In Shape, But Where To Buy Clothes?

Reader:  So I’m a year and a half into the fitness game now, have lost 20 lbs overall body weight and gained 15 or 20 pounds of muscle. Bodyfat is now in single digits with some visible abs. Test level is great (had it measured). Time for the clothing makeover.
Tossed out the stuff that should have gone out a long time ago. I want to go more upscale than jeans and tees but not formal wear everywhere. Trouble is I can’t find any upscale casual wear that fits properly. Pants don’t show off the glutes I did all those damn squats to get, and the thighs are too wide and look loose and have pleats. With shirts, everything that fits my long arms has the billowy white boy waist (you know what I mean I would guess) and it’s cut for the typical American white guy with a 30 pound gut. Worse still, a lot of it isn’t even sold in real measured sizes, it’s just S/M/L/XL and I can’t tell what the hell it’s going to look like on me after a few times through the laundry.
This is a problem. And it’s not like I’m freakishly proportioned. I’m now 170, 16.5 inch neck, 35 sleeve, 33.5 inch waist. Why is it so hard to find anything other than formal wear in the stores that’s cut fitted?
So I naively buy a couple of good casual shirts I like except for the waist, and take them to a good tailor. No dice. In addition to being stitched, the seams are glued, and the tailor says he can’t modify them properly. Apparently it’s more complicated than just that one side seam, he explained why to me but I forget.
I don’t know what to do now. I hear you dress down yourself, but has anyone else been through this before that you know of? Who sells tailored or tailorable clothing in styles other than dress shirts and business/formal stuff? I’ll look at websites, whatever, just don’t point me toward yet another place selling cellophane wrapped dress shirts, I’ve got plenty of sources for those.
Toss this question to the peanut gallery if you so desire. I’m lost in the woods here, appreciate help anywhere I can get it.
Got my first motorcycle a few months ago and got licensed too. It’s been good progress so far but I’m kicking this thing up to the next level. This is a multi-pronged campaign and I’m in it for the long haul.
Athol:  This is an area that I struggle in myself. 
Peanut gallery, you’re up… 


  1. Anonymous says:

    Try Men's Warehouse, they can tailor most of the clothing they sell.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is why I sew my own clothes.

  3. Simon Grey says:

    Paul Fredrick for shirts; Gap for jeans. I would ask Tanner for more specific advice.


    They are youngish gents who are in the middle of producing their second webtvseries on how to dress well, and also provide reviews of made to measure and off the rack clothing companies. Dig through the archives – they're entertaining and informative.

    Also try

    He's a bit more stodgy/highend/older, but takes a relaxed Cali approach to dressing well.

    [I read these because eventually my gent will want clothes to match the physique he's working on]

  5. is good for pointers. looks good but is pricey.

    The key is to shop around and find what fits. Maybe Gap jeans fit neither too loosely nor snugly, but their shirts fit either too tight through shoulders or too wide. So you check out J. Crew shirts. Don't trust sizes as they're not uniform and sometimes you need to move up a hair. For example, I have several Jos. A. Bank fitted traveler shirts I really like, but I go up 1/2 inch in the neck from my measured size. The result is a good fit that isn't hipster snug or old man billowy.

    I've also heard good things about Land's End Canvas.

  6. My first link, masculine style, is the same as Tanner which Simon provided.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If you are still in the physical improvement stage, then hold off buying a complete wardrobe until you are within ±10% of your final goal. Then, take an inexpensive overseas trip to South Korea, Hong Kong, or other place with inexpensive but high quality tailoring, and browse until you find a tailor or two that have the goods and atmosphere that you like. You can take pictures cut out of articles, old shirts that you love but no longer fit, etc. and they will measure and make new ones for you in those designs – cheap. Minor design modifications are also possible. You can also have clothes altered if the clothing allows, and again, cheap. Plus, they will keep your measurements, letting you order and have stuff shipped to save on travel costs in the future.

  8. Dunno what your price range is, but express men has dozens of solid colors in 3 sizes: regular, slim, extra slim. I prefer to leave my shirt untucked, though, so extra length in front and back (as opposed to sides) is a little bothersome. Certainly not a dealbreaker, and much better than other shirts I've tried.

    My favorite source is armani exhange. The color selection isn't nearly as good as express, but the fit is *awesome* (I'm 6'2", 180) and they look better than the express shirts when untucked.

    Prices vary, but I've gotten shIrts on sale from both places for $40. Boty available online.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The second step is finding a good tailor, which kudos you have done. Definitely take your off-the-rack purchases to him for tailoring.

