The Frugal Rake: Proper Fit from Top to Bottom, Part 2


In frugal fashion, fit is king. But it's not as easy as just blindly following the rules we laid out in yesterday's post. People come in all shapes and sizes, and finding the right fit for your bod is key. Sometimes that involves trying on everything in the store, and sometimes that means paying a little extra to have your clothes customized. Here are a few general guidelines for dressing for your body type.

See also: The Frugal Rake: Proper Fit from Top to Bottom, Part 1


Folks with bigger muscles face the challenge of finding clothes with room for bulging biceps and swole thighs that don't come with enough extra fabric to build a tent with. Buy large enough that your shirts fit in the shoulders and collar; with pants, make sure they fit in the waist, thighs, and ass. You'll probably have to get the rest of the pieces taken in by an alterationist -- more on alteration later.


Tall, skinny people have trouble because items that fit width-wise often aren't long enough. Some places, like J. Crew (which, if you hunt sales, can be a frugal brand), feature slim tall as a fit option, which is great. But these are rare. For pants, waists can be taken in pretty easily, so feel free to go up a size in the waist to unlock longer inseams and have the waist altered. Shirts are trickier; try everything on and be very picky about what you decide to keep, but be prepared to leave 90 percent of what you try on the rack.



Because society tells folks with a few extra pounds that their bodies are ugly, the instinct is often to wear big baggy clothes to hide inside. This is the opposite of stylish. Instead, hold your head up high and follow the same rule as most everyone else: Get clothes that fit snugly but not tight, and emphasize the crap out of your rockin' chassis.


The exception to the above rules for masculine style comes into play for folks with hourglass figures (larger chest, thinner waist, big hips). For these folks -- be they women, trans men who have not yet or don't plan to have top surgery, cisgender men with bubble butts, or anyone else with a silhouette society labels more "feminine" -- the rules go out the window a bit.

In these cases, instead of shirts following the curve of the body, a little extra room in the waist is called for to create a straight line down the body -- just make sure the other parts (shoulders, sleeves, collar) still fit according to the rules above. Pants with a little extra room in the calves create a stronger vertical line to the silhouette, which can de-emphasize the curves above. Jackets with structure and defined shoulders -- blazers, leather jackets, and chore coats -- can help make the upper body look more muscled and create the inverted-triangle silhouette that defines the traditional masculine look.

For those with breasts looking to minimize that curve, shirts with vertical lines help, while shirts with horizontal lines are the opposite of helpful. Shirts with unpredictable, asymmetrical patterns can de-emphasize breasts, while shirts with regular repeating patterns can draw attention. Dark colors are great at hiding the shadows created by breasts. Careful layering can help, too.


Paying someone to alter your clothes might seem the opposite of frugal at first glance, but it's key to getting a great fit. If you know what can be altered (torso reduction, sleeve reduction, inseam reduction, waist reduction) and what can't be altered (anything shoulders, collars, embiggening most measurements), thrifting becomes a whole new adventure.

A $2 button-up shirt that fits perfectly in the shoulders can be made to fit perfectly in the waist too for only $15 more, and while paying 750 percent more for alteration than for the item itself seems silly, you'll likely get a shirt that fits better than most $60 shirts you could buy off the rack. Even T-shirts can be worth tailoring.

It's key to find someone who does good work for a fair price and doesn't dawdle. Though good alterationists abound in the Twin Cities, the Frugal Rake can recommend Northeast Tailor for suiting dress clothes and Sew Simple for casual clothing. But as with barbers, the best practice is to shop around for an alterationist that fits your style and with whom you can communicate easily, and then take everything to them.

We'll talk more in-depth about alteration in our installment on suiting.