In the business arena, clothing plays a key role because it can influence how others see you – tall or short, slim or wide. Perception, as usual, is king.
Based in Beverly Hills, Jimmy Au’s for Men 5’8” and Under, is an industry leader in tailored clothing for shorter gentlemen. Au is recognized as the leading authority in the men’s fashion industry when it comes to developing and designing quality clothing for shorter men. He is renowned for his uncompromising dedication to dressing shorter gentlemen and his store is where leading Hollywood studios turn for their television and motion picture wardrobe needs.
Alan Au, the founder’s son and company’s client relations director, spoke with www.OffTheCuffDC.com and outlined his key rules for dressing with style and increasing visual height. Although the average man in the United States is 5’9″, the average height of Jimmy Au’s customer is 5’4″. Alan is also credited with encouraging his father to work with leading menswear brands like Michael Kors, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Kenneth Cole to produce tailored fashion for men under 5’5″.
Show your stripes… While some fashion designers are abandoning these vertical enhancements, if you want to look taller at work, you need to consider stripes. Choose stripes of a thinner variety like beaded or pinstripes. Choose stripes where the width between stripes best balances your frame. ¼” to ¾” should be sufficient. The wider your frame, the wider the stripe option, however, any wider than ¾” and you’ll begin to look squat. Stay away from thick or wide stripes like chalk stripes or alternating colored stripes. The lighter color will dominate causing the width to visually double and, again, make you look squat.
Well suited… When trying on a suit, stand close to the mirror and take a good to see if it flatters you. Then, stand back about 5 to 10 feet from the mirror to get a visual sense of how others will see you in a typical day to day situation. Make sure you can see you in the suit and not just the suit. If only the suit looks good but not you in it, then pass.
The skinny on ties… Fashion designers seem to be split when it comes to tie widths. Some are going much wider while others are slimming down. For the short man, it’s best to go narrow. Not because it’s trendy, but because it’s more proportioned for a shorter frame. A ties that is 2 ½” to 3 ¼” at its widest point should be enough. Anything that will add width to your midsection will also make you look shorter, so stay away from the wide bib-looking ties. Narrower ties look more balanced and the effect will make you look better proportioned; which in turn makes you look taller.
Wear a shirt, not a chute… When you are less than 5’8″, the baggy shirt from the 1990s is an unwanted fashion statement in 2008. Even regular sized shirts are baggy on a shorter frame and that fullness makes you look like you’re wearing your older brother’s hand-me-downs. Choose a more trim European inspired fit with higher armholes and a slimmer body. These trimmer cuts can easily be shortened to fit your body and arms. Fuller cuts require more work from a skilled tailor.
Here comes the hammer… Pants that is! Some designers are showing pleated, full cut dress pants again. Avoid this look at all costs. Stick to more traditional cuts, preferably with a flat front and short rise. It’s not that you can’t wear pleated pants; just not ones that make you look like a B-movie genie. If you prefer a pleated pant because you have thick thighs or wide hips, stick to shallower pleats. You can have the extra width you need without having the extra depth you don’t; proportion is key. Regardless, making sure you purchase pants with a short rise greatly increases the likelihood of a proper fit.
The golden rule… The number one rule, no matter what the current fashion trend, is to have your clothes altered by a good tailor. This rule applies to men of all heights, but is particularly important to us short guys. Because of our shorter stature, most everything is big on us, which in turn makes us look even shorter.
Common sense proportions take on added importance for short men. Ensure that coat and shirt sleeves are the right length and that coat bottoms are not too long. Pant hems should never be too long nor pant legs too wide. Details matter even more for short men, particularly when the details are what can make or break your overall image.
Another great resource for short men is the blog Short Shrifted. It’s a great site that covers clothing, brands and style in general. The site has great content and a lot of useful resources for short men.