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OPINION | MALE CALL: Highlight strengths when downplaying pandemic pounds

by LOIS FENTON | February 14, 2021 at 2:37 p.m.

Q During covid-19, when I'm working at home and around food all the time, I have gained weight, especially in the middle. I'm looking for a way to downplay it. In these cold months will sweaters work to hide my oversized belly?

A The best business advice teaches us to do whatever it takes to highlight our strengths. Even if you are the only one who thinks you are overweight, dressing to camouflage one's imperfections is perfectly valid. One of the best ways to feel confident and be in control is to know that we look our best.

There are a few things men can do to make themselves look thinner (and taller). A sweater is indeed one of your options. It is great for disguising a too-ample waistline. Whether a cardigan, pullover, zip-front, V-neck or sleeveless vest, they can all be slimming; they extend past, and cover, your waistline, visually erasing the beltline and your middle. You will have greater or lesser results depending upon color, pattern and what shirt appears from beneath. One particularly good method is to wear a sweater with vertical stripes. A solid-color sweater with vertical ribbing creates the same effect. Horizontal patterns will have the opposite result.

A sweater is certainly not the only garment you can use to help slim your silhouette. Here are some basic guidelines for how-to-look-thinner in all of your clothes:

• Vertical lines and details direct people's eyes up-and-down.

• Subtle pinstripes and chalk-stripes -- with closely-spaced stripes -- are your friends.

• Avoid large, "busy" patterns and rough textures.

• Wear dark colors; they minimize, while light colors emphasize.

• Choose medium- and light-weight fabrics. If your sweater is a pullover, choose a light-weight knit.

• Avoid sharply-contrasting tops and trousers that break the up-and-down sweep of the eye.

• For the same reason, a tie should extend down to your belt; avoid leaving space between the tie and the belt.

• Wearing dark colors from top to bottom can make you look 10 to 15 pounds lighter.

• Buttoning your jacket can accomplish the same slimming illusion (if it fits your shape).

• Single-breasted cuts will make you look trimmer; skip double-breasteds.

• Never wear anything that is too tight.

You can use many illusory tricks to create the look you want. While you cannot eliminate all the negative, you certainly can learn to emphasize the positive. Knowing some of these tricks lets you show the world your best features. Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that even more important than selecting clothes that are comfortable and make you look good, first things come first in business. If a style is flattering to you, but is not the accepted look of professionalism, you should always opt for what is appropriate.

Please send your men's dress and grooming questions to MALE CALL:

Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

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