Wardrobe upgrade advice for a slight man
February 28, 2010 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to upgrade my wardrobe but there's a twist: I'm so slight that my sweaters, t-shirts, and jeans billow off of me, and I end up having to buy nicer clothes from the boy's section. (I'm a "Husky Size 8" in the boy's department last time I checked)

I've recently switched jobs from developer to a designer at a fancy design firm. As such, I'll be presenting my design ideas to clients that aren't going to be a huge fan of my current "whatever jeans + shirt that has to do with programming" approach towards dressing.

I've been getting lots of great tips for general wardrobe advice (ask.mefi has a ton of info too, thanks!) but I'm curious about advice for shopping for super slight men who want to look fashionable. I assume a bunch of tailoring is in my future.

Background details if it matters:

125 pounds
5 foot 9
Sloped shoulders
29 inch hips
Super long torso
Like the idea of well-fit shirts that aren't tucked in

Any general advice for how you have, or how you would, deck out that sort of slight build would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by jragon to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not as thin as you are, but I'm also taller, so I have semi-similar issues (albeit probably not as extreme.) The very short version is "Buy dress shirts that mostly fit, then get them tailored." You're probably mostly SOL on sweaters; certainly I am, though I buy multiple of anything that does really fit me.

For jeans, is there a reason the current stock of skinny styles don't work for you? (Not rhetorical, just gathering more data.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:08 AM on February 28, 2010

Tailor things, yes. As for sweaters, you could try the custom sellers on Etsy. Give them measurements and desired patterns and let them go to work. I have a friend who is similar in stature to you, though a bit shorter, and he has a lot of luck finding clothes that fit well at vintage stores. It takes more leg work, but he wears very fitted shirts and sweaters and gets them almost exclusively at vintage stores.

You might also try a personal shopper at Nordstrom or Macy's, or someplace similar. Their job is to find clothes that fit well and make you happy.
posted by cooker girl at 9:17 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Find a great tailor. Maybe some of the Seattle (assuming your profile location is accurate) MeFites can recommend someone.

Also, I'd suggest going to the nicest department store in your area and consulting a personal shopper. They may be able to suggest brands that run slimmer or clothes that are cut better to fit your build, which will require less tailoring and look better once altered. Some nice department stores even offer free alterations, which might make the whole endeavor less costly for you.
posted by decathecting at 9:18 AM on February 28, 2010

For shirts at least, custom is the way to go. I like mytailor.com, though jantzentailor.com can be cheaper and well made, with much crappier customer service and not-as-nice fabrics. (For Jantzen, the fabric wiki is key: jantzenfabrics.wikidot.com.)
posted by raf at 9:26 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I suffer from this problem too. I have luck with American Apparel shirts. They have some dressy shirts, but be cautious as some of them are insta-wrinkle shirts that don't look very good the end of the day. In general the cuts of their shirts are longer and leaner than most of the stuff you'll find elsewhere.
posted by 517 at 9:29 AM on February 28, 2010

Check out the blod, Short Shrifted. Though you're on the taller end of their intended audience, you might find it helpful.
posted by Pineapplicious at 9:29 AM on February 28, 2010

posted by Pineapplicious at 9:29 AM on February 28, 2010

All these answers so far are wonderful, thank you very much.

I also discovered that Nordstrom lets you call or text chat with people to ask questions just like this. If that helps anyone.
posted by jragon at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2010

I have a friend with a similar build. He gets many of his clothes from Jos. A Banks. I know he takes everything to a tailor for alterations, but it must be that the lines they have at that store come closest to fitting.
posted by Houstonian at 10:20 AM on February 28, 2010

The past ten years has been really extraordinarily kind to skinny guys like us. I remember trying to find clothes in high school and it was a nightmare.

I have the same height/weight that you do and here's what I know is good.

American Apparel small t-shirts fit perfectly. They're dress shirts fit well as a small but I find the extra-small is better. Though that might be different if you have a really long torso. I find the extra-small dress shirts ride just, just below my belt. Whatever people may say about the company they make stuff that will fit you, is really comfortable and tends to last.

I don't know what your budget is for jeans but I'm going to really recommend ACNE Jeans, they will fit well and not look like you're wearing painted on cheap mondays type jeans, e.g. not making you look sixteen years old. They last for ages and age really nicely to.

