Some people may think that you’re lucky AF if you’re an effortlessly skinny guy who doesn’t need to go to the gym to lose some pounds. On the other hand—and because human beings are never contented—some lanky gentlemen may feel bad when no matter how much they work hard for the gains, their body just won’t cooperate. To make things worse, some clothes that we want seem to only fit men with impossible body shapes (AKA beefed up lads). We know, it’s disheartening, but being skinny shouldn’t stop you from looking and feeling good. By wearing the right clothes, the right way, you can create an illusion that you’ve packed on the muscle.
We can’t promise that you’ll end up like looking like your girlfriend’s supermodel crush, but trust, these style tips can help you make a difference.
Wear crew neck t-shirts or sweaters
“Crew neck shirts give the appearance of squared shoulders,” suggests Bela Vitug, freelance stylist and owner of Bellatrix Styling Project. “Wearing t-shirts or sweaters with this neckline will actually make your shoulders look broader, and you, a bit bigger.”
Make sure your clothes fit you
Those pants may look sexy on that mannequin, but please, resist the temptation to simply cop that pair without even trying them on first. “Wearing clothes that are too big or baggy will make you look smaller,” Bela says. “Also, if possible, find a good tailor to create well-tailored suits, pants, and other clothes for you.”
Layer with a light fabric
“Layering is one of the easiest ways to bulk up and add more weight to your frame,” Bela shares. “Layer with light fabric so it’s more comfortable, especially now that it’s summer season.” If you’re feeling more adventurous, try Eddie Redmayne’s triple-layering trick: plain shirt + plaid polo + denim jacket.
Choose horizontal patterns
While vertical lines emphasize your height and elongate the thin frame, horizontal lines are the skinny man’s best friend. “Horizontal lines create the illusion of width instead of length and height, which can make you look wider than your actual frame,” Bela adds.
Last but not the least, don’t be shy to experiment with accessories. “Believe it or not,” Bela stresses, “even simple accessories such as watch straps, cuff links, and belt buckles add a little something to your skinny body frame.”
If you’re tall and thin, you might be unsure how to find a suit that fits your body. You’re probably used to pants that are too short, or jackets that fit your arms but are too wide in the torso. We get it! But when you find a suit that fits your frame closely without being skintight, you’ll look tall, lean, and stylish.
A suit jacket that fits you correctly will accentuate the best parts of your body, like your height and lean weight. It’ll also broaden your shoulders and make you look muscular if desired. To start, find a suit jacket that fits your shoulders first, since it’s the most difficult area to tailor.
The fabric on your shoulders should lie flat without any lumps or bumps, and the seam should rest where your arm meets your shoulder. Consider getting a jacket with shoulder pads, which will add a little bulk to your frame. Suit jackets with skinny lapels will complement your long and lean torso, too.
Once you’ve found a jacket that fits your shoulders, check the length. The back should fall past the waist and drape over the top of the curve formed by the buttocks. You can even let it hang an inch or two lower than that if you have very long legs. A slightly longer jacket will balance your proportions. If you have long arms, check that the jacket sleeves are not too short. You want the sleeves to end between the base of your thumb and wrist, allowing your dress shirt to peek through.
Wear close-fitting pants to accommodate your waist and height
Tall and skinny guys often have to settle for pants that are long enough, but too baggy. What you want to check for – besides the usual waist and inseam – is the width of the pant legs and the “drop,” or the length between the waistband and the crotch. Try on a few styles in your waist and inseam sizes to see how the pant legs and drop look. You want them to fit your form but still allow you to move comfortably. If the pants are too baggy and saggy in these areas, you’ll look like you’re swimming in fabric.
Remember that pant legs can (and should) be hemmed if they are too long. Once the drop and the leg width fit you, bring up the hem so that it rests on top of your shoe with a slight break. Also, consider adding cuffs to your suit pants. They add a little bulk and can help balance thin legs. On the same note, avoid pleated pants. Vertical pleats can make you look longer and thinner.
Use layers, textures, and patterned fabrics to add mass
By wearing multiple layers, you’ll add a little mass, which can make a difference in how your suit looks overall. If weather permits, try wearing a dress shirt with a tie under a sweater or a vest. Your suit jacket will be your last layer. If you’re wearing an undershirt, that’s four layers of clothing that will bulk up your shoulders, chest, and torso. Just be sure to layer your clothes from thin to thick, or light to sturdy fabrics, as Art of Manliness suggests.
Each piece you choose in your layered outfit can help you add slight bulk to your frame, too. Choose dress shirts in patterns like plaid, checks, or gingham. These patterns add visual interest and texture. Choose brands that make sizes to accommodate longer arms. If the length fits but the sleeves are too billowy, that can easily be fixed by adding darts (folding and stitching in excess fabric).
Sweaters or vests in sturdy fabrics will also add mass to your torso. Tweed, flannel, denim, and heavier wool are thicker materials than cotton or linen. They’ll add a little padding and shape to your outfit.