How to Determine and Dress for Your Body Shape

February 01, 2020 13 min read

Some call it swag, others call it style — but we prefer to think of the way we dress as a combination of comfort and confidence. Unfortunately, it's difficult to feel comfortable or confident when you're wearing clothing that doesn't look or feel the way you hoped.

 

 

 

How to Determine and Dress for Your Body Shape

At Penner's, we understand every man is different, and every body is different, too. Our knowledgeable staff and talented tailors want all of our customers to feel comfortable and confident with every piece of clothing they wear. To look and feel great, all men should know what to wear — and what not to wear — with their specific body shape. 

How Many Body Shapes Are There for Men?

Although your height and weight will play a significant role in your clothing selection, you should also understand which body shape your features most closely align with. Men of varying heights and weights can share similar features, specifically in the shape of their bodies. These proportions create five different body shapes — triangle, inverted triangle, square, oval and trapezoid. 

Let's face it — we all have features of our body that we love and others that we would like to divert attention from. Thankfully, understanding the different men's body types and clothing that plays to each shape's strengths will help accomplish this goal. For instance, there are certain outfits for triangle body types that may not be the best outfits for inverted triangle body shapes. 

The amazing tailors at Penner's have years of experience identifying men's body types and how to dress them. With measuring tape in hand, we spend hours each day with teens and adults of all sizes, helping them choose the clothing that fits them correctly and comfortably. Let's discuss the five men's body types and clothing options that are ideal for each shape. 

Men's Body Shape #1: Triangle

As men get older, it's natural for many of us to gain a little extra girth around the waist. This can be especially noticeable for those who do not have a broad chest or broad shoulders. This shape is sometimes referred to as "pear-shaped," but we prefer the term "triangle." 

So, how can you tell if you have a triangle body shape? If you have a triangle-shaped body, you'll be able to notice it relatively easily if you look at your upper body in the mirror. The top half of your body will resemble a triangle with its tip leading to your face. Your shoulders will be narrow or smaller looking than your chest, although your chest won't necessarily be broad by common standards. Your stomach and hips will be the widest part, creating the triangle's base.

What to Wear With a Triangle Body Shape

When you have a triangle-shaped body, regardless of whether it's due to excess weight or wide hips, you'll want to choose clothing that draws focus away from your midsection. You can accomplish this by wearing:

  • Vertical stripes: One way to draw the eyes away from the waist and hips is to wear shirts with vertical stripes. This leads the eyes from the top to the bottom of the upper body as opposed to left to right. 

Wear Vertical Stripes

  • Darker colors: Dark colors can make the body appear slimmer, especially around the midsection. Black is an obvious choice, but dark navy, gray and even brown can also create a slim profile.
  • Slim belts: The last thing a triangle body shaped person wants to do is accentuate their midsection, which is why thick belts or large belt buckles are not recommended. Instead, choose a slim belt with a modest belt buckle to not draw attention to the waist or hips. 
  • Bright colors and patterns: While a darker shirt can help the body appear slim, patterns and bright color panels can also accomplish this.
  • Tailored blazers: For casual and business-professional attire, men with a triangle body type should consider getting their blazers tailored to comfortably fit around the hips without appearing too narrow along the upper body.

Blazers for Triangle Body Type

  • Single-breasted suits: For men seeking professional outfits for a triangle body type, the same rules apply to suit jackets as they do blazers — allow a tailor to create a structured fit along the shoulders and chest while leaving room around the waist. Single-breasted jackets are also recommended over double-breasted options because they don't add additional bulk to the midsection. Consider having the pants of the suit tailored as well to leave room around the hips, so the waist doesn't appear as wide. 

What Not to Wear With a Triangle Body Type

Even though the triangle body type is common, that doesn't mean that you can wear anything if you wish to highlight your features. We recommend you refrain from choosing these types of clothing:

  • Horizontal stripes: Although vertical stripes and stripes along the chest will draw the eyes away from the middle, a shirt with horizontal stripes running across the bottom is not recommended.
  • Fitted shirts: Any shirts that are fitted or tailored with an athletic cut will not be an ideal choice for those with a wider midsection.  
  • Slim-fitting pants: As with fitted shirts, any pants or shorts that are cut with a skinny or slim fit may accentuate the midsection. 
  • Light colors: While dark colors can appear slimming around the waist, lighter-colored shirts may not offer the same benefit unless the colors are concentrated on the upper body only.

