How to Look Slimmer Without Losing Weight: Tricks of a Well-Made Dress Shirt

By now, you're aware that there is no magic pill to give you the body that you want over night. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet and hitting the gym are your best options. However, you don't have to put in all the work and wait for results to have confidence in your appearance right now.

man looking at the mirror

If you want to look slimmer, no matter what shape your body is currently in, the key is wearing a well-made dress shirt. With so many different styles, cuts, and colors to choose from, there's a good chance that you can change something about your current dress shirt options to look slimmer the next time you get dressed.

Dress Up to Slim Down

The lines between formal, dress, and casual attire are a bit blurrier nowadays than they were even half a century ago. Men like to play around with dressing down suits and dressing up jeans, making it even more tempting to wear something casual every chance you get. This is especially the case when you aren't satisfied with the look of your body.

man sitting wearing grey light dress shirt

Unfortunately, for those of us who don't have a model physique, casual clothing usually winds up making us look sloppier. This leads to lower confidence in all areas of our lives. The truth is, everyone looks better in dressier attire. That's the reason it is worn to formal events, because everyone wants to look their best.

The good news is, you don't have to have a perfect body to look great, nor do you need an excuse to dress up. A well-made dress shirt that fits you properly is comfortable, will make you look slimmer, and can be worn anywhere. Best of all, you will start feeling more confident in general. So, dress for success!

Look Fitter With the Right Fit

man wearing shades and dark blue dress shirt

The four main fits that dress shirts come in are classic fit, slim fit, modern fit, and skinny fit. Even if you have a large collection of dress shirts already, buying a dress shirt with a fit that flatters your shape right from the start is going to save you time and money in the long run. Once you find out which fit works best for your body, you can go back through the dress shirts you have to figure out which ones are worth keeping and having tailored.

Classic fit dress shirts can work well for men who are large all over. They have a boxy cut through the torso, more room in the sleeves, and allow the greatest range of motion in the arms and shoulders. The hems of the shoulders should still hug your own shoulders, though. The classic fit was designed back when it was proper for men to always wear a jacket when out and about. While the extra fabric provides comfort, it still looks best underneath a suit coat.

man wearing pink classic dress shirt

Slim fit dress shirts have higher armhole placement, which causes the fabric in the torso of the shirt to lie more closely against the body than classic fit dress shirts. This fit of shirt looks nice without a jacket, but it is not your best option if you have a belly and you are trying to look slimmer.

man wearing blue checkered dress shirt slim fit

Modern fit dress shirts are somewhere in between the classic and slim fit cuts. This contemporary fit of dress shirt combines style with comfort. There is enough room in the arms to allow mobility, but a tapered waist helps cut down on extra fabric that can amplify the problem areas you are trying to hide. Modern fit dress shirts look great under a suit coat or alone.

man wearing white modern fit dress shirt

As the name suggest, a skinny fit dress shirt is made for skinny people, and some critics argue that even they shouldn't be wearing a skinny fit, as it tends to wrinkle and uncomfortably restrict movement. If you want to look slimmer in a dress shirt, opt for a modern fit that lies against your body, but isn't skintight. If you have a large barrel gut, a classic fit will give you the room you need.

man standing wearing white skinny fit shirt and jeans

Remember, different brands that call their shirts by the same fits will usually fit differently, so try before you buy if you aren't familiar with a certain clothing line. You might want to order shirts that are made to measure according to the size of your neck and the length of your arms. You should only be able to fit one finger between your dress shirt's collar and your neck. Of course, the initial fit of a dress shirt is only the start. There are other things you can do to look your best in a dress shirt.

No Personal Trainer? Get a Personal Tailor!

Once you've found a dress shirt with the best fit for you, it's time to customize it. No one's body is built the same as anyone else's. In an ideal world, you could go pick up a dress shirt in any store, cut to your exact, individual fit and be all set. However, to get that perfect fit, you should make it a priority to find a great tailor.

tailor taking selfie

Tailoring might seem old fashioned to some, or reserved for special occasion attire only, but tailors still exist for the same purpose they always have: to give your clothes the most flattering fit. Some of the easiest alterations to make your dress shirt, and yourself, look the best include taking in the sides, adding darts, and shortening the sleeves.

Taking in the sides of a dress shirt can make you look slimmer by eliminating extra fabric. Modern fit dress shirts already minimize excess fabric for a tailored look, but a tailor can take in the sides following your specific frame. If you have found that classic cut dress shirts are the best option for you, tailoring can make them look more flattering when you choose to wear your dress shirt without a jacket. The shirt should hug your body, with no gaps exposing skin between the buttons, so that it doesn't exaggerate any bulky areas of your body.

tailor pointing the side of dress shirt
Adding darts to the front or the back of a dress shirt is a milder version of taking in the sides of a shirt. Darts are areas of fabric that are overlapped or pinched together and sewn down. This method creates subtle shape by bringing the dimensions of the shirt's fabric in. It is common to see darts or pleats in the back shoulder area of many dress shirts. It is possible to add darts to the front of the shirt, too, but avoid any pleating in the stomach area, as it can exaggerate a bulging gut.

Shortening your sleeves is a simple way to look more put together. Sleeves should be tailored to stop at the break of your wrist, as mentioned above. If you wear a suit jacket over your dress shirt, make sure that the suit jacket sleeves are tailored so that about a half of an inch of the shirt's cuff is showing. For this alteration, and the others listed here, there needs to be a bit of extra fabric to work with. If you are unsure of a size, buy the larger one and have it tailored for the best fit possible.

tailor drafting shirt

Another notable tip about the cut of your dress shirt is to make sure the bottom hem is tailored to how you plan on wearing your dress shirt. A tucked in dress shirt is always more formal, but if you are wearing an untucked style, make sure that the bottom hem is shortened and tailored for that look to avoid looking sloppy.

Camouflage With Patterns and Colors

After you've narrowed down and customized your correct fit, it's time to choose which colors and patterns of dress shirts will make you look your best. These details have a significant impact on the way your whole outfit makes you look. Color creates a canvas for the eyes to focus on, and patterns direct the movement of the eyes up and down or side to side.

man checking patterned blue dress shirt

In general, darker colors are more slimming than light colors. This is especially true when pairing several pieces together. The less contrast in color there is between the clothing items you are wearing, the better. If you were a light top with a dark bottom, or vice versa, your are essentially cutting your body in half, making you appear shorter and drawing attention to your midsection. Coordinate your dress shirts, pants, and belts to avoid a break in the line of site from side to side.

man choosing printed dress shirts

For prints, especially when you are wearing a dress shirt on its' own, smaller prints tend to make you look slimmer than large prints. Avoid large floral or paisley prints, buffalo checks, plaid patterns, and horizontal stripes altogether. Thin, vertical stripes will draw the eye up and down, making you look slimmer. Small patterns, such as gingham checks and pinpoint designs will cause the eye to focus more narrowly.


Everyone wants to look their best, and the quickest way to achieve this is by wearing a dress shirt with the proper fit, custom tailoring, and flattering colors and patterns. Take some time to try on a few different fits to see what works best with your body shape. Find a fit that hugs your body without being skin tight. Go to a tailor to customize your perfect cut. Choose darker colors, or at least ones that don't contrast with the other pieces you're wearing. If you choose to go with a pattern, opt for a small, subtle print, for a slimmer look.

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