Gentleman’s Geometry: Dressing for Your Body Shape Find your fit and embrace your size

[Feature image by Whereslugo]

If you want to look immaculate–or at least, sensical–attention to the fit of your clothes is essential. Wear something too large, and you look like a child playing dress up. Wear something too tight, and you’ll look like you shop at Gap Kids, or you might accentuate areas of your figure that don’t need attention. We’ve laid out some basic profiles to help you discover what your body type is and how to dress for your body type.

What Body Type Am I?

You’ve probably heard terms like “ectomorph,” “endomorph,” and “mesomorph” in terms of bodybuilding. In case you’re not familiar, an ectomorph is someone who’s naturally skinny or lanky, an endomorph is someone with a soft, round build and more fat tissue, and a mesomorph is someone who’s who builds muscle easily.

But outside of sheer muscle mass, your body also has an inherent frame and proportions that probably won’t change much regardless of whether you gain or lose muscle and weight. The different body types we’ve outlined below have little to do with bulk. For example, you may go from being a smaller trapezoid shaped body to a bigger trapezoid shaped body, but your proportions will remain the same. We’ve outlined some general male body types below so that you can shop your shape.

Trapezoid Body Shape

Considered an “average build.” This is the body shape to which most menswear brands cater.

trapezoid-body-shape

This is you if:

  • Your shoulders are only slightly wider than your midsection, giving your upper body a slight taper.
  • Maybe you work out, but you don’t have that gym rat build (see below)
  • Your legs balance your upper body

Luckily, the way clothes for men look online will pretty much look the same on you. Because your shape is quite versatile, you have the freedom to try riskier prints and fits. Use that to your advantage and build a more adventurous wardrobe.

How to dress for your body type:

how to dress for your body type trapezoid

Joe Fresh / Hypebeast

On the Daily

  • Slim fit trousers: Emphasize your natural shape, since it’s the industry standard. You should be able to buy pants marked “slim fit” off the rack, and they’ll look like they were made for you.
  • Patterns: Feel free to gold bold with the pattern. Try a geo print in a bright color–there’s almost nothing you can’t pull off.
  • Standard ties: Since you’re so well-balanced, anything other than a standard tie looks a little wonky. Skinny ties will make you look broad, and extra long will make you look short. If you really need something different, go with a bowtie.

In a Suit

  • Well-tailored trousers: Ask your tailor for a slight break or no break, as this looks best with slim fit trousers and will give you a contemporary and modern look. Just as with your everyday look, your trousers should skim your body and have a slimmer fit.
  • Taper at your waist: With slightly wider shoulders, you’ll want to make sure your jacket comes in at the waist to avoid an unbalance between your top and bottom halves. But most jackets already have some tapering, so it shouldn’t be hard to get a good fit with very little tailoring.

Rectangle Body Shape

Tall and thin, you may have been called “beanpole” at some point in your life.

rectangle-body-type

This is you if:

  • You’re straight through the torso with shoulders as wide as your waist
  • Your skinny top half is matched with equally slim legs
  • You’re above average in height

Your height and lean body type can present a challenge when trying to find clothes that fit both length and width wise. Wide fits leave you with a boxy silhouette, and large patterns make it look as if you’re being swallowed up by fabric. Go instead for layers and heavy fabrics as they create the illusion of a heavier frame, especially on your top half.

How to dress for your body type:

how to dress for your body type rectangle

H&M / Burberry London / Buzz16

On the Daily

  • Layers: Knits, cardigans, or jackets are types of clothing that will add some weight to your shoulders, which creates the illusion of a trapezoid build. Heavier fabrics, in general, will draw the eye upward and put more bulk on your frame.
  • Details across shoulders: Perfect for summer, when the last thing you want to do is put on another layer. Color or detailing on the top half of your shirt will create the same effect as layers with a little less heat. Try to draw the eye upward and accentuate your shoulders to create a broader look.
  • Slim fit trouser: A close fit in your trousers will also help you keep your proportions in check. Anything wider won’t add bulk but actually makes you look skinnier as excess fabric overwhelms your frame.

