A male fashion guide for bodybuilders
credits: user/Chicken Mcfugget on the sketch above.
“Woe is me, oh woe is me” is the standard cry that goes through a bodybuilder’s mind when they think about shopping for clothes. We usually complain that all the other non-lifting mortals in the world just don’t know how easy they’ve got it. When they buy a size 32 waisted pair of jeans it actually fits their legs whereas we have size 30 waists with quads that would optimally correlate to a size 42. Their shoulders run parallel to their midsection with no wingspan to ruin the shirt taper. On the flip side, us bodybuilders have such capped delts that they threaten to rip the seams each time we reach for a glass of water if we dare try to wear a shirt that isn’t baggy around our abs.
As you are probably aware, bodybuilding is all about that X Frame. We are consistently concerned with proportions, proportions, proportions and unfortunately or fortunately, we are the minority when it comes to the fashion world. Look at any fashion moguls around and I can guarantee they weren’t thinking of a bodybuilder with 20+ inch arms when sketching their new limited edition silk dress shirt.
As a result, bodybuilders are often subjected to ill-fitting clothes. We wear jeans that fit our quads, but aren’t tapered for our underdeveloped calves. These are the same pants we cinch a belt around just to keep them from sliding down during contest prep. We end buying baggy shirts because we’d rather it be comfortable than cutting our circulation off like occlusion training bands.
However, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way.
I’ve scoured the earth to find the best brands/clothes/fits around to wear and be fashionable. To give you some background, I’m a competitive natural bodybuilder. I’ve been at it for about 6 years coached and trained for an addition 4 before that. Safe to say I have some funkier proportions than the average joe mentioned above. I’m also quite into male fashion. Regularly giving my opinion and help on Reddit’s male fashion advice subreddit. I’d like to think I have a solid fashion sense. All of the clothes that I’m going to mention below I own and wear on a daily basis. I stand by these brands and their quality. As with all clothes that I buy, I shoot for quality over quantity. I prefer a better looking, longer lasting wardrobe over something that looks worse and that I have to turn over each year. As a result, there won’t be many “discount” options here, but you’ll look damn good if you stick to my philosophy. This is NOT a comprehensive guide. Just picked out some of my favorites in the most problematic areas (dress shirts, jeans, pants, and suits).
Words of warning! We are all genetically different. It is a 100% guarantee that we do not have the same proportions as each other. Some may have much bigger/smaller quads than me. Maybe you have a blockier waist than my thin one? Whatever the case may be, ALWAYS TRY THE CLOTHES ON WHEN POSSIBLE FIRST. Alternatively, check the return policy ahead of time so you don’t get stuck with a $200 dollar pair of Japanese selvedge denim.
[divider]The Clothes [/divider]
Best Dress Shirts for Bodybuilders: Hugh and Crye
Price runs: $70-90 a shirt.
Use this link to get $10 off your first order.
For the white collar guy or just the guy who wants to look ballin’ in his suits on a daily basis, you need a well-fitting dress shirt. I’m sure you’ve already gone to Belk and tried on some crappy Calvin Klein mass produced “slim fits”. Maybe you’ve gotten a little smarter and tried express or Banana Republic, and while they may be a little tight on the arms, they seem to look ok. Screw that, why settle for less than perfection!
I found a supplier of dress shirts that are made specifically for athletic and broad men. They literally cater to the proportions of a bodybuilder and their quality is freaking amazing. Best dress shirts I’ve owned. I took it to a tailor a little while back just because I do that with all my clothes (you should too) and the lady said “I can’t tailor it, it’s already an excellent fit”. Hadn’t heard that one before. The best part about them is that you can wear them tucked or untucked because of the way the tail of the shirt is made. The company is called Hugh and Crye and here’s a quote directly from the story of why the formed:
We recognized that many men we know (starting with ourselves) have a hard time finding dress shirts that actually fit. ….off the rack shirts from mass brands aren’t designed for the lean or athletically built guy.
That right there should convince you. Make sure you take measurements before ordering! If you have any questions call their support line because they are extremely helpful at getting the fit perfect for you.
Best Suit for a Bodybuilder: SuitSupply
Price range: $400+
Listen. Suits are made to a tailored. Most good tailors at a suit store will be able to customize the fit for you regardless of the sizing mismatch. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some suits that rise above the rest for the price. I’ve worked in the finance world quite a while before jumping into e-commerce so I know a thing or two about wearing suits every day. If the suit is overwhelmingly tight around the back/arms, the legs are baggy, or the material doesn’t hold up over time, it’s a bad suit or fit.
