Gentleman’s Geometry: Dressing for Your Body Shape

Find your fit and embrace your

Written by Meghan Salgado[Feature image by Whereslugo]
If you want to look
immaculate–or at least, sensical–attention to the fit of your clothes is
essential. Wear something too large, and you look like a child playing dress
up. Wear something too tight, and you’ll look like you shop at Gap Kids, or you
might accentuate areas of your figure that don’t need attention. We’ve laid out
some basic profiles to help you discover what your body type is and how to
dress for your body type.
What Body Type Am I?

You’ve probably heard terms
like “ectomorph,” “endomorph,” and “mesomorph” in terms of bodybuilding. In
case you’re not familiar, an ectomorph is someone who’s naturally skinny or
lanky, an endomorph is someone with a soft, round build and more fat tissue,
and a mesomorph is someone who’s who builds muscle easily.
But outside of sheer muscle
mass, your body also has an inherent frame and proportions that probably won’t
change much regardless of whether you gain or lose muscle and weight. The
different body types we’ve outlined below have little to do with bulk. For
example, you may go from being a smaller trapezoid shaped body to a bigger
trapezoid shaped body, but your proportions will remain the same. We’ve
outlined some general male body types below so that you can shop your shape.
Trapezoid Body Shape

Considered an “average build.”
This is the body shape to which most menswear brands cater.
This is you if:

  • Your shoulders are only
    slightly wider than your midsection, giving your upper body a slight taper.
  • Maybe you work out, but you
    don’t have that gym rat build (see below)
  • Your legs balance your upper
Luckily, the way clothes for
men look online will pretty much look the same on you. Because your shape is
quite versatile, you have the freedom to try riskier prints and fits. Use that
to your advantage and build a more adventurous wardrobe.

How to dress for your body

how to dress for your body type trapezoid

On the Daily

  • Slim fit trousers: Emphasize
    your natural shape, since it’s the industry standard. You should be able to buy
    pants marked “slim fit” off the rack, and they’ll look like they were made for
  • Patterns: Feel free to gold
    bold with the pattern. Try a geo print in a bright color–there’s almost nothing
    you can’t pull off.
  • Standard ties: Since you’re so
    well-balanced, anything other than a standard tie looks a little wonky. Skinny
    ties will make you look broad, and extra long will make you look short. If you
    really need something different, go with a bowtie.
In a Suit

  • Well-tailored trousers: Ask
    your tailor for a slight break or no break, as this looks best with slim fit
    trousers and will give you a contemporary and modern look. Just as with your
    everyday look, your trousers should skim your body and have a slimmer fit.
  • Taper at your waist: With
    slightly wider shoulders, you’ll want to make sure your jacket comes in at the
    waist to avoid an unbalance between your top and bottom halves. But most
    jackets already have some tapering, so it shouldn’t be hard to get a good fit
    with very little tailoring.
Rectangle Body Shape

Tall and thin, you may have
been called “beanpole” at some point in your life.
This is you if:

  • You’re straight through the
    torso with shoulders as wide as your waist
  • Your skinny top half is
    matched with equally slim legs
  • You’re above average in height
Your height and lean body type
can present a challenge when trying to find clothes that fit both length and
width wise. Wide fits leave you with a boxy silhouette, and large patterns make
it look as if you’re being swallowed up by fabric. Go instead for layers and
heavy fabrics as they create the illusion of a heavier frame, especially on
your top half.

How to dress for your body

how to dress for your body type rectangle
On the Daily

  • Layers: Knits, cardigans, or
    jackets are types of clothing that will add some weight to your shoulders,
    which creates the illusion of a trapezoid build. Heavier fabrics, in general,
    will draw the eye upward and put more bulk on your frame.
  • Details across shoulders:
    Perfect for summer, when the last thing you want to do is put on another layer.
    Color or detailing on the top half of your shirt will create the same effect as
    layers with a little less heat. Try to draw the eye upward and accentuate your
    shoulders to create a broader look.
  • Slim fit trouser: A close fit
    in your trousers will also help you keep your proportions in check. Anything
    wider won’t add bulk but actually makes you look skinnier as excess fabric
    overwhelms your frame.
In a Suit

