What looks good on a heavyset 30ish guy?
October 9, 2007 10:01 AM   Subscribe

What kind of clothing looks best on a thirtysomething guy who is heavy but not obese? I am in a fashion rut and don't trust my judgement, and want to see some pictures.

Yeah, I'm talking about myself. I am in my 30s, 5'9", 200 lbs, and BMI of 29 (heavy, but definitely not obese) and am physically active. I have descended into an awful fashion rut which basically consists of shorts and an untucked T-shirt similar to this (this is NOT me). I am not confident wearing anything else except for formal businesswear. Neither is good for fun social events.

I would be grateful for (A) links to random pics of heavyset guys who, according to your refined sense of fashion, look good and are not trying to make a fashion statement, and (B) advice and observations about what to wear.

Yes, I've seen this thread. All the advice is a definite slide to first base, but falls short of giving specifics and contains almost no visual examples (which I need to see details like what is tucked in, if there is a belt, and so on). Ugh's advice there was best but sadly the example has expired off the casualmale.com site.

To summarize, I need to snap myself out of this and start dressing good again. I need visual examples I can emulate, as I think my fashion sense is severely corrupted -- I have worn stupid stuff in the past thinking it looked good and I don't wish to repeat that mistake. I need your help! And yeah, I'm working on losing the weight, but that will take time.

Also I'm in Texas, which limits my ability to wear cold weather fashions. Because Wal-Mart is the only store in my town I'll most likely have to buy off the Internet, though I do make it to the Plano TX area often.
posted by zek to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Nat Nast silk bowling shirts look good on all body shapes (they fall nicely from the shoulder) and have a fun retro look without being campy. Expensive (you can probably find them online at Nordstrom) but well-made.
posted by pinky at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2007

I can understand why you are frustrated, because I thought this would be easy, and in fact it is extremely difficult to come across images of men who are less than svelte and are fashionably, attractively attired. Even the stores that say they are for "Big and Tall Men" (icky catchphrase) show pics of the same cookie-cutter type.

Still, for casual wear, I like Docker's with a short-sleeved "gambino" or bowling shirt like Da Vinci's, or a nice long-sleeved shirt and maybe a sports coat.

And I think that EVERY man looks good when he is sharply dressed, say in a dress shirt and tie, or a suit.
posted by misha at 11:08 AM on October 9, 2007

Lots of good advice here, here (lots of links), here, here. Also tips that may be applicable, and links to stores here, here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:14 AM on October 9, 2007

I'll restate the problem. The options are:

1. Look like a "hacker" (shorts + tshirt paired with sandals)
2. Look like Tony Soprano (casual)
3. Look dressed up (Tony Soprano, but at night / in Atlantic City).

The OP is stuck in #1, or too close to that model for comfort. And he can't very well wear #3 to, in his words, "fun social events." So I'm imagining dressing Tony S. in a way that makes him look good (the costuming on the Sopranos was so good -- when Tony needed to look good, he looked very nice, and when he was meant to look bad, whoa bad.)...

Beach Tony : White linen long sleeve shirt (not too billowy) over khaki shorts and a belt. Loafers if it's on the fancy side. Leather flipflops if it's not. Drink gin tonics. Rock a straw hat if you're daring. (But don't wear a blazer with shorts, that's for frat boys).

Gym Tony: Tshirt, Sportsy-type shorts, like made of some high-tech mesh; make sure they're not too long (at the knee not 5 inches past it). If you're headed out, bring and wear a hoody or a long-sleeve tshirt.

Hipster Tony: Buy a very nice pair of jeans. You say you'll need to buy them either at Wal-Mart, over the internet, or in Plano. So Plano it is. You need them to fit and fit well. Go into a "denim" shop. Expect to pay $130-$200 for them (is it worth it? Hell, I dunno, but to break your rut it might be.). Wear these great jeans, with a belt and shoes that match (black with black and brown with brown or tennis shoes, unless the tennis shoes are mostly black) and a short sleeve button down shirt. If you have some chunky plastic frame glasses, all the better.

Layering is your friend. Long sleeves can really help (I know you're in a warm climate). A bag (like a messenger bag) can also help you look pulled-together and adult-like.
posted by zpousman at 1:51 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Watch one of those fashion shows like "What Not to Wear", because sometimes they do a clothing makeover for men, which should give you plenty of ideas, especially if the subject is someone of a similar body type.
posted by lubujackson at 2:14 PM on October 9, 2007

I'm also in my 30's, 5'10", probably 190-something (haven't been on a scale in a while), also active, but my desk job and love of good food and good beer keeps me from looking like the guys in the ads too.