By far the best bang for you buck suit I’ve found thus far was SuitSupply. First of all, you FEEL like a total badass walking into their store. I won’t spoil the fun, but there are some …revealing pictures on the walls when you go into the dressing room. Anyways, the experience is surreal. The suit itself has made impeccably well for the price and the flair is perfect. My last one from them costed about $550 for the full suit with tailoring and it looks phenomenal. The suit supply employees are incredibly skilled at their job and make a suit that fits like a glove, looks stunning, and moves as well as your horrible, bodybuilder mobility will allow.
Stop falling for the buy 1 get 20 shit suits free deal at Jos A Banks and hit up SuitSupply. Get one that you’re proud of if you’re spending money on it. I highly recommend going into a store if you have one near you. It’s wild.
Best Lower Tier Jeans for a Bodybuilder: Levi 511 or 514. (My favorite high end jeans below)
Price range: $40-60
This one is a bit up in the air because it really depends on your style and you taper. However, I personally prefer the 511’s. I also believe in skinnier jeans and having a tapered calf for a more stylish look. It plays off your frame and really shows off the quads I’ve worked so hard for. For the price, you literally can’t beat the jeans. Decent quality and material and they actually look like some higher end jeans. Consider these your starter jean if you’re just getting into fashion. You can pick these up at most big box clothing retailers, but I’d buy them from amazon for the customer service, return policy, and price (link above).
Important note: Skinny jeans are not traditionally made for bodybuilders. If you try too skinny of raw denim on…well you’re not going to get them on. The Levi 511’s come in a couple of different materials. The black stretch in particular have a spandex blend in them that make them easily fit your quads while still fitting your waist. They look great, but I’ve tried on some other “raw looking” denim in 511’s only to have it fit rough and ended up sizing up a waist size.
My Recommendation: Get the dual-blended 511’s and save the raw look for the high end jeans. i.e. the black stretch which I linked above or something following that same format. If for whatever reason you have freakish proportions you can get the 511’s and then take them to a tailor. Believe it or not you CAN tailor jeans and with the price of the Levi’s, it doesn’t make them cost significantly more.
Best Upper Tier Jeans for a Bodybuilder: Rag and Bone Fit 1 or 2
I wear these jeans basically every freaking day. No joke. I alternate between my black stretch fit 1’s and the raw fit 1’s daily. If they had other options I would buy them instantly and rotate them in. Best pair of jeans I’ve ever owned. Yes, I know, the price is steep, but once you try this pair of jeans on you will never go back to any other pair again. The calves are perfectly tapered, the quads stretch, and the waste is incredible. The branding is not noticeable and the wash is beautiful. Very functional pair of jeans if I do say so myself. I personally wear the FIt 1’s as I mentioned I like the skinny fit. However, Fit 2 is a good alternative if you don’t think you can pull those off or you’re quads are awesomely large. You can find these jeans in most Nordstrom’s, but their flagship stores carry more washes and sizes. (I’ve only found the black stretch in Nordstroms.)
Best Casual Clothing for Bodybuilders: ZaneRobe
Joggers are all the rage and I love them. They fit comfortable and they look damn good with a pair of Nikes which is a majority of my everyday shoe attire. However, I’ve struggled finding a pair that looked decent and actually fit my leg type. Surprising given their baggy construction. Anyways, I eventually stumbled on a pair that are stylish, fit my budget, and are very mobile. I do some hip hop dancing on the side so joggers are basically a necessity. Best part is no belt required because of the waistband and drawstring. Give these bad boys a shot.
The Amazon picture makes them look retarded. The beauty of joggers is they were basically made for dudes with big quads. They look better because of the taper. Ignore the puny legged mammals in the product images. Make sure you get the solid chino jogger for ones you can wear with almost anything. The palm camo and maroon aren’t very applicable to the average gentlemen’s wardrobe.
When it comes to shirts, socks, shoes, and the like, there are hundreds of articles out there on the subject. Those pieces of your wardrobe are much easier to fit and muscles don’t usually get in the way. Hopefully this small selection of my favorites helps you up your game outside of the gym.