Fit is without a doubt the most important aspect to dressing well. We have talked about the importance of fit in previous articles, and for guys with more muscular physiques it is of particular concern. Simply put, most garments today are not made with the physique of the well built man in mind. In most cases, well built men will need to have their clothes tailored. That’s why in this article I want to go over some of the more common alterations well built men will need to have done to their clothing.
Blazers and Suit Jackets
When it comes to buying blazers and suit jackets, men with more muscular builds need to pay attention to three key areas in when it comes to the fit of the garment: the shoulders, the chest, and the waist.
First off, you must ensure that the shoulders of the jacket fit you. Altering the shoulders of a jacket is usually a very costly procedure that can only be managed by a very good tailor. In most cases you’re better off replacing a jacket that doesn’t fit you in the shoulders rather than paying to have it tailored. If you haven’t already, read our guide on How a Suit Should Fit in order to better understand how a jacket should fit you through the shoulders.
Additionally, men with more muscular builds are better off choosing blazers and suit jackets that have a softer shoulder – avoid anything that has an abundance of padding. The average man may need to have his shoulders built up, but you do not. Instead, choose unconstructed, minimally lined blazers and sport coats. When buying a suit jacket, choose something that has the least amount of padding as possible.
The next area of concern is the chest and the waist. I can tell you from my own experience that with most blazers and suit jackets that you buy off the rack you will need to have the waist taken in. That’s why it’s imperative you find a jacket that at least fits you well through the chest and shoulders. These areas are cumbersome and costly to work with for your average tailor while taking a jacket in at the waist, on the other hand, is a common and straightforward procedure. If you’ve got a 10 inch drop between your chest and waist measurement, this will become a routine operation for most of your jackets. Look to spend around $50 (maybe more) depending on the type of jacket.
You will typically have the same fit issues and tailoring concerns with outerwear as you do with blazers and suit jackets. Once again, ensure that you find coats that at least fit you well through the chest and shoulders. The waist can always be taken in by a tailor at a reasonable cost. Fortunately, I’ve noticed that the cut of many coats (such as pea coats and top coats) are starting to come in much more streamlined varieties so be sure to shop around.
Button Up Shirts
When it comes to button up shirts the most common tailoring procedure well built men will need to have done is darting. For those of you who don’t know what darting is, it is a simple tailoring procedure where the shirt is taken in from the back, resulting in a much more streamlined fit.
The problem that men with more muscular physiques have with button-up shirts is that they have a tendency to billow around the waist, while fitting perfectly well through the chest and shoulders. That’s where darting comes in – a procedure that takes extra fabric from the back of the shirt (around the waist) folds it over and sews it together. It’s a rather uncomplicated procedure that can make a marked improvement in the fit of your shirts. Fortunately, it isn’t too costly either, look to spend around $15 (maybe less) per shirt.
Trousers and Shorts
Guys who have been busy in the squat rack will definitely have issues finding trousers or jeans that fit them well. Most trousers will be uncomfortably tight around the seat and thigh. Although you technically can have a tailor let out the seat of your pants, it will be nearly impossible for him to create extra room for you in the thighs. Most trousers will simply lack the requisite material needed. That’s why my advice for men with more muscular thighs is to buy trousers or jeans that at least fit them well through the seat and thigh. It’s much easier (and cost effective) for your tailor to take in the waist. Additionally, you may find that in order for you to buy trousers or jeans that accommodate your thighs, they will invariably lack a good taper below the knee. This problem can easily be remedied by having your tailor slim the trousers or jeans below the knee. Both of these procedures are not that expensive (around $15 each) and can make the world of difference in both fit and comfort.
With respect to shorts, you may have to size up in order to accommodate for your larger thighs and have your tailor take in the waist. Just make sure to buy shorts of the proper length!
Sweaters and Knitwear
Personally, I’ve never really struggled to find sweaters that suited my physique, even though I possess a 10 inch drop between my chest and waist measurements. I’ve found that sweaters made out of wool (specifically merino wool) do the best job of fitting the contours of my body. My advice for choosing sweaters that fit well is to not be afraid to size down. I’ve actually got a cardigan that fits me wonderfully that is a size small (I’m close to 6’0” and weigh over 190lbs).
However, if you are really keen on having an old sweater tailored to fit you better you can get it done. You will most likely have to speak with someone who specializes in knit alterations, although your tailor maybe one and the same. Having your sweater slimmed in the waist is typically as uncomplicated as altering most other garments with a side seam. Your tailor will pin the extra fabric along the length of the side seam from the shoulder and sleeve caps down to the waist. The alteration is then done by creating a serged seam, which is a three or four thread machine-made seam that secures the extra fabric. If you have a knit made of tubular construction, the tailor or knitter will have to open up the garment and create side seams, a process that will definitely alter the overall design and look of the sweater so be aware of that. Pricing for altering knits is all over the place and is largely dependent on the type of knit you want altered and the expertise of your tailor. My advice to you would be to ask around and do you research.
T-Shirts, Polos, and Henleys
Much like sweaters, I don’t see the need for most well built guys to have their t-shirts, polos, or henleys altered. In my opinion, altering these garments becomes prohibitive when comparing it to the cost of the item itself. Why spend $15 to alter a $20 t-shirt? If anything, these garments will look more flattering on you anyways when compared to the average guy. Provided that you buy a shirt for your size, most of these types of garments will do a wonderful job of highlighting your hard work in the gym. My advice would be to seek out slim fit varieties and try on multiple brands before settling on one.
There’s no doubt that dressing well requires effort. There are rules to understand and guidelines to follow. Unfortunately, possessing a much more muscular physique doesn’t make dressing well any easier. The fact is that most clothing is simply not made for the body of a well built man. While this oversight certainly poses an extra challenge for us beefier men, I hope this article at least provides you with a framework on how to address some of the more common fit challenges you will face. I hope this will make your quest for sartorial perfection that much easier.
Here’s to looking sharp!