Last week we covered suit choices for the tall man. This week, we offer tips for his shorter brother, helping you make choices that project your personal taste and provide the presence and polish that let you look your very best.
The Long and Short of It
Wearing a suit to look taller
While some tall men may wish to appear shorter or broader from time to time, in general most shorter men prefer to look taller and/or leaner, always. This makes dressing for the short man a much simpler business than for his taller counterpart. Let’s look at the basics.
Choosing the right suit fabric
While high-quality suit fabrics should not be so coarse as to overwhelm any man, generally speaking a smoother, finer fabric (with a higher S number) gives an impression of sleekness that helps to add visual height. The darker the colour, the less bold your presence except in black: black is always a high-attention choice, and can be slimming to boot. Heavy tweeds or bold patterns add visual bulk, so wear them with caution. You don’t want to look like Don Cherry’s mini-me.
Unity in style choice
There’s just no other way to say this: a suit will do you favours a blazer and jeans never could. All one fabric from head to toe is the single best way to visually lengthen yourself. We love the look of a great tweed jacket and jeans, but it cuts you in half at the hip, something short men are best avoiding. If this is one of your default looks, ensure that the jacket and trousers are at least in the same colour family, neither matchy-matchy nor contrasting. A good navy tweed and a pair of dark indigo jeans is a great look, and not so different in tone that it will cut you in half. Still, suits are your best bet when you want to look taller.
Choose the right dress shoes
Yes, the shoe matters. Of course the shoe matters. Sleek is what you want here, perhaps slightly elongated at the toe, and definitely, definitely undecorated. “Oxfords, not brogues,” as the Kingsmen say, and any look that’s good enough for Colin Firth is good enough for us. And for you.
V for Vertical
Lengthen your torso with the suit lapel
Lapels and cut are the key to a sleek, vertical presentation. You want the deepest V possible in front, and the narrowest lapels which you can get away with without looking like a member of Elvis Costello’s band. A three button suit does create a strong vertical line, but the shortness of the lapels fights that effect; you’ll do much better with a low two-button jacket with a peaked lapel. A shawl collar is wonderfully lengthening, but it’s an eccentric choice outside of a dinner jacket, where it is very, very James Bond which is always a good thing.
Suit vent choice for looking taller
Vents: Single. Only. If you want to look taller, this is your only choice. Sorry, life is like that sometimes.
Line in the Sand
Suit liners that lengthen
Wear the Navy, or the Scarlet… basically, a contrast lining will tend to shorten you visually, but the effect is not major, since the lining is not usually on display.
A Patch On You
Customize your jacket pockets
Pockets can be problematic on a jacket, as they generally come more or less horizontal. Slanted pockets are best, and never, ever with a flap. And not patch pockets, please: this is not 1983 and you are not Tom Selleck.
Sure as Shirt
Finish your style with a well thought out shirt
Shirt collars make a big difference, and again you’re going to want to avoid anything horizontal, like a British Spread collar, and go with a Narrow Long style or something quite middle-of –the-road. Button-downs can be too soft to give a clean vertical line, and the buttons tend to form a horizontal unless they’re exactly the same colour as the shirt. As for cuffs, the less conspicuous the better. French cuffs, particularly contrasting ones, visually cut the length of your arm. A smooth single-button cuff is better.