Fit for a King (Size)

The men behind Gilt MANual answer your most pressing style questions.
Photo: Getty Images

The Captain, Lew Alcindor, visits his tailor circa 1967

As a 6’5″, 190-pound 18-year-old, what is the best way to get properly fitting dress clothes inexpensively, but that will look good and last?

Talk about hitting home. Why, just a few years ago I was a 6’5″ 18-year-old. First off, you’re ahead of the game in concentrating on fit. Perhaps the most common mistake made by younger men interested in style is overlooking fit’s critical role.

You’re right that tall, skinny dudes run into all kinds of problems. Fact is, many American brands’ larger sizes are designed for the, well, wider gentleman, not necessarily the taller. So the first thing you need to do, and this may sound like beating a dead horse, is find a good, reasonably priced tailor, one who knows your size and fit. Make him a central part of your shopping experience. He won’t be completely reworking garments; just slight pant leg and sleeve alterations (plus a few other nips and tucks) that shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Second, and this may take some trial and error: Head out to some stores, find some pieces you like, and try them on. Think of it as brand recon: which labels fit you, and which don’t. A size “large” in Shipley & Halmos, Patrik Ervell, or Dior Homme is an entirely different ballgame when you’re pulling on Polo by Ralph Lauren. Zero in on those brands that really fit you (in style and size), and then wait until the end-of-season sales, when prices are slashed significantly. You’ll find many of these brands on (ahem!) Gilt MAN, everyday.

As far as getting the most wear out of your clothes, here’s what you do: Invest in some proper hangers; properly store out-of-season garments (e.g., heavy overcoats in the summer); and remain vigilant against those pesky moths and their pernicious larvae.

Now for your first purchase. I suggest a navy, two-button, worsted wool suit (one of the most versatile and longer lasting fabrics around); a white, point-collar dress shirt; a wool knit tie (that you’ll want to tie in a four-in-hand knot to maintain its length); and a pair of brown brogues. Shoes, thankfully, are often readily available in larger sizes for the taller gentleman. Every one of these items can be purchased, relatively inexpensively, to fit your frame, and can be worn either together or mixed and matched.

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  1. Penn says:

    I’m 6’4″ & deal with the size designations constantly. Even different styles from the same manufacturer fit completely different. Try as many labels as you can, it’s quite interesting how the sizes are all different between them. The tail end of all ties look foolish(very high up), doesn’t matter the knot.

  2. nick says:

    For the most part I agree with what you are saying if only this gent was 25 years old. Being 18, 6’5″ and 190 lbs means he has a lot of muscle mass to gain, unless he is just going to be skinny for the rest of his life. I would be considered about buying anything too expensive at his age because of this.

    I was 6′ tall 140lbs when I was 18. I’m now 6′ 180lbs and filled out. This will probably happen to him as well….

  3. Keith says:

    Agree with Nick. This kid shouldn’t be investing in anything long-term because his body will continue to change rapidly for the next several years. As for your advice to get things tailored, that’s often easier said then done for a guy of his height. For instance, many pants probably won’t run the length of his inseam. You can take in or hem a garment, but you can’t add material. His best bet is to tailor garments from retailers and brands that specialize in larger and taller men.

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