Style Tips For Tall Men – Dressing The Thin & Tall Body Type

mirror-series-well-dressed-man-400So what should a tall man be wearing?

Why should he dress any different from anyone else?

What’s so hard about dressing professionally when you’re taller than 6 feet?

Well – if you’re asking these questions you’re not who I wrote this article for. :)

You see every tall man I’ve spoken with about clothing has always had issue with the way the world seems to cater to normal sized (aka small) people.

Nothing seems to be made for tall men – and they have to pay for it – especially when it comes to clothing!

The guys I speak with are forced to cram themselves into tiny airline seats & compact rental cars when they travel and can never find a size 15 shoe or dress shirt with long enough sleeves (without all the blousing!) when they go shopping.

Yea tall guys – I’ve been listening.

This one’s for you!

And to start this article off right – I have a fun video with my tall & thin friend Tim Francis over at TimFrancisMarketing.com He gives you his personal tips on how he makes being tall & thin work for him.

The Tall Man’s Needs

tall-man-clothing-how-to-dress-400

Being tall is an advantage in our culture.

There are plenty of studies out there to show that tall men enjoy faster promotions, get paid higher salaries, and are even more likely to win the Presidential election (the taller candidate has won 18 of the 28 elections since 1900).

So embrace your height. It’s mostly doing you favors.

What a tall man needs is a natural look.

A tall man comfortable in well-fitted clothing looks like a man in charge of the world; a tall man with his wrists poking out of his cuffs and his whole body pinched by too-small clothing looks like an awkward outsider who doesn’t belong.

The key needs of a man over 6 feet or so in height are:

·      Adequate length in sleeves and trouser legs

·      Sufficient shoulder width to keep shirts from pinching

·      Long shirttails that can be tucked in securely

·      Enough room in the crotch (the “drop”) to keep trousers from pinching

·      A close fit (especially in jackets) to prevent billowing

·      Unimposing patterns and colors to keep him from looking overwhelming

If you can meet those needs, you come across as powerful, confident, and competent.

If you’re coming up short (no pun intended) in any of those areas, you risk looking storkish, hulking, or just plain awkward. At that point your size starts to work against you, casting you as big but dumb rather than imposing and intelligent.

So the tall man’s goals are a comfortable fit, a sleek style, and a dash of restraint.

Picking Your Battles: Styles that Work for Tall Men

Thin-Man-tall-style-menswear-400A big part of style is knowing what looks you can wear and which ones you’re better off avoiding.

Like it or not, your body type puts some fashions off the list automatically. Tall men don’t have it too bad — most looks can be made to work — but you’re still better off playing to your strengths.

Good looks for tall men are ones with clean lines and a few horizontal elements to break up your vertical a little. Texture, layers, and some patterning are all good choices for big men. You’ve got a lot of body to cover, so have some variety in there. Some particularly flattering items that are worth owning include:

·      Double-breasted jackets – Tall men have a long enough torso to pull off the double-breasted jacket comfortably. It’s elegant, unusual, and adds a bit of bulk that’s helpful for men built both tall and skinny. If you don’t  have a double-breasted suit yet, and you’re over 6’2″ or so, it’s worth investing in one.

·      Waistcoats and vests – These work for the same reason as the double-breasted suit, and give you much the same look. You’ve got torso to spare, so covering half of it doesn’t hurt, and it gives you a unique and distinguished look that stands out in a crowd. You don’t have to limit yourself to three-piece suits, either; a casual wool vest or an unmatched waistcoat are options that work for tall men as well.

·      Textured weaves – A visible weave like herringbone or birdseye looks good on a tall man. It’s a little less overwhelming than a dyed pattern and it helps break your height up. It’s also a good way to wear relatively plain, somber clothes without seeming boring — a pair of plain gray slacks with a visible weave is a lot more interesting than a pair without one.

·      Belts – Most men benefit from wearing suspenders rather than belts, and it won’t hurt if you do want to, but tall men benefit from a well-placed belt. In business settings you’re mostly restricted to plain black, but in casual clothing you can go a little wild and wear tooled leather, colored cloth, or just big ol’ decorative belt buckles that would look overwhelming or widening on shorter men. Take advantage of it, and get a nice belt collection going on.

·      Patterned shoes – Again, your options are limited in business settings, but tall men’s casual shoes should include a healthy salting of patterned, textured, or colored leathers. It adds interest to your wardrobe, helps keep attention grounded rather than shooting straight up your body, and has the added benefit of shortening the apparent length of your feet (most tall men have big feet).

You can build a pretty big wardrobe out of those general options. You don’t have to limit yourself to nothing but double-breasted suits and textured trousers, of course, but it’s worth leaning toward the most flattering cuts and styles as you build your wardrobe.

tall-man-good-fit-vs-bad-400Bad looks for tall men, on the other hand, are important to avoid. There aren’t a lot of absolute no-nos, but the few that exist will look decidedly off if you try to wear them.