Men's Body Shape #2: Inverted Triangle

The triangle body shape places the base of the triangle at the waist with the tip pointing towards the face. Naturally, the inverted triangle body shape is just the opposite — the base is located on the upper body while the tip of the triangle points towards the waist. Those with an inverted triangle body type will have more pronounced features in the upper body, specifically broad shoulders and a larger chest. The body's shape will begin to narrow as it gets closer to the waist.

This body type is quite rare, and those with an inverted triangle body shape tend to develop it with slim, fit waists and a muscular chest and shoulders. Those who have an inverted triangle body type are usually men who spend hours at the gym, specifically working on enhancing the muscles of their upper body and upper legs. While having a bodybuilder-type frame has its benefits, these men may also have trouble finding clothing that fits naturally and looks the way they want.

If you're an active male that wants to flaunt your physique, there are a handful of clothing tricks you can use to make your profile look more balanced. 

What to Wear With an Inverted Triangle Body Type

When searching for the best outfits for an inverted triangle body shape, the key is to draw attention towards the hips and waist to create a more balanced, proportional profile. If your body is shaped like an inverted triangle, we suggest these clothing options:

  • Slim or fitted shirts: Wearing slim or fitted shirts will help accentuate your muscular build while keeping a tailored look around the waist. Be sure not to wear shirts that are too tight as to not exaggerate your build. We suggest choosing a fitted shirt that's one size up for a comfortable and natural-looking fit.
  • Straight-leg pants: Regardless if you have large thighs or smaller leg measurements, you should try to make your legs appear as proportional as your upper body. Straight-leg pants will make larger or smaller legs appear more proportional, while patterned pants will also distract the eye from your upper body.

Straight-Leg Pants

  • Horizontal stripes: Wearing horizontal stripes will help make your waist and hips appear wider while taking attention away from your chest and shoulders.
  • Contrasting footwear: Another way to enhance your complete profile is to choose footwear that stands out, such as suede shoes, leather shoes or boots to draw the eyes to the feet, away from the upper body. 
  • Large belts and buckles: One effective way to draw the eyes to your hips is to wear belts that are wide, colorful or feature large buckles. 
  • Double-breasted jackets: While you should refrain from wearing jackets with shoulder padding, a double-breasted suit jacket will help widen your torso.

What Not to Wear With an Inverted Triangle Body Type

The last thing that men with an inverted triangle body shape should do is try to draw more attention to their shoulders and chest. The best outfits for an inverted triangle body shape will not include the following:

  • Plunging v-neck shirts: While the shape of a V-neck's collar will help draw the eye away from a broader upper body, a v-neck that is too deep may accentuate your inverted triangle body type. 
  • Jackets with padding: Refrain from wearing jackets with additional padding. For the best results, get your jacket — even a slim fitting jacket — tailored to make your torso appear wide without adding bulk to your upper body.
  • Slim jeans: Skinny jeans or other tight-fitting jeans will make your legs look smaller, especially if you have thighs that are proportionally larger than your calf muscles.

Men's Body Shape #3: Rectangle

The triangle and inverted triangle body types are unbalanced, meaning those with those body types have to counterbalance the narrowest part of their physique with their broader features. However, there are some men with body types that are more congruent in shape — such as the rectangle body type. Men with a rectangular body shape will notice the measuring tape reads almost the same width between the hips and waist and shoulders. You can draw a straight line from the shoulder blades to the ends of the hips. 

Men who are thin and tall will have a much more pronounced rectangular shape. On the opposite end, men who are shorter or bulkier may appear more square than rectangular. For either man and everyone in between, the key to dressing well is to understand the ways that you can downplay the flatness and rigidness of a square or rectangular body type and make your profile seem textured and add more depth. 

