Dressing for Your Body: How the Three Somatotypes Influence Your Style

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styelguieWe all have certain needs that we want to be met.

For most of us, me included, it’s about being impressed with yourself and your life, and finding someone to share it with. 

That’s what the gym symbolizes: we, the dedicated bros and broettes, find meaning in our workouts because they take us one step closer to being able to look in the mirror and smirk, feeling confident in who we are. 

Feel that? Life is good.

Spend enough time under the bar and you’re bound to have decent results. Readers of the Roman Empire are familiar with the golden ratio: the perfect proportions between shoulders, waist, and hips. For guys, we call this the Adonis Index and for women, the Venus Index.

I don’t think looking good is a joke; it’s all about precision and exactitiudes.

There’s biological evidence that we’re enamored with people who resemble the aforementioned ratios. Women cling to men because broad shoulders represent strength and protection while wide hips and a lean waist instinctually tells a man that a woman is fertile.

Some of us are gifted with good genetics and inherently start closer to these ideals, but whatever your body looks like unclothed, it’s just as — if not more — important to dress it correctly. 

So, to that, let’s figure out what kind of body type you have before delving into what to wear.

A Brief Discussion on Body Type

Whether we’re gaining weight, losing weight, or somewhere in the middle, our goal is to get a little bit closer to those ratios. If you’re vain, don’t fight it. If you reject vanity, it’s time to get uncomfortable and step your game up.

The clothes you wear can help accentuate the aspects of the ratio that you already have and conceal the parts that you don’t.

In order to do that, we need to understand and base our decisions around the central concept of somatotypes.

What’s a somