Style Tips to Steal From Your Girlfriend: “Define the Waist” for a Slimmer Look

Style Tips to Steal From Your Girlfriend: “Define the Waist” for a Slimmer Look

We’re not saying “cinch” it, just “define” it

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Jun 26 2022 | 4 min read

A couple years ago, there was a short-lived sitcom that I loved called Best Friends Forever. It starred Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair as …I can’t remember, honestly. Friends. They were friends. It doesn’t matter. Anyways.

In one episode, one of them got stuck in some improbably distressing-yet-hilarious situation, and the other had to rush off to find firefighters to help. Recently single, the dispatched friend was dressed in a mishmash of laundry day clothes, and seconds after she’d run off-screen, she returned, asking how she looked.

You’d think the friend in the improbable situation would be appalled at this display of vanity, right? Who cares! Go get help! What are you waiting for! That kind of thing.

But no. “Define the waist!” she immediately cried. “Men love natural proportions!”

Sure enough, the single friend did just that, wrapping one of her many top layers around her waist and cinching it. While the overall effect was still ridiculous, her figure did look better.

This rallying cry springs to my head at least once a week while getting dressed. Usually more, as I’m tempted to keep a shirt untucked, or wear a billowy top over wide-leg pants.

But here’s the thing: playing up your natural proportions is good advice for guys, too. No, us ladies aren’t quite as interested in your hourglass figure, but wearing clothes that provide definition for your frame will improve your appearance by making you appear more trim. And that’s true whether you’re dealing with a bit of a belly, or you’re so straight up and down I could mistake you for a ladder. So, what are you waiting for!

Below, how to trim the waist for men:

Wear clothes that are fitted, not baggy.

dress shirt for men

The first bajillion internet hits for “define your waist” all lead to workout tips, tricks, and ab crunching techniques. Way easier than a trip (or, y’know, a hundred trips) to the gym? Starting with your clothes.

Wearing baggy clothes makes you look bigger—not just around the midsection, but everywhere. Instead, opt for a wardrobe full of clothing fitted to your body—not pulling tight against you, but lightly skimming your torso and limbs. You’ll look trimmer without a single personal straining session.

Opt for dress shirts that fit you properly (and buy ‘em custom if you have to)

MTM shirt

If you’re a professional, there’s a good chance you have a closet full of button-up dress shirts. Do they all fit you well? Maybe not. When you tuck in a shirt that’s too baggy around the waist, you suffer a billowing effect that makes you look bigger than you really are. That muffin top look? Yeah, it’s as unflattering on guys as it is on us ladies.

Take care that you have a smooth line when your shirt is tucked in for a well-defined midsection with no phantom poundage. You may need to have your dress shirts taken in at the tailor. These days, there’s also plenty of MTM options out there for an affordable, well-fitting shirt.

Skip tops with elasticized waists

sweatshirt man

Tops like sweaters, sweatshirts, and pullovers with bottoms that scrunch up are a scourge to the “Define The Waist” movement. The material bunches up right around your belt loops, making even the slimmest, trimmest guy looks bulky and boxy in the midsection.

To appear slimmer through the torso and hips, skip elastic waists in favor of shirts you tuck in, or that fall straight across when untucked.

Streamline your fabrics

sweater men

Chunky sweaters and thick trousers may give off a casual “fisherman from Maine on vacation in the big city” vibe, but that’s not really what we’re going when playing up your natural proportions.

That’s because fabrics that are bulkier will inevitably make you look, well, bulkier around the midsection, too.

Instead, choose year-round fabrics like cashmere, oxford cotton, and merino wool that help you keep a slim line and—you guessed it—help define your waist. On the bottom, flat-front pants feel not only modern, but help you extend that slim line from your waist down.



And do you have any mantras you repeat when standing in front of your closet each morning like me? 

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I started Style Girlfriend to help guys look, feel, and act their best.