Finding a suit that’s, well, suiting is not a one-size-fits-all approach. An understanding of body type is inescapable when it comes to flattering attire—and not an entirely difficult one to master. Danielle Merollo, director of personal shopping at Americana Manhasset, shared the easy-to-remember rules for outfitting the four most common male physiques.
The square-shaped body has shoulders as wide as the hips, thus dressing a David Beckham-esque physique comes down to defining a waistline in order to avoid the boxy look inherent in this larger, more muscular physique. “When you’re a square-shaped man, you need to purchase things that really fit well. Know that you have to taper and take-in.” Lay off the stripes and double-breasted suits, which exaggerate horizontal proportions. Instead, opt for a classic single-breasted suit that brings the eye toward the middle of the body—creating the illusion of a narrower waist and broader shoulders. Scarfs and V-necks are also friends of this shape since they bring the eye up, creating an elongated look. A pair of traditional straight leg pants is the best option to keep portions streamlined.
Broad shoulders and a narrow waist and hips characterize the inverted triangle of body types. It belongs to the guy who, like British model David Gandy, can pull off any style with ease: tucked in shirts with a belt, bright colors and patterns, even a low-waisted pant. It’s one of the few body types that gets to rock a seriously dapper double-breasted jacket without looking boxy because of naturally cinched-in waistlines. “He can wear a three-button jacket for the same reason—he’s tapered in the waistline,” Merollo said. V-shaped men should sport a slim fit, straight leg pant. “In other words, it’s tapered from the knee down.” Edgier gents of this classification can even opt for an ultra-skinny leg—six-to-eight inches wide. “It’s more of a New York City-type client who wears that, it’s fashionable.”
Those with torsos wider than the shoulders and hips have the least flexibility in wardrobe choice, but the results of well-fitted attire are no less dapper (see: James Corden). “Keep it simple and monotone,” Merollo suggested. “Dark colors, solids…I don’t put them in stripes or shirts with any kind of pattern.” Flat-front pants are more stylish right now, but pleats are a classic look that balances weight held in the midsection for a slimmer appearance (and, they’re coming back…sort of). Lucky break: a wider straight leg is not only flattering but more comfortable than other styles. Go with single-breasted or two-button jackets to elongate the upper and for God’s sake only wear proper fitting shirts. This is especially important to avoid bunching. “It’s worthwhile to get the size that’s a little bigger so it fits through the mid-section and doesn’t ride up, and taper it in where it’s needed.”
Similar to a tent, this body type is made of shoulders and chest that are narrower than a (typically thick) waist and hips. The proper attire fixes the imbalance by giving structure to the shoulders while minimizing the size of the lower body. Warning: ill-fitting clothing will only make things worse. Triangles should buy clothing (particularly jackets) in a slightly larger size and have it taken-in to the appropriate proportion. “Everything needs to be structured and tailored. Tailor the waist in so it looks like the shoulders are bigger than the waist without being square.” Layering shirts is a good move because it makes the shoulders and chest appear broader. Triangles should sidestep horizontal stripes across the middle and heavily tapered trousers, both tend to exaggerate the problem zones.