In this guide, we’re going to share style tips for tall men and the Do’s and Don’ts of dressing elegantly for men over 6′ or 183cm.
The Challenges of Being Tall
Taller guys, despite having the social cache of height, often get treated poorly. From compact cars to airlines with decreasing knee room, tall men often aren’t considered and shopping is no exception. Off-the-rack clothing is generally designed for men under six feet tall. For those over the six-foot mark, wrists begin to poke out from the shirt cuffs and ankles begin to show. Dress shirts easily come untucked, socks slide down, and shoes above a size 15 are hard to find. Being tall certainly has its advantages, but shopping for elegant, well-fitting clothing (especially if you are on a budget) is a challenge.
The point of dressing well as a tall man isn’t to hide or camouflage your height. Like any body type, the goal of dressing for a tall man is to look proportional and elegant, but you’ll have to work a little harder than an average-height guy to achieve this simply because mainstream clothes aren’t designed with you in mind. Clothes should be the proper length and fit for your proportions, including hems, shirt cuffs, shoulders, trouser rise, and jacket length among others. Patterns, textures, and colors should be used support your overall look in a way that doesn’t exaggerate or overemphasize height. The goal is simple: to look good!
Style DOs for Tall Men
Here are our style DOs for tall men.
DO use layers to add depth and dimension
Adding layers will give you more dimension, which is ideal for slender to average builds. When the season allows, opt for odd vests and sweaters under jackets, and with suits add a matching waistcoat or choose a double-breasted jacket instead. These style choices help to break up the outfit and add points of interest that do not emphasize height. Varying textures will help you look more natural, and it also gives you more room to play with your attire. By using different layers, you can actually maintain a smaller wardrobe that is far more versatile.
DO embrace the odd combination
As a tall man, the odd combination (simply a jacket and pants not made of the same material) can be particularly useful for tall men because it allows you to shop for separate pieces and get more wear out of the suits you already have. Now your gray suit and navy suit have become four outfits instead of just two. Like a belt, wearing different colors and textures on the upper and lower body will break the body in half which makes you look less imposing by creating distinct lines.
DO choose belts over braces
Suspenders work well on heavier set men, but for tall and slim men, belts are best. They help to create a clean line across the body that breaks up the appearance. Braces increase the impression of height because they run parallel to the body. Belts help add bulk to your build that draw attention to your midsection, so consider contrasting or bright colors, depending on the setting.
DO embrace bolder shoes
Though they may be harder for you to find, bolder shoes that feature textures and color will help direct the eye down. Though conventional wisdom might suggest wearing only dark shoes to minimize larger feet, your feet are proportional to your body and the intent should be to complement your style, not to hide your feet. Every color and style of shoe is open to you, so if you are able to find them, don’t feel you can’t wear red loafers or blue suede boots, for example. The only risk you run is that really loud shoes will look clownish, so we suggest sticking with classic lasts in high-quality materials. Unless you’re a pro sports player, it’s best to stay away from garish or oversized trainers. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you’re wearing more traditional shoes like black cap toe oxfords or brown derbies, you can add contrasting laces to help add a point of interest to your shoes.
DO get everything altered
Unless it’s a pair of shorts or a t-shirt, take every worthy article of clothing you buy to an alterations tailor. Whether it be a simple hem or cuff, bringing in a jacket so it doesn’t billow or perhaps something even more involved, you’ll want to begin working the costs of the tailor into any budget you allot for your clothing. The last thing you’ll want is to buy something and have it sit unworn in your closet because you spent all of your money on the outfit and can’t afford the alterations.
