How To Dress When You’re Carrying Excess Skin

How to minimise the presence of loose abdominal skin.

Losing a stack of weight is great. There is no denying it. What people do not tend to talk about however, 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.

Not everybody can get access to the skin removal surgery straight away, and there is 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 (settled around 90), I have picked up 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 cover here:

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 was the fashion on the shelves, and it was really unflattering. It absolutely didn’t work for me.

I can wear a flat front with a decent rise, but it still leaves something to be desired.

A while ago, I chatted to Shaun Birley on Instagram about my fit situation and he said I ought to be going for a higher waist, with pleats. He was dead right.

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 noticeable as a portly stomach.

It also avoids the creation of a love handle silhouette, which a lower rise trouser can easily cause when there is loose abdominal skin.

Pleats are also a handy addition for people in 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 also draws the eye away from any irregularities in the silhouette.

It does wonders:

Contrast this to a flat front, which can show a noticeable bump at some angles. Especially if you are looking for it:

Note: it doesn’t look like a ‘stomach’, just an irregularity in shape.

A more classical cut – and a higher rise – is helpful too. It will make your legs look more proportionate to your body, and the higher rise will cover the abdominal area. If you’d like to learn more, check out What I’ve Learned About the Ideal Fit for Pants.

Try different shirts, and tuck them in.

If you carry excess skin in the chest area, you’ll find that tee shirts and polos won’t look so great. Button front shirts – on the other hand – will be a lot more flattering for your physique. If you miss the rounded collars of your tees, you can always go for a band collar button front shirt.

Related reading: Styles of Shirt Collars

Personally, I have a rather muscled 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.

To get around this, I simply tuck in my tees and polos. It’s the ideal way to wear them under a jacket, too.

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 am 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; get yourself into a leather jacket in the winter, a Harrington in the transitional seasons and a linen jacket in the warmer months.

Sport coats are a great choice, 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.

Double breasted jackets can actually be better than single breasted.

Despite the popularly recited opinion that double breasted jackets tend to make a man appear broader, 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 bespoke and MTM 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.

It’s why I’m in the process of getting a custom suit made right now.

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.

Found this content useful? Please consider making a contribution to the site on Patreon. There are some great exclusive benefits!

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Beginning to blog at the start of his menswear journey in 2019, Sam founded this site to reflect the journey. Sam is now heavily involved in the Adelaide menswear store Beg Your Pardon, also co-launching Sartorial Social Club in 2021.

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