Style

7 Style Tips for Short Guys

Advice for 30 Million Men Under 5'8"

We’re going to let you in on a secret: every guy thinks they alone have a weird-shaped body that makes shopping off the rack totally impossible.

It’s true!

So take some comfort knowing you’ve got company, whatever your style woes. Whether you have soccer player thighs, a super-skinny neck, extra inches around your waist, or find yourself taller or shorter than average, there’s something about you that makes shopping off the rack feel particularly painful.

Take, for instance, guys who are not so tall. A full third of the male population stands 5’8” or under (that’s 30 million guys in the U.S. alone!), but the majority of clothes out there are designed with a taller guy in mind. As Brock McGoff from short guy style blog The Modest Man notes, “Every short man has felt underserved and ignored by major retailers at some point in his life.” Not cool!

That’s why we’re sharing style advice for not-so-tall guys, along with our pals at Peter Manning NYC, a retailer creating classic clothes for shorter-than-average men.

First, watch the video with style tips for short guys:

Next, check out 7 style tips for short guys:

Style Tips for Short Guys #1  Bypass the boys’ department

Some shorter-than-average guys resort to shopping in the boys’ department of major retailers. While we give kudos for creativity (and for lack of ego about the label!), this strategy isn’t great in the long-term.

Children’s-size clothes simply aren’t constructed to be worn for a long time, since kids quickly grow out of their clothes and into a new size. Moreover, the proportions will be off because of the differences in body type from children to adults. Like we said, points for chutzpah, but this isn’t a long-term solution.

Specialty brands (like Peter Manning!) design clothes with a shorter frame in mind, so clothes won’t just fit after you tailor them; they’ll fit when you try them on. That’s a win.

Style Tips for Short Guys #2  Knowledge is power

AKA, Know your measurements!

The first step towards empowerment is information. When you arm yourself with knowledge about your actual style needs, you can start taking steps to finding new, better solutions for you and your wardrobe.

It’s not enough to say, “Well I usually get a 30 in pants, and then I have them shortened.”

A lot of guys don’t know what size they truly are because they assume they’ll have to have everything tailored anyway, but there are clothes out that will work for your body type.

The elusive “off the rack” perfect fit is out there, but you’ll never find it if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Style Tips for Short Guys #3  Focus on fit

Of course, that means you need to know what clothes that properly fit a shorter frame actually look like. Here’s a good guide for not-so-tall guys:

Bottom line? 

A good fit is key to looking great in your clothes when you’re a shorter guy.

Style Tips for Short Guys #4  Understand the limitations of tailoring

If you’re on the shorter side, “simple” alterations usually turn out to be anything but.

There’s two reasons for this: 1) you may need so many changes made to a garment you buy that the cost of tailoring gets crazy expensive (the folks at Peter Manning call this the “tailor tax” that not-so-tall guys wind up too often paying).

And 2) making extensive tailoring tweaks to a garment can wind up screwing up the garment itself. You can only cut and sew and tweak and change a jacket (or a pair of pants, or a shirt) so much before it just looks, well…weird.

Obviously, neither of these avenues are ideal, so take the time to look for clothing that fits your body better off the rack, so fewer (if any!) tailoring tweaks are needed.

Style Tips for Short Guys #5  Think small

It’s smart to “think small” about your wardrobe as a shorter guy.

Meaning?

Aim for buying fewer items that fit you better. It’s always preferable to a big closet full of clothes that you’re swimming in and that don’t make you feel like a million bucks. You’ll feel like you have nothing to wear, even if your wardrobe is busting at the seams.

Style Tips for Short Guys #6  Keep it simple

{shop it: field jacket | sweater | dress shirt | chinos } 

Remember that the whole point of personal style is to help you shine. To feel your most confident, your clothes should keep the focus on you.

For not-so-tall guys, that means it’s best to keep the bells and whistles to a minimum. Skip the huge watches, enormous tie knots, and large-scale patterns. They’ll overwhelm you…and anyone looking at you. Ultimately, you want them to see YOU first, not your clothes.

This doesn’t mean you have to dress boring, though! You can have a lot of fun with small-scale pattern, colors that flatter your skin type, and subtle-yet-interesting accessories.

Style Tips for Short Guys #7  Don’t forget about grooming! 

This still counts as a shopping tip because you have to pay for a haircut (eh?) and plus, it’s just that important.

A haircut that’s taller on the top of your head and closer on the sides is best for a guy of more diminutive proportions. Wilderness man beards are probably best left in the woods for most guys, but it’s especially true for guys of shorter stature. A clean-shaven face and a hairstyle that focuses the eye upwards looks best.

Finding clothes that fit can be hard. Finding clothes that fit when you’re anything but perfectly “normal” size (and who of us is?!) can feel nearly impossible. If you’re looking for shorter men style and wardrobe help, the team at Peter Manning NYC is here to help.

