The long and short of it

Tips on how to dress when you fall either side of average.

Let’s get one thing clear from the get-go: I have no qualms about being on the shorter side. Though standing at roughly five-and-a-bit foot, I have the idiot self-assuredness of a Chihuahua placed next to a Rottweiler and often forget that I’m usually one of the shortest guys in the room.

I don’t compensate or feel the need to act out in a naked bid for respect. No, the only time I suffer from anything vaguely resembling short man’s syndrome is when it comes to clothes.

I first came to the realisation that I was a couple of inches shorter than the average human male when I noticed I’d never purchased a pair of jeans that didn’t require some cuffing or the hem to be taken up. This was never much of a problem during the ’90s because every man and his dog liked to roll things up and it just gave me more room to move. Thankfully, this has also extended to chinos in recent years so I can stop my half-assed safety-pinning that’s a direct result of my being too lazy to visit the tailor. But other times it can be a real pain.

And it’s not just us wee nubbins that face a world of woe in the change room, our freakishly tall cousins have it even tougher. All we have to do is take something up or in but it’s decidedly harder for a taller gent to add an extra yard of fabric to a dress shirt.

With that in mind, here are some handy tips for guys who defy standard sizing.

Short end of the stick
I don’t see it as a big deal one way or the other but it’s understandable that some guys wish they had a bit more to work with. The first key to dressing taller is to avoid anything that will clutter or break up your frame. This means no big watches, clunky jewellery or busy patterns. When it comes to both casual clothes and dress shirts, stick with monochromatic colours or vertical prints and avoid horizontal anything or small checks.

Don’t be afraid to wear close-fitting clothing. I’m not saying you should shoehorn yourself into a pair of skinny jeans - but swamping yourself only serves to make you look shorter. Especially when it comes to business wear, which will make you look like you’re wearing your dad’s clothes.

Lastly, steer clear of the boy’s section and don’t wear a Cuban heel to add height. People will know on both fronts. Buy online and look towards Japanese retailers, who have an eye for adult style but cater mainly for smaller guys.

Long Johns
For friendly giants, the opposite of almost everything you just read rings true. Except for the Cuban heels part.

The object here is to break up your sizeable body with patterns and colour. Feel free to wear the biggest, manliest watches you can find and go nuts when it comes to wearing check shirts – the smaller the better.

When it comes to pants, avoid tapered, boot-cut or high waisted. The last two are sage advice for any man, but especially true for our tall brothers. Straight-leg is best and when it comes to jeans you want to opt for mid-to-low rise.

On the upper half, you must make sure that your shirt can be tucked in even if you don’t wear it that way. Cropped jackets are out as they’ll make your legs look even taller, and something that reaches to your hip is a safe bet.

Those who have to duck walking through a doorway and don’t like what’s on offer at the big and tall stores might have to go the way of tailor made. It can be as expensive as hell but worth it if you can scrape together the cash. In this instance, stick with classic cuts and looks that will last you a long time. Maybe even go halves with a shorter friend so we can fashion a full-length muumuu from your off-cuts.

What are your favourite workarounds for a deficiency or an excess of height?