There are two options for altering a rectangular or square shape — either make the shoulders or hips seem wider than the other. Very few men want to add girth to their midsection, so we recommend that you make your shoulders appear broader. 

What to Wear With a Rectangle Body Type

The key to countering a square or rectangular body shape is to draw more attention to your shoulders and slightly away from the waist. Think out of the box when dressing a square or rectangular body type. For example, try wearing:

  • Layered clothing: One way to add weight and texture to your appearance is to layer clothing on your upper body. A t-shirt over a long-sleeved shirt or a light jacket over a button-down will add a little bulk to your upper body, especially the shoulders. 

Layered Clothing

  • Accessories: Another way to separate your upper body from your waist and lower body is to add accessories to your wardrobe. Scarves, for instance, can help add texture to your upper body. 
  • Textured or stylized shirts: Any element of a shirt that separates the upper part from the lower part will also break apart a rectangular frame. Color panels, pops of color or aesthetic details on a shirt that draws attention towards the shoulders or chest will make the upper body appear broader. 
  • Horizontal stripes: While horizontal stripes running the length of a shirt may not break up the shape of your body, horizontal stripes across the upper body will make your waist appear narrower in comparison.

Wearing Horizontal Stripes

  • Tapered clothing: Normal shirts are usually cut to run straight down the body, resulting in a straight line leading from your chest to waist. By having your shirts tapered at the waist, you make your shoulders seem broader without sacrificing comfort.

What Not to Wear With a Rectangle Body Type

A man with a rectangular or square body type should avoid dressing plainly or in ways that highlight the straight lines created by your shoulders and hips. We recommend avoiding these three types of clothing:

  • Vertical stripes: Any hard lines, such as vertical stripes, will make the lines of your body shape stand out. 
  • Double-breasted jackets: Similar to hard lines, a double-breasted jacket also accentuates the lines of your body shape. 
  • Shapeless clothes: Shapeless clothing, matching top and bottom outfits and monochromatic color schemes don't allow your frame to stand out.  

Men's Body Shape #4: Oval 

With the oval body type, the center of the torso is wider than the widest part of the hips and shoulders. Slim hips and shoulders accentuate your wider waistline, creating a rounded oval shape.

This body type is common for men who carry more girth around their middle section but don't have the wide hips that those with an inverted triangle body type have. This doesn't necessarily mean that the man has more weight in their middle, just as having broad shoulders or a broad chest doesn't constitute more muscle. Both taller and shorter men can have an oval-shaped body, and both should strive to lengthen the torso as much as possible.

What to Wear With an Oval Body Type

What to Wear With an Oval Body Type

Diverting attention away from the oval shape of the midsection is your main priority when shopping for clothes. If necessary, you can elect to have your clothes tailored for a better fit. If you're looking for something off of the rack, consider these options to lengthen your torso or broaden your shoulders: 

  • Vertical stripes: Straight lines moving up and down the shirt or pants, including pinstripes, will give the appearance of a longer torso.  
  • Loose pants: Wearing pants that are loose or baggier will make your lower body appear wider.
  • Suspenders or ties: Similar to the use of vertical stripes, wearing suspenders or ties will make the torso appear longer as the eyes move up and down your frame.
  • Monochromatic colors: You may already know that black is a slimming color, but this also applies to other monochromatic colors like grays and browns. Any color could aid in slimming your profile so long as it's subtle.
  • Long-sleeves: Long-sleeved shirts, jackets or sweaters can make your limbs appear longer. However, these pieces must fit well, so they don't hug the midsection too much.
  • Single-breasted jacket: A double-breasted jacket may add too much bulk to your frame, but a single-breasted jacket will frame the torso nicely.

What Not to Wear With an Oval Body Type

Lengthening your torso is the goal, which means you should avoid any clothing that draws attention to your midsection or that doesn't guide the eyes vertically up and down your frame. Refrain from these clothing options if you have an oval body type: 

  • Tight clothing: Naturally, you'll want to avoid skinny jeans, fitted shirts and any other clothing option that is meant to hug the body.
  • Busy patterns: Shirts or pants with too much clutter or busy patterns won't lead the eye in a specific direction, enabling it to focus on the most defined shape of your body.
  • Horizontal stripes: While vertical stripes can lead the eyes up and down your frame, a shirt with horizontal stripes will bring the focus to the width of your midsection.
  • Large belts: Wide belts with bright colors or large belt buckles will also draw attention to your midsection.

