After identifying the fashion Style(s) you want to adopt, the next step is for you to start looking for the relevant clothes to buy. This part can take some time, or at least it took some time in my case, because as I kept trying clothes and doing online searches, I wasn’t compromising on what I was looking for with what was available in the shops in town.
The two key things to keep in mind during this process are Fit and Size, and those two things are closely related to each other: if you get an item one size too small, chances are you will promptly notice, since it will be uncomfortable; but on the other hand, if you get the item one size too big, this mistake can go unnoticed, and the fit will suffer as a result. Hence, it’s not only a matter of identifying the right fit, but also making sure you select the right size, otherwise all the good work done until then will go out of the window.
Most guys buy trousers one size too big, and I was one of those guys until a few years ago. Fact is, even without a belt, your trousers shouldn’t go anywhere, otherwise the size is just too big for you. As of now I only buy skinny jeans, and the way I do it, and the way I recommend you do it as well, is the following: the side with the button and the side with the buttonhole need to not to be on top of each other in rest position; you apply a little force and you close the button; the trousers are not falling without using a belt; you sit down and the waist of your trousers is not applying any uncomfortable extra pressure on your abdomen; your friend down there isn’t squeezed like hell when you are sitting down; if all the previous points are in check, then you are good to go.
If the side with the button goes on the top of the side with the buttonhole without the need for any extra little force from you, then your trousers will fall at least a little once buttoned and without using a belt, and this definitely means the size is too big for you. The belt is mainly for appearance only, or maybe it will give that little extra firmness which surely doesn’t hurt, but the trousers should remain in the right place even without the belt.
Having said that, if you are exactly between two sizes, go for the bigger one, because comfort is as essential as fit is. This should be a rare exception though, considering that most brands increment trousers sizes in very little steps.
Then there is the trousers length to consider, and here the three possibilities are L30, L32 and L34 (inches). Guys in the range of average height go for L32, fairly tall guys go for L34, and shorter guys go for L30. They key is to make sure that the length of the trousers is not too short as of to leave the ankle exposed, but also not too long as of to leave creases at the bottom. If you bought trousers which are too long (by mistake or simply because the model was naturally long) you can always go to the tailor and have them fixed, while no such thing exists as fixing trousers which are too short. I’m 178cm tall (5”10) and I always go for L32.
Let’s look at the fit now.
These are the possible fits you will encounter when looking for a pair of jeans:
I only buy Skinny jeans at the moment, and I do so because I’m on the skinny side myself, hence the Skinny jeans just make my legs look stronger and more defined compared e.g. to the Regular jeans. Let’s look at some images, and if you click on the Pinterest board, you will find some more relevant images in the Pinterest channel which I just created (this applies for most of the boards in this post).
Just to complicate things a little bit, two different models from the same “skinny” line of the very same brand will have a different fit based on the fabrics they are made of, and we will look at this aspect in the next post on Fabrics.
Guys with stronger legs are better served by either Slim or Carrot/Tapered jeans, since they just won’t fit in a pair of Skinny jeans. Or alternatively, if they did manage to fit in them, those Skinny jeans would compress their legs too much, and they would look like a pair of Leggings on them, and this is definitely not what we want. Here are some Slim jeans:
And now let’s look at these Leggings, which I strongly recommend you stay away from. The balance is to skewed in the feminine direction here, and you will either look clumsy in a pair of these Leggings, or you will end up signalling a different sexual orientation.
I am perfectly ok with a pair of Skinny jeans which fully compresses the thigh between the hip and the knee, and then goes down to the ankle leaving just a little bit of headroom around the knee itself, the calf and the ankle (by the way, this is the opposite situation compared to the ideal gym tracksuit which we saw here). What I’m not ok with, is for the jeans to look like women’s leggings, clearly defining the knee, the calf and the ankle. Let’s look at this comparison.
The above looks are all fairly similar, with almost identical tops, and jeans of the same black colour. But the fit of the jeans differs between them. In the picture on the right-hand side, the jeans (Leggings) are just too tight from the knee (included) down, and they look feminine as a result. Compare this with the picture on the left-hand side, where the jeans clearly define the leg without any unnecessary compression, especially from the knee down: this case is way much better, much more masculine and much “straighter”. The jeans in the middle are Slim, a bit more relaxed than the Skinny model from the knee down.
