Reader Question: DB and three piece suits on bigger men

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
From Jon:
I'm a bigger guy and was wondering if 3 piece suits and double breasted suits would look good on me (Roger Sterling style)? Some people say yes and some say no, what's your opinion, on style and colour?

Someone (I can't recall who) once said something along the lines of 'all you need to look well dressed is to be tall and slim'. That's all well and good for people like Roger Sterling, but a bit depressing for the average man. However, the good news is that suits, more than anything else you will wear, can be selected and tailored to show any body shape at its best. Many of the great dressers of the last century have been larger men, and it's not stopped them from looking well dressed.

The conventional wisdom is that double breasted suits make men look wider, so you may be better off avoiding these. However, if you are also tall and broad-shouldered, the pointed lapels of a double-breasted suit can focus attention upwards and onto these positive attributes.

A single breasted suit will generally be more slimming, and three piece is certainly a good option as it breaks up and reduces the amount of shirt on show, especially when your jacket is unbuttoned or removed. This helps anyone to look smarter, but I think is particularly relevent for larger men who can otherwise end up with a lot of shirt visible under a gaping jacket. The pointed lapels advice still applies here so, for a slightly unusual option, you could consider a single-breasted suit with peaked lapels.

Either way, at first I would go for a fairly conservative plain or subtly striped grey or blue, as three piece and double breasted suits are unusual enough already. Dark colours such as charcoal grey or navy blue generally suit bigger men, and stripes will make you look taller, which may or may not be a plus for you. If you do go for stripes, you ought to be able to pull off slightly wider ones, so a chalk-stripe rather than pinstripe could be a good bet.

I hope this has been helpful. Do let me know how you get on.