How to Be a Fat Man, Dress Well, and Not Look Dumpy-Part 5 of 6

Illustrations by Brian Parra

This is the fifth of a six part article about factual fashion advice for fat guys.  Read Part 12, 3, 4, and 6.

Bad looks look twice as bad on you.
There is a full canon of standard fashion advice that isn't directly related to fat men; however, you should be doubly aware of these rules because when a bad look is on you, it not only plays into the well-accepted narrative that fat guys are slovenly, lazy and unkempt, but it is literally larger and more noticeable on you than it is the next guy. This list can be long, but if you are going to start dressing well, you gotta know them. The basics are thus: brown or blacks dress shoes should be matched to a brown or black belt. Clashing colors, like reds that aren't quite exact, should be avoided in the same outfit. Don't wear novelty ties or any childish or funny clothing; those items are strictly causal and shouldn't be worn to work or any place where you need to impress. You should avoid mixing patterns like various plaids, stripes, polka dots, and if you do, hipster, make sure one of those patterns is very small almost to the point of being a solid color, like a tight houndstooth, subtle pin stripe or Gingham check. Any metal on shoes, buckles, buttons, cuff links should match, like all chrome or all gold. An exception to all this matching is your watch, the band doesn't have to match your belt or shoes and the metal doesn't have to match your belt buckle or buttons, but extra credit if it does. Also, if you are wearing a suit or coat and tie, it should be a proper watch, no clunky sports watches or Casio calculator nerd watches. If your pants have belt loops, there had better be a goddam belt in them. Speaking of belts, holding up your pants is its only job; unless you're a janitor, put your phone and keys in your pocket. Avoid patterned pocket squares that match exactly your patterned tie. Any shirts with logos or embroidered emblems can't be worn with a suit. Before you sit, unbutton your coat so it doesn't pull across your torso and stress your buttons and also hike up your pants legs so the material doesn't stretch out over your bent knees. This list can seem endless, but you get the point.
Never pass up a discount rack.
New Big & Tall clothes can be expensive so it's worth it to browse clearance racks or venture into overstock stores like Marshall's or Burlington Coat Factory. It's helpful to remember the largest sizes regular stores carry: Target carries up to XXL; Old Navy, up to 3XL; and JCPenny, up to 6XL. These sizes fall outside of their target demographic so you've got a great shot at finding these sizes hanging in the clearance section. If you stick to buying classic clothes like sports coats, solid sweaters, dark slacks, neat dress shirts, and jeans, you don't need to worry about being out of fashion. Often times, the clothes will be out of season, thus you'll find great sweaters in spring, and lighter wear in the fall, so unless you plan on dying of a heart attack in the next six months (a legitimate concern, I'm sure), buy the clothes when you find them; you'll need them eventually. Speaking of coronaries and fat guys, don't turn up your nose at thrift shops, where many a nice wardrobe ends up after our fellow fatties go off to eat that double cheeseburger in the sky. I have found unblemished XXL sports coats, slacks and dress shirts in thrift shops. Of course, pass on anything stained, tattered, worn or dated; just because you bought clothes from a thrift store doesn't mean you need to look (or smell) like a dumpster-diving street urchin, unless that's what you're going for. Compared to the expense of new clothes, a good find with a bit of alteration and a cleaning is a great value.
Don't buy clothes online unless you are familiar with the specific brand, cut, and size.
There is no uniform standard for clothing sizes. Some government official should be hung from a bridge for this, but until then, there is simply no way to know if 4XL in one brand is the same as 4XL in another brand. You have to go to an actual store and try it on. I have found, when going through a rack organized by size, a shirt from the XXL selection is snug but the same shirt, in the next size up, fits fine. I once found a shirt I loved and fit great but the tag said 5XL, three sizes bigger than I typically wear. Perhaps it was from their Hobbit Line, I don't care. Don't let the label define you; wear the article that fits you well, label be damned. Look outside your "size" to find clothes that work. If you come to learn a particular size and style of a reputable brand fits you well, say Levi's 550s jeans or Arrow Brand 19.5-35/36 shirts, then you can take to the internet for deals. Never assume your "size" is a thing that exists if you haven't tried it on first.
Welcome to wearing clothes properly, now catch up.
This is the final rule; it's subtle but important: wearing clothes well is about looking your best and being taken seriously. Once you disabuse yourself of the fat guy notion that clothing is about hiding your girth and creating the illusion you are skinny, you have to replace your understanding of clothing with something new. After a lifetime of wearing clothes as a disguise, or simply assuming that dressing well was not an option for you, spend some time to figure out what you actually like wearing. Plan time to shop regularly and work it into your routine. Head into the Big & Tall shop at least once in the Spring and Fall to see the new arrivals and make it a habit to stop into retail and overstock stores at least every other month. Basically, start shopping for clothes like a regular person. Once you know what you like and how to pick the right clothes for yourself, shopping isn't a chore anymore and you might even start to like it. You'll come to understand that dressing well is ironically about not drawing attention to your clothes. Assume others pay MORE attention to your size when you look dumpy. Nice clothes, properly fitted and smartly worn give nothing for others to notice other than the general impression that you take care of yourself and are well-groomed. The words that come out of your mouth and the work you produce will finally be louder than your gut protruding over your belt. Stop thinking of your clothes as a disguise and start wearing clothes that look great. You can wear colors. (GASP!) You are allowed to wear white. (LIES!) You can wear horizontal stripes. (BLASPHEMY!) You can see something in a men's fashion magazine and not have to wonder if you are allowed to wear it as a fat guy, and wear it because it appeals to you, provided it is fitted properly. Dress well, fellow fatties. Look great and feel fantastic.
Read Part 1234, and 6.