Short and stocky men deal with a specific set of challenges when it comes to dressing well.
Length is usually an issue. Pants are too long. Sleeves go past your wrists. Jackets go way past your butt, and shirts are always too long to wear untucked.
This is especially true for stocky guys since they have to buy clothes that are big enough to fit their broad shoulders, chest, hips and thighs.
Sizing up to accommodate these parts results in shirts that wear like dresses and pants that pile up around your ankles.
Don't worry, though. We're here to help. This guide reveals seven simple tips you can use to dress well as a short and stocky man.
Tip #1: Shorten Everything
Ever notice how fashion models are always wearing size medium shirts and 30/32 pants, even though they're well over six feet tall?
Yeah, it's annoying.
The thing is, a 6'2" and thin/athletic guy might have a 38" chest. So if a "medium" sized shirt fits him perfectly everywhere, including the length, it's going to be way too long on a 5'7" guy with a 38" or 40" or 42" chest.
If you're reading this, you're probably built like a linebacker: short but muscular (or maybe even carrying around a couple extra pounds). We'd be willing to bet that almost every shirt is too long for you to wear untucked, right off the rack.
You're probably used to rolling your sleeves up too, since those are also too long for your arms.
What's the solution? Well, one fix is to get your shirts tailored. Basically, you buy shirts that fit in the neck, shoulders and chest, then get the length and sleeves shortened.
However, there are a few problems with this approach:
First, it's expensive. If you get the body and sleeves shortened, you're probably going to pay an extra 50% on the purchase price, if not more. We call this extra fee the "tailor tax".
Second, it's time consuming. You have to go the tailor, get pinned up, then go pick up the garment a few days later (and hope they did a good job).
Third, these alterations can throw off the proportions and details of your shirt. For example, shortening the body length by more than 1-2" will often put the bottom button too close to the hem.
Also, shortening the sleeves can ruin the plackets and cuffs.
Tailoring just isn't a perfect science, and it can go wrong. It's also inconvenient. But, it's still better than walking around in ill-fitting clothes!
Tip #2: Avoid Thick Horizontal Stripes
You've probably heard that horizontal stripes can make short men look shorter. There's some truth to this, but here's the thing:
When it comes to patterns, it's less about type and more about scale.
If you really want to wear horizontal stripes, thinner stripes will look better than thicker stripes, which tend to stretch you out horizontally - not a great visual effect.
The best choice of color and pattern for short-but-big guys are solids and smaller scale patterns.
By small scale patterns, we're talking about stuff like mini checks, micro gingham, chalk stripes, etc.
Of course, you can never go wrong with solid colors.
Tip #3: Don't Go Too Skinny
Skinny fit clothes will always go in and out of fashion, but regardless of what's trending, we thing short and stocky men should avoid skinny fit whenever possible.
Clothes that are too tight on you will just emphasize your size (not in a good way), and they probably won't be very comfortable to wear.
Source: Team Coco
We're not saying you should wear baggy clothes. Those don't look good on anyone, regardless of body type.
Go for slim-but-not-skinny pants that have a subtle taper below the knee. Look for "slim straight" or "athletic" cuts in the product description.
For shirts, just try to trim the fat. Many "classic" or "traditional" fits will be too big for you, especially around the waist, and especially if you have a V-shaped torso.
Don't shy away from slim fit shirts, which usually have more taper from the chest down to the hips.
Also, look for casual button ups like our Weekend Oxfords. These shirts have shorter body lengths and are meant to be worn untucked. Ours are specifically made for not-so-tall gents.
Tip #4: Avoid Bulky Outerwear
We get it. Sometimes it's freezing outside, and you need to wear a big parka to keep warm. We believe in function over form, so do what you have to do.
But in most cases, you don't need to go full George Costanza, even during a "scary cold" NYC winter.
For more detailed outerwear advice, check out our guide:
Basically, we recommend wearing multiple lighter layers, rather than oversized, bulky pieces (like huge puffer jackets).
If you do go with something like a puffer jacket, try to find something thin like our Lightweight Down Jacket. A high quality jacket like this will keep you warm for most of winter (in most places), especially if you wear warm layers underneath (like a wool sweater).
With multiple layers and a few key accessories like a nice scarf, you'll be warm and stylish, and you won't look like the Michelin Man!
Tip #5: Don't Cut Yourself In Half
Quick disclaimer on this tip: we don't want this advice to come off as too prescriptive, so please know that you should wear whatever colors make you feel great.
That said, we prefer low contrast outfits. In other words, we try to maintain a clean visual line from top to bottom. We try not to cut ourselves in half visually.
For example, we'd rather wear a white or grey shirt with light wash jeans, rather than a navy shirt.
On the other hand, we'd prefer a darker shirt with darker pants.
This look tends to have a subtle heightening effect. At the very least, it's not going to make you look shorter.
Combine a this low contrast technique with clothes that fit properly, and you're going to look very sharp, regardless of your height or build.
Tip #6: Scale Up Your Accessories
Most style advice for shorter men doesn't take into account specific body types. That's why you'll read things like:
"Short men should wear skinny ties and small watches."
This is great advice, for short, skinny men. But what about the stocky gents?
Short and broad guys should where accessories that match their build. If you have big wrists, a bigger watch is totally appropriate.
If you have a thick neck and broad chest, a wider tie with a substantial knot (like the Half Windsor) will look great. In fact, a skinny tie with a small knot will look a bit off on stocky guys.
Tip #7: Tuck It In & Roll Them Up
When in doubt, just tuck your shirt in. Maybe you don't have any shirts that are the right length, or maybe you haven't taken that new shirt to the tailor yet.
The solution? Tuck it in.
You can tuck almost any type of shirt in, including polos and t-shirts (although not everyone like this look).
Even in casual settings, a tucked in shirt looks way better than a shirt that hangs down past your fly. This is especially true for shorter, stockier guys.
So if your shirt is too long and you're pressed for time, just tuck it in.
Similarly, if your sleeves are too long, roll them up. This is a cool, laid back look that even works in most business casual offices (without a jacket on, of course).
Plus, it hides the fact that your sleeves are too long for your arms, which tends to make short and stocky guys look shorter and stockier.
So, when in doubt, tuck it in and roll them up!
Clothes for Short, Stocky Men
The best way for short, broad guys to look great, every single day, is to buy clothes that actually fit properly. And the best place to buy clothes for shorter men is Peter Manning NYC.
With PMNYC, you can skip the tailor and get clothes that fit great right out of the box.
No more shirts that wear like dresses. No more pants that pool up around your ankles. Just high quality, stylish clothes that fit well.
Specifically, our 2x, 4x and 4xl sizes are perfect for short and stocky men. They feature shorter sleeve and body lengths, and carefully adjusted details like the proper chest pocket placement (finally!).
Our pants come in a few different cuts, including classic, slim and skinny. The classic (straight fit) and slim fit are especially great for stocky gents.