Clothing for the Shorter, Wider Male
October 25, 2012 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Where should a really short guy, especially a short fat one, look for clothes?

Embarrassing personal details up front: I'm an extremely short man (5' 4") and heavy for my size (about 195 lbs.). Even without the excess weight, I have a stocky build; to give you some idea, my neck size has always been around 16 1/2" to 17", now probably more like 18". That's wildly out of proportion to my torso and arms: for dress shirts I usually try to find a 32" sleeve and then get them shortened. I wear jeans in a 34" waist and a 28" inseam.

As you can imagine, it's very difficult to find clothes that fit. I've got the jeans size sorted out, at least, but even t-shirts are tricky: a large sometimes fits me, but often if they shrink just a little I can't wear them anymore, and XL is almost always much too big. Shirt lengths are a constant problem: a polo shirt that fits otherwise is usually 2-4 inches too long for me to wear untucked.

There are very, very few retailers, online or off, that specialize in shorter men's clothes, and I've found that even those tend to cater to a small build. Clothes shopping is a miserable experience. My wardrobe is dwindling and I need to rebuild it; I'm going to need some more presentable outfits than I'm accustomed to, too. I'm at a loss. Does anyone in MeFi-land have experience or strategies to share?

I've seen one or two similar questions on here, but as I tend towards the shorter, heavier quadrant even among short guys, I thought it was worth another post. (See this one, for instance: useful but, as usual, catering toward the slimmer build.)

(Dress shirts are only one part of the problem, but I'd consider having a few custom-made, if that can be done for a reasonable cost. I'm interested in hearing suggestions about how to go about that, as well. And, in general, how do you find a good tailor?)

posted by fermata to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Women's plus sizes, perhaps in the petite range (I'm your height and "petite" is always too short; your torso may vary), from stodgier retailers like LL Bean and Lands' End that'll offer fairly non-gendered t-shirt cuts...?

How to find a good tailor/seamstress = relentless asking around. Pre-social-media in new locations, I went to better clothing stores and asked for a recommendation; they usually have cards for somebody they like.
posted by kmennie at 5:10 PM on October 25, 2012

Honestly, you may want to look into learning a few sewing skills, especially if the big issue is simply shirt length. Hemming a shirt is a really simple, quick job (under 10 minutes) and machines actually aren't very expensive or difficult to use. There are often perfectly good vintage machines at thrift stores, and basic new ones start around $75.

To find a tailor, you can just ask your dry cleaner for a recommendation. Many even offer simple jobs (like hemming) in-house.
posted by susanvance at 5:30 PM on October 25, 2012

I'm petite, and found my seamstress by reading Yelp reviews. After you find one that sounds good, I would do a test-run with a cheap set of clothes. Go go to Marshalls or Ross, or sign up for email specials - they are always having a sale. Also, try to plan most of your outfits with the same pair of shoes, and have your pants hemmed accordingly to that shoes' heel height. seems to offer custom hemming for mens' pants.
posted by invisible ink at 6:45 PM on October 25, 2012

Seconding Lands' End. I always recommend Lands' End for everything clothing related - only because I have purchased almost all my work clothes there and they are relatively cheap, look nice, and are durable. It doesn't look like they quite have your size so a not too expensive option may be to buy when they have a sale (wait for 30% off on at least one item and free shipping) then have it tailored. (And 2nding Yelp to find a good tailor). Also, if you have a Sears in your town - you can return Lands' End stuff there. I often order a bunch of stuff to see what it looks like in person and how it fits then return most of it. Easy.
posted by fieldtrip at 8:34 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check out for some fashion tips for big guys.
posted by whitneyarner at 11:29 PM on October 25, 2012

Big and Tall Men's Stores should be your first stop. Not cheap, but the knowledge and expertise is worth paying for.

Guys are big in different ways.

Stout and Portly are two different things, and the cuts of clothing need to reflect that.

Tailoring will be your friend.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:48 AM on October 26, 2012

Lotta good advice here, thank you everybody! Susanvance, excellent idea on learning to do the easier alterations myself. I'll look into it. Fieldtrip, I didn't know you could return Lands End clothes at Sears — that's great to know.
posted by fermata at 1:39 PM on November 3, 2012

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