Tips for a tall man reach ever greater sartorial heights.
Australia ranks among the top 10 nations with the world’s tallest men. With an average height of 178.4 cm, Aussie males go eye-to-eye with the Finns, Norwegians, Germans and Americans – white and black (as the US Census helpfully points out to make the distinction between shorter Hispanic Americans).
Yet with hundreds of thousands of men over 180cm – the old six-foot mark – why is it so tough to buy clothes for the vertically endowed? Any man trying to buy a 40 or 42 long suit off-the-rack is frequently directed to a small row of hangers out the back. Most shirts are made for the portly or concave-chested youths. Short guys with big waistlines, it seems, are the main target market for many men’s clothing departments and stores because the vast majority of pants in stock are made for this body shape.
There’s no need to resign yourself to dressing in a vague style that’s best described as “late 20th century”, though. Or, regularly buying an airfare to US where big guys are well – not grudgingly-catered for. But you do need to understand the challenges a tall man’s physique presents, whether you are thin, athletic or big. In a perfect world, you would have all of your clothes custom-made but there’s plenty you can do to look as on-trend as your shorter, more fashionable mates if you don’t want to spend up big.
More heavyweight wool fabrics are a good choice for tall, thin men. When you are dressing casually – go for layers rather than one thick garment. The absolute no-nos for tall skinny guys are: V-neck sweaters, slim-fitting shirts and cardigans unless you are aiming for the Harry Potter look.
SIZE DOES MATTER
The biggest mistakes tall guys make are buying clothes that are too big or too small for their body. If you go for longer pants, you can have them taken up and in to suit your body type. All men’s stores offer to alter clothes to fit for a very minimal cost, as do many dry cleaners. You have nowhere to go, except to look out-of-date if you buy clothes that are too small.
TURN IT DOWN
Should tall men steer clear of bright colours and patterns? As a general rule – yes – because your natural height draws more than enough attention. You shouldn’t restrict yourself completely to solid colours in shirts, sweaters and pants, though. Tall men look fantastic in striped and checked shirts. Just use your commonsense and listen to what your mirror tells you. When you are wearing a suit, a nifty, expensive tie looks better on a tall man than a short one. Conversely, a dull or godawful tie looks even worse because there is more of it on show.
STAND TALL, BE PROUD
The first thing to do is to develop confidence in your style and look. This isn’t hard. You have what women want most, height. What they don’t want, says study after study, is a man with bad posture or who stoops over.
THE RIGHT STRIPES
Vertical stripes elongate the body which is why shorter guys wear pinstripe suits to create the illusion of being taller. If you are already tall and, especially if you are lanky, you don’t need to look more drawn out. That doesn’t mean that any man over 180cm shouldn’t wear a pinstripe suit. Every 2.5cm over 180cm makes a big difference. Men with a toned physique look fantastic in a pinstripe suit up to 188cm. Any taller and the lines start to look very long.
PAD IT OUT
If you are tall and lanky, jackets should have small shoulder pads. Don’t try to “bulk up” with clothing or you will look like a boy trying to be a man. Avoid any fabric “flapping in the wind” under the arms and don’t wear pants that are too fitted. Another fast-track to the juvenile look. Pick pants with details like pockets, flat-fronts and turn-ups when they are in fashion to add balance without bulk to your shape.
THE CUT COUNTS
Resist any temptation to wear too-tight or too-loose clothing if you are a tall man with a larger build. Your clothes should fit your body just right or you will look uncomfortable or larger than you really are. Arnold Schwarzenegger can tool around in Pringle sweaters because he’s a US governor and former movie star but would look better in well-cut clothes in dark, solid colours which act as instant “slimmers”.
Tall and lean but not skinny? You have the best figure for jeans. A straight leg with a flat front will give you the Steve McQueen edge (yes, McQueen was well under 6ft but he was a giant in the way he walked). Tall lean guys also look good in wide-leg jeans on casual days and boot-cuts when they want to wear a jacket. If you are tall and athletic or muscular, wider leg jeans show off your pecs and biceps to full advantage. Slimline jeans will glue you the bulked-up look. Choose wide-leg, not baggy jeans, to disguise a thick waist, love handles and a substantial butt. Pick jeans with back pockets placed close together to minimise a meaty backside, too.
Even shorter, smaller guys ruin their sartorial look by packing their pockets with smartphones, big wallets and a bunch of keys that look as if they belong to a medieval jailer. Keep your mobile, wallet as thin as possible. If you’re sporting “love handles”, eliminating excess baggage in your pockets makes your hips look slimmer.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SHOES
Make sure your pants fall fully on your shoes. Any show of socks makes tall men look gawky and ill-at-ease.