    Your first step is to solve your attitude problem.

    Wool or linen slacks and a cotton button-down shirt are what a man wears unless he is working with tools that go in a toolbox. You sound like you've taken Athol's advice to man up but you still want to dress like you are a little boy. If you want a woman to take you seriously as a man, you need to look the part.

    To save money, spend more. Seriously. Don't shop at cruddy low-budget stores like Men's Warehouse. Most clothing sold in America is already made overseas with low-wage labor. That is the only way to cut costs and preserve quality. There is no way to save money on materials. If you buy a $20 shirt it will of course be made of low-grade cloth and have glued seams; after a few washes this shirt will look ragged around the edges. You will save money in the long run if you buy quality. That said, shop around the decent men's stores either online or at a department store and look for sales. There is no reason to pay full price for an $80 or $100 shirt when you can get it on sale for half price or less.

    "Formal" wear is suit and tie, or a tux. Even with suit and tie you would not go wrong. "Formal" certainly is not nicely pressed, tailored slacks and a collared button-down shirt with a sport jacket, without a tie. This is grown-up clothing. Though again, you can't go wrong with a tie: it peacocks, it's phallic, and it points at your crotch. Ceteris paribus, a well-dressed man in a tie will gather more female attention than a well-dressed man without a tie.

  10. Anonymous says:

    A tip – buying quality clothing and having it tailored to fit probably will make it last longer than the cheap stuff, thereby saving you money in the long haul. You can increase the life of clothing still further by either dry-cleaning it or ignoring the dryer. Air-drying on a line is a lot gentler on the fibers and they will last much longer without fraying. Let your woman iron your clothes for you so that she can take pride in sending her man out into the world with well-pressed clothing.

  11. If you can afford it, take a trip to Germany and/or France. European clothing is cut entirely different than US clothing; it is made for slimmer figures and it looks much more upscale without being formal.

  12. Regarding getting stuff tailored, just buy it huge and have it taken in. Apparently, that's how celebs do it:

  13. Does anyone have any tips for those of us who have cyclist/weightlifter thighs? There's nothing manlier than squatting twice your body-weight, but I am struggling to find both jeans and slacks that accommodate my thighs. It seems that men's fashion is skewed towards slim fit types, not real men in my book.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Tailored clothes in Shanghai or Hong Kong are the best bet if you go out there. Although they mainly make suits, you can get wool slacks, button down shirts, blazers and other more casual clothes as well.

    I haven't tried their stuff recently but Brooks Brother has a selection of slim fit shirts. Their flat front chinos are also reasonably slim. Custom fit polos from Ralph Lauren are also good if you are in shape.

  15. For jeans, try LL Bean, online. They have three cuts of their Double-L brand: Natural fit, Classic fit, Relaxed fit. Most styles, waists go in one-inch increments from 30" to 38".

    One approach is to figure out the most likely cut, waist, and inseam, then place a shotgun order of 5 to 9 pairs (free shipping most of the time, and the phone people are typically helpful and friendly). Pick the most promising, launder it, and if it's still good, send the rest back. LL Bean's offerings don't change much, so you're good for a number of years.

    No, I don't have any connection with the place. Just a satisfied customer.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I've had a lot of luck wi banana republic. I'm 6'4", at 200lbs. Most clothes that I try on in regular stores are just huge through the belly. BR has a slim fit line (even in tall sizes!)

    If you shop their outlet and online, you can get some really good deals.

  17. Anonymous says:
    These guys make custom made pants for men with butts and thighs. Worth the investment. They also now have other quality clothing available. And it all seems to fit into that non-overly casual/ overly-formal category your looking for.

  18. I have loved the selection at They have excellent customer service and tailoring. The store itself is in San Francisco, but they are quite good from afar as well. Methinks they cater to the vast population of SF that isn't all that interested in women, but there's a reason for the euphemism "well dressed".

    Sounds like you look great! I'm not sure how to get my working out and weight loss to rub off on my husband :-)

  19. Try reading

    they have great faq's and resources for finding great clothes that fit.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Ok, it seems that most are advocating what would be known as "business casual" as the way to dress after the MAP weight loss/makeover….. So, I'm assuming that most are late 30's+. The hipster look is what, jeans and shirts with overbearing designs in odd places, right? So if we guys are trying to dress better, are we trying to emulate our fathers, or our sons? It seems we are stuck in the middle. I know hue to dress well in slacks and button up shirts, I have suits and awesome ties, got that whole side down. The hipster designer jeans and shirts look? I'm afraid I fit the profile of "envy guys my age who sport that look, but don't know how to get there myself".