Created for guys 5’8″ and under—which is about 30 million in the U.S. alone—with precise proportions and tailoring, the NYC showroom and HQ is a haven for not-so-tall men who’ve struggled to find the perfect fit in pants, shirts, and more. Including the staff. We caught up with the stylish staffers—who all could double as fit models for the brand—about fit tips, trends, and the office dress code. 

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And finally, check out how to put all these tips to practice with some not-so-tall outfit inspiration! We photographed the employees and founders of Peter Manning NYC, all of whom are 5’8″ and under, just like the customers for whom the retailer designs and develops their upscale, casual collection.

Short guy outfit inspiration from the not-so-tall men of Peter Manning NYC:

Peter Manning, Founder

“It all comes down to fit and proportions.”

Best style tips for short guys:

Make it fit, whatever it is. I’m always someone who tucks my sweater a little to show my belt. I’m always wearing a pocket square. When I began wearing them I was worried that I looked like I was trying too hard. But now I’m like, where’s my pocket square? There’s something about it that gives you a sartorial lift.

On tailoring for not-so-tall guys:

Make sure your pant legs are slimmer and arm lengths aren’t hanging too low. The changes that we have to make are small because at the end of the day, it all comes down to fit and proportions.

On the office dress code:

For me it’s Peter Manning, head-to-toe every day.

Go-to weekend look:

Sweater, button up shirt, maybe chinos or blazer, depending on where I’m going. And a pocket square, always.

Style inspiration:

The streets. Watching people and people that I think look great. When people are well dressed, I take a mental picture to understand why that is. Real people at the theater, restaurants, streets.

Zach Fields, Manager

“My form of peacocking is looking super dapper.”

On tailoring for not-so-tall guys:

If the pant is bunching too much at the ankle, you’ve got a problem there. But we’re not just slopping off pant legs. We’re doing proportions down to pocket sizes and placements – and that goes for accessories too. It’s all about what fits your body.

Take on trends:

I stay away from pleats and wider, relaxed pants. For a shorter guy, that just doesn’t work.

Best style tips for short guys:

They nicknamed me “Yves” for Yves Saint Laurent. Whenever I try something on from the sample section I look fifteen times to find things to get tailored. I go for a classic, American fit with monochromatic color turns.

Spring must-have:

7-inch shorts. When I discovered the fact that I shouldn’t wear shorts past the knee, it was great because shorter shorts create visually longer legs and it’s more comfortable.

Javi Sanchez, Marketing and PR

“The more people become aware of..what fits, the more they focus on it.”

On the office dress code:

There’s a very relaxed, casual vibe. If I go to an event after work I can mix and match from the racks to switch up my look.

On tailoring for not-so-tall guys:

Before, as a short guy at 5’5”, the only pant out there for us was a 30-inch inseam which I had to roll 2-3 times. Now that there are more resources and tailoring is less expensive, I started taking proportions and size very seriously. It makes you acutely aware of how you present yourself when you wear something that fits and people take notice.

Style inspiration:

On the street. At the park, just observing people. I had a friend come up visit me last weekend and we went to the High Line and there’s a lot of visitors from all over the world with different styles. NYC is very much like that, it absorbs the style.

Fit check:

The more people become aware of the sizing and what fits, the more they focus on it. It’s funny to have guys that come to the shop wearing sleeves long past the wrist and after trying a shirt that’s proportioned to their height and weight, they’re suddenly very picky on what they wear from knowing what works and doesn’t.

Jeff Hansen, Co-Founder/CEO

“I’m happy I’m not wearing suits every day, but I do still like to dress up.”

Fit check:

It’s as simple as wearing a proper inseam. I’ve been wearing a 30 in my whole life and always thought that was right until I teamed with Peter and I realized I’m a 29 inseam. It makes a difference. I didn’t realize that I was wearing pants too low on my crotch and stacking on my ankle. All of this stuff is a game of inches but those make a difference when it comes to fit.

On tailoring for not-so-tall guys:

It’s not until you find something that works properly that you notice what you’re wearing now doesn’t work well. I can’t tell you the difference that it makes to have clothes that fit, not just for our category of guys, but for big and tall guys too.

Go-to office look:

I’m happy I’m not wearing suits every day anymore, but I do still like to dress up. I’m a member of Union Club and I need a tie to go inside each time, so I keep one around for that along with a jacket for meetings.

Off-duty look:

I spent six years living in Italy and the mentality over there is that you don’t wear t-shirts unless you’re in the pool or at the beach, and that’s also what we do in my family. So, my casual look is jeans or chinos, a polo shirt, and oxfords. Oh, and a light cotton sweater for those cool spring nights.

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