The Big & Tall Guide to Style: Urban Gentleman Edition

After all the "please help" emails from urban gents around the country, I decided it had to be done– A Mini Style Guide for Tall and Husky Men. Husky sounds lame huh, okay umm… thick, big-boned, idk… big? Yeah, that's what they usually call it right, okay, so–

A Mini Style Guide for the Big & Tall and ohsoflyy.
First I'll start with tips for both then specifically give tall tips and big tips.

Note: It was hard to find good picture examples on the internet, so it took awhile to create pictures etc etc, and some of the pictures aren't exactly of "big" men, but they give you the idea. I'll try to visit a store with one of my big and or tall friends to show more precise pictures.

Like I've told many who have emailed me about the issue of finding clothes that fit their physique- the first thing you should do is find someone famous, who is about your size, and has a pretty good sense of style. For the tall you may want to use LeBron James, Will Smith, or Tom Brady as examples. For big guys you may want to use men like Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Knight (from Project Runway), or Joey Fatone (how he dresses more recently).

And it's also very very very important that you guys try clothes on– I know it's probably a pain in the ass, but it's a necessary evil if you want to look your best. I also suggest that you plan your shopping trips– go on a day like Tuesday or Wednesday… maybe even a Monday- on days that are slow so that the salespeople will pay more attention to you. Those are the days that they're in a more relaxed mood as well, so they're more friendly and chill oppose to being up-tight and slightly stressed. Which equals them being more willing to kind of act as your personal shopper, stores like Nordstrom are perfect for this treatment.

Tall Guys:

Big Guys:

Michael Knight is not really heavy heavy, he has added quite a few pounds since the show making him thick, a little pudgy maybe. But you would NOT know because he does a perfect job of camouflaging the extra pounds.

Cedric's pants here are a little baggy, but they're fine if you have alot to hide. I just think you should get them altered so that you don't have all that bunching on the bottom. You may have to buy a bigger size to fit your waist, but then the pants end up too long, usually guys just wear them baggy on the bottom, but you really should get them tailored. Many retail stores offer tailoring when you purchase clothes from them- high end stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks, and maybe even Bloomingdales.


GUIDE for Big Guys


So you're a bigger guy- portly is probably the politically correct term. First thing first–be confident. You may feel a little self conscious about the extra pounds, but at this moment you have to deal with it so get comfortable with yourself and who you are. If you want to change then that's fine, but you have to dress your body for the moment. Now your problem areas are probably your stomach and maybe your… behind (booty, yanno lol). So you have to focus on masking those parts of the body and choosee clothing that will give you a slimming effect and more proportionate look.

pleated pants and pullover sweaters with ribbing
at the bottom are great for heavy-set men


Styles to focus on: cardigans, button-ups, dark denim jeans, vest, jackets, suits with side vents, layers, dark colors, pleated pants (no flat fronts unless well tailored), the combination of a light button up or polo and dark sweater or cardigan- gives the allusion of slimmer, and the mixture of textures to give your body a better proportion.

For Suits: always always always get suits with side vents and pants with pleats. Vented jackets gives you room and makes your rear look smaller- this is especially important for men with wide hips. It's not a pleasant sight to see men with suit jackets on and its hugging their backfat. Pleated pants give your thighs more room and makes your body more proportionate. Flat front pants are okay if you are moderately thick and your stomach is relatively small (it may have a slightly slimming effect). You have to invest in suits with vents and you have to get them tailored- its sooooo worth it. Your figure its not regular size so you can NOT just wear clothing, mainly formal wear like suits, straight off the rack.

side vents hide big/wide hips perfectly

pleated pants give you more room, especially for your thighs. If you don't want to do the double pleats, do a single pleat, but please stay away from flat fronts if you have big thighs or a really big stomach.

For Big Hips: if you hold most of your weight on the bottom half of your body, there are a couple of things you can do to help balance your shape. Wear these combinations: dark solid bottoms with patterned, dark bottoms with textured tops. The textured and patterned tops will even out your proportion and re-focus the eye to your top area, taking away the attention from your hips. Wear suits with vents (look at the suit area for more information).

For Big Stomachs: You basically do the opposite of the men with big hips… you wear combinations of dark solid tops and textured bottoms (like corduroy) or light bottoms (like khakis).