Fairly similar situation to the jeans, with the only difference being that more often than not the fit is not clearly indicated but implied. Most of the chinos I bought have the length of the circumference at the end of the leg (referred to as “ankle width” or “cuff”) written in the internal label, the one where all the other details like fabrics and cleaning instructions are reported. As such, I know for sure that all my chinos have cuff of either 17cm or 18cm, and the 17cm models look just better, they are much more similar to Skinny jeans in terms of fit. The 18cm is more on the Slim-fit side from the knee down, with the exception of chinos in a more twisted and more “stretch” cotton, which have cuff of 18cm but fit similar to the 17cm chinos made of normal gabardine cotton (this conversation is getting a bit technical, but it just shows that there are a lot to of things to keep under control if you want to do things right).
When it comes to suits, my fit preference for both trousers and jacket is either Slim-Fit (Drop 6) or Skinny (Drop 7), depending on the trousers and jacket themselves.
I really dislike shorts, they just don’t look stylish enough for my liking, and so I got myself some nice linen trousers to deal with the scorching summer days. Linen trousers are great, just make sure you go for real 100% linen models, without any polyester in them. Slim-fit is the way to go here, and I don’t even think that tighter linen models even exist, because if they were too skinny, they would constrain your legs too much and they would defeat the original principle of keeping you fresh and free in your movements in a hot summer day.
Let’s start with the size first: if the arm of your shirt/jumper is too short, leaving the wrist fully exposed in rest position, then the size is too small. And, if when you go up one size the shirt/jumper loses its fit, then it’s just a matter of that particular model or brand not being what you are looking for. Your target is to find shirts and jumpers with the proper fit at the right size, and since they exist indeed, no need whatsoever to compromise on that.
Ideally you want T-shirts and jumpers to tightly envelop your chest and shoulders, and then go down along your waist fitted but not too tight (“compressor” items are to be avoided both at the gym and especially for everyday fashion). Just to be clear, when I say “to tightly envelop your chest and shoulders”, what I mean is that it will be your well-developed chest and shoulders doing most of the work up there, hence you still go for 100% cotton (or 100% wool for winter jumpers), rather than stretch fabrics. You just need to make sure that the 100% cotton jumper/T-shirt has the right fit, “just” that.
Shirts will constrain your movements a bit, but that’s perfectly normal: if your shirt has the same flexibility of a T-shirt, then you have taken at least one size too big (exceptions are the shirts with a fair amount of polyamide in them, we will cover them in the next post on Fabrics).
The fits you will encounter when shopping for tops are:
● Skinny / Super Slim / Extra Slim
● Regular / Classic
Let’s look at somespecific examples of right fit vs. wrong fit.
Here is how a jumper should fit.
As you can see, it’s tight around the chest and the shoulders (thanks to the muscles doing their job up there) and then a little more relaxed around the waist and the abdomen. Thicker jumpers like the grey one in the middle look even better, since there are no creases whatsoever around the waist and abdomen, but they are usually only wool winter models.
And now let’s look at a common mistake, namely going for a jumper which either is one size too big or has the wrong fit. When you compare the images below with the images just above, the difference is striking: these looser models just don’t deliver as the ones above do in terms of image, and you risk falling into Nice Guy category with this looser fit.
And now for the diametrically opposite mistake, let’s look at compressor jumpers / compressor long sleeve T-shirts. My message is extremely clear here: unless you are a professional athlete dressing for a competition, just avoid them, since they are try-hard and uncalibrated fashion-wise.
Another mistake is going for jumpers which are too long, like the ones shown in the pictures below.
And at the opposite side of the spectrum, we have jumpers which are too short. The models shown below are really too short, and if you were to wear one of those models, as soon as you raised your arm you would have the jumper raising up to the level of your navel. The main problem of such short jumpers is the elastic band, since the situation would improve already by just removing that band and substituting it with normal tissue like the rest of the jumper. They would still be a bit too short even after this workaround, but better than with the elastic band.