A tall man wants to avoid looking over-sized or ill-fitting.

Things that present you as a big, unbroken expanse of cloth or that streamline your height are the worst offenders:

·      Strong vertical stripes – Vertical stripes aren’t forbidden, and a tall man can actually look very good in them, but exercise restraint and mix them with other patterns. A pinstripe suit with a lightly-checked shirt underneath is great; a chalk-stripe suit with a blank or striped shirt is going to make you look gangly. Moderation and mixing make stripes possible for the tall man.

·      Solid monochrome suits – A truly matte suit in one solid color is a lot of the same cloth. On you, it’s a bigger lot. Wear light textures (or patterns, where appropriate) to keep your suits from looking too monolithic.

·      Shorts and T-shirts – Unfortunately, anything with a short sleeve or leg is going to emphasize how long your limbs are. Tall men are better off with light slacks and light dress shirts in summer, which can then be rolled a few times for a three-quarter length if desired. It looks more balanced and keeps you from looking like you’re too big for your clothes.

For the most part these aren’t too hard to avoid. A tall man has lots of choices, so there’s rarely any need to rely on looks that aren’t as good for you.

Tailoring and Fit Adjustments for the Tall Man

Tailor-measuring-tall-man-clothing-400Fit is huge — fit is the difference between looking on top of your game and looking like a kid who’s outgrown his dad’s clothes.

It’s rare that a tall guy can buy off-the-rack clothing and get an immediate perfect fit. Anything that’s long enough is usually cut very loose, making it billow on all but the heftiest tall men, and sleeves or trouser legs are often made with the assumption that they’ll be hemmed to fit.

So get to know your tailor. Odds are you’ll want to bring everything fancier than a T-shirt to him for at least a little adjustment.

Here are the most common adjustments that tall men should be thinking about:

·      Shirt Waist – Unless you have a very solid torso you’ll probably need your shirts taken in at the sides. Having it fitted all the way down to the waist gets rid of the extra cloth that “muffin tops” and makes an unsightly little ring of fabric around your waist when you tuck it in.

·      Trouser Hems – This is a default adjustment; you can plan on always needing this one. A tailor can hem your trousers to give you more or less “break” (the slight bunching of cloth created when the cuff rests on the top of your shoe), and a bit of break is usually good for a tall man — it breaks your height up and gives your lower body some texture.

·      Jacket Waist – Suit jackets are fairly easy to taper beyond their original design if your waist is slim. Shop for a good fit in the chest and shoulders, and if it’s too loose below the ribs, have a tailor tuck the waist in further.

A few things can’t be easily adjusted, and it’s worth knowing which they are: the shoulders of a jacket are hard to do much with, as is the “drop” between a pair of trouser’s waist and the crotch. When you shop, try to get a good fit in those places, and have the tailor work on easier adjustments elsewhere.

Jacket-Benefits-tall-manExtra Considerations for Heavyset or Skinny Tall Men

If you have unusual dimensions in both directions, you’ve got some extra fitting challenges. A tall man with a lot of weight is even more imposing, while a tall man on the lean side has to work hard to avoid seeming like a scarecrow.

For this reason – I always recommend you wear a jacket in a professional setting.  

Too hot?  Buy an lightweight unlined sport jacket made from a breathable fabric.

A few caveats:

Heavy, tall men should go easy on the textures and heavy cloths. Wear simple, dark suits and jackets made from lightweight cloths to tone down your bulk, and steer clear of the double-breasted jackets and vests. You can follow the same basic advice as other tall men, but with more restraint.

Skinny, tall men, on the other hand, should wear textured weaves and heavier cloth when possible.  They also want to be sure to invest in adjustments to shirt and jacket waists, making sure there’s no flapping around the midsection.

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About Antonio

Antonio Centeno is President of ATailoredSuit.com and the founder of RealMenRealStyle.com. He has created over 700 articles & videos on men's style, blogs over at the Art of Manliness, and is the creator of the internet's best selling personal presentation course - A Man's Guide To Timeless Style. Antonio has studied clothing design in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is a former US Marine with an MBA from UT Austin and a BA from Cornell College. He loves to hear from old friends and make new ones.

  • Daniel

    Antonio,

    Do these rules also apply to tall men with a more muscular built? For example, my chest is 45in and waist 34in. While something like horizontal stripes are good for tall skinny men, would that be bad for someone who has a big chest?

    Great article btw.

  • Matto

    Great article Antonio.

    As someone who is 6″6 and 95kg/200lbs it feels like you’ve written this exactly for me.

    Quick question – where do you draw the line between buying a shirt, say, off the rack and having it adjusted, vs taking the next step up to MTM to start with an article of clothing that’s more dialled in pre-tailoring?

    Cheers,
    Matt

  • menstyle

    Hi Daniel,

    Thank you and this article should help http://www.realmenrealstyle.com/bodybuilder-mens-suits/ .