GUIDE for Tall Guys

So you're tall huh? Well congratulations– many men would often prefer to be atleast a little taller- 1 or 2 inches maybe. Believe it or not you don't really have that big of an issue– you're tall, so just like tall women (models for example) you can wear anything (it just gets noticed quicker). Your problem is usually with the fit of an item and you'll have to get alot of your clothes altered. The problem area for tall guys are usually- pants or shirts being to short and if they do fit they're often too large or oversized.

vertical stripes and bootcut or relaxed fit jeans are great for tall men.

Styles to Focus on: vests, cardigans, flat front pants (mainly for tall slim guys), layers, patterned button ups, pin-stripes (thin vertical stripes) shirts– this elongates your torso giving you a more balanced look, bright colored tops and dark bottoms will also elongate the torso.

Like I said you don't really have a real issue, it's just more of a tailoring thing. But there are some things you may need to note– some tall guys have really long legs and short torsos, others have torsos that are too long and aren't as proportional to their legs. You just have to make sure your proportions are right- shirts and jackets shouldn't be too short or too long.

As a tall guy you have to be aware of how long and short your layered looks are. You shouldn't have a sweater that ends at your waist with an extra long button-up. If tucked out your shirt should end at the red line or it should be tucked in- which is the neatest.
Focus on the Basics, here's The Urban Gentleman List of Basics. These are the items every man, especially the big and tall, should definitely have in your wardrobe- they should be quality (the highest quality you can afford) and you should definitely get them professionally tailored.

1. dark denim jeans
2. dark suit- (navy or black)

3. dark cardigan (navy, chocolate brown, burgundy)
4. white dress shirt
5. khakis (pleated for big guys, flat front for tall guys)
6. dark solid quality vest (like Ralph Lauren)- preferably 2 button up and pullover 7. sport coat/blazer (neutral color)

Those items are the core of your wardrobe and I want to stress the fact that all of these items, except of the vest and cardigan should be tailored— yes the dress shirt and jeans and khakis should be tailored. Be careful when tailoring though, make sure the item is exactly how you want it before you give them the final "yes".

Good Looks for Big and Tall Men

These outfits are all Ralph Lauren and are styled to be sort of tight and small for the average man- so don't follow the fit in the picture, just follow the type of garments they are wearing. Cardigans are a must these days.

Specific TRENDS for Big Men: Preppy/Classically Simple Look, Jacket Fanatic
Specific TRENDS for Tall Men: Plaid, Preppy/Classically Simple, Jacket Fanatic, pretty much anything- just get it tailored.
Specific STORES for Big & Tall Men: Most stores have a big and tall section, and you should always begin in the big and tall sections if possible. Gap, Ralph Lauren, Old Navy, Casual XL (carries Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Levis), I found an online store for really big men: But you guys can virtually shop anywhere you just have to get it tailored.

Okay, I think the guide if complete for now. If you have more questions leave comments or send us an email


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  1. Long time reader, first time commenter? That sounds ridiculous. I think its great that you are trying to include everyone with your blog. (and you are doing a great job by the way). The one, very brief comment that I have is that for those heavier gentleman common thought is that you want to avoid pleats. Flat front. Say it with me. Flat front. If you really really really must go with pleats do make sure that you have a great tailor. Actually, the best advice for any guy (especially those with size challenges) is to prepare yourself to pay the same amount in tailoring as you did for the garment. No really. Spend a good amount of money on an item, and get a great (not good) tailor to alter it to your body.

  2. Flat front pants only look good on large men whose belly is above or near the belt line. The man whose gut is over the belt and below the belt also looks like a pumkin with a rope tied ’round it. All things are relative. I am a large man with a relatively flat backside and contained belly. I can pull off flat fromt pants; in fact I prefer them. I also wear pleated pants under a jacket. I stay away from those wide legged slacks which make one look like they are wearing a long skirt. GREAT BLOG! THanks. My new fave site.

  3. New reader, and loving what i see. As a big guy,6’4 and 260 (Think Omar Gooding “Smart Guy” era), i think i look best in flat fronts and pleats give me that old guy in the club feel. For a guy with a body type similar to Moe’s which would be best

    – GA John

  4. Hey Cindy,

    Thanks for the post. I have to agree with John from Augusta above … I hate pleats. I’m 6’5″ and 290, and pleats, even when they hang correctly, make my waist the focus of attention, and why would you want to do that when I have shoulders like these?!

    Anyway, I appreciate the post and was wondering if you would mind if I reposted it, with track backs and credit given to you of course, on my site Big And Tall Today?

