The next instalment in this series is the tailor’s nightmare, the body builder. Let me elaborate on why this form is so difficult to dress stylishly particularly in more formal attire.

Suits off the rack come in different ‘drops’ of 4 6 and occasionally 8. This ‘drop’ is the difference in inches between the chest measurement and waist measurement. For example a suit in size 42 in a drop 6 will have a 36 inch trouser, while an 8 drop will have a 34. Accordingly the jacket waist will be cut according to those ideals. Where things get difficult for a body builder, or just someone who works out a lot (swimmers, surfers rugby players all fit this description too), is it not uncommon to see drops of 10 and 12.
To exacerbate the issue they very often do not have a clearly defined shoulder rather one where the deltoids are so developed the the shoulder just rolls over rather than having a defined startpoint.

The difficulty in fitting such a large drop is that without strong darting like that seen on women’s jackets it is difficult to get the suit to have the required waist suppression to make it look like it fits any where close. With regards to the shoulder issue, the difficulty is the where to finish the shoulder so the deltoids don’t protrude and create unsightly bulges and crease without creating an oversized shoulder.

The best solution for the current look is a very natural shouldered suit with minimal to no padding. In Australia one of the best value exponents of this is MJ Bale, while in the more premium end of the OTR market the Italian brands are particularly good at these soft shoulders, like Caruso, Brioni, Kiton especially (with price tags to match). The other alternative for the muscular is too have the shoulder pad coming all the way out over the widest point of the shoulder, however this results in a very wide oversized shoulder, think lste 80’s and early 90’s suits, and as such not really conducive to the times.

With regards to waist fit, this is a hard thing to swallow but the muscular need to wear the jackets looser than than general population. Trying to get the required waist suppression for a 10 or 12 drop creates massive drape issues, and causes a lot of unsightly creasing and breaking. As someone who has worked in both OTR shops and tailoring studios, this is not what the well built like to hear. They spend lots of time and energy getting their bodies to that stage and want to show it off, however whilst wearing a suit this is not the time to do this. When a suit is worn this way, it looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts, and visually is as unappealing as the over sized suit! The idea is to frame the impressive shoulders and create enough waist suppression to enhance but not so much that the wearer looks like on over sized V. One of the best examples of well dressed muscular men is Arnold Schwarzenegger, as you see he wears suits that fit well but not too tight as that would make him look like a mutant. If you want bad examples, look at any rugby or rugby league team getting of the team bus, and you will see plenty!!!


As you can see Arnie, has his suit showing off the impressive physique, but not overly so,


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About themaninasuit

I have been involved in the menswear business since university in1997. Have gradually fallen in love with men's suiting and more recently tailor made garments. I am perpetually asked for style advise and things to wear so decided to get some of my thoughts and passions out and about


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