All Shapes And Sizes

As a personal stylist, when I mention the concept of body shape and colour analysis to male clients the majority instantly assume it is something that only applies to women.

Now don’t get me wrong, when it comes to the number of different female body shapes, the list is almost endless. However, like women, men can equally dress to suit their shape, skin tone, hair and even to highlight eye colour.

So when it comes to developing your wardrobe, it’s not only the latest trends and styles that you should be thinking about. The entire process can actually become a lot more personal…

The Male Body Shape Breakdown

When considering typical body shapes, men will often fall into one of five categories: trapezoid, inverted triangle, rectangle, triangle or oval.

If you recognise and accept exactly what type of body shape you are, it will become much easier to identify whether an item of clothing has a positive or negative impact on your appearance – particularly if you understand the reasons why it has that impact. When this knowledge is then applied to your everyday shopping habits, it will not only improve your style and look, but will give you the confidence to know that what you are wearing is right for YOU.

With this in mind, today we bring you an introductory guide to the five body shapes identified above, along with some basic dos and don’ts for each…

1. The Trapezoid

Trapezoid Body ShapeThose with a trapezoid body shape will have broad shoulders and chest with relatively narrow waist and hips.

Due to the upper and lower body being balanced, it means this shape is far simpler to dress than others. In general, most styles and fits will suit this shape because it is well proportioned.

So, if this relates to you, you can easily incorporate new trends, cuts and colours into your wardrobe, with little concern. Good news hey?

Obviously you will tend to steer towards that which you feel comfortable in, and that is important, but you should also realise this shape’s potential for experimentation. Why not try bolder prints and colours that make more of a statement? Like these for example…

Suggested Pieces
  • Reiss 1971 Oliver Multi Direction Stripe Shirt WhiteReiss 1971 Oliver Multi Direction Stripe Shirt White
  • Topman Contrast Oat Crew Neck JumperTopman Contrast Oat Crew Neck Jumper
  • Allsaints Nelson Crew JumperAllsaints Nelson Crew Jumper
  • Reiss Scott B Relaxed Patch Pocket Blazer Dark SageReiss Scott B Relaxed Patch Pocket Blazer Dark Sage
  • Easy Aztec Print ShirtEasy Aztec Print Shirt
  • Faconnable Maverick Cotton-twill ShortsFaconnable Maverick Cotton-twill Shorts
2. The Inverted Triangle

Inverted Triangle Body ShapeSimilar to a trapezoid, you will also have broad shoulders and chest, however, your hips and waist are narrower.

This means your upper torso is much wider than your lower torso and, subsequently, the lower half of your body. This body shape is particularly common for those with athletic frames and can also be sculpted through regular weight lifting/body building.

When dressing for this body type the imbalance between top and bottom is something you should pay special attention to.

Do:
  • Consider detailing around the hips with the use of belts or pockets. This will help to break up an outfit whilst drawing attention to this area.
  • Wear Breton striped tees, which are both classic in style and ideal for men of this shape – particularly if the stripes are focused across the stomach rather than on the chest.
  • Opt for v-neck knits/tees as they will narrow the chest and draw the eye down.
  • Use graphic prints and logos to create a central point of focus that will reduce attention to the upper chest.
  • Try straight or more relaxed slim cuts (rather than too slim/skinny) for legwear as they will help balance your proportions and broad shoulders.
  • Try unstructured double-breasted jackets as they will help widen the torso without adding width to the shoulders or upper chest.
  • Try statement or on trend printed/patterned legwear in order to draw the eyeline down.
Don’t:
  • Wear structured jackets with shoulder padding or wide lapels. This will only emphasise the widest area.
  • Consider tops with wide scoop necklines. Again, this will only appear to widen that area.
  • Wear three quarter length sleeves that will broaden the appearance of your chest. Try to stick with shorter sleeves for anything but formal shirts.
  • Opt for skinny leg cuts as they will make the top half of your body appear even wider – throwing out your proportions further.
  • Gravitate towards shoulder detailing/prints/colour-blocking. Pieces that incorporate such detailing will only draw the eyes to that area.
Suggested Pieces
  • Color Block BlazerColor Block Blazer
  • Allsaints Tonic Stripe Scoop T-shirtAllsaints Tonic Stripe Scoop T-shirt
  • Reiss 1971 Hurst Logo Vee Neck JumperReiss 1971 Hurst Logo Vee Neck Jumper
  • Reiss 1971 Montego Palm Print Short Black/whiteReiss 1971 Montego Palm Print Short Black/white
  • Topman Tan Plaited BeltTopman Tan Plaited Belt
  • Uniqlo Men Cotton Linen Relaxed TrousersUniqlo Men Cotton Linen Relaxed Trousers
3. The Rectangle

Rectangle Body ShapeMen with this body shape have shoulders that are the same width as their waist and hips.

When dressing a rectangle the aim would be to widen the shoulders whilst making the lower torso appear narrower.

Although you are unable to physically alter the shape, wearing certain styles and cuts can work to give the illusion of a different one.

Therefore the aim with a rectangle is to ultimately appear similar to a trapezoid.