  5. Hey, I get all my Big and Tall clothes from Paul Fredrick. I like their modern contemporary looks.

  6. Question for you: I'm a big & tall guythat usually plays the mix & match game b/c I'm a unusual fit. Very athletic physic for a big guy, long arms, big chest, smaller waist, but big thighs. I've always been a sport coat guy because of that…

    My question is; how can I dress up a sport coat scenario for a upscale wedding in the south during the month of February? I would like to wear dark or warm colors, accessories maybe bow tie and suede shoes.

    Your thoughts?

  7. do you guys have a new 2010 guide for the big and tall?
    maybe a style guide or links to introduce a new look for th new year ?

  8. The Urban Gentleman Blog

    This comment was second, but was accidentally erased:

    original post date: November 16, 2008

    thanks for reading jason!! i do see what you mean with the pleated vs flat fronts, but have you ever seen a really big guy in flat fronts??? very uncomfortable looking… just like big guys in skinny jeans. Now double pleats may look "too old", but i suggest one pleat for very heavy weight guys. if you are just a little thick or portly- flat fronts with alot of alterations may suffice and it may even create a slimming effect… but the ratio and proportion may be thrown off…

    imagine this: a guy with a very large stomach (beer belly like) wearing flat front pants- it'll make his legs look even smaller- which will then make his stomach look even bigger… and thats not what you want to do- you want to keep the body proportionate. so please if you are a really big guy do not walk around in flat fronts unless they are custom made, if you are a moderately heavy guy- then yes that's fine:-)

    and jason is right, it is very important to have a great tailor, not just good but great– so you may not want to the cleaners on the corner– choose somewhere that is known for great customer service and great tailoring. I hate to plug Nordstrom so much, but if you buy your clothes from there they usually cuff the pants for free (obviously) and the tailoring is top-notch (from my experience)– and most importantly if they do it wrong they WILL do it again without any hassles.

  9. The Urban Gentleman Blog

    this post was made: March 23, 2009

    sure. you can repost, thanks for asking- so polite

  10. What are great fit designer brand jeans for tall men, swimmer body.

  11. What are great fit designer brand jeans for tall men, swimmer body.

  12. I'm a B&T 40ish brotha with a lot of style, but I can't seem to find B&T button up dress shirts (no tie) that hang for casual grown folks nights out at reasonable prices. most stores only sale t-shirts and not dress'yer style shirts. basicly I'm wanting to have a nice dress pant & casual shirt combo and not look like I'm a kid. any ideas?

  13. I absolutely appreciated each bit of it and Ive you bookmarked to check out new things you post.

  14. I gotta sorta disagree with you on the pleats. They are not universally good for big men, particularly if you have big hips and thighs. I would never wear pleats unless it was part of a suit, or I was at least wearing a sport coat over it. In a suit, it works, it creates a pleasing line, gives you more room, and the matching fabric helps you sort of ignore the whole middle. Take off the jacket? It’s like a big sign pointing straight at my belt line. Pleated chinos are an especially terrible idea because you frequently will wind up wearing them without a sport coat, when you’d look better with a more casual cut. Usually, though, I prefer a finer, softer cloth than cotton, and in a more pleasing darker color than tan or khaki, like grey. You sacrifice in durability and washability, but you look so much better. A single pleat is okay in a dark color, but I’d rather go flat front unless it’s a suit.

    That said, I’ll usually choose jeans over a pair of chinos anyway. They look better, they’re more durable, and unless you work retail or food service there’s hardly ever a time when chinos will do well and a nice pair of jeans are unacceptable. Stay away from light colored jeans, too, get the navy ones with slightly faded thighs and rub points (broken in, not worn out), or else buy thick and dark and durable and just wait. I’ve got some brown jeans I’ve been itching to find something to go with. I’ve got a brown suede coat but I don’t like it very much (it goes okay with chinos, actually, the material has enough color and texture to draw the eye more more than the light colored pants). I think the dark brown would go well with a well-textured brown-black-natural patterned wool, herringbone most likely. Too bad finding a jacket in 58 x-long is so goddamned difficult. At least I can buy shoes most anywhere, even if it is the largest commonly carried size.

  15. Would you consider doing one of these for men with an athletic build? As a noticeably (though not freakishly so) muscular guy, I can tell you that we have an incredibly hard time figuring out what to wear. The standard shoulder to waist ratio on button-up shirts and suit jackets doesn’t work if you have a muscular build. It’s a shame to spend all that time in the gym if the only time you look better than the guy who spends time on the couch is either in the shower or in the sack.

  16. Best spot for cool big & tall gear. I’m 20 and Ive always been a big guy. I can never just walk into Footlocker and find my size (4XL) this site has it all!

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