In a Suit

  • Pant Length: The shortest you should ever go on your pant length is the no break look. While the cropped look may be fashion-forward, it throws off the balance between your top and bottom half
  • Single breasted jackets: Single-breasted jackets are a must for your frame, as a double-breasted look will make you look even more rectangular. Some structure in your shoulders is also ideal to fill out your top half.

Inverted Triangle Body Shape

Sometimes you have trouble walking through door frames. Okay, your proportions may not be that extreme, but you have more of a stocky build–like, you go to the gym.

inverted-triangle-body-shape

This is you if:

  • Your shoulders are the widest part of your body
  • Your waist is more tapered than someone with a trapezoid build
  • You may also have some bulk in your thighs

This can be a difficult body to dress, with most retailers catering bodies less fine-tuned than yours. Luckily, athleisure gives you some room to breathe and the chance to wear something other than sweat-wicking shirts.

How to dress for your body type:

how to dress for your body type inverted triangle

Olympvs / Royal Fashionist

On the Daily

  • Straight-leg trousers: Instead of a slim-fit, a little more fabric here will add to your frame and keep your pants fitting comfortably.
  • Unstructured blazers: This jacket will help even the proportion of your waist to your shoulders. The unstructured blazer will hug the slope of your shoulders, while the slight flair at the bottom of the jacket will add bulk to your waist.
  • Belts: Another tactic for drawing the eye a little lower is adding a belt to your getup. Whether you’re wearing shorts or full-length pants, adding one in a standout color will break up your frame a little.

In a Suit

  • Small to medium patterns: Since your build is bigger, keep the patterns you’re wearing smaller to downplay your size. Small polka dots or more intricate patterns on your shirt will look best on you.
  • Tailor the waist: You’ll certainly need extra room in the shoulders, so opt for a size up in your suit jacket and plan for your tailor to take it in at the waist. A boxy, unfitted look isn’t flattering on anyone. Despite your slender middle, your jacket should still taper in.

Triangle Body Shape

A rounder-in-the-belly build that becomes more common post-college. But it doesn’t mean you’re out of shape. Sometimes the triangle body shape is endearingly referred to as a “dad bod.”

triangle-body-shape

This is you if:

  • Your midsection is wider than your shoulders
  • Your legs have some shape and are balanced by your top half
  • You have slimmer shoulders

The most important thing to be wary of is the pinch from trying to dress for the slimness of your shoulders that could cause some tightness around the belly. Looks that work for you (particularly on top) overlap with what looks good on the rectangle-shaped man.

How to dress for your body type:

how to dress for your body type triangle shape

Pet Salon / Trashness / Lifestyle by PS

On the Daily

  • Structured shoulders: Since your midsection is the widest part of your body, structured shoulders are perfect for balancing it out. This will minimize the visual appearance of any weight on your waist and make you appear more proportional.
  • Detailing/color across your chest: Again, anything that will draw the eyes upwards to your shoulders is a good look for you. Color and detailing that brings the eyes up to your chest is a more flattering look on you.
  • Straight leg pants: When it comes to pants, taper at your own risk. Anything too slim-fit will draw attention straight to the largest part of your body. A straight-legged look and even some pleats will give you a more balanced look with some extra comfort.

In a Suit

  • Single breasted jacket: The volume of a double-breasted jacket will bring too much weight to your top half. Instead, invest in a classic single-breasted jacket that sits close to your frame. Structured shoulders will draw the eyes up and balance out your middle with this more formal piece.
  • Darker dress shirt: A darker, deeper color could be more flattering than your standard white dress shirt. The tone will look slimming on your larger top half and create a nice monochrome look with the rest of your suit.

After reading all this, if you still have the question, “What is my body type?” we suggest hitting the fitting rooms and trying things on. You’ll never really know if you’re a rectangle or actually just a tall trapezoid until you see the clothes on yourself. Conquering how to dress well is a long journey, but with every new article you read and every new experiment you embark on, you’ll get closer to developing your signature look. And hopefully you’ve discovered a few things about how to dress for your body type.

Read next – Your First Bespoke Suit