How to Be a Fat Man, Dress Well, and Not Look Dumpy-Part 2 of 6
Illustrations by Brian Parra
Just because you are fat, that doesn't mean you aren't Regular.
When you see clothes described as Regular or clothes don't have a specific cut indication like Big, Tall, Portly, etc., you should assume they are cut to fit the average-proportioned body. Plenty of fat men, regardless of their size, have average body proportions and should be wearing Regular-cut clothes. If you have a large paunch, or belly, and a 3XL shirt is tight around the middle, then look to clothes designated as Big."B" in the size means there is extra room around the body for guys with large girths, so a 2XB is a 2XL garment with extra room around the middle. Tall clothes have longer proportions in many places for guys over 6', so an XLT shirt is an extra-large shirt cut with longer proportions. Portly, in suits, means they are cut for men whose waist size is less than 6 inches away from their chest size. Long suits are for guys 6' and taller. You can also find combinations of these, such as Portly Tall suits or clothes that are both Big and Tall. Pay attention to these labels and understand what they mean to your fit.
It's a good idea, when trying on clothes with several cut options, to start with the Regular cut, and then look for other cuts of the same-sized article of clothing like Big or Tall or Portly or Relaxed to solve issues with fit. Jeans are a great example because they come in endless cuts and styles. Fat guys look dumpy when they fall victim to the Mom Jeans look, when certain areas of the jeans are too loose, pulled up too high, or are too baggy, despite being the right size for their waist. When jeans don't fit properly, the only option most men exercise is moving up a size in the same style jeans. This might fix one problem but creates another such as a weird shape or cinching around the waist because the fit in that area is now off. If Regular-cut jeans fit fine across the waist but are tight across your rear and thighs, instead of grabbing the next waist size up, look for the Relaxed-cut of the same waist-size pant, which will have more room in the seat and thighs, and see if those fit better. Adjust one aspect of the fit at a time until you have the right cut for you. About jeans in particular, there are lots of other cuts that are mostly about style, but in general, big guys with wider hips should avoid tapered leg or Carrot-fit pants and stick to straight leg pants to avoid looking like an ice cream cone.
If you aren't at least 6' tall, don't wear tall clothes.
This error is so common and wrong for so many reasons it deserves to be addressed separately from the general warning above. We've all been there: the big and tall shop has a shirt or jacket you love. There isn't a 3XL, your size, on the rack but there is a tempting 3XT. Don't buy it. Move on. Tall clothes have longer tails, longer sleeves and other adjustments like lower pocket placements and slimmer cuts than Regular or Big sizes. It may fit in the sense that you can put it on and button it up, but the proportions will make you look like a walking fun house mirror. Longer sleeves mean the sleeve cuffs will hang out too far past the ends of your jacket sleeves and the extra length will gather at your wrist, which is a good look at the Renaissance Faire, but not in the board room. Lower pocket placement is meant to look proportional on longer torsos; but, on average height guys, it will put your pocket below your nipples. Slimmer cuts and darts on the body of the shirt mean your buttons may pull across your belly, leaving gaps between buttons on the placket, the strip of buttons and buttonholes down the front of a shirt. Tall pants have longer rises, the distance from the crotch to the waist, so if you pull them up properly, the waistline will hit you above the belly button, making you look like Ed Grimly, the Martin Short character from SCTV and SNL. If you push the waistband on high rise pants down to your navel, the extra height from the rise will hang down below your crotch and make it look like you shat yourself. I know some guys like to buy tall shirts because the shirt tails are longer, to avoid Plumber's Crack and stay tucked in. These are people who don't pull their pants up properly.
An untucked shirt is a glorious way to make you feel like you are successfully hiding your gut but you should use caution, because it may actually work against you. Every movement made by the hanging ends of your shirt act as a banner for the idea that you are dumpy. Unless untucked shirts are worn properly, they add volume to your body shape and can distort the proportions of your torso and legs. If you are wearing a shirt untucked for a casual look, the hem of the shirt should have short tails, which are round and only extend an inch or two below where the shirt hem ends on your side, or it should have square tails like casual Guayabera and Aloha shirts, which are cut straight across the front and rear. They shouldn't hang so low as to completely cover the zipper of your pants and certainly not past where your pant legs part ways down to your shoes. An untucked shirt tail should end somewhere between the waistband of your pants and the top of your pants pockets. Long tails, common on dress shirts, are long for the express purpose of avoiding becoming untucked. Wearing untucked long tails, especially if you have on an ill-advised tall shirt, make you look like you're wearing an old-timey nightgown from an elementary school staging of A Christmas Carol. If you have a shirt with long tails that you would like to wear untucked, a tailor can trim the hem to create short tails. To look your best when tucking in a shirt, use your fingers to pull and fold any excess fabric toward your hips and make sure that fold is held in place by your belt. Align the placket of your shirt, your belt buckle and the fly of your pants so they form a straight vertical line down your middle, known commonly as a Gig Line. Check it often to make sure it's straight as you go about your day.