Some jumpers and T-shirts come with a looser/longer fit for a very specific fashion choice, hence whether you go or not for these models depends on whether or not they fit your target fashion style.
Here are some shirts with the right fit, both casual and more formal.
And here are problematic shirts instead, which are definitely too tight.
In fairness to the above shirts, the main part of the problem is the extra love of the men wearing them, since the very same shirts would deliver completely different results when worn by someone with a much lower body fat level. When used like in the above pictures, those Extra Slim shirts look clumsy and signal lack of both style and fashion awareness, hence avoid them if you are still working on getting rid of some excess body fat.
Linen shirts have their own specific fit, which is usually looser than dress shirts and casual cotton shirts. I don’t have any linen shirt, since I don’t like their relaxed fit (above my linen trousers I wear T-shirts at summer), but if you like this style, this looser fit is appropriate here.
Let’s cover a common mistake now: the shirts below are of the right fit (let’s ignore the collar buttons for now) but they are used in a style which I don’t recommend in the slightest. This is very much Provider/Nice Guy style: it can still work in a more formal context when used in combination with a jacket, but don’t expect this style to deliver any sexy edge to your image, since it will be subtracting points there instead.
Parkas / Down Jackets
Here are some parkas and down jackets with the right fit (same principle applies to coats and dinner jackets).
And here are some whose fit is too relaxed and to be avoided.
A word of caution
At times, clothes manufacturers change the real fit of their reported fit, and you need to be careful with that. Let’s look at a real-life example.
Back in 2017, I bought two 100% cotton Custom-fit polo shirts by Polo Ralph Lauren. I also tried the equivalent Slim-fit model, but it was just too tight and too short for my liking. In the end I also bought one Slim-fit model, since it was heavily discounted, but every time I wore it, I kept having the impression that it was too short, and too tight around chest and shoulders.
Fast forward two years, and this summer I was looking to buy some more polo shirts to go to work, and my initial obvious starting point was Polo Ralph Lauren again, Custom-fit model, since it was much better than the Slim-fit. I went to the shop, took a 100% cotton Custom-fit polo shirt, tried it, and I went like:
Whoa!! What’s wrong with this polo shirt?!
It was fine around the shoulders, the size was the correct one (Custom-fit just like the 2017 model), but it looked just like a tunic on me, and this was hardly what I wanted. I then scaled down to the 100% cotton Slim-fit model, same size, and I went like:
But this one fits just like my previous Custom-fit!!
Now, I don’t know whether it was because I bought the previous Custom-fit polo shirts in a different country, or because the manufacturer decided to change the real fit of its reported fit, but the fact still stands: the 100% cotton 2017 Custom-fit model has the exact same fit of the 100% cotton 2019 Slim-fit model!
Last summer, in the end, I bought the stretch version with 3% of elastane in it, but the difference between the 2019 100% cotton vs. stretch model is only noticeable when you wear them, otherwise the profile is the same. And having made that clarification, let’s look at this comparison between the 100% cotton 2017 Custom-fit model vs. the stretch-cotton 2019 Slim-fit model:
Exactly the same profile, except at the bottom length, and three neck buttons vs. two. The 2019 Slim-fit stretch model is much more comfortable than the 2017 Custom-fit model, since the 3% elastane makes all the difference, and it also fits better on me. But still, the 2019 Slim-fit model has nothing to do with 2017 Slim-fit model, the closest model is the 2017 Custom-fit.
Things like that shouldn’t happen, since the actual size and the real fit should remain consistent year on year, otherwise it’s just an additional headache when buying clothes based on previously tested and functional sizes and fits. But since I’ve noticed this happen a few times now, be careful with that guys.
After selecting your target fashion Style(s), you need to make sure you buy clothes of the right Size and the right Fit, since going for clothes of the wrong size or the wrong fit can have (will have) detrimental effects on the looks you decided to use. We have seen the right fit for several items, and also some common mistakes to avoid. In the next post will cover the third and final key element for selecting clothes, the Fabrics of your clothes.