I have a giant problem.
My problem is finding clothes that fit, because I am a giant. I am not alone. Yet, when I peruse the racks at the most popular menswear stores, I feel as though I cease to exist. Shirts are never long enough in either the sleeve or the body. Pants are cut short, too skinny or not available in my combination of waist and inseam measurements. Suit jackets barely make it to my butt. The sweaters I like are only long enough if I buy XXL or bigger, but then I’m swimming in the body of something designed for my equally frustrated heavier-set friends. The joy of shopping is quickly turned into something more akin to a treasure hunt, more often than not leading to frustration, disappointment and disbelief. In a world finally embracing tall and curvaceous women’s fashion, why are all my brothers in the big and tall realm left wayside? Building your big and tall wardrobe is really hard. But it doesn’t have to be.
Shopping online: For a big and tall man, shopping online can be just as scary as shopping in-store, leading to endless slow exchanges by mail, confused and frustrated retailers and further disappointment as the variance in sizing between manufacturers becomes readily apparent. While there are many labels online catering specifically to the vertically blessed amongst us, some of us enjoy the process of trying things on.
Getting the right fit: Initial fittings are never the final step in the process. A tall man’s best friend is his tailor, taking an item he likes and turning it into something he loves by helping him achieve the perfect fit. If you haven’t found yourself a good tailor yet, do yourself a favour and make that the next thing you do before you buy anything. Finer menswear stores almost always offer in-house tailoring. Ask for the person who specializes in tall men and bring this person expensive chocolates. They are your new best friend. And even when you buy something online you should still take it to a tailor for final alterations. Clothes that hug your body properly look their best. Full stop.
While I may have painted a picture of doom and gloom, there is hope on the horizon. Many brands are taking notice of the need to produce garments for the giants amongst us, and the selections available for tall man are expanding, albeit slowly.
But where do you begin. Putting the challenges of merely finding the clothes that fit in the first place, how do you go about building a solid wardrobe as a big and tall man?
Building your Big and Tall wardrobe (follow @48long)
- Stick to basics. Purchase perfectly fitted suits (or have almost perfectly fitting ones tailored) in traditional colours (navy, grey) and then dress them up with accessories (pocket squares, colourful ties, vests). Purchase the staples like properly fitted t-shirts in black, white and grey for layering (next point).
- Learn to love layers. Layering is a simple way to create longer visual lines in the clothes you wear, easily hiding a jacket that is just a hair too short (with a long untucked shirt for example) and giving your look some visual flare.
- Pay close attention to what is happening between your elbow and wrist. Learning to roll your sleeves properly (there are many accepted variations) and accessorizing with wrist appendages can transform a dress shirt into a casual shirt in an instant.
- You most versatile pair of dress shoes will be brown, and not black. More on this in a future article.
Do you have questions about building your big and tall wardrobe that you need answered? Contact me here.