Proportional Challenges: Dressing for your Body Type Part 2

Last time, Rob asked for guidance on how to look great at his height of 6 feet – and on a limited budget.In your case, Rob, your height is on the tall side of average, which is a natural advantage and something to accentuate, but you will want to wear clothing that fills out the horizontal to balance and refine your look. The following guidelines will give you more detail on how to do that:

Cloth/Fabric

  • Emphasize the horizontal and widen your overall appearance by wearing more clothing with a horizontal element in the pattern, i.e. plaids and checks.
  • The best fabrics for you are those with texture and substance (or at least the appearance thereof) such as flannel, tweed, oxford cloth, twills and herringbones, etc.
  • Avoid fabrics that cling.
  • If you want to wear stripes, consider those that are wider set…. at least 3/4” apart. The further apart the stripes, the bolder they can be. The same advice holds for checks and plaids. Tighter patterns should be more subtle while broader patterns can be more intense.

Tomorrow, we talk construction! And in the mean time, check out The Virtual Tailor!

Proportional Challenges

Dressing for your Body Type

Rob H. writes: I am a 6 feet tall, slim guy. What can I do to look sharp while making the most of a limited budget?
TomTalks: Your question is really two parts, both highlighting issues many men struggle with at some level. One has to do with choosing styles and fit that make the most of your build (body type), and the other has to do with making the most of your wardrobe budget.
For men, the essential parameters are just two – the vertical and the horizontal.

  • Vertical: Medium or Average height (5’ 9” to 6’ 1”), Tall, or Short
  • Horizontal: Slender, Average, Muscular (athletic), or Stout (heavy)

Optimal dress based on one’s body type is essentially about visually accentuating the positive aspects of your build or essential parameters and reducing those aspects that create the most challenge.
Custom suits are all the rage these days. When a suit is made for you, it fits well. It literally emphasizes the positive in such a way the negatives are a non-issue.
It’s true the man of regular proportions (equally admired and despised by the more proportionally challenged) has more freedom within “the rules.” The rest of us would do well to pay stricter attention to some particular guidelines. Even when you wear custom suits there are guidelines that are wise to follow.
We’ll investigate those ideas over the next week. And if you can’t wait,…check out our NEW FEATURE – The Virtual Tailor. It’s a virtual treasure trove of resources to help you look your best!

Advanced Topics in Wool

It’s back to school time! In today’s session we will cover the finer points of wool – and why all cloth is not created equal.


The quality of the raw wool is the single most important factor in the outcome of the finished cloth. Wool is judged in 5 key areas:

  1. Diameter. The smaller the diameter of the raw wool fibers, the more luxurious the eventual cloth. Wool diameter is expressed via the “Super” scale. On the “Super” scale, cloth made from finer diameter wool has a higher number. For example, a “Super 100’s” cloth is made from wool with a diameter of about 18.5 microns; compare this to an ultra high-end “Super 220’s” cloth with a diameter of just 12.5 microns. (For perspective, human hair has a diameter of 60 – 70 microns!) Just remember: the higher the “Super” number, the finer the wool fibers.
  2. Length. The longer the raw wool fibers, the better. Longer fibers resist “pilling” and lead to a more consistent cloth. The ideal length for a suit cloth is five to seven inches.
  3. Strength. A strong fiber ultimately weaves into a strong and enduring cloth; a weak fiber will result in a poor cloth. Wool is measured for its tensile strength.
  4. Crimp. Crimp is a measure of the natural elasticity or memory of the fibers. Wool fibers must have a certain degree of memory in order for a finished garment to recover between wearings and maintain its shape.
  5. Purity. Raw wool must be carefully scoured (cleaned) to remove all impurities and organic materials that may have become trapped prior to shearing. Even the slightest extraneous material will result in unwanted irregularities in the cloth.

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What is the best collar style for me?

The key is counter-balancing your facial structure with your collar

Choosing a collar is more than just a matter of style. 
As the closest part of clothing to your face, your collar has a surprisingly strong influence on your overall appearance.


You should always select a collar style which counter-balances your most prominent features. 
Let’s use four Tom James clothiers to illustrate the rights and wrongs of collar selection.

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