How to Dress Well: The Plus Size Guide for Every Occasion

First dates, lad’s night out, job interview, graduation – it’s hard enough knowing what to wear, let alone when there are few options available that fit your body. 

It’s true, plus-size men are less likely to be able to find the clothes they want readily available, which is bound to make heighten worry when it comes to selecting a specific outfit – especially if you have an occasion to dress for. 

Plus-size or ‘big and tall’ do not exclusively mean overweight, it simply encompasses all body shapes and sizes that do not fit into the typical sizes found in mainstream shops. In this series, we are going to give you the tips, tricks and confidence to style yourself for any occasion or event – no matter the size of your chest, shoulders or abdomen! 

Starting with five crucial rules to dressing well for plus-size men:    

1. Make Sure it Fits

It sounds obvious but it really is vital that you consider the fit of clothing when dressing yourself. Generally, the better your clothes fit, the better you will feel.

You don’t want to be hiding behind a t-shirt that is too big for you and likewise, if something is too tight, that’ll be uncomfortable too. It’s about finding a happy medium and ultimately, something that makes you feel good. 

The first step to this is being able to distinguish between fit and size, it’s a common mistake. Our bodies are unique and therefore different styles of clothing will suit different body types. For example,

4 Common Plus-Size Body Types and What to Wear:

The Oval

What: Typically, a man with an oval body type will tend to have a rounder shape around his stomach and face with slender legs. 

Top Clothing Tip: The key to dressing well for oval shaped men is balancing a bigger torso and slimmer legs, therefore you should avoid wearing baggy clothing.

The answer is properly fitted trousers matching your waist and leg length. Pair them with long-sleeved shirts and t-shirts to give the effect that your limbs are longer. 

The Stout

What: ‘Stout’ references men who are short, broad and stocky. Typically, a stout man has a torso that is as wide or wider than his shoulders.

Fitting can be a real issue for men in the stout category, clothes may be a great fit in some areas but a struggle in others, for example, trousers will fit perfectly around your waist but will be too long.

Top Clothing Tip: As always, avoid excessively baggy clothes – but in the case of stout men, stay away from very tight-fitting clothes, a comfortable fit for you will sit close to your body. Simple t-shirts, shirts and trousers that sit on your natural waistline are perfect for this. 

The Triangle

What: With a wide chest, wider hips and narrow shoulders – men with a ‘triangle’ shaped body tend to look bottom-heavy. So, when it comes to dressing, the aim should be to add size to the upper half of your body for balance.

Top Tip: Look to enhance your shoulders, you can do this by adding blazers, jackets and over-shirts to your outfit as this will narrow your torso. Like oval shaped men, triangle types should use dark, solid colours.

The V-Shape

What: Essentially the inverted triangle shape, men who fall into the V-shape category tend to be top-heavy, with a significantly broader chest and shoulders than his waist and legs. It can be a struggle to find clothes in the mainstream that fit this body type well, typically S-XL will not fit properly. 

Top Tip: Try to avoid tight fitting clothes, this will give the impression that you wider than you are – you want to look for something that balances you. Focus your attention on fitting your shoulders and your chests, you can do this with lower necklines and horizontal stripes.

2. Colours, Prints and Patterns!

For any plus-size man who is conscious of their body shape, it is important to emphasise the right areas. Utilising colours prints and patterns in your outfits are an exciting way to do this. 

If you’re looking to take the focus away from your stomach, avoid horizontal stripes at all costs as this will give the effect that you are wider and bigger than you actually are. Instead, vertical stripes are the perfect alternative, as they will give a slimming effect across your waist. 

Patterns are always great; they add character to an outfit. However, for bigger guys, it is best to go with something subtle. Paisley, checked or dots are perfect styles for this 

For those with bigger chests and shoulders, a graphic t-shirt is a great way to distract attention with something that can suit your personality. These can be as bold as you like – illustration from artists to the logo of your favourite TV show. Just make sure that the t-shirt fits you.

3. Suspenders over Belts

For big and tall men, belts are often uncomfortable and impractical – either far too tight or too loose. With this being especially true for men who have rounder abdomens.

The perfect solution for this issue is suspenders. Not only do they provide a useful way of holding trousers in the correct position, they are a stylish and sometimes slimming addition to your outfit.

There are options – ‘Button On’ and clip on suspenders are the two most popular styles.

For a more casual look, with jeans and shorts, you’ll want to clip on, as this is just a piece of metal that fastens together to hold up. It’s a great way to add an accessory to your outfit.

Button on suspenders are used with trousers that have internal anchors. So, when it comes to dressing formally, build a collection of this type of trouser - you’ll feel classy and comfortable!

Suspenders come in a range of colours and patterns. They can suit every occasion – formal events, weddings, casual weekends, work and much more.

4.  Accessorise

The recurring theme of drawing attention to different parts of your body is a crucial one, which is why accessories for plus size men can be really important.

By adding accessories like glasses or hats, you will focus eyes on different areas other than the torso, which can often be the source of insecurity, and onto the areas where you’ve accessorised. 

Keep it in proportion with your body size, if you’re a big guy, you should opt for big accessories, such as a bigger-than-average watch and a large scarf (no, not Lenny Kravitz size.) 

5. Straight Leg Trousers

When it comes to choosing the style of your trousers, straight leg fit over tapered, pleats or skinny jeans are the best pick. This is because they will give the most comfortable, relaxed and in proportion with your body.

If you have wider thighs, straight leg trousers or jeans will give space to your legs and accentuate the right areas. Straight leg fit won’t compromise on style, as they’re a classic look and can be paired and layered with a number of different items of clothing and shoe styles.

Stay tuned for future dress well guides, next time we’ll take these general tips and start to apply them to specific occasions.