Style Q&A: More Than Just T-Shirts

Question: I need your help.  I’m a big guy–6’2″ and around 320 lbs–and am over 40 years old.  I’m looking to expand my wardrobe, but am a little stuck.  Right now, I mainly wear T-shirts untucked, but I was wondering if you have any other suggestions of shirts that might look good.  I’m a size 2X, and don’t want to break the bank.  Thanks!

Answer: There are plenty of other options besides just T-shirts for you out there, so don’t worry!  What’s more, is you’ll be able to use your existing T-shirt collection for layering, which is nice with cooler weather coming up.

Since you’re a bigger guy, I’d start out by avoiding both light and bright colors.  Lighter colors can be unflattering, and bright colors often call attention to things.  I’d also avoid loud prints, and stick to prints that are more muted.  Your best bet is to start off with dark colors and neutrals, and once you get comfortable wearing different shirts, and you’ve developed a style for yourself, you can expand your wardrobe from there.

Here are some ideas for you to try from Casual Male, a men’s store that caters to larger and taller guys, which would be ideal for you–they’ll have both more options for you to choose from, and more sizes, which will help you get the right fit (especially being tall).  They also have a personal shopping assistant feature available over the phone during business hours, as well as a live chat feature on the website, to help with questions on fit, colors, sizing and more.  Don’t be afraid to call or chat with them and ask questions!  If there isn’t a Casual Male in your area, you can order online, and they have a pretty great return policy (any unworn/unwashed items can be returned at no charge for up to 90 days from the purchase date, and they’ll even provide you with a return shipping label, plus you can return in store too).

Anyway, here are some tops that I think would be good basics to get you started wearing more than just T-shirts.  They might all look like solid shirts, but there are a couple that have subtle details to them that add some interest without being loud and overbearing.

  1. Cubavera Embroidered Panel Sport Shirt: The embroidery down the chest is subtle, but adds a little texture to this shirt.
  2. Harbor Bay Woven Twill Sport Shirt: A great basic, short sleeved style.
  3. Synrgy Paisley Sport Shirt: This one has a very subtle tone-on-tone pattern, making this great for casual wear and dressing up a little.
  4. Harbor Bay Easy-Care Solid Sport Shirt: A good basic, long sleeved shirt.
  5. Harbor Bay Tipped Jersey Polo: A fairly basic polo style shirt with a little extra interest thanks to the contrast coloring on the collar and sleeves.

Buttondown shirts can be worn over T-shirts, and long sleeves can be rolled up (like they are in the pic for #3) to make the shirt appear more casual.  You can wear buttondown shirts open over T-shirts too, which gives you even more versatility with a few basic pieces.  You don’t have to tuck in buttondown shirts either, so don’t worry about that if you’re not a fan of it.  Once you’re comfortable wearing more basic buttondown shirts and polos, try out some more obvious patterns and see if anything works for you.  You can also layer a sweater (not a sweatshirt) or a vest over a buttondown shirt (though I wouldn’t layer over a polo, with the exception, perhaps, of a fleece vest).

Some of what I’ve listed is fairly expensive, but I don’t like linking sale items because they often sell out faster or don’t have all the sizes and colors available.  Definitely check Casual Male’s sale section for similar items, because there was a ton there!  You can find the sale section here.  Also, definitely sign up for their mailing list to get coupons and special offers, and search online for coupon codes before buying.

Once you’ve gotten a few shirts that aren’t T-shirts, start incorporating them into your daily wardrobe by setting goals for yourself.  Say you buy 5 shirts similar to those I linked above.  Start off by making it a goal to wear a new shirt at least twice a week for 3 weeks.  That will give you a good start, but won’t totally take you out of your comfort zone and make you feel uncomfortable about your new purchases.  After the 3 weeks, up it to 3 times a week.  You get the idea 😉

Another neat thing about the Casual Male website is they offer a whole section of “Complete Outfits” that you can look at for styling cues and ideas, and it changes every season, which means it’s fairly on-trend in terms of menswear.  Definitely worth checking out, but maybe after you’re more comfortable wearing more than just a basic T-shirt.  You can take a gander at that section here if you’re interested.

Good luck to you, and happy shopping!