How to Be a Fat Man, Dress Well, and Not Look Dumpy-Part 3 of 6

Illustrations by Brian Parra

This is the third of a six part article about factual fashion advice for fat guys.  Read Part 12, 45, and 6.

supermanMake sure your clothes fit you right.

You should be able to run your finger comfortably between your neck and your shirt collar. You should be able to run your thumbs comfortably in between your waist and your pants. The placket on your shirt should lay flat and not pull apart. Pleats on your shirt and pants and the vents on the rear of your suit coat should all lie flat and not be spread open when you are standing still. They are there so fabrics that don't stretch can allow for movement; they are not there to provide for extra room. On a suit coat, fasten the top button or top two buttons if it's a 3-button coat, and always leave the bottom button unbuttoned, but make sure it hangs under the buttonhole and isn't spread apart. If anything is too tight or if the pleats and vents are spread open, try the next size up or a different cut that is better suited to your shape...not three sizes up. Your clothes should gently hug your shape and in all other respects conform to conventions of men's fashion. Often, when guys are trying on coats, they will talk themselves out of a good fit because they do the Superman Pose and discover with their arms outstretched the clothes pull or become restrictive, and keep moving up a size until they find free range of motion in whatever size coat/paint tarp they end up in. Any good tailor or clothing attendant should refuse to sell you an ill-fitting coat, but oftentimes, the staff isn't trained or you guys are buying stuff alone and doing the clothing-equivalent of not asking for directions. Let's be honest, almost none of you fat guys needs to be able to do calisthenics or climb monkey bars when you are dressed nicely, so cut the this-feels-too-tight-when-I-raise-my-arms-up-like-this routine and know if you are dressed well, you'll probably be standing with your arms by your side or sitting down to type. Make sure your clothes fit well doing those activities and if you need to join a pickup game of soccer or leap out a window because the city needs you, then, take off your coat.




