Men's Big And Tall: Common Fashion Mistakes

Big and tall clothes are meant to provide the same fashion choices as their off-the-rack cousins, so the same rules still apply. Here are some common fashion errors and how to avoid them.

A few generations ago, almost every clothing outlet offered the latest fashions for those who could squeeze into sizes Small, Medium and Large. Finding a suit jacket over size 44 or a pair of pants with a 46 inch waistband meant driving across town or across the state to a specialized store for big and/or tall men.These stores offered limited styles, because clothing manufacturers were not motivated to accommodate such a small segment of their customer base.Men who needed oversized clothes either had to accept these fashion limitations or have their clothes tailor-made.

Nowadays, many major retailers proudly feature a Big and Tall section right next to their regular-sized counterparts.A stylish suit jacket in a 40 regular can often be found in a 52 long or a 60 big.Men no longer have to ask for an extension of the hem or an additional pleat in the waistband.Sizes now regularly include Long or Tall or Big to indicate added dimensions.Most men who qualify for the Big and Tall department can now shop for the exact same fashions as their friends and siblings.

But with this added freedom comes responsibility. Big and tall men who want to remain fashionable must realize how important it is to follow the rules of fashion, even if they may sound arbitrary at times.No man wants to feel socially rejected because of his poor fashion sense, so here are some common errors made by big and tall men and how to avoid making them:

1. Welcome to Fred Mertzville.Tall, thin men may not suffer from this particular problem, but stockier men may have to face it on a daily basis. No one wants to see your belt cinched securely around your chest.While it's acceptable for bigger men to wear their pants around their expanded midsections, the Fred Mertz high-waisted solution is no solution at all.Few pants designed today provide any sort of expanded drop between waistband and crotch to accommodate such a high-waisted style.Instead, try wearing a pair of inconspicuous suspenders and a generous waist size if you have a very large abdomen.If you do wear suspenders, however, make sure the tension does not cause the pants to bind up in the crotch.The trick is balance, not tension.

2. All my friends are low riders.This is perhaps the equal but opposite solution to the Fred Mertz waistline conundrum.Many larger men find that their actual waists are not proportionally larger than other men- they just have a larger supply of padding above it.In an effort to conceal this condition, some men will wear their trousers as low on the hips as human possible.Wearing size 40 pants under a size 54 stomach looks very unnatural, and can lead to some embarrassing moments as the pants continue to slide down the legs.

In order to avoid this fashion faux pas, big men need to either accept their lot in life and buy a larger size of pant or work on reducing their current waistlines.Finding oversized belts may not be easy, but it's preferable to the potential disaster of a low-rider gone wrong.Some dress shirts can accommodate the lower waist style, but most will become untucked very quickly.The sight of a low-rider with an untucked shirt can emphasize the one thing he didn't want to emphasize.Hike the pants above the hips and try to find the natural waistline above the hip bones. Cinch your belt as tight as possible and make sure your shirt tails are tucked in as far as they will go.

3. Oliver Hardy may be gone, but his tie lives on. Both big and tall men can find the common necktie to be a fashion challenge.While other accessories may have big or tall equivalents, ties are still one size fits all.This can lead to the Oliver Hardy effect if the wearer does not make a few adjustments.

The necktie is designed to cover the buttons of a man's dress shirt.It also bisects the vertical line of a jacket and provides some visual balance. Ties are usually tied in three different ways, depending on the formality of the situation.Casual wearers can usually get by with a basic four-in-hand knot featuring one quick loop through the top and a fairly organized knot.Most business people tie a half-Windsor, which results in a more balanced knot that can be adjusted easily.Serious tie wearers go for the full Windsor, which requires the most complicated double loop but results in the most uniform knot of all.All of these tie styles, however, rely on one thing- the proper length.

Big and tall men must make sure that they leave enough length during the initial tying process.Shorter men may get away with a 60/40 division, but big and tall types need to plan on as much as a 75/25 split in order to insure a proper look.This means measuring out the tie to keep the inside piece relatively short and the finished front piece very long.Having a very short tie arrangement will emphasize bigness and/or tallness.Make sure you use a good tie clip placed low enough to keep the tie close to the shirt.You may not be able to cover ALL of the buttons, but an ideal tie length should reach the waistline instead of the chest.Another important thing to keep in mind- make sure your shirt collar is large enough to accommodate a tie comfortably.Many big and tall men buy a dress shirt based on arm or torso length, not necessarily neck size.

4. To tuck or not to tuck?Tall men often discover that a shirt which fits across the shoulders may not be long enough in the torso.The result is a shirt poised to come untucked at any moment.Big men may find that a shirt fits across the abdomen but the tails won't reach the pants.Again, the shirt tails may refuse to remain tucked.

Those who are not big or tall themselves may not understand how important the tucking issue truly can be.Many big and tall men will steadfastly refuse to tuck in their shirts, which can lead to a perception of slovenliness.Tucking in a standard dress shirt may simply be impossible for very large men.But dress shirts with tails should always be tucked in formal or business situations.The shirt front is designed to be bisected by the waistband of the pants.Once the shirt tails have popped out, the shirt looks half-wrinkled and sloppy.There's no easy fix, short of excusing yourself and making frantic adjustments in the restroom.

The simplest solution is to make sure your extra big shirt is also an extra tall shirt.Many big or tall men pigeonhole themselves as one or the other but not both.Tall, thin men may get away with an extra tall dress shirt, while shorter big men might be comfortable with an extra large neck size.But some may benefit from dress shirts which accommodate both length and girth.Dress shirts should always be tucked into pants in the dressing room before purchase.Too short is too short.

The other solution would be to concentrate on shirt styles which do not require tucking.Polo-style shirts should reach low enough to cover the waist of the pants, but not so low as to appear sloppy.Big men should be aware that polo shirts and t-shirts may ride up and expose the midriff. This is never a good look.A good wardrobe should contain a balance between casual, no-tuck clothes and formal clothes which may require some tucking.It's too easy for big or tall men to fall into the trap of buying nothing but oversized, formless casual clothing.

5. One belt does not fit all.Finding a belt beyond size 42 may be difficult, but not impossible.These items may be ordered from big and tall clothing companies directly through catalogs or outlets.But remember that a belt appropriate for blue jeans is not always proper for a business suit.Big and tall men need to have a collection of both casual and dress belts in their wardrobe.A casual belt matched with formal suit slacks will look far too casual.The most important element of a belt is the buckle, followed closely by the texture of the material. Dress belts should look clean and unstressed, held together by a shiny but not overstated buckle.It's best to err on the side of too big rather than too short.

6. Does this shirt make me look short?Many big and tall men will buy clothing according to size, but not always fit.Sizes are not always standard, so there's never a guarantee that a 3XLT shirt from one company will fit precisely like a 3XLT from another.This incongruity can lead to some extreme fashion problems.If the sleeves are too short, others will notice.If the collar produces a reddish hue around the face, others will notice.If the pants split or bind while you attempt to sit in a theater seat, others will notice.Some may pass out from laughter.Before buying any big or tall clothing, try going through a daily routine in them.Sit down in a chair, reach above your head, bend over to pick up a report.If anything failed to move with you, don't buy it.If most of your body remained secure and covered, you might be able to have the remaining items tailored.Your goal each and every time should be a perfect fit, not just a nice design or impressive designer label.

© High Speed Ventures 2011