Menswear and fashion for the man of normal build.
All about fashion choices for men built right in the middle of “normal” — no advertisements, no bogus links; just solid advice on finding a good men’s suit and other clothing for average-sized Joe.
Men whose body types lie well outside the realm of “average” can generally find advice on their particular needs, but what of the man who fits into most ordinary clothes?
The size-mediums of the world face their own stylistic challenges, not the least of which is finding clothes to provide a flattering fit instead of a generalized one.
This article addresses the needs of the regular-sized man. From 5’6″ on up to about 6’2″ and across the middle range of body sizes, this is for all the men who know they blend in naturally with the crowd.
Needs of the Average Sized Man
Clothes for a Clearly-Defined Body
If you truly fit into the comfortably average, you will want clothes that fit and define your body, rather than hanging limply from it. While everything should still wear comfortably, a tighter fit is generally better than a loose one — a good tailor should be able to create a suit that fits closest where your body is well-shaped, or adjust an off-the-rack suit to do the same.
It is rare to find a piece of clothing that fits perfectly in every part of your body, even for an average-sized man, but many men are content to settle for clothes that are long enough in the sleeve and not too tight in the collar — having a better fit than the rest already puts you well ahead of the other average-sized men in a crowd.
The primary advantage of an average build is the wide selection of clothes that already fit or can be easily cut to fit, and as a man who blends naturally into the crowd, you will want to make the most of it. Many other average-sized men have the same selection, and a distinctive style is necessary to stand out.
Since clothes that make you appear taller, shorter, slimmer, wider, etc. are less important, you benefit from details and flourishes that men with more unusual body types need to be careful with — don’t be shy.
Let your own style come out in your clothing; dressing like someone else’s example will just make you look like… someone else. And it may very well make you look like a lot of other people, if the style is popular.
Dressing the Average Man: Heels to Head
Patterning for the Ordinary Man
Since standing out is a primary goal for the average-sized man, bold patterns and colors are a good choice for those confident enough to wear them. There is a balance to be struck between “striking” and “tacky,” of course, but clothes with unusual and distinctive patterning will help to make you more than just another guy in a suit. Consider stripes, checks, or windowpanes in clearly-contrasted colors — these don’t need to be bright; the contrast stands out on its own.
For more formal settings, where a bold pattern would be inappropriate, opt for clothing with texture in the weave — even a simple herringbone patterning can turn a basic white dress shirt into a distinct stylistic note without violating formal standards.
There are few choices that will be genuinely unflattering — though you should always be aware of which colors suit your complexion best — but you will want to steer clear of anything that looks too conventional and unvaried. If you can safely imagine half a room full of men choosing to wear a particular article — leave it on the rack.
The Average Man’s Shoes
Since you have no specific areas to draw attention to or direct the gaze away from, decorative footwear that draws the eye is a safer choice for you than for most men. While formal situations will still call for a classic black Oxford or other unadorned shoe, you are free in most situation to experiment with bluchers, brogues, and even less formal moccasins and monkstraps. Matching color will be more important than most stylistic considerations — though no one benefits from shoes that are too ornate, unless they happen to be a rodeo star.
Enjoy adornments and tooling on the leather, but remember that you do want people to look at the rest of your body as well. Socks should match your trousers as closely as possible, regardless of the shoe color; a band of brightly mismatched cloth around your ankle draws the eye and leaves just as unfavorable an impression as a bare ankle would (and may in fact be mistaken for one, depending on the color of your sock).
Trousers and the Average Man’s Needs
Other than consideration of pattern, it may be hard to immediately see how your trousers can make a distinct stylistic statements, but consider often-underlooked elements when you search for flattering pants. Cuffs are almost omnipresent on off-the-rack trousers; stand out by choosing more formal-looking cuffless trousers in a fit that falls smoothly to your shoe.
Tailored pockets can help you fit your keys, cell phone, and other small objects without ruining the line of your pants. In the rear, you can add decorative stitching or a peaked tip to the back pockets, although either one will make the look less formal.
Belts are also an excellent opportunity for a stylistic statement; even a simple black belt can be made distinctive with decorative tooling. Woven or webbed belts are also eye-catching, and some relaxed social situations will even allow a patterned cloth belt, so try to have a good selection available in your closet.
Jackets and Suits to Stand Out in a Crowd
The two-button, single-breasted suitcoat has become a staple of menswear for a reason — it flatters most people, and will probably do just fine for you as well.
That said, most situations you find yourself in will be dominated by men wearing the same style, so choose a fabric and pattern that stand out if you opt for this classic look. In situations where you need a more traditional color, choose a coat with a more distinctive cut.
The double-breasted suit, worn with confidence, can be a dramatic and elegant statement, though it will need to be well-fitted to avoid enveloping your chest in too much extra fabric.
A vested suit (or trousers and an odd jacket with a differently-patterned waistcoat) is a slightly less smothering alternative, and stands out even more than the double-breasted suit as a classic, slightly dramatic look.
Detailing adds distinctive style to any suit, so experiment with uncommon flourishes like ticket pockets, elbow pads, and even boutonniÃ¨res to set your coat apart from the rest.
Shirts and Ties: A Style for Every Man
Although they only make up a small amount of your visible clothing, your shirt and tie can be the most defining features of your ensemble. Distinctive pattern and color help here, as elsewhere, and so do details of the cut and fit — an unusual collar style (spread, if it suits your face, or even a pin or tab collar) or a striking cuff (notched or cut-corner, or French cuffs with a handsome set of links) will help set you apart without being too attention-grabbing.
Woven ties, which carry extra bulk, can add a defining presence to your chest, and also hold up better if you choose to experiment with fancier knots; a full Windsor in a richly-colored woven tie is the height of understated elegance and still makes a striking impression.
Bow ties, for the daring, make a charming alternative — often overlooked as dated or even dorky, the bow tie has a long pedigree and a number of famous devotees throughout history, and is still a proper substitution for a straight tie in most social situations.
Since modern styles have become more reckless with shirts and ties than with suits, a word of caution is probably worthwhile — you want to be distinctive, but not shockingly out-of-place! Leave the novelty ties and paisley shirts at home, and choose interesting weaves or unusual details to make your shirts pop out instead.
Top it Off: The Everyday Man’s Hat
Hats are a personal sort of choice, and the shape of your face has a great deal to do with which styles will suit you best. Not having a hat at all, however, is guaranteed to be the least interesting choice — even if you only wear it between your car and the office door, put some serious thought into getting a favorite hat and taking it everywhere you go.
People will notice, particularly if the hat itself is striking. A flat cap gives a casual, rakish impression, while a fedora speaks of the high life and a bowler professes sophistication — whatever you choose, don’t pass up this opportunity to make another fashion statement (and to shade yourself from sun and rain as well!).
Finishing the Average Man’s Clothes
Just about any accent can be acceptable for an average-sized man, if it matches the rest of the outfit. Watches and even understated jewelry may be acceptable depending on social situation, and your frame should make it easy to find a good array of overcoats for different weather.
Where a larger or smaller man might be stuck wearing the same trench coat three seasons out of the year, you can indulge in colorful jackets, plaid hunting coats, or just about any other outerwear you please.
When considering your finishing touches, simply remember the basic needs — good fit, distinctive style, and only a touch of restraint in color and pattern — and you should have no difficulty using the wide selection of size-medium clothing available to turn Joe Average into the most memorable body at the party.