In the first part of this post I took you through the best summer items to be wearing on your top half to suit a tall, skinny frame. I suggested adding bulk with jackets and breaking the natural linear contours of our bodies with horizontal stripes and scoop neck tees. In this post I will be showing you how to apply the same techniques to the bottom half of your body and how you can still accentuate the length of your legs whilst steering clear of looking like a giant. Tall, lanky guys have many noticeable physical traits; they can have long dangly arms, a cowering back and even large clown feet. But the one thing that sticks out the most (even more so than looking like Krusty the clown) is their long legs. For some this is a God-send, as we often look in envy at the catwalk models with their giant legs, but unless we know how to dress ourselves properly, we can risk looking severely out of proportion.
Below I have created a few different looks for your bottom half that will help to accentuate your length without over-doing it; the looks will try to incorporate key items that you should already have as essential wardrobe pieces. As I mentioned in part one of this series, it is important to break up the linear structure of the body by wearing contrasting tones and colours on the upper and lower parts of your body. Don’t be afraid to go bold with the colour of your shorts or trousers; one bold, block colour will emphasise the length of your legs well, but be sure to wear with neutrals or monochromes on your upper body to break up that linear structure and avoid the risk of looking like a colourful children’s television presenter.
Luckily, unlike tops, it isn’t too hard to find a pair of trousers that fit a tall, skinny frame. Know your waist size and be aware of different brands varying their sizes, and finally ensure they hang well at the bottom. No one wants to see you walking around with ankle swingers hanging off your rigid frame. Belts are also a great way to break up the linear structure of your body. Their horizontal shape helps to break up your body and create bulk around the waist area. I never leave the house without a belt; they help create shape to your tees, they break up the flow between upper and lower body, and let’s not forget they stop your trousers from falling down. Wear a contrasting belt to make a bold statement – black against bold colours, browns against cream, and coloured belts against dark monochromatic trousers and shorts are a good way to start off your mixing and matching, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little. So, now that the basics are covered, let’s get on to my top looks and tips!
Chinos are a must-have this summer, and they will take you through all the seasons depending on what you pair them with. Jeans are far too hot for the lovely weather we are having, and sometimes shorts aren’t to everyone’s taste. Chinos are a perfect way to stay cool but still look smart and sophisticated this season, and the great part is… they look great on tall guys. So how do we pull off the chino and how do we adapt them to our body type? Well chinos often come in bold, solid colours and are great to pair with a neutral tee or any of the other looks I discussed in Part One. Give them a few turns at the bottom (roll don’t fold) to create a tapered, on-trend effect. This is also great for breaking up the contours of our legs. The rolled-up effect creates a break at the ankles and stops the trousers from flowing seamlessly into the shoes, which would create a very lanky look and make our feet seem out of proportion. Wear sock-less in summer and pair with a set of espadrilles or boat shoes for that perfect relaxed summer look – I will discuss shoes in more detail later on. Sometimes with chinos (as with brightly coloured skinny jeans) a bold colour can look a little too harsh on the eye as there is a lot of material on show. To avoid this, still go for a bold colour, but opt for a muted tone or distressed effect to still create an impact, but for all the right reasons.
Looking at the examples from Lookbook above, we can see the different types of chinos available to us. The guy on the right has gone for a smart look, pairing the chinos with a blazer to add bulk in the upper half. Although the colour palette of his look is very monochromatic, the bold, white horizontal stripe of his jumper drastically breaks up the linear structure of his body, whilst the matching bold trainers break up the length of his legs. This guy has gone for a loose fitting chino for a relaxed look, which also helps to add width to his legs and make him appear shorter.
The guy on the left however has gone for a skinny fitting chino that highlight the length of his legs without over doing it and making him seem out of proportion. His belt achieves the same effect as the bold white stripe of the other guy’s jumper – it breaks up the horizontal structure, as does the contrast in colours and tones of his denim shirt and cardigan against the lighter coloured chinos. The bold, black shoes additionally help to break up the length of the legs, which would not be possible with a similar shade to the trousers.
Finally, the guy in the middle has gone for similar tones in his upper and lower half of the body, but he breaks it up with a contrast in patterns rather than colour. The sharp checks of his shirt help to broaden his torso whilst also contrasting the block colour of the chinos.