For shirts and other stuff A.P.C . They make very nice shirts and sweaters that have a good cut for your build.

For both of those marks I suggest finding a local stockist and trying things on so you can get a good idea of your sizing with them.

In general you're going to have much better shot with European, and especially with French, labels because your build is pretty normal over here.

One last recommendation, I saw these guys a few months ago and when I was looking around online and I think I'm going to order from them when I can Brooklyn Tailors.

Don't be afraid to ditch the billowy stuff etc and actually look like you are, there is tonnes of great stuff out there that will look great on you and that most people can't wear. Enjoy yourself!

PS - When you find stuff that actually fits you'll have to worry about things shrinking in the dryer, remember not to nuke anything!
posted by metsauce at 10:59 AM on February 28, 2010

paul smith tailors his PS line for slender folks. check at barney's. i find japanese clothiers generally tailor smaller as well. i'm not tiny, but i am an american small in most off the rack pieces, so shopping foreign has helped.
posted by patricking at 11:39 AM on February 28, 2010

The very short version is "Buy dress shirts that mostly fit, then get them tailored."

I haven't tried these yet, but customer reviews seem quite positive, and I'm planning to order something soon. Makeyourownjeans.com has dress shirts for $30, and they are not tailored, they're bespoke, the whole pattern is created from scratch around the measurements you provide.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm 5'11" 135lbs.

I too like to wear untucked, nicely fitted shirts. Unfortunately, most of what I currently wear I purchased in Germany.

I tend to wear a long sleeved t-shirt under my untucked button-down, and push the sleeves up around my elbows. I bought a handful of dark grey ribbed long sleeved t-shirts from the Gap for that purpose. Some of the Gap's button downs are cut slimly enough that they don't billow.

If you are ever outside of the states, Esprit's European line is excellent. I have several shirts from them.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 2:15 PM on February 28, 2010

I am a similar size. Most of the recommendations here are correct. You NEED a tailor. Find a good one and they can make those billowy shirts fit like they were made for you.

For the most part, European labels will fit you better. I don't know if they have H&M or Zara in Seattle, but those are the places to go to get stuff for cheap.

I am also surprised that Jos. A Banks was mentioned. IMHO that place has some of the boxiest, least fitted clothes you can get. Pretty much the typical slouchy, middle-aged, American businessman style.
posted by AtomicBee at 3:47 PM on February 28, 2010

The short answer is to spend more money on your clothing. Very generally, the more expensive a line is, the more closely it will be cut. Men with your proportions (though taller) walk couture runways, so the designer clothes have to fit them. Stalk the sale section at high end department stores like Barney's and Neiman Marcus.
posted by telegraph at 3:57 PM on February 28, 2010

Another skinny guy reporting in. American Apparel nthed, and I also agree that Jos. A Banks does not work well with our builds. For jeans that are reasonably priced and slim (but not eyebrow raising), I highly recommend the Levi 514, which are available in 29W 32L. For business casual trousers I like Brooks Brothers, they have slimmer cuts, but they can be pricey.
posted by mnemonic at 5:55 PM on February 28, 2010

If you're still located in Seattle, I've got a few suggestions for you.

First, check out some of the clothes at Blackbird. They've got a storefront online, but I would recommend checking out the shop in Ballard as well. They carry pricey labels, but chances are you'll be able to find a great pair of slim fitting jeans (they carry the aforementioned A.P.C.) and possibly some shirts and sweaters that work for you.

Another local shop, Ian, may have some good things for you.

If you need dress shirts, Brooks Brothers also offers Extra Slim Fit dress shirts. I don't have experience with these personally, but I've heard good things. Shirts from Gitman Brothers Vintage (carried at Blackbird and Context Clothing) have a great slim fit and good details but are fairly expensive. Speaking of Context Clothing, they carry a lot of great brands that you can check out once you have a feel for the measurements you need in a shirt.

You can probably find things that will fit at any of the (I think 3 now) H&M stores around the city but, as others have said, the quality can be dubious. Their v-neck sweaters are pretty slim and are a fairly good value.

Finally, I would nth the suggestions above that you spend a little to have things tailored to fit you perfectly. My suggestion would be to try out A Perfect Fit in Ballard.
posted by crosbyh at 4:21 PM on March 1, 2010

This thread was more helpful than I could have imagined. Thank you to everyone.
posted by jragon at 8:11 PM on March 2, 2010

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