How To Dress When You’re Carrying Excess Skin

How to minimise the presence of loose abdominal skin.

Losing a stack of weight is a long, difficult journey. A transformation. It’ll change your life, and you’ll feel great about yourself.
There’s no shortage of content floating around online about the myriad of things involved in weight loss, how to go about it and how to keep the kilos off.
However, something little mentioned is the difficulty encountered after the fact.
You have excess skin, perhaps a lot of it. You find it unsightly. It causes difficulty for you in dressing the way you want to.
How do I know this?
I dealt with it myself.

Access to the skin removal surgery is rarely available straight away, meaning there’s a transition period for every successful extreme weight loss where you’re going to be dealing with this loose skin for a period of time.

With the right knowledge, you can minimise the impact the loose skin has on your silhouette. As someone who has been from over 150kg to a low of 74kg (then settling in the low 90s), I’ve noteed a few tips and tricks along the way.

My main issue to combat has been the presence of loose abdominal skin, which is what I’ll focus on.
I found that this excess skin made a notable bump below my belly button, also exacerbating the perceived presence of love handles.
Because there’s a fair bit of this loose skin, it also moves around, which initially made it quite difficult to find pants that would stay up. The skin would move around, and the trousers would sag.

The cut of your trousers is important.

The way you wear your pants can make or break your figure, and it’s what I primarily use to mask all my abdominal loose skin.

I used to wear flat front pants with a mid-to-low rise, as that was the fashion readily available on the shelves, and it was really unflattering.
It absolutely didn’t work for me, and I always encountered the issue described just above.

One day I decided to try pants with a higher rise, having the waistband sit above my problem area.

Why does it work?

The higher waist means the excess skin becomes part of your pants rather than part of your stomach area. Because of this, it isn’t so noticeable.

As a higher waist tends to sit near the tightest taper of your body (the natural waist) it avoids letting the shirt show off the area where love handles may be present, which a lower rise trouser will show.
Shirts tend to be the least flattering of garments when it comes to draping, and they’ll highlight irregularities of fit much more unforgivingly.

Pleats are also a handy addition for this situation, as they allow for more fabric to make up the thigh area; giving more comfort and room to move with better drape to boot. The presence of the pleats in the same region as the skin draws the eye away from any irregularities in the silhouette by putting some vertical lines over the top, and causing the pant fabric to push out a little from the waistband in a natural way.
The combination of the two results in a good mask for excess skin.

It does wonders.

Try different shirts, and tuck them in.

If you carry excess skin in the chest area, you’ll find that T-shirts and polos may not look so great. Button front shirts – on the other hand – will be a lot more flattering for your physique, especially if made custom.
There are ways to create a more tapered effect with a custom shirt, highlighting the natural waist. Combining this with a higher rise pant is a solid double whammy against the excess skin.

I’m lucky to have a developed chest, so I can happily wear tees and polos. However, I found that wearing them untucked was unflattering – especially with lighter coloured tops – as they emphasise the abdominal loose skin and give me what I characterise as an hourglass figure.

To get around this, I simply tuck them in. I find that tailored pants and tees can be a fun way of incorporating the higher rise pants.

Also, if you’re looking for something button front AND casual, try an aloha shirt!
Or, try a fun shirt. Both of these are great casual styles.

Shapewear or compression clothing.

There are all sorts of options for shapewear/compression clothing on the market, and these can be seriously useful. One man on YouTube credits compression wear with being able to do any sort of exercise as it holds his skin in place.

Personally, I don’t use compression wear other than during sports; I’m lucky enough to be able to manage my silhouette without needing to use it. However if it’s something that will benefit you, get your hands on some.

Layer up: wear a jacket where you can.

A well fitted jacket can help your silhouette appear more natural. This applies to casual wear too; I like lumber jackets in the winter and a linen overshirt in the warmer months.

Sport coats are a great choice for elevated casual, as I’ll detail in the next section.

Good tailoring sharpens up your silhouette.

If you want to look really sharp, get yourself into well fitted sport jackets and suits. The waist suppression will give a taper to your torso shape.

Something with open quarters will be very flattering, as the inverted V shape created by the jacket’s lower half works to minimise any bulk under that waist area.

Make sure of one thing though; it needs to fit properly.

If it doesn’t fit, it’ll look anything but sharp. I learned that the hard way.

Get to know your alterationist.

Carrying excess skin means your body shape becomes abnormal. This means that most ready to wear clothing isn’t going to look right on you.

Thankfully, a good alterationist can make the best of your off the rack purchases. It’s important to buy something that fits well on the largest parts of your body, because your alterationist should be able to bring in the loose bits to create a good fit.

It will likely be impossible to achieve a ‘perfect’ fit even with an altered off the rack garment. That’s where made to measure or bespoke options will be your friend.

Don’t write off the double breasted jacket.

Despite the popularly recited hash that double breasted jackets tend to make a man appear pudgy and boxy, I find that a DB with an appropriate button stance can actually look better than a single breasted jacket if you’re carrying loose abdominal skin.

For me, my problem area is the section between the natural waistline and the crotch, as this is where the majority of my loose skin is situated.

The advantage of wearing a double breasted jacket here lies in the overlapping fabric which covers this area. Where a single breasted jacket’s quarters will open up as they get towards the bottom, a double breasted jacket covers that whole section.

This effectively eliminates the loose skin from being visible.

Get to know your custom clothing options.

Made to measure and bespoke options will allow you a garment that is made expressly to fit you.

If you’re in search of the best fit, you should get acquainted with bespoke and MTM.

If you’re in Australia, I currently work in an MTM store in Adelaide and am able to rely on my own experience in dealing with loose skin in crafting garments for clients with the same fit issues as me.

Sweaters can really bring out imperfections.

I’ve found that wearing a sweater/jumper as a top layer is usually a bad idea, unless it’s a trim fitting one, cut short to end at the natural waist. The majority of sweaters are cut with a fairly boxy structure, which is the classic way. However, this can look unflattering when you’re trying to hide imperfections in your body shape.

I mostly limit sweaters to middle layers only; with the exception of turtlenecks and quarter zips which I find I can wear as outer layers, as they have design elements that attract attention to something other than just your shape. Shawl necks can sometimes work for me too.

The only total exception to the avoiding sweaters as outer layers rule – in my experience – is the rugby top.

Make peace with always having an odd shape while sitting.

This is a tough one, but I have never found a way around it. Whenever I sit down, I feel like I look as overweight as I really used to be; the excess skin is pushed up over the waistline and sits unflatteringly.

I find the same with my legs. The thighs strain at the seams whenever I sit, even when wearing looser fits. I attribute this to carrying a large amount of loose skin on the thighs.

I haven’t found a workaround for this. I just avoid being photographed while sitting.

Conclusion: You can still look great while carrying excess skin.

Having excess skin isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t have to be on display.

Hopefully some of these tips and tricks will help you make the best of your body. It’s important to remember that you can always look your best, no matter your shape!

If you’re still on your weight loss journey, keep it up! Managing your wardrobe during the transformation can be difficult, so check out this article if you’re looking for tips on making life easier.

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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