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Unless you are a complete anti-shorts activist, I am sure that every man will wear at least one pair of shorts this summer. They are a perfect solution to the hot weather but can often look weird or out of proportion if we don’t get the fit or length right for our body. So first off: length. The length of the short is essential to the overall proportion of our body. If the shorts are too long and too baggy then we are once again faced with that tent-pole effect, and if they are too short and half-way up our thigh (although a lot of guys do this to make a statement) our legs can look way too long, lanky and unattractive. So I would say the perfect length is just above the knees, or just below for a slightly baggier fit. As with t-shirts, I dislike the look of an open, baggy short flapping around on tall guys – it makes them look as if they can’t fit into their clothes. Go for a rolled up short just above the knee to create bulk and those all important horizontal lines whilst also emphasising the length of your legs without taking it too far.
Alternatively, go for a slightly baggier, thicker short that falls just below the knee for a more masculine effect. Again, give them a few rolls or buy shorts with a tapered end so that they fit well to your leg and don’t flap around. The guy on the left has done this perfectly with a pair of shorts he has created himself. The bagginess of the material creates a relaxed, masculine effect, but he has pushed them up and given them a roll or two to make them fitted below the knee. If he had paired these with a slightly more boldly coloured tee (perhaps a muted pastel colour) he would have nailed the tall & skinny look perfectly.
If you want to go for a looser feel, do as the Lookbook regular in the middle has done with his denim cut-offs. The thicker, tougher material of denim allows him to have a looser fitting short without it flapping about too much as he walks. However, beware with your cut-offs that you don’t go too high up the thigh or your legs will appear too long. Check my post on DIY shorts for more information on this subject. For the colour of your shorts, don’t be afraid to go bright and bold, as long as you pair it with more subtle tones and neutrals on your upper body. As there is less visible material in a short compared to a chino, don’t be afraid to go quite sharp with bold reds and blues. Again, pair with espadrilles, boat shoes, or military boots and socks for a more chunky look. Always pair the colour of your shoes with your upper-body pieces, therefore your shorts stand out even further in contrast to the rest of your outfit – once again breaking up that obscure long, linear frame.
For swimwear, follow similar rules with length but allow for a looser material for comfort. Find swim shorts with a thin waistband so that when worn on the beach they make your torso appear longer and not out of proportion. Shorts with a thick waistband can rise quite high and shorten the torso which will look odd with your long legs. Again, don’t be afraid to go brave and bold, but leave your speedos and mankinis at home please!
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So that’s trousers and shorts covered, but what about shoes? It’s all very well wearing the perfect piece of trouser-wear, but it will achieve nothing if it is paired with the wrong type of shoes. For a tall and skinny frame, I am going to assume that you have large feet to match. As I have mentioned, if you wear the wrong type of shoes for your body type, you could end up looking like you have clown feet – which is not a good look for anyone (unless of course you are a clown). So what type of shoes fit a tall frame best? Well first of all, stay well clear of pointy-toed shoes; these add length to your feet and can look ridiculous if your feet are already large. Stick to rounded or square-toed shoes and they will give the illusion of in-proportion feet.
Leave the trainers for the gym and stay on trend this summer with a pair of espadrilles or boat shoes. Keep colours subtle and match with items on your top half, rather than your shorts/trousers. We don’t want to bring too much attention to your feet but we also want them to subtly bring the outfit together, so bare this in mind. In Summer, always go sock-less, but as autumn/winter approaches, don’t be afraid to pair neutral shoes/trousers with bold, colourful socks to stand out in the crowd; just give your chinos a couple of rolls again to show them off! On cooler summer evenings you could go with a military style boot – their round ended toe is perfect for your frame, and they add instant chunk and depth to your long skinny legs.
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So that concludes my two-part post on dressing for your tall and skinny body types in Summer! I hope my tips have helped you in some shape and form, and I hope I have been able to apply most of my tips to your current wardrobe, without you needing to go out and buy a completely whole new set of clothes. A good way to start dressing for your body type is just to go into a store and play around with a few different styles of each item of clothing. Try them on and see what looks good on your frame, baring in mind the tips I have told you on broadening your torso and breaking up your linear structure with horizontal lines and contrasting colours.
Once you have a rough idea what looks good on you, you will find it a lot easier in future to put outfits together and buying items that fit your frame will become second nature. Jewellery can be a great way to add more depth and contours to your outfit also; wear bracelets and a watch to pad out those bony wrists and add a horizontal dimension to your long arms. Wear pendants and necklaces to add more detail to your torso, distracting the eye from following the body all the way down to those clown feet. I would love to hear from you guys if you have any additional tips, or if any of my tips have worked for you, so feel free to get in touch or comment below!
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