DO invest in Made-to-Measure and Bespoke clothing
This is probably the least surprising recommendation. Sometimes, the only way to get a decent fit is to find clothes that can be customized to your measurements. The good news is that made-to-measure is easier to find now than ever, and you don’t need to spend a fortune. The biggest benefit of buying MTM or bespoke is that you avoid having to pay the final costs of having the item altered by a tailor. When it arrives, it should come perfectly sized to your measurements so it’s ready to wear the moment you take it out of the package. High-impact and wardrobe basics that rely heavily on proper fit to look good should be considered for your bespoke or MTM budget, especially shirts, suits, jackets, and pants. MTM shirts, in particular, are widely available online; for more guidance on shirts, read our Shirt Style Guide or our Quality Shirt Guide.
DO buy long-length ties
One of the biggest issues tall men run into is trying to find a necktie that allows you to tie any size knot that suits your taste while still getting a long enough length. Regular ties are sized for middle-height men, and that means tall men often have to resort to only wearing small tie knots or skewing the ratio of front blade to back blade in order to get the correct length. The fashion industry has led us to believe that ties only some in a single size, but that is simply not true. Fort Belvedere is one of the few companies that offers a long-length tie geared specifically for the needs of tall men. To find a tie for you, click here.
DO buy over-the-calf socks
You’ve certainly heard us preach about over-the-calf socks before, but this is a particularly important tip for tall men who want to avoid the appearance that their pants are too short. Short socks, and their frustrating tendency to slip down are even more likely to expose your leg because of your height. Since a proper pants hem/sock/shoe interaction is crucial for a proportional look, opt for over the calf socks when possible.
Style DONT’s for Tall Men
DON’T wear bold, vertical stripes
Bold stripes that go up and down will just make you look thinner and taller. If you like the look of stripes, opt for fine, narrowly spaced stripes on a suit or use them elsewhere in your outfits, such as a bold striped tie or a striped shirt.
DON’T wear three-button single-breasted suits
Unless the jacket is intended to be worn as a three-roll-two jacket, don’t wear jackets and button all three buttons on a jacket. This overly covered look will again emphasize your height because of the vertical placement of the buttons. Opt for two-button jackets instead.
DON’T wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts together
If you’re tall and slim, showing both your bare arms and your legs may make you feel even lankier. To keep your look balanced, show one or the other, either by pairing a short-sleeved shirt with pants or a long-sleeved shirt with shorts. In the latter instance, you can roll your sleeves up a few steps to keep the overall casual look of the shorts.
DON’T wear low-rise pants
The rise of your pants and the waistband will act as the main horizontal counterpoint in an outfit, so it’s important that it falls in the right place. For tall men, an average pants rise can frustratingly fit more like a low rise, which has the effect of elongating the torso. Avoid low-rise pants and opt instead for mid- to high-rise cuts that transect the middle at a more proportional point.
DON’T wear solid, dark suits or two solids together
Every man needs a suit, but for tall men, it’s best to wear suits that aren’t solid. By “solid”, we mean the typical suiting material found at department stores that have little to no texture or pattern in the weave. Using texture, color and pattern is going to be your best solution. The dyed patterns can be a little too bold for tall men, but a great weave in a birds eye or herringbone adds that depth and dimension that will make you stand out, in a good way. A glen check can look very distinguished and not overly flashy.
DON’T wear anything if it’s too short
One of the biggest issues tall men have is finding items of clothing that fit and aren’t too short in the arms or the legs. However, even the best tailor can’t add fabric if there isn’t any left. When you are buying pants, consider buying unhemmed pants that are extra long so your tailor has something to work with. It’s easier to find this in the form of dress trousers, but often it’s tough to locate unhemmed casual slacks like chinos or denim jeans. You may find that you need to start purchasing more clothing online or focus on ordering some of your clothing from bespoke tailors or MTM boutiques that can hem the trousers at the perfect length for you. When you go to the tailor, try to wear a pair of shoes that you will wear the trousers with. This way, when you try it on with the shoes, you’ll be able to see how they fall and look paired with the shoe.
Hopefully, this guide has helped give you some ideas on how to get the best results when buying new clothes so you can look and feel confident. Are you a tall man? What tips do you have for dressing well?