Men's Body Shape #5: Trapezoid

If there's one body shape on this list that's generally easier to shop for, it's the trapezoid body type. Also known as the rhomboid shape, the trapezoid body type features broad shoulders, a wide chest and a narrow waist. It's important to not easily confuse the trapezoid shape with the rectangle or inverted triangle shape. If you're unsure of whether or not your body shape fits into the trapezoidal type, use a measuring tape and ask a friend to help you compare your build to other shapes.

Some men with a trapezoid body type may still wonder what to wear for their body shape, especially if they are in the highest and lowest percentiles for their height and if their body shape is actually much closer to an inverted triangle than the trapezoid. Since the trapezoid body type is almost as rare as the inverted triangle shape, each individual male may discover that certain cuts or sizes of clothing fit better than others. 

When in doubt, men who are unsure if their body type is the trapezoidal, rectangular or inverted triangle shape should either wear whatever clothing cuts fit best or have their clothing professionally tailored. 

What to Wear With a Trapezoid Body Type

If you have a trapezoid body shape, you'll be pleased to know that many designers use this body type as the template for their clothing designs, meaning you have a wide array of clothing options and styles to choose from:

  • For all men with trapezoid body types: Always wear average neckties of a normal length and width. Wear jackets or blazers that are slightly tapered at the waist to accentuate your shape. 
  • For a shorter man: Choose slim-fitting clothing that does not have excess fabric. Keep all pant hems and shirt cuffs short to avoid covering your hands or feet too much. Vertical stripes will help add a little height to your appearance. Slim fitting clothes may also make you look taller.

Best Clothing for Shorter Men

  • For a taller man: Unlike those who are shorter, a taller man with a trapezoid body type should choose to wear clothing without as tight of a fit to minimize your height. 
  • For a thinner man: Horizontal stripes will add the appearance of girth for a man that may have a trapezoidal body type that is slightly smaller at the waist and hips.
  • For a larger man: Keep your style and clothing options simple by wearing solid colors without patterns. Wear clothing that fits comfortably and looks natural instead. 
  • For a muscular man: Choose fabrics that naturally stretch, so that your shirts and pants don't cause your features to bulge. 

Best Clothing for a Muscular Man

What Not to Wear With a Trapezoid Body Type

Even though this body shape is regularly used according to some designer standards, that doesn't mean every single piece of clothing on the rack will fit you perfectly or accentuate your features. If you've got a trapezoidal body type, refrain from these options:

  • Baggy clothing: A trapezoidal body shouldn't be hidden beneath loose-fitting clothing. Baggy clothing should be avoided, especially since most clothing pieces will fit well when you try them on. If you like a certain style shirt or pair of loose pants, have a tailor alter them for a better fit. 
  • Ill-fitting clothing: Just as baggier clothing shouldn't be worn, you also have to be cautious of clothing that doesn't fit well in other ways. Some shirts and pants designed for other body types may not give you the look you desire. 
  • Generic colors or styles: You should always wear what you look and feel comfortable in, but with so many options available, why settle for bland clothing? Avoid generic colors and styles, opting instead for colors and styles that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Find the Perfect Fit for Your Body Type at Penner's

No man should pay for clothing that makes them feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Instead of selecting an outfit off of a rack that doesn't meet your style or size needs, choose comfort and confidence at San Antonio's destination for fine menswear — Penner's. 

Find the Perfect Fit at Penner's

For over one hundred years, Penner's has helped men of all body types look and feel their best in high-quality men's clothing. Our unrivaled selection of suits, shirts, hats, shoes and accessories are designed to make you look and feel good from head to toe. Our seven on-site tailors can alter any piece of clothing to fit your body type perfectly. Stop in or call us at 210-226-2487 today.


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