Not long ago, if you were a man of above-average height or weight (sometimes called extended size, plus size, or big and tall at stores), the only style advice you could get came from skinny “fashion” guys. These were editors and street style bloggers who assumed you just wanted to look, well, thinner.
A few common refrains from this bygone era? Avoid splashy patterns and big prints, which bring undue attention to the shape of your body. Wear dark colors because they’re slimming. And, when applicable, opt for v-necks and vertical stripes, which draw the eye down and have a slenderizing effect.
Of course, these patronizing guidelines are pretty out of step with how guys with great style are dressing now. Especially those who are too smart to get fooled into feeling shame about their bodies.
These rules were created long before the current focus on body acceptance and body positivity took hold.
Combine that movement with a fashion moment that is first and foremost about expressing individuality, and the result is a stylish generation of all shapes and sizes making their own rules about how they should dress.
Still confused about this stylish new world order? While there’s no one right way to dress, there are a few ideas that guys of different shapes should keep in mind when shopping for new clothes.
Below, 6 plus size men’s style tips to know:
Learn how to avoid looking cookie cutter in a world where nothing is one size fits all…
#1 Embrace the brands that embrace your body type
If you have a bigger or taller build, you know that it’s still too difficult to find brands and retailers that offer clothes in your size.
So until all retailers catch up to the fact that as many as 40% of men have issues with size and fit and start selling clothes in a more comprehensive range, cut yourself a break and cut out the brands and retailers you know won’t work for you.
Shopping can feel like a mental game, and you’ve gotta do everything possible to stay in a positive head space. Meaning? Don’t get yourself mad, frustrated, or sad about the state of retail when you could be getting excited about adding clothes to your closet that make you look and feel your best!
#2 Proportions are Important
There was a time when retailers stocked their big and tall sections with drapey, billowy clothing that wound up making whoever wore it look much bigger than they were.
But as more guys have come to realize that fit really is everything, clothiers have caught up and started offering more tailored options.
Instead of the grossly oversized items one used to find in the big and tall section, there are now sharp suits, generous coats, and everything in between. Because your size shouldn’t dictate how you express your personal style.
Of course, if your fashion personality is more Rick Owens parachute pants than Thom Browne’s shrunken suits, you can also find clothes with intentionally larger proportions.
As long as your wardrobe makes you feel seen, not hidden, we’re all for it.
Because right now, designers realize that style is a spectrum that’s as diverse for big guys as it is for lean ones.
#3 Become best friends with your tailor
Even the best-fitting clothes purchased off the rack will look better with a little tweaking.
Truly, nothing will make your bod look better than clothes tailored to you. A slim fit is only great when it’s not too slim, and a little bit of drape is necessary for certain fabrics.
Thankfully, it’s not your responsibility to know which is which – all you need to do is be tight with your tailor.
Don’t have one? Ask your best-dressed bud or business colleague for a local rec.
#4 Seek out sturdy fabrics
While stretch pants may be comfortable, we know they only really only look good on the people who already look good in everything.
If you’re dressing a bigger build, opt for slim straight or straight leg jeans, and definitely consider selvedge denim. Selvedge will stretch to your shape over time, giving your the most personalized – and therefore flattering – fit.
When it comes to other pant styles, lightweight fabrics will keep you cool, and, so long as they are made of a sturdy fabric, will create a straight line along your legs that will look better than one that is pulling and bunching.
#5 Go bold in colors and patterns
At the end of the day, the old-fashioned plus size men’s style tips around hiding your body are out.
The adage that horizontal stripes are something big guys should avoid is as out-of-date as a handlebar mustache.
And there’s nothing stopping you from wearing a bang-on-trend floral print or an equally au courant oversized logo t-shirt.
Instead, look to modern, size-inclusive retailers that want you to wear color, stripes, prints, and patterns!
You can and will look great in stripes if you like stripes! And color if you like color!
Don’t let old rules keep you from expressing your individuality and unique personal style.
#6 Accessorize with no fear
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!
Above all, be sure to accentuate the positive in your style…you!
Ready to turn up your style?
If, after reading these plus size men’s style tips, you’re ready to totally overhaul your wardrobe, Team SG can help!
Let us rescue you from shopping fatigue and sartorial apathy with our online personal shopping service. You’ll get dedicated attention in a 1-on-1 video call with your own personal stylist, and a style plan filled with a curated shopping list and detailed outfit inspiration.
Get ready to feel like the best, most stylish version of the awesome guy you already are! We’ll also help you figure out how to wear your new clothes with the things you already own.
If you’re ready for a shopping plan that’ll save you time, energy, and your sanity, give us a shout.