  21. Budget is going to be the biggest constraint. If you want to go a bit better than just T-shirts I'd recommend a good polo shirt. Honestly the best kept secret of where to find well-fitting polos, V-neck T's and Henleys on the cheap is Target. For button-up shirts I recommend J Crew and Ralph Lauren Custom fit. If you have an outlet mall in your area that's the best place to snag the Ralph Lauren shirts at a good price. Your proportions sound similar to mine and I promise it's doable to find clothes that fit without breaking the bank.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like the guy needs to be educated. There is a place on the web that contains literally hundreds of photos of well dressed men on which to serve as a guide. Many of them with an explanation as to why the photo was taken. Not everything that you see there will be useful. But if you keep digging through the archives and clicking on the tags and you will find something useful to help you come up with ideas on what to buy for yourself in order to come up with your own style.

    The site owner is a fashion photographer. He created the blog in order to show the photos he takes of normal people on the street, usually quite well dressed people. It's street style rather than some kind of fashion. The photos are from all over the world so you get to see how people in other countries dress on a day to day basis.

    I like the site because it's people watching from the comfort of my home computer.

    Keep one thing in mind though, the specific recommendations of the blog owner in regards to sleeve and pant leg lengths should be taken with a grain of salt. Get those cut to fit what you are comfortable wearing without looking like a doofus doing it. If you feel uncomfortable in something then you will look uncomfortable wearing it and that makes you come across as try hard.

  23. Stargate Girl says:

    perhaps I'm odd.
    … but I hate ironing. HATE IT! I like my hubby to look nice, but if he wants me to iron everything for his everyday wear he's gonna look like a schlub unless he does it himself. Somehow I doubt I'm alone in this. If you need your clothes ironed for everyday use either A) send it to dry cleaners or B) learn how to do it yourself.

    Yes, I know. I should take pride in my homemaker subservience, but this is one area I hate. I'd rather scrub the toilet. Only ironing I do is when I'm sewing. rare is when I iron clothes. Unless your arms are broken, pretty sure you can heat the sucker up and pass it back and forth over your clothes…

  24. Stickwick says:

    My husband is a hockey player (muscular legs and tush), and has found that Levi's 569 jeans look and feel good. He wears Eddie Bauer for almost everything else, which is a nice balance of casual, rugged, and dressy. I really like his look.

  25. Anonymous says:

    My husband, with a similar build, looks great in pants from Bonobos and sweaters/shirts from JCrew.

  26. Jim Masters says:

    Hi folks, it was my letter. Thanks for your comments, I'll check them out. It's remarkable how once you start paying attention, you realize most of the stuff in the malls isn't doing your style any favors. It's going to be more work than I thought but hopefully will be worth it.

  27. I'm not so sure the O.P. has a good tailor.

    I can sew, I've taken in men's shirts before. Even if the side seams are glued (?!) there are other ways to take in a shirt. Ask about "front and back vertical darts". [You don't have to know what that means, but if your tailor doesn't, he's 100% incompetent.]

    It may not be worth bothering with very cheap shirts though … they won't last long enough.

    I second the recommendation of LL Bean. You may need those vertical darts in the shirts, but a lot of us women like men in plaid shirts and well-fitting jeans for sexy casual. And go for the darker colors. Pastel is not sexy.


  28. Anonymous says:

    You can find a lot of tailors in the larger cities who can make custom made shirts for you and it's all based on what material you choose. Once you get a good working relationship with them you can really get good discounts. I'd also suggest checking deals on for deals. I found my tailor that way and stuck with him.


    Oh, and French cuff shirts with cufflinks are always a plus

  29. May sound lame compared to "fly to Europe and get fitted", but Khols has clothes in all fits and a large range styles at an incredibly affordable price. Yesterday, I picked up some items at the upper end of business casual that were definitely cut for the athletic, broad shoulders, no beer gut guy (2 shirts, 2 pants, shoes, and a wallet for ~$200).

    You're not going to get individualized help in there like at Men's Wearhouse, but you will get to try on a bunch of clothes and figure out what works and what doesn't. Then, you'll know what to look for when you decide to drop the $$ at Men's Wearhouse or on your German tailor.

    Nice work on getting the bike!

  30. Anonymous says:

    If you're not too far from the northern border, aim for Montreal. Stores like Simons ( will give you clothes in European style/sizes, and it's a LOT cheaper than flying to France. Some of the stuff is very gay, but not everything is… L.L. Bean is also decent – with a size chart that's pretty reliable, and clothes that don't shrink/deform in the wash.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I say amen to the recommendations on Hong Kong for suits. I bought my last three suits there and also bought a half dozen custom shirts and a couple pairs of nice slacks with my last suit.