Don't wear baggy clothes.
Every single fat guy on the planet has worn clothes that are too big out of shame. We love clothing articles like sports jerseys or Jedi robes that are "supposed" to be baggy; we feel normal in them. It's nice, it feels great; like hiding in plain sight, except it looks terrible. Many labor under the delusion that baggy clothes make us look smaller than we appear. Let me be frank: it is a lie. They make you look bigger than you are. The billowing extra fabric does not hide your girth, it accentuates it. I think the fat guy mind associates being fat with clothes feeling tight and therefore loose fitting clothes must be how skinny people feel, ergo feel skinny, look skinny, right? WRONG! Skinny people wear clothes that fit and unconsciously extrapolate that if you are wearing a big loose shirt, it fits you properly, so you must be that much bigger underneath. I also think most fat guys spent their childhood constantly outgrowing clothes and felt shame and disappointment when old clothes were too tight, usually after family buffet night. They probably had larger-than-necessary clothes purchased by mom to "last longer," setting the stage for buying too-large clothes for a lifetime. It's tough to break this habit when you are an adult and have settled into a more consistent weight. It's true tight clothes make you look terrible in addition to feeling constricting, but the solution isn't to go so far in the other direction you end up wearing a tent. Generally avoid clothes that add bulk or create artificial shapes like pleat-front, parachute, carrot-fit or wide-leg pants, cargo shorts, bulky shoes, and overly large or puffy sweatshirts, jackets, or hoodies. Also, if you have lost some weight, don't continue wearing your out-sized clothes; any "bigness" in clothes not supported by your body hangs down as length which distorts your proportions, and creates bagginess, particularly under your arms. Alter or replace to look your
For God's sake, wear your pants around your middle.
Nothing looks worse on a fat guy than his huge belly extending over his belt buckle. Avoid Dunlop's Disease, when your belly done lops over your belt, by buying pants with a waist size and rise large enough to pull up to right below your navel, and then wear them like that. While you're at it, buy yourself a longer belt too. I think some guys pride themselves on squeezing into a certain size pant, but if your size 40" waist pants make your belly looked pronounced, you are the only person who thinks it looks good. This is a particular problem for the Nouveau Gras, those newly fat people who don't know there is a new set of rules for buying and wearing clothes, who are still trying to squeeze into their same duds purchased from the same establishments they've shopped at all their skinny lives. (Yes, I'm coining the phrase Nouveau Gras. Clever, eh?) These guys have hit the top size offered at regular stores, usually a 40" or 42" waist and can't bring themselves to head into a Big & Tall Store for pants that fit their newly acquired size, so instead of pants growing with the belly, the waistband gets pushed down and the belly goes up and over. A major issue with fat guys wearing their pants under their gut is the hem of their tucked-in shirt making the trip all the way under the belly on the outside of their pants. Sometimes it doesn't quite reach and becomes untucked, adding to a slovenly appearance. The worst case scenario is the two sides of your shirt, past where the buttons end, spread apart revealing the fuzzy bowl full of jelly inside, a phenomenon we'll call "The Chubby Eye of Providence." It was such a problem during the founding of our country, when men wore tight pants, they put a picture of it on the $1 bill as a warning, "If you look like this, you'll always be poor." It's a horror show for all involved. Get bigger pants. If you are that fat guy insisting you aren't fat and still shopping at normal stores, squeezing into those 40" waist pants, get over yourself and go into a Big & Tall shop, please. No one knows your waist size; let go of that small piece of vanity and look better. If you are someone for whom belts don't keep your pants up, consider suspenders. Any tailor or dry cleaner can add suspender buttons ($10-$15) to the inside of your waistband for button-on suspenders, which tend to be dressier and more secure than clip-on suspenders. This isn't so much in fashion for casual clothes these days but looks great with suits, and of course, solves concerns about Plumber's Crack when working. The first time you pull your pants up to your navel, you may feel a bit like Humpty Dumpty. "That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps. You fight through that shit," said Marcellus Wallace, who wore his pants well.wearyourpants
Know your alterations.
Having a relationship with a tailor or, at the very least, being familiar with the alterations offered at a typical dry cleaner, used to be a common part of life before clothes were mass produced by enslaved children and offered up in every possible style, cut and price point. In the majority of shopper's experiences these days, for every garment that doesn't fit right, there are ten more variations that might fit within arm's reach and a two dozen more stores in that particular shopping mall yet to be visited. The last bastion of people with few clothing options are the fat, and fat men in particular. Big guys are lucky to have one dedicated Big and Tall Shop in town beyond the extremely limited selection of Big & Tall clothing available at typical retail stores. With such a scarce selection, knowing which alterations are possible and affordable can vastly expand the selection of clothes available to you. For suit coats and sports jackets, make sure the chest, collar and shoulders are a nice fit as expert alterations for these can be pricey ($40-$80 each). These alterations may still be a good value if the coat is discounted or off a thrift store rack. Some guys, because of their unique build and frame, may find they always need to get the collar or shoulders of a coat altered and need to budget this expense for every coat purchase. Adjusting the sleeve length of a suit coat or sports jacket is an affordable alteration ($15-$25) and a standard expense for most new coat purchases. A jacket sleeve should end right past the bony bump at your wrist (The Radial Styloid Process, you dummy) so your shirt sleeve can stick out a bit farther. They can be shortened to any length and there is typically a few inches of fabric folded inside a coat sleeve so they can be lengthened about 2 inches. For pants, the rise can't be altered, so walk away if that is not a good fit for you; but for dress slacks and some casual pants, the waistline can be altered a size in either direction so you can buy that pair of 42" waist slacks and make them 44" waist slacks. The waistline on jeans typically cannot be altered. The hem length can be shortened on any pant. If they are too short, jeans typically cannot be lengthened, but plain-bottom slacks can be lengthened about two inches. If the pants are finished with cuffs, there is enough fabric folded up in the cuff to lengthen those pants up to four inches.alterations
Read Part 1245, and 6.