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It’s happened to the best of us: your suit pants are getting tight and your jacket will not close anymore. Is it time to move up to the next suit size, or should you buy a portly suit? 

When to Stay in a Standard Size Suit

With a standard size suit, your chest measurement is your size. Whether you should size up in a standard size suit or buy a portly (also known as “executive cut”) suit depends on how much your stomach protrudes past your chest; if it only protrudes an inch or two, you can get away with a standard size suit in the next size up. For instance, if you are a 42, you could go up to a 44 in a standard cut suit. 

When to Buy a Portly Suit

If your stomach protrudes more than two inches past your chest, a portly suit will probably fit you better. A portly suit, or executive cut suit, is a suit that has not really changed in the shoulders and chest, but room has been added to the stomach of the jacket and the waist of the pants. The jacket is also slightly longer than a standard sized jacket in order to drape well over the stomach and avoid being too short. 

One of the most unflattering things that can happen to a bigger guy is when his jacket is too short and draws attention to his stomach. What you want is for the jacket to flow over the belly completely, creating a seamless line with the pants. 

How to Measure Yourself for a Portly Suit

Measure your chest – that’s the size you will buy. Measure your waist as well to make sure that the suit you are buying has a similar pant size. If your actual waist measures larger than the pants that come with the chest size you measured as, you may need to size up since not every portly suit is cut the same.

Where and How to Wear Your Pants

Should a fat man’s pants sit at his waist or below his belly? The most flattering way an overweight man can wear his pants is at his waist, slightly below his belly button. An issue that arises is that pants worn at the waist on a larger guy are inclined to fall down. The solution is: suspenders (or as they’re known in the UK, braces). Suspenders are the fat man’s best ally when wearing a suit. While a belt will create an unflattering line and bulge, suspenders allow for a clean, sleek line. They’re also a fashion-forward, confident look.

When you get your suit pants tailored, be sure to wear them at the height you plan to wear them (either at the waist or below the waist) to avoid hemming them too short or too long. This is especially important if you will not be wearing suspenders, since the tailor will have you wear your pants on your proper waist when measuring you; if you plan to wear the pants at the smaller part (your hips) and your pants are measured worn at your proper waist, the result will be pants that are much too long.

General Tips for Fat Men Buying Suits

Balance proportion:Do not go too slim in the pants. While you don’t need to wear wide-leg trousers, a leg that is too slim and too tapered will look out-of-balance with the upper body. You can still wear a slim leg, but not too slim. A classic fit pant leg is likely to look the most proportionate. 

Colors and patterns: Big guys look best in solid colors. Darker colors have a slimming effect. Light colored suits are tricky, as are patterns like plaid and horizontal stripes. If you prefer a patterned suit, vertical pinstripes are flattering on larger bodies as long as the stripes are not too bold.  

Having trouble finding portly suits in stores? Visit our portly suits page for a variety of high quality portly suits at affordable prices.

More Men's Suit Guides: Should You Buy a Black Suit? | How to Wear a Seersucker Suit | Wool Suits vs. Synthetic Suits

Chaya Kurtz

Chaya Kurtz

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