    Now I'm no longer in a job that requires that level of dress, but I still want to look good. 5-10, 150#, 31" waist, decent butt, chest and shoulders. In other words, I have pretty good wiry physique for my age (51) and it's time I did a better job displaying that. I have found that Wrangler and Levi jeans from Target fit OK, stay away from baggy and relaxed fit, but I know nothing about upscale jeans and don't have the patience to try 2 dozen brands before finding something that fits right. While I'm an impatient shopper, I've realized that I have to get away from Costco; their smallest shirts are too big or too baggy or both and the same with their nicer pants even if the waist is OK. And finally I get tired of being given really nice casual party shirts that are too big so I never wear them because I don't want the billowy mini-tent look. I have a whole bunch of these so have decided to audition tailors in my area to find who can do the best job with these then give one the rest of the ones I want done. But that won't be enough, I still need to turn over most of the stuff in my closet.

    While I appreciate the recommendations given above, I'm finding the volume a bit much, does anyone have an idea which ones I should try first? Thanks a bunch!

  32. Anna Beers says: has many articles on dressing well with tons of links. As far as shirts go, try Calvin Klein slim cuts. You can buy them in 33, 35, and 37 inch sleeve lengths. I find them for my husband at discount stores like Marshall's, Ross, Syms, and the like.

  33. Anonymous says:

    If you don't have good stores nearby, order online or by catalog from L.L. Bean. Their oxford cloth shirts are as thick as tent canvas. Wear forever.

    And for goodness' sake, don't worry about being "too formal." Unless you're actually wearing a tuxedo to the ball game, you're NEVER "too formal" in a suit or a sport coat and slacks. While the little boys in the room wear their t-shirts and shorts and caps, you're dressed like a grown man!

  34. OffTheCuff says:

    I have the same problem. 44" chest, 32" waist, 5'10", 165 lbs. Anything that fits me in the shoulders usually produces a tent of loose fabric around my stomach.

    I've found that Claiborne Slim and Van Heusen Fitted work the best. There are plenty of other brands with slim/fitted fits that don't even come close.

    What you need to know is each shirt brand has their own waist measurement that's not printed on the shirt. If you visit a decent store like Nordstrom's you can try a bunch of brands. Ask the clerk in the Men's department, they should have a list of all the brands with the waist sizes for you to peruse. That way you can get the sense of each shirt's proportions.

  35. Stay out of the malls and find some of the higher-end menswear stores. I don't know where you live, but where I am there are loads of stores not in malls. In fact, they are all of the best and most worthwhile stores, IMO. The menswear stores will usually have in-house tailors. They should also have a range of fashions from (very expensive) t-shirts through to formal wear. The staff should be knowledgeable and able to help you find flattering clothing in a style that you want.

  36. Mama Fish says:

    Congratulations on your transformation! Can I suggest you contact a stylist? It might sound a bit OTT or expensive, but really could save you a LOT of time and money. He or she (personally I would choose a she) can tell you about the colours, cuts and styles that will suit you as well as knowing where to shop and what clothes to suit your lifestyle/aspirations. They can also get discounts at some stores.

    I convinced my DH to use a stylist just recently and the result was incredible. He was choosing an unflattering style of pant to accommodate his muscly thighs, he needed to take up his pants (a MUST to avoid looking stumpy) and of course a slim fit shirt to show off that nice V you now have rather than the blousey look that men use to hide the wheat belly.

    Learning to mix and match your clothes so you don't need to buy loads is another area where a stylist can help. My DH was blown away by how good this woman was and he is looking and feeling a million bucks! Her fee was $350 and he threw out maybe five times that figure in unflattering clothes.

    Also agree on a trip to a good tailor, esp if you travel to Asia for business – buy one set of the exxy stuff with your stylist then get the tailor to make multiple copies.

  37. Wow, people take their clothing seriously. I'd look completely out of place if I dressed in a suit and tie or wore some of the clothing in those links anywhere outside of a social function. I live in a rural area where men dress like men, not GQ ads.

    Unsophisticated is the word I'd use.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Flipper: I live in a rural area, too. And the people around here understand that work clothes are for working in, and when you're done with cutting brush or plowing, you put on something clean and nice-looking.

