How to deal with clothes that don't really fit?

Tom Cheney Men With Oversized Neckties In Barber Shop Getting Them Trimmed New Yorker Cartoon How To Deal With Clothes That Don't Really Fit?New Yorker Cartoon by Tom Cheney

Given a 5 foot 6″ height and a rather small frame (like many other Asian men), I need a certain amount of luck when it comes to off-the-rack shopping.

When I finally decided that the XS-sized shirt fits me well, most probably the shirt’s tail would go a few inches pass my derrière (hence, the man’s skirt internal joke). Or when the length turns out perfect, my chest would be hugged as if a deep inhalation could launch the third button into a deadly bullet.

No casualty was caused so far, don’t worry – because I’d always settle with the larger size. Together with my sometimes handicapped shopping style in the past they made up the “Least Favourite” section in my closet, consisting those that I hardly wear because they are mostly a little larger than what I’d like now.

So what should I do with them?

It’s either I give them away or get them tailored. Of course, the latter would be a better choice because the clothes “somehow” still fits me, so I’m not ready to give them away (But you do know you have to ditch them someday, right?).

However, having them tailored might be a plan that you never got around to do, or some pieces may not worth the tailoring work (considering the price you paid for the garment) and maybe they are not even tailor-friendly.

That led us to the question today – How do you actually deal with those clothes?

I’ve seen these tricks done professionally by some guys. You might have already known about it, but in case you don’t, here’s what you can consider trying: (Note: It might be a little bit too hard if you’re size XS trying to deal with an XL though.)

Pull or Roll Them Up

Men Roll Up Sleeves Style How To Deal With Clothes That Don't Really Fit?

The most common problem areas with many off-the-rack upper body garments (such as tee, shirts, blazer, sweater, jackets) that I found are arms and shoulder (and overall length, in my shorty case). Most often than not, they can be too wide, too long or too loose.

Consider pulling the sleeves up, or roll them up. The pushed area sort of creates volume around your upper arms, giving out an illusion of bigger upper arms to match with the larger/wider shoulder. Rolling up the sleeves directly shorten the length of the sleeves if they’re too long. This trick also gives a personal touch to the otherwise ordinary styling of your shirt or outerwear.

Layering & Mixing

Men Layering Style How To Deal With Clothes That Don't Really Fit?

The fitting issue of a garment is apparent if you wear it alone, but it’s less so (or even completely disguised) when you’re mixing it up with your other pieces of clothes that really fit.

Oversized shirt underneath a fitted sweater, oversized sweater on top of fitted shirt, tucked them in or left it flows – imagine all kinds of variations and fun you can have with the imperfect garments. This requires a little imagination on your part, and clever decision with the thickness of the garments during summer or under hot weather.

The gentleman above is rolling up his sleeves like a boss.

Use Jacket or Blazer

Rolled Up Sleeve Style How To Deal With Clothes That Don't Really Fit?
Who knows what’s under your jacket? That’s exactly the idea.

This is an extension of the layering trick that works mostly with shirts, tee or sweaters that are slightly too baggy. A well-fitted outwear “slim down” whatever pieces you’re wearing inside, exposing only parts that are less prone to suspicion (e.g. the shirt front or torso).

While raiding my closet now, here are some inspiring images that I found to stir your imagination.

What are your tricks and tips? Tell me!

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Image Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4 (Slideshow. In random order) 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

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  • Keith

    I’m about 165cm. I always roll my sleeves (formal wear), tuck in for semi-casual & roll my shirt for casual wear. I wish I’m taller. Sigh…

    • I’m just 2cm taller than you!