Do:
  • Wear structured blazers and jackets that appear padded in the shoulders yet narrow down from the underarm. A good way to achieve this would be to get the sides taken in by a tailor or the jacket arm thinned.
  • Use scarves and circular necklines to widen the upper torso.
  • Layer intelligently – shirts and fine knitwear in particular can be used to widen the chest/shoulders and then narrow down towards the hips.
  • Utilise prints and patterns accordingly – intelligently placed colour-blocks and prints can be effective at emphasising the upper section of your body.
Don’t:
  • Wear double-breasted pieces as these will only strengthen the rectangular shape.
  • Wear prints that mimic and emphasise your rectangular shape – for example, photographic tees or large geometric.
  • Wear sleeveless pieces – unless layered effectively.
  • Use bright primary block-colours on the torso unless print, detailing or an appropriate neckline is utilised.
Suggested Pieces
  • Ted Baker Wilcox – Colour Block TopTed Baker Wilcox - Colour Block Top
  • Allsaints Wing Tonic Crew T-shirtAllsaints Wing Tonic Crew T-shirt
  • Allsaints Township Half Sleeved ShirtAllsaints Township Half Sleeved Shirt
  • PiquÉ SweatshirtPiquÉ Sweatshirt
  • Vito Blazer With Trim DetailVito Blazer With Trim Detail
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Striped Woven ScarfPaul Smith Shoes & Accessories Striped Woven Scarf
4. The Triangle

Triangle Body ShapeSeveral parts of the body are used to determine whether this shape applies to you: chest and shoulders are narrower than waist and hips, meaning you appear larger on the bottom half of your torso. This may also result in a sloping shoulder line.

The imbalance is created by your lower half appearing wider than your upper body.

Correcting this imbalance should be the focus when dressing this body type.

Do:
  • It’s imperative you focus on well-fitted clothing, ill fits will only emphasise this shape.
  • Opt for single-breasted and button-down styles as they will help streamline the torso.
  • Wear straighter leg trousers and chinos.
  • Give shape to the shoulders with structured tailored blazers and jackets.
  • Aim for darker colours on top as they will instantly flatter. Introduce colour with a scarf or a bright piece layered underneath, like a tee or shirt.
Don’t:
  • Wear horizontal stripes across the stomach area.
  • Wear polo necks or narrow crew-necks as they will decrease shoulder width and emphasise shape.
  • Wear skinny or heavily tapered jeans/trousers as they will widen the central part of the body.
  • Wear jackets with noticeable pockets on the front as they will attract attention to the stomach area.
Suggested Pieces
  • Topman White Grey Yoke Long Sleeve Smart ShirtTopman White Grey Yoke Long Sleeve Smart Shirt
  • Allsaints Le Tigre T-shirtAllsaints Le Tigre T-shirt
  • American Apparel Viscose Sexuali-teeAmerican Apparel Viscose Sexuali-tee
  • Reiss Preston Linen Trousers GreenReiss Preston Linen Trousers Green
  • Ted Baker Zabjak - polka Dot BlazerTed Baker Zabjak - polka Dot Blazer
  • Allsaints Griffin Leather Biker JacketAllsaints Griffin Leather Biker Jacket
5. The Oval

Oval Body ShapeThis shape is self-explanatory. An oval body shape appears round, particularly at the centre of the body. This may result in narrower shoulders and a slimness in the lower leg.

When dressing this shape, attention should be paid to lengthening the torso, making it appear slimmer. Shoulders should be given shape too, in order to make the body shape appear more defined.

This may be a shape that men find they fall into in their later years, however there are those that always fall into this category. Whatever your situation, there are ways in which you can add definition.

Do:
  • Wear vertical stripes and pinstripes as they will instantly lengthen that specific area of the body.
  • Ensure trouser legs and sleeves are the correct length as gathering will shorten the limbs and fail in adding shape or definition.
  • Wear detailed prints or textured pieces in darker hues to add a point of interest to an outfit whilst remaining flattering.
  • Aim to wear fitted, loosely tapered trousers as they will help to lengthen the legs.
Don’t:
  • Wear horizontal stripes anywhere on the body as they will make that part appear rounder.
  • Choose to wear cowl necks, wide crew necks or polo necks.
  • Use statement/coloured belts – they will only attract attention to the waist and highlight your widest point.
  • Wear footwear with a white sole or trim as it will widen your feet and take away from any attempts to lengthen the legs. Likewise, boots can make your legs appear shorter. Instead, try low profile, slimline silhouettes.
  • Wear double-breasted.
Suggested Pieces
  • Selected Vertical Stripe ShirtSelected Vertical Stripe Shirt
  • Vito Seersucker BlazerVito Seersucker Blazer
  • Topman Black Cross Hi Roll T-shirtTopman Black Cross Hi Roll T-shirt
  • River Island Cable JumperRiver Island Cable Jumper
  • Asos Monk Strap ShoesAsos Monk Strap Shoes
  • Ted Baker Twiltro – Cotton Twill TrouserTed Baker Twiltro - Cotton Twill Trouser
Final Word

Although this may seem like a lot of information to take on board, when you begin to understand the reasons why particular shapes and fits work for you, it soon becomes second nature – with you instantly recognising the positive or negative impact an item will have on your appearance and silhouette.

Of course, this is all very general advice and doesn’t take into account skin tone, height, eye colour and the like (which is to follow in subsequent articles), not to mention self-confidence and the positive effect it has on your whole appearance. In short, like all advice we offer, adapt the above to your specific body type, situation and tastes.

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments section below and I will try to answer all of them to the best of my knowledge.

Matthew.