So I find myself in a pickle!

X means wrongI love to workout and have been going strong since early 2010. I Dropped from 230lbs to 185lbs and I’m looking and feeling good. But here comes the problem: I also love dressing well! The issue is finding clothes that fit my body. Learning to make my love for fitness and my love for dressing well cohabitate in my life has been tough. It’s a struggle trying to find that sweet spot where they both intersect. Admittedly, I’m an average guy working 9-5 at a bank (and a part time bouncer as well) with bills to pay like everyone else.

I may work at a bank and touch thousands of dollars daily but in my personal life, I’m pinching pennies just like you; robbing Peter to pay Paul. So my access to menswear is the same as the average Joe: JCPenney, Macy, Men’s Wearhouse, H&M, Gap etc. The underlying issue with these stores is they have a mass produced mentality when it comes to clothing. They selling their products to the average guy and don’t have much to compliment specific body types.

Having worked at Men’s Wearhouse prior to a bank, I know the suits hanging on the rack won’t fit my body and I have to get them tailored to fit like it’s custom. Ideally, EVERY man should where custom because every man’s body type is different, a 40 Regular fits differently on different guys (i.e mass produced). So with that in mind, I’ve still tried to make things work and make things fly. I’ve gotten better over the years but here are my four clothing mistakes I made when I ignore how fitness was changing my body.

Mistake 1: X means bad

slim fitI’m a 42 regular or 42R for short when it comes to suit jackets, blazers or sport coats. It fits perfect on my shoulders but loose on my sides based on my body type (I’m a mesomorph, upside down triangle, wide chest/shoulders and a small waist). Now a 40R, fits my torso like a glove and I love it but extremely tight on the shoulders. So in an effort to get the best of both worlds, I get the 42R tailored on the sides (or center seam, whichever gives my the glove feeling I like) but, the issue here is, it becomes too tight to fit my body.

Clothing should be an investment that you wear over and over again for the long haul and not just one time. It should be tailored but left with enough room for growth. I didn’t leave room. It hugged my body how I wanted however I kept working out, kept taking protein shakes and my muscles got bigger and before I knew it I had to suck in my abs to button my jackets and still saw the dreaded X. X means it’s too tight and you’ll feel it before you see it. Avoid it like the plague, it not only looks bad, it’s uncomfortable.

My $0.02: Get it tailored if needed but leave a little room for growth, because you’re always growing. Get the most bang out of your buck by investing in something that will last you a long while despite your growth.

Mistake 2: Slim fit everything.

And by everything I mean everything; suits, blazers, sports coats, shirts, pants. Listen, the ego in every fitness freak is to show off the physique you’ve worked on so tirelessly. So it’s natural to gravitate to the slim fits. They do show off your physique. But a lot of these slim fits come at the expense of your comfort and you looking like you raided your little brother’s closet.

Yes, some slim fits show off your physical stature, but are they comfortable on every item? No. This is where brand loyalty comes into play. ABC brand of slim fits look and feel differently than XYZ brand, so you may have to try a few to see which one works for you and then stick with them. I know for sure my slacks and chinos can’t be slim fit anymore, my quads won’t allow it. Put it this way, if I can see the outline of your cellphone in your pocket, then obviously, your pants may be too tight. Now, I’m considering classic or pleated pants to give my quads more room but tapering the leg. You’ll definitely see the X on a slim fit jacket if you get it tailored like I have on numerous occasion. I used to sacrifice comfort just so I could look slick in my slim fits but now I’m all about balancing comfort and fit. I don’t want it loose but not too slim either, there should be a happy medium where comfort and fit intersect.

My $0.02: Everything doesn’t have to be slim fit. I know that’s the trend but comfort is key if you’re a muscular man. Don’t sacrifice comfort in an attempt to look good, consider classic or modern fit clothes that will give you a little bit of wiggle room but still compliment your physique.

Mistake 3: All slim fits aren’t made equal.

So if you’re hell bent on buying slim fit, avoid this mistake I made. I literally bought everything in my size in a slim fit and realized they all fit my body different. Ironically, some brand’s slim fit was a little loose while others were a little snug with only a few in the middle that fit right. This is where I would introduce brand loyalty as mentioned before. Yes, initially you must try a couple brands to see which one gives you the comfort and fit you desire, and only then will you find “the one” to stay loyal and faithful with. It may be finding a needle in a haystack but it’s worth it.

My $0.02: Want to save money? Don’t even buy it. At least not right away. A lot of these stores will allow you to try before you buy. So go in there a few brands, find the one that fits, give it a trial run then go all in.

Mistake 4: Avoiding custom/MTM because it’s too expensive

custom madeThere used to be a time when a certain tier of people could only afford custom made clothing. However, that’s not the case anymore. Before I left Men’s Wearhouse, they  began to offer affordable custom made options  which also included shirts. Nowadays with websites like Black Lapel, Indochino and Tailor Store, custom made suits and shirts are ridiculously affordable.

So here’s the thing, it’s only expensive if you say so. When I went custom, I put money down each week until I had what I needed to get it. Let’s say it’s going to run you $300. It seems like a lot, but, it’s only expensive if you wear it just once. On the other hand, if you plan on wearing multiple times over the next couple years, then you really get the most bang for your buck.

Now, that custom piece is my favorite and most important piece of clothing in my wardrobe. If you are a muscular man and are finding it hard to fit in clothes off the rack, I highly recommend custom made.

My$0.02: Save the money, invest in a custom made suit/blazer/shirt, and enjoy a piece of clothing that is fitted for your (insert your name here because literally no one can wear it but you) body type and the most comfortable, I guarantee it.

In conclusion, we all make mistakes in this style journey. Hell, I may be making some right now (only time will tell so ask me in a year from now) but mistakes are necessary to get to where you need to be. One way to do things right is to doing it wrong. I know athletic guys tend to avoid the subject of style because of the frustrating process of finding something that fits but I’m here as your barbell brother to let you know there is a way. You can look fly and fit!

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