  • Pant Length: The shortest you
    should ever go on your pant length is the no break look. While the cropped look
    may be fashion-forward, it throws off the balance between your top and bottom
  • Single breasted jackets:
    Single-breasted jackets are a must for your frame, as a double-breasted look
    will make you look even more rectangular. Some structure in your shoulders is
    also ideal to fill out your top half.
Inverted Triangle Body Shape

Sometimes you have trouble
walking through door frames. Okay, your proportions may not be that extreme,
but you have more of a stocky build–like, you go to the gym.
This is you if:

  • Your shoulders are the widest
    part of your body
  • Your waist is more tapered
    than someone with a trapezoid build
  • You may also have some bulk in
    your thighs
This can be a difficult body
to dress, with most retailers catering bodies less fine-tuned than yours.
Luckily, athleisure gives you some room to breathe and the chance to wear
something other than sweat-wicking shirts.
How to dress for your body

how to dress for your body type inverted triangle
On the Daily

  • Straight-leg trousers: Instead
    of a slim-fit, a little more fabric here will add to your frame and keep your
    pants fitting comfortably.
  • Unstructured blazers: This
    jacket will help even the proportion of your waist to your shoulders. The
    unstructured blazer will hug the slope of your shoulders, while the slight
    flair at the bottom of the jacket will add bulk to your waist.
  • Belts: Another tactic for
    drawing the eye a little lower is adding a belt to your getup. Whether you’re
    wearing shorts or full-length pants, adding one in a standout color will break
    up your frame a little.
In a Suit

  • Small to medium patterns:
    Since your build is bigger, keep the patterns you’re wearing smaller to
    downplay your size. Small polka dots or more intricate patterns on your shirt
    will look best on you.
  • Tailor the waist: You’ll
    certainly need extra room in the shoulders, so opt for a size up in your suit
    jacket and plan for your tailor to take it in at the waist. A boxy, unfitted
    look isn’t flattering on anyone. Despite your slender middle, your jacket
    should still taper in.
Triangle Body Shape

A rounder-in-the-belly build
that becomes more common post-college. But it doesn’t mean you’re out of shape.
Sometimes the triangle body shape is endearingly referred to as a “dad bod.”
This is you if:

  • Your midsection is wider than
    your shoulders
  • Your legs have some shape and
    are balanced by your top half
  • You have slimmer shoulders
The most important thing to be
wary of is the pinch from trying to dress for the slimness of your shoulders
that could cause some tightness around the belly. Looks that work for you
(particularly on top) overlap with what looks good on the rectangle-shaped man.
How to dress for your body

how to dress for your body type triangle shape
On the Daily

  • Structured shoulders: Since
    your midsection is the widest part of your body, structured shoulders are
    perfect for balancing it out. This will minimize the visual appearance of any
    weight on your waist and make you appear more proportional.
  • Detailing/color across your
    chest: Again, anything that will draw the eyes upwards to your shoulders is a
    good look for you. Color and detailing that brings the eyes up to your chest is
    a more flattering look on you.
  • Straight leg pants: When it
    comes to pants, taper at your own risk. Anything too slim-fit will draw
    attention straight to the largest part of your body. A straight-legged look and
    even some pleats will give you a more balanced look with some extra comfort.
In a Suit

  • Single breasted jacket: The
    volume of a double-breasted jacket will bring too much weight to your top half.
    Instead, invest in a classic single-breasted jacket that sits close to your
    frame. Structured shoulders will draw the eyes up and balance out your middle
    with this more formal piece.
  • Darker dress shirt: A darker,
    deeper color could be more flattering than your standard white dress shirt. The
    tone will look slimming on your larger top half and create a nice monochrome
    look with the rest of your suit.
After reading all this, if you
still have the question, “What is my body type?” we suggest hitting the fitting
rooms and trying things on. You’ll never really know if you’re a rectangle or
actually just a tall trapezoid until you see the clothes on yourself.
Conquering how to dress well is a long journey, but with every new article you
read and every new experiment you embark on, you’ll get closer to developing
your signature look. And hopefully you’ve discovered a few things about how to
dress for your body type.

Meghan Salgado

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.