Menswear can often seem like the preserve of the skinny—certainly, the kind of menswear that gets the fashion buzz machine going can feel like it’s made solely for the very lean.
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On the runways, the clothes are usually shown on boys barely out of their teens—the better to get that flat, hanger-like effect to showcase the latest trend, be it gender-fluid styles or voluminous layering. On the red carpets, the celebrities that get the most acclaim for the way they wear clothes tend to be of the twinky variety—see the likes of Timothée Chalamet, Jaden Smith and Troye Sivan.
It wasn’t too long ago that the masculine ideal, trickled down from Hollywood, looked like your Chrises (that would be Evans, Hemsworth, Pine, and Pratt) and Ryans (Gosling, Reynolds)—all bulging biceps and glistening 8-packs. While those rigid ideals have, thankfully, shifted and expanded, fashion’s pendulum swing towards the twink has left stacked dudes in a bit of a sartorial conundrum.
What’s a big guy to do if he wants to get in on the fashion action without giving up on precious gains? Well, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. This season is quickly shaping up to be the summer of the white tank—which definitely bodes well for those boasting well-built arms and chests. While it has traditionally served as an undershirt, this season, the tank top is taking on a starring role.
The key is to think of it—and hence, style it—the way you would a shirt. The last thing you want is to look like a slob who just rolled out of bed, or worse, Kevin Federline. Throw cargo shorts and flip flops out of the equation. Instead, pair a ribbed, fitted tank with tailored trousers (pleat-front styles look extra snazzy and provide more thigh room) and an understated pair of sneakers or loafers. A white tank also makes a great base for a camp-collar shirt worn unbuttoned—opt for short sleeves and a slightly boxy fit to further accentuate your muscle definition.
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Short shorts are also trending at the moment, and they’re a great way to show those glutes off. Tempted as one might be to pair these with the aforementioned tank tops, or something equally tight and revealing, try to resist unless the effect you’re after is that of an ‘80s home workout video instructor. There used to be a golden rule in womenswear that you either show cleavage or legs but never both; while it’s not a hard and fast rule, it’s still a helpful guideline.
Your best bet with short shorts is balance—a long-sleeved t-shirt or a soft shirt minimises the skin on show but still hints at the hard-trained body underneath. When it comes to the perfect balance between looking hot and fashion-forward, make lightweight knits your new best friend. They cling in all the right places, without looking vulgar—the way a cotton t-shirt or shirt would when stretched too tight causing unsightly puckers.
Shirtless suits are another hot trend a buff guy can easily hop on. With its classic structure, a suit allows you to be as daring as you’d like with colour. A tip here is again to practise some restraint—keeping the jacket buttoned will still allow one to flaunt a hint of pectoral muscle and upper abs; leaving the whole thing wide open feels a little try-hard.
Last but definitely not least, find yourself a trusted tailor. If you can afford it, this is a must—especially when your figure doesn’t adhere to standard off-the-rack sizes. Found a pair of trousers that fits perfectly in the thighs but loose in the waist? Or a jacket that comfortably hugs your biceps but is straining across the chest? A competent tailor will be able to fix all that. And it doesn’t just apply to tailoring, even the simplest basics can be greatly improved with minute adjustments. A white t-shirt that’s been tailored to your specific proportions will make you look like a million bucks. If you’re already spending all those hours in the gym, it’s worth going that extra mile to make sure your clothes showcase that body to the best possible effect.
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