    Respectfully,

    Antonio

  • menstyle

    That’s a really great question Matto. I’ll make sure to add it to my queue, hopefully a video will come out in the next couple of months.

    In the mean time, these articles should help:

    http://www.realmenrealstyle.com/bespoke-made-to-measure/

    http://www.realmenrealstyle.com/custom-men-suit-vs-off-the-rack/

    Respectfully,

    Antonio

  • menstyle

    And a quick answer is that line depends on your standards and budget – hard for me to tell you where those fall :) Best, Antonio

  • menstyle

    Thanks for the kind words as well – and don’t forget it’s all about balance!

  • Colin

    I’ve been waiting for exactly this article. Thanks Antonio! I’ve been steadily upping my style game over the past couple years and this answered a few questions that’ve cropped up (patterns and vests specifically). Being north of 2 metres does have its advantages, but shopping for clothes is not one of them. Thanks again!

  • Tj

    Thanks for the helpful article. I think these articles based on body style are very useful for people, after all what works for one body type doesn’t for the other!

    At 6’5″,175 lbs I am definitively tall and slim. I find the internet a great help in finding clothes. Many stores and brands make tall or slim versions of their clothing, but often they are not in stock in stores. Or the dealer books at your local men’s clothing store.
    And of course, a tailor.

    I just wish casual clothes could come in better fit options and sizes. I’d like to wear a long sleeve t shirt some time that fit like my button shirts. Even harder to find are sweaters or sweatshirts.

  • Tj

    Some points not mentioned here(but I think you did somewhere else):

    -Shirts with collars, to shorten the neck.
    -Not to short of a haircut in the neck, for the same reason
    -Sportcoat instead of matching suit
    -Bow tie instead of a long tie?

  • menstyle

    You’re welcome Colin!

  • menstyle

    Thanks for pointing these out Tj!

  • menstyle

    Thank you Tj. Have you ever considered having your pieces altered to fit you better?

  • Rob

    Thanks Antonio, nice article! Some good thinking points there. But on your point about avoiding solid suits – I find it’s difficult to find subtle enough textures, the sort of ones where you can repeatedly wear the suit without people thinking ‘ah there goes that guy in his checked suit again’ – you know? What sort of subtle textures can you recommend to avoid just solid colour, but that still have a lot of repeat value?

  • Tj

    Yes, I have almost everything altered. I still need to start with a Tall size though, even then it can be tough getting long enough sleeves. Coats are easy, they come in Long and Slim fit, and then the sleeves can be lengthened. Sweaters on the other hand rarely come in Tall, or Slim fit, let alone both, the sleeves can’t be lengthened, and shoulders can’t be made narrower.

  • menstyle

    I think there are specialty shops that really cater to tall men. Ask around in your area of order online.

  • Jackson

    Great article, I definately took a quick glance at my closet after reading it. Unfortunately, I found two jackets that broke the too short rule. I’ll have to find another seersucker before my wife notices I’m not wearing the jacket she bought me. Thanks again, between your videos and college I have been reminded how applicable Marine Corps uniform standards are to my civilian attire. Now its much easier breaking the “youth” stereotype and being recognized for my experiences before I even say hello.

  • menstyle

    You’re welcome Jackson!

  • John WA

    As usual, a great video, Antonio! At 6’5″ 175, this is tailor made for me (pun intended). I’m in business as well and need to make a great impression. I wear a handlebar mustache and that has been a marketing gem. People call my office and ask for “the mustache guy.” This stache has opened the door to some major accounts! It’s just quirky enough to be memorable but not obnoxious.

    Finding clothes that fit has always been a struggle, even depressing, especially on a budget. My advice to guys in my position is to marry well! My wife has given me several sewing lessons, and I can usually find OTR trousers close enough that I can alter myself to fit nicely. She’s also always willing to help when I reach the limits of my skill.

    One comment about the video–I found the ring on Tim’s index finger to be a bit distracting. I’d never mentioned it but that this is exactly what the video is about, these subtle style choices. I am curious, sincerely, about your opinion on this. I generally avoid rings on any fingers but my ring fingers. To me, on fingers one through three they look a bit feminine and awkward, and on the pinky, finger five, they look mafioso.

    Thoughts?

  • martin

    great stuff

  • menstyle

    Thank you!

  • Matto

    Just realised that I never thanked you for your reply Antonio. I’m going with “better late than never”, so thanks. I look forward to watching what you come up with.

    As for where my standards fall, assume “low”, and you’ll be pretty close to the mark :)

    Cheers,
    Matt

  • menstyle

    Thank you Matt! Best of luck on your style journey.

    Respectfully,

    Antonio

  • James Sutton

    Best place i’ve found in the UK for things like jeans for my tall skinny frame is http://www.2tall.com

  • menstyle

    cool!

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