While female body types have long been studied, male body types haven’t received quite the same attention. But that doesn’t mean knowing your body type is any less important.
Knowing what shape your body is, allows you to understand what types of clothes are most flattering. Knowing what flatters your figure also ties in rather nicely to understanding style, and how some clothes can look great on some, but terrible on others.
According to research, there are just five different male body shapes. Below we’ll explore those body types, what they do to the clothes you wear, and most importantly, help picking out your next outfit that will make it a little bit simpler.
Body Type 1: Triangle
The triangle, not to be confused with the Inverted Triangle body shape (more on that below), this is the third most common body type among men. Defined by carrying a little extra weight around the middle and narrower shoulders, some 14 percent of men have this body shape.
A classic example of this body shape would be style icon Paul Newman. The challenge with this body type is to create balance between your narrower shoulders and wider waist. The majority of men’s clothing looks to emphasise the shoulders and taper in at the waist. But this body shape requires something different.
When picking out a suit, stick with single-breasted, and if possible suits with more structure in the shoulders, to help even out the hip to shoulder ratio. Something like Hugo Boss’ Italian Super 100 Virgin Wool Suit is a classic example (shown above). Stick with darker colours up top, but feel free to accessorize with something brighter underneath a blazer or sweater.
Double breasted suits add too much bulk to your waistline. Polo shirts or narrow crewnecks will reduce the width in your shoulders, highlighting your mid-riff more. On the bottom, avoid anything skinny or tapered towards the ankle, as they give the illusion of a wider middle.
Body Type 2: Inverted Triangle
This shape is the classic ‘swimmer’s physique’: broad, developed chest and shoulders taper down to a narrow waist and hips. It’s a rare physique to have, with just five percent of the population naturally having this figure.
Famous examples of this body shape include the now retired 100-meter sprinter Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps - note how they are both pro-athletes. Because this shape is actually quite rare, most clothing manufacturers avoid this body type, meaning your choices can be limited, if you don’t know where to look.
While it’s great to a have a good physique, when it comes to dressing, you want to draw attention away from the shoulders. Look for v-neck shirts and jumpers, as they draw the eye away from the chest. Un-structured double-breasted blazers help even out the shoulder to hip ratio to make you look more in proportion. A great example with a modern cut is Club Monaco’s Tuxedo Jacket (shown above).
Anything with padding in the shoulders or wide lapeled blazers, it over-emphasises the broad shoulders and narrow waits. Same with trousers, you want to avoid skinny cut trousers or jeans as it will just highlight the imbalance between your top and bottom halves.
Body Type 3: Rectangle
While it may not sound flattering, the rectangle body shape means your shoulders are roughly the same width as your hips, with little change in between the two. This is one of the more common body types, with four in 10 men having a rectangular figure.
Famous rectangle figures include David Beckham and Justin Timberlake, and because of the uniform dimensions of this shape, rectangle body shapes have a much easier time finding clothes. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tips for enhancing how you look.
You don’t want to appear too boxy, so adding a gentle inverted triangle look or use different shapes to draw attention to your shoulders is desirable. Try blazers with padded shoulders and narrow waistlines to create that inverted triangular look. Layering also helps add shape, especially fitted jumpers, circular necks and tapered waists. This Levi’s Bay Meadows sweatshirt shown above is a great example.
Anything with padding in the shoulders or wide lapeled blazers, it over-emphasises the broad shoulders and narrow waist. Same with trousers, you want to avoid skinny cut trousers or jeans as it will just highlight the imbalance between your top and bottom halves.
Body Type 4: Oval
The oval shape, unlike the triangle is all about your upper half being rounder all over, instead of narrow at the top and wider at the waist. More than a quarter of men have this shape, which involves a wider torso and a narrowing at both the hips and the shoulders.
You’ll see this body shape on the likes of James Corden and Elton John. As as result - and as you’ve probably seen with how the aforementioned dress - men with this body shape need clothes that both frame the body while making it look slimmer at the same time.
Dark, solid colours work well with this body shape. Think single breasted blazers with padded shoulders, but make sure the sleeves are the right length (as well as the trousers) as any gathered fabric will make them look shorter. Fine detail prints and embroidered patterns add contrast to those darker colours while still remaining flattering, like Paul Smith’s Sky Blue Marble Embroidered Shirt (shown above).
Double breasted jackets will make your torso look bigger, avoid horizontal stripes (Breton shirts being a typical example), no bright or contrasting belts as it will draw attention to your widest part, and avoid polo necks as they pinch the shoulders and neck, making your mid-riff look larger.
Body Type 5: Rhomboid
Finally we come to the rhomboid. This is the second rarest of all the shapes, with just 13 percent of men falling into this category. This shape is different from the inverted triangle in that the shoulders are broad and defined, but there isn’t as much narrowing towards
Famous rhomboid shaped celebrities include Daniel Craig and actor Jon Hamm (he of Mad Men fame). It’s typically an athletic body shape, and despite being relatively rare, many clothes designers will naturally lean towards this shape. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still go wrong.
Slim and fitted clothes will help bring out your enviable shape. Blazers with a tapered waist work well, especially with one button done up, to emphasise the shoulder hip ratio. If you’re on the shorter side, go for vertical stripes on shirts, taller and slimmer gentlemen will benefit from checked shirts like Givenchy’s latest take on the style classic.
Avoid baggy clothes, they’ll do your shape a disservice. Avoid anything that is loose around the waist and you’ll lose the definition in your shoulders.
Irrespective of what body shape you are, having the right footwear is an absolute must for the modern man. Which is why Blake McKay only selects the best shoes from around the world to make wearing the right footwear effortless.