What’s this? A guest post on Style Girlfriend? That’s right!
My friends at men’s style site Chubstr look out for every guy who’s ever cursed the lack of good-looking clothes for a bigger body. Knowing not all my readers are on the slimmer side of skinny jeans, I asked them to put together a list of things for men of larger means (I’m talking bones, not bank accounts) to keep in mind when shopping for new clothes. Because it shouldn’t be so hard for bigger guys to put together a closet full of clothes they love.
No worries, that’s kind of our raison d’etre at Chubstr. We love to tackle these challenges for you and with you and from that love was born this list of the top five tips for shopping in extended sizes.
More than most other things you might think, believe, or be told about fashion, shopping, and style—it’s the fit that matters most. If you’re shopping Big and Tall, fit matters more than it might in straight sizes. Every single body is unique, but most clothes, especially when you get into Big and Tall sizing, aren’t made to accommodate this uniqueness. So, pay special attention to the fit and get as close to perfect as you can, then (and hopefully by now you’ve got a tailor on speed dial) head over to your tailor and get each item altered to complete that perfect fit. You’ll spend a little more, but it’ll pay off in confidence and compliments.
Second to fit, you’ll want to pay attention to quality. The sad fact is, most Big and Tall shops are going to charge a little more in general so pay attention to how the clothes you like are made. You don’t want to shell out a ton of cash on a shirt that’s going to show signs of wear after the first run through the spin cycle. What’s more, when you’re bigger, higher quality clothing is going to get you closer to the perfect fit prior to alteration. And let’s face it, shopping can be a real chore when you’re bigger, so the higher quality you buy, the longer you can go before your next necessary retail trip.
Any successful shopping trip should result in quality and quantity. No, you don’t need to buy three identical graphic tees or plaid button-ups. But you do want to remember to buy in multiples for your wardrobe staples. When you’re shopping Big and Tall you’ve got fewer options—it’s a problem we’re trying to remedy at Chubstr, but until we do, we recommend that you pick up at least two pair of those jeans you love that fit well. You never know when certain styles, cuts, and colors are going to be discontinued, so when you find those foundational items like denim, plain dress shirts, chinos, etc. that you love, take advantage.
It’s a common myth in fashion that people of larger stature should stay away from prints and bright colors. Let me just re-emphasize—that’s a total myth. Sure, there are fashion “rules” and “best practices,” but you should never sacrifice your own style and comfort in service of these arbitrary guidelines. Bottom line—if you like color, wear color. If you see a pattern you like, go for it. We do take a position of moderation only in that it might not be a great idea to pair that hot pink button up with those salmon-colored chinos. Use your common sense and when in doubt, get a second opinion. But don’t think for a second (no matter what the store displays might try to tell you) that just because you’re shopping Big and Tall, you have to stick with blacks and browns and all those so-called “slimming” colors.
Accessories are probably the last thing on your mind when shopping, and probably even when dressing, but it’s true what they say—accessories can really make an outfit. This is especially true if you’re shopping in bigger sizes that don’t necessarily cater to the specific style you’d like to present, accessories can be a huge help. If you find yourself losing inspiration after hours of shopping and coming up short on interesting and stylish pieces in your size, give yourself a break and head over to the shoe department. Or check out the watches, wallets, belts, suspenders, socks, and yes, even scarves. Think of the foundational items you’ve found in your size and ask yourself how you can add a little of your personal style to that plain white shirt—it could be as simple as an interesting belt buckle or a brightly colored pair of socks.
The fashion world and retailers, in particular, don’t always make it easy for big guys to have a positive experience buying clothes, but you can fight that by getting creative and keeping your own taste and comfort in mind. And remember, you don’t always have to come home with six bags of clothes, don’t be afraid to leave a store empty-handed if you’re just not feeling it. There’s always tomorrow and another shop on the horizon!
Lindsey Davis is a writer and editor at Chubstr. In her non-big & tall fashion-related life, she spends too much time making her own clothes, experimenting with nail polish colors, and watching, talking, and writing about television. You can find her on Twitter, @the_lin_see (when she remembers).