I’ve chatted through the most common women’s body shapes in the past week, in the hope to share some tips on how to look and feel fabulous no matter what your shape or size.
Well, not to leave the men out of the body shape loop, it’s their turn in the spotlight.
When talking body shaping for women, it’s all about minimising, mostly making us look as lean, but also as tall, as possible. For men, the rules almost have the opposite approach. Men want to look broad (not slight), substantial (not puny) and strong, am I right?
While being thin is the ideal for women, for men we look to emphasise the lower waist which is the broadest (not the belly I might add), and bulk out the upper body to look broad and muscular.
For the expert word I take my cue from gurus Trinny and Sussanah, whose mens body shape survey results focused on solving a few key problem criteria men face, as follows:
Hipsters in skinny jeans are more than happy to look lean but for a lot of thinner men, they’d prefer to look a little more substantial. To achieve this, hipster pants are a great solution as they focus attention on the broadest part of a man’s lower body – as with waist belts on women being the best way to emphasise our best assets by drawing attention to the narrowest of our proportions, for men we want to draw attention to the broad features to appear even broader.
Short sleeved shirts and shirts with large logos will bulk out a thin upper body, while suit jackets give great definition to shoulders and create a manly silhouette.
Mistakes for thin men to avoid include high-waisted pants (which only emphasise lanky legs), chunky jumpers that can overwhelm a small frame, and wide ties which look out of place.
There’s no polite way around this one, moobs are best concealed in favour of a man’s more attractive features so, use a print shirt to create an optical illusion to break up this space (the same works for women who’d like to conceal a few curves – small, repeated prints are a great camouflage).
Don’ts include short sleeves (they’ll point right at the problem), shiny fabrics (which make everything look bigger) and high-necked tees (a guaranteed way to make them look bigger).
Men are almost always naturally bigger on top than the bottom – it’s the classic superhero proportions of a broad chest, narrow hips and resulting inverted-triangle-shaped frame. If these proportions are extreme and you want to counteract that however, wear bootleg jeans or wide legged pants to broaden the lower body. Small prints are again a great way to break up the expanse as well and make your top half look smaller.
Avoid short-sleeved shirts for the same reasons mentioned above, tapered pants (the opposite of what you should be looking for) and tops that are too light in colour – another sure-fire way to look bigger than you are.
No man wants to look short, but luckily there are a few ways to elongate and make the most of your proportions. Wearing one colour (or tones of one colour, for example a navy shirt with blue denim jeans) can help as it creates a streamlined silhouette rather than one that is chopped off at the waist. If you can match your shoe colour as closely to your pants colour as well (ie black pants, black shoes; denim, brown shoes) that will add some extra length to your frame.
Flat-topped shoes are a good idea as well, as chunky shoes only chop you off at the ankles. Finally, vertical stripes have a lengthening effect and should be employed smartly and readily.
Things to steer of for this man are tops that are too long (which will only reduce the length of your legs even further), and the white sneakers with jeans look – white shoes are attention-grabbing visually and will have everyone focusing on your legs, and their lack of length.
Footy players and stockier builds are often endowed with a thick neck. This can make getting shirts to fit a bit of a nightmare – if they fit in the neck they’re too big elsewhere. That’s where custom tailoring comes in to its own, but that’s a subject for another day.
V-neck tops are a good solution for this man as they’ll not cling too tightly, and undoing a couple of buttons on your shirt (which should have a large collar) is more than acceptable anywhere other than the most corporate of environments.
In winter, a scarf draped to hang long can counteract the look of a thick neck also. And it goes without saying tight necklines and high necks are a definite no-no.