I may be behind the fashion curve, but I think it's still OK to wear a lot of shirts untucked, which is a real advantage to a somewhat heavier guy. I think the cut of the standard Polo-brand polo shirt works well on me now, and it also did when I was skinnier. Watch out for the "fitted" ones, though, they are fitted to a skinnier fellow.

A lot of the button-front shirts, like the ones Misha suggested look good - and they're made to be untucked, so people won't think you just forgot or were too lazy to tuck your shirt in.

I'm kind of outdoorsy, so I like a lot of the clothes that you can get at places like REI. They have a lot of the button-fronty shirts. A lot of this stuff is either synthetic, cotton/poly blend, or lightweight cotton that's cool in hot weather (without feeling/looking like a bike jersey).

I also second the nice jeans recommendation. I don't have any swanky denim-shop jeans (I'm too cheap) but department-store jeans in the darker washes look really cool with everything from T-shirts to sport coats.
posted by altcountryman at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2007

There's an interesting article about this in GQ here.

It profiles 50 male fashion icons and distills each man's style into a hint at the bottom. Some of course, are impractical, but there's a fair amount of good advice. One tip is: it's always better to overdress than underdress. But that may not be true in TX.

But still, the basics are all there from shoes to jackets to pants. Just make sure you know your size and wear it, especially up top. Baggy clothes are no one's friend.
posted by tempest in a teapot at 4:20 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have a short chubby hubby, so even more problems than you. I have to say that over the years, as he's gained and lost more weight, I have noticed that his grooming, accessories, and shoes have given him more style points than the actual clothes, and made all his clothes look better.

But his metrosexual fashion tips are:

- try a small repeating pattern as an alternative for vertical stripes (which are nice too)

- find which t-shirt brand fits you best, and go with that

- always wear an undershirt to hide/soften any tummy or man cleavage

- wear a belt (it makes your pants hang better)

- unless you have a severe stomach overhang, tuck in

- nicely groomed facial hair can help define a jaw/hide chins - the goatee has many moods from hipster to bubba

- general manscaping makes you look better naked

- get a little height with your hair - do not shave or crew cut

Heavyset fashion icons: John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Ted Leonsis

Excellent for losing weight btw - even though it's going to take a some time, and even though people can't quite put their finger on it, you always look better while you're growing muscle tone.
posted by beezy at 6:56 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

No! Not the bowling shirt! Bowling style shirts, even nice ones, almost never look nice. To my eyes, anyway. You may think they look awesome and hey, I don't have to look at you. You might consider going into a nice department store for some personal shopper style advice- I don't think you have to buy clothes from the person, but you might have to pay for the service. As a random ass guess, Nordstrom might be a good place to start. And as I live in Plano, I can assure you there are Nordstroms. Then when you get the good advice, you can head to the Nordstrom Rack outlet and shop there :).

Working off of what people have mentioned above, consider good jeans. I kind of think bigger guys look good in more fitted jeans- not skin tight but not billowy loose. Don't tuck things in if you can possibly help it. Don't give in to the urge to tent yourself- you're just going to add more bulk to your frame. But yeah, ultimately this is going to need some collusion between you and your tastes and someone who can see what you look like in things. Don't fear professional help :). The alternative to a personal shopper type thing that just occurred to me is let some female (or male, w/e) person you know who dresses well- especially if they don't have a perfect body but still always look good- let them take you out and make you over. Find someone bossy who will drag you around and force you to look at stores and things you've never considered before (although maintain some control). Talking over what looks good or bad and why with someone else can give you an entirely new perspective on your body.
posted by MadamM at 10:45 PM on October 9, 2007

I love men in guayabera shirts and I'm not alone. A cotton t-shirt underneath is adorable. They're thin and short sleeve so great for Texas weather. Here in South Texas you can get them for less then $20 at Fiesta grocery. There is a Plano store you might check out.

Cavender's also has a Plano store where you might look at retro western shirts. The snaps are really fun and these also look great with a white t-shirt underneath open and untucked. Walmart and thrift stores also have these.

Good luck!
posted by dog food sugar at 3:16 AM on October 10, 2007

« Older How much notice before winning a MacArthur grant?   |   PC installing OS question Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.