  39. I just went through the same issue in the last year. Average male clothing is now what husky was 30yrs ago. Here is how I transformed…

    1) shirts (athletic, slim, trim fit)
    2) no tennis shoes exept for working out, get some nice durable leather polishable shoes
    3) sportoats! These things take the jeans and trim fit shirt up to the next level, while jeans keep you from intimidating everyone with your style.
    4) summers are rolled up sleeves and my trim fit button downs with shorts that aren't overly long and baggy.
    5) ditched my flip flops for sockless canvas shoes, comfortable and a notch above
    6) for good recommendations on trim clothes

    Good luck

  40. I think the main thing about style is your need to get your body in shape before hand. Nothing fits a fat guy right. I am about 30 lbs off my target weight right now.

    So how about some good resources for a 5'8' 210 lbs guy with broad shoulders and no ass? My grandmother used to say we are build like barrells on two sticks. I literally 90% of my fat around my belly and love handles. It makes keeping pants up a chore even with a belt because I don't have much of a butt.

  41. Anonymous says:

    i'll second as a woman – i dont iron my own clothes, and if my husband asked me to do his…um…he's probably regret it when he went to work cause it would look terrible…better check with the wife on that plan…

  42. Anonymous says:

    Athol, what I wish you would look into more is how to start a relationship with the right frame and establish the captain and first officer mode and the other aspects of the relationship that MMSL is basically geared to do after the relationship has gone downhill. Your advice focuses on fixing whats gone bad but how about getting of to a good start for us single people who want LTR.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Get a cursory eduction on men's fashion and find what appeals to you. This can run the gamut from tailored business suit to a pair of shorts for a bbq. Remember you're trying to aquire another skill set and likely to spend a few bucks with trial and error. But once you zero in on a style that looks good and you feel comfortable in, the rest is just details. You're on the right track with finding the right fit. Because it doesn't matter what brand or style the clothes are, a confident guy can rock a white t shirt a pair of nice jeans and good shoes. Of course you want to dress age appropriate etc. The old saying of "you wear the clothes, not the other way around" is accurate.

    Men's Journal
    Men's Health
    Esquire Magazine
    Yes – even GQ

    These are good reference guides. Not necessarily so you can dress exactly like them but you can pick up on color combos and different style cues. Eventually you'll begin to develop a taste for what you're into.

    J Crew
    LL Bean
    Bananna Republic / Mostly all slim fit
    Nordstrom / FYI – Hugo Boss dress shirts are tapered for a slim fit.
    The Gap for a couple basics…maybe.
    Then from there, branch out into the internet stuff. But only once you know what you're looking for.

    Rule #1
    Tennis shoes are for the gym and mowing the lawn.

    Rule #2 Do not ever break rule #1

    Good luck!

  44. OffTheCuff says:

    Flipper: fix your diet first. You're going to have to get well below 180 to not be overweight at your height. I'm 5'10" 160 and just barely within range.

    Then do bodyweight exercises daily. Situps, squats, pullups, pushups. You've probably never worked you core this hard, and it's time to start there. Your butt will show up eventually.

  45. We seem to be covering a lot of work clothing, what do people where on the weekends though? I run my own business flipping houses. I am not wearing anything other than work clothes to work.

    But I don't see my wife at work anyway so what do people recommend on the weekends?

    @ OfftheCuff = I am going to do weight watchers. I think that is the most important thing for me.

  46. Anonymous says:

    If you can access a big city, there will be shops that will make anything to measure, be it business wear or casual. You also sometimes need to hunt for shops (usually higher end) that stock a wide variety of sizes. Some shops pretend that what they don't stock doesn't exist. I was in a store a few months back and asked if they have a certain pair of pants in 31 waist. The sales person said it's only made in even sizes. I told him "I'm wearing it in 31 right now. Wanna see?"

    In NYC, there's Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart, St. Laurie, the more affordable L-S and others. "The Shirt Store" near Grand Central, will measure you and make you a shirt in any fabric you wish.

  47. Anonymous says:

    You sure do want to lose the weight and get in better shape but, in the meantime, wearing a pair of athletic shorts with a thick waistband over your underwear and under your slacks will help them stay up – sort of an artifical waist.

  48. Anonymous says:

    John H Daniel is a custom tailor out of Tennessee that I've been using for suits and slacks forever. I have large biceps and chest and they've hit it perfectly for me for over 20 years.

    They'll send you sample swatches, send you a sheet to get your measurements, and 8 weeks later you'll have a great custom-made suit with your name on the label. Only buy one the first time for two reasons: first, it'll verify that the their measurements are accurate and, second, they'll usually send you a discount offer a few months after purchasing a suit and you can use that to stock up if you so desire.

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