The main thing to remember is to focus on broadening the shoulder and chest area. Layer up with light weight jackets/shirts on those cooler summer evenings, or take my tips on rolling up the sleeves on your tee to avoid them flapping about like a tent. Think fitted, think horizontal, and think 3D. Imagine yourself dressing up a little stick man that you have to pad out and break up his vertical, stick-like structure as much as possible, then go into the shop, or delve into your wardrobe, and just experiment with the items available! See what shapes work best on you and walk up and down to see how the material naturally falls – sometimes when you stand in front of the mirror it’s not what everybody else sees!
Also, keep an eye out for part two of this series, which will look at the correct trousers/shorts/swim shorts to fit your body type. Follow me on twitter for an update of when it is out plus many more design and style ramblings!