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How to Dress if You’re Short and Stocky

by Jamie Wilson
Dress if You're Short and Stocky

If you are short and stocky, I apologise on behalf of clothing stores everywhere. Short stocky men tend to be offered short stocky clothing, which is usually far from flattering. Finding the right fit within a sea of clothes made for the average man’s build must be a nightmare. There’s plenty of clothes for short men, but they can be hidden behind a mass of everyday fashion. 

Clothes for Short Stocky Men

Clothes for Short Stocky Men
@Tim Bogdanov via Unsplash

The temptation for the heavier built man is to just grab some loose fitting clothes to cover yourself with and ignore fit. However, just like when dressing any body shape, it’s important to make sure your clothes are the right fit. If your clothes fit properly you’ll look sharp, instead of lost in a swathes of fabric. Here’s some tips to make sure that happens.

Shopping in Store For a Stocky Body Type

Stocky Body Type
@Raghav bhadoriya via Unsplash

The problem with buying clothes straight off the rack is that they are simply not made for you. This is because retailers take the average guy’s height and width, and apply this template to all suits. They then cut off lengths where appropriate.

Unfortunately, this in no way helps you to find the suit you need, because despite the shorter length in the arms, the dimensions essentially, have not changed. And so you are likely to find a really tight fit across the chest, or otherwise, that shirts hang loose on you like a nightgown. Because of this, making what you buy in store actually fit you, is almost impossible. I know this is a depressing thought, but don’t worry, there are a few ways around it.

Find a Brand for Stocky Body Types

Stocky Body Types
@James Barr via Unsplash

A smart idea would be to shop around and find a brand that fits you. This is a worthy investment of time, because it means savings on tailor’s fees and new suits in the long run.

Certain designers, such as Ralph Lauren, Paul Stuart and Jax Everett offer a range of ‘short’ clothes for those under 5″7, so that you don’t have to put in so much thought about fit when shopping. If you don’t think you can afford designer clothes, this might still be useful information to bear in mind. As long as you’re willing to keep an eye on the sales.

Made to Measure Clothing for Stocky Body Types

If the idea of trawling the shops truly terrifies you, you could go for a made to measure order, which can easily be found online. This is a slight phaff, as it means you have to measure out each part of your body (you can ask a friend or tailor to help). It may take a little trial and error before you get your exact fit, but a perfect fitting suit is totally worth the effort.

Go International

Another idea to consider, is checking out other stylish nations that more readily provide clothes for your body-type, such as Italy or Japan. Websites can be a challenge to understand, as can working out which size corresponds to your own. Your best bet would be finding someone in customer relations, who would be willing to help you translate.

Suits for Heavy Men

Suits for Heavy Men
@Antony Trivet via pexels

As a small and sturdy guy, the main thing that will flatter you is getting a clean ‘line’ throughout all your outfits. This means that, when someone sees you out of the corner of their eye, they have to look back again, because there is some sort of a ‘flow’; a streamline feel to your outfit.


For a streamline look, choose colours that are darker and match each other well, such as dark and light blues. Avoid hugely contrasting colours between your bottom and top halves, because this will break up your look.

Wearing simple block colours can really work well for a heavier set guy and will look better than attention grabbing patterns. If you’d like to direct the eye towards your top half, wearing a lighter top and darker pants can work well, as can wearing a lighter top underneath a darker jacket, again for a slimming effect.


Everyone knows that a vertical stripe is going to be slimming and give the illusion of being taller. But this isn’t the only hard and fast rule that can help you dress for your size. If you are going to go down the stripe route, maybe try something like a muted pinstripe suit where the pattern is subtle (so you don’t look like you’re trying too hard to look taller).

If you want to incorporate a pattern into your outfit, do it with discretion. What you don’t want to do is choose huge floral prints that will break up your outfit, because this will break the line you are trying to create. However, smaller, more subtle patterns can work well.

@Mahdi Bafande via Unsplash

Going to a Tailor

Going to a tailor can be quite a fun experience, and if you find someone you trust, then having them nearby can be a lifesaver for your wardrobe. Before even setting foot into a tailor’s, you need to make sure that you know what to buy in store. This will make work easier for the tailor, and save you a lot of time.

First off, make sure your jackets and shirts fit in the shoulders: if they hang well and show a nice straight line across your shoulders, without bunching at the ends (which shows that they are too big), then you’re probably good to go. If the arms are simply too long, this will be an easier fix than changing the whole structure of the jacket or shirt.

A similar principle can be applied when buying trousers. Simply make sure that the main structure is the right size for you – i.e. the length around your waist fits, and the length between the crotch and the front of your trousers (aka the ‘rise’), is the correct length. Getting trouser lengths reduced is also an easier and cheaper job to do, rather than restructuring the whole thing.

When alterations are being made, make sure that everything is altered in proportion to your body size and to the rest of the suit/outfit. It is often advised to have a half-inch of shirt sleeve showing from underneath your jacket, but as a smaller gent, you will more likely want to only show a quarter inch, to keep in line with you proportions. Similar principles can be applied to turn-ups and collar lengths.

Jackets for Short and Stocky Guys

There are a few details to take into consideration when looking at jackets and shirts for short and stocky guys. They may seem small and insignificant, but when put together, they make a huge difference to your look.

When choosing a jacket, think about where the pockets lie on your body, if they are closer together, this will make you look slimmer. A small pocket square can mean attention is brought upwards again and pocket slits tend to work best for simplicity and adding to a streamline effect.

One or two buttons is always best for shorter bodies. In terms of lapels, you don’t want them to be too thick (as they may look dated), or too thin, as any large disproportion could make your chest look like The Hulk’s. Ties also want to be chosen carefully, with the same considerations.

Try to find a jacket with a strong line across the shoulders. This will keep you looking slick, and make the most of your physique. If you have rounded shoulders, investing in a jacket with shoulder pads could be a good way to go.

Trousers for the Short and Stout

You want your pants to rest at your waistline. This means that your legs will look longer and your streamline look will still be intact. Low-rise trousers are best avoided, as ideally you want the length between crotch and waist to be as long as possible.

Straight fitting trousers are a good way to go for your body type. Skinny fits generally won’t work for you, because they will make your legs look slim, and your top half look disproportionately large. Turn-ups are also to be avoided as they will cut off part of your leg and make it look shorter than it needs to.

Most short men are generally discouraged from wearing shorts, but there are ways to be vertically challenged and rock a pair in the summer. If you really don’t feel comfortable in them, you can always go for a classic pair of linen trousers.

Shirts for Short Men

Small details, such as collar size, can again make a difference to your outfit. Straight point collars that are slim will bring the eye upwards, and will have the added benefit of being slimming.

For a different look, try letting your shirt hang loose, instead of tucking it in. This is not to be advised if you’re going to a formal event, of course, but for the right occasion this works well to streamline your look, and helps you hide anything you might not want seen. Just make sure that your shirt isn’t too long, as in this case, you will get the opposite of the desired effect.

Shoes for Short Men

The main thing to remember for shoes is to not go for anything too bright or distracting. Strong patterns will bring the eye downwards, so avoid these. For added height, you want people’s attention to be directed towards the top half of your body, not down at your feet. (No matter how dope your shoes are!)

You can try a pointed shoe for formal occasions, but beware, this could either elongate your leg and look great, or simply look a bit ott and cartoonish. A small heel can work well, but err on the side of caution if unsure. You don’t want to sacrifice your style for a centimetre of height.


As a general rule of thumb, keep any additions simple and in proportion to your size. So when buying a new watch or tie clip, make sure they match accordingly.

Scarves can be a great accessory. They work well for small-statured men when the choice of material is thin and they are tied in a knot that leaves them hanging shorter around the neck.

To hat or not to hat? That all depends on how confident you are feeling. -If you know you can definitely pull it off, then go for it! A hat can add a dash of colour to an outfit and can add a few inches to your height, too.

Suspenders are often advised for the short/broad man, but aren’t for everybody, and you have to have a certain vibe to pull them off. If you can, though, this is to your advantage, because they will help with the smooth lines of your look and will also be comfortable to wear. They generally look better than belts, which cut your look (and therefore your height) in half.

Hint: You don’t want to overdo your look with millions of accessories. Anything more simply makes your style look cluttered and like you’re trying to prove something.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljg_W_Spn2g?rel=0&w=700&h=394]

Style Tips for the Casual Look:

Casual clothes are easier to manage in terms of styling and don’t have as many hard and fast rules as formal wear.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind when choosing casual wear for the short and stocky build:

  • Try to avoid closed collars when sporting the casual look.
  • Go for thinner materials and avoid thick weaves that will make you look overly bulky.
  • Cardigans can work very well with your body, especially when matched with a V neck tee.
  • Avoid excessive layering.
  • Avoid skinny cuts for jeans as these will mostly not flatter.

Stocky Men’s Fashion

If you’re still not sure about how to pull off this look, here’s some inspiration:

Your Quick Guide on How to Dress if You’re Short and Stocky

  • Do visit your tailor or find clothes that are made for your size
  • Do streamline your outfits
  • Do wear block colours
  • Do wear V-necks
  • Do accessorise in proportion to your style
  • Don’t wear baggy clothes
  • Don’t wear brightly coloured shoes
  • Don’t wear hugely contrasting colours
  • Don’t wear bold, broad, horizontal patterns
  • Don’t use general fashion advice as law, instead use it as inspiration while dressing for your own body-type.

And on That Note

Tricky as it might be to find a style that fits, once you’ve got it you will have a stylish wardrobe that lasts for years and compliments in abundance. So it’s really worth putting the effort in, and finding what works for you.

I hope that this guide has helped you to find the right fit for you, so that you can look sharp everyday of the week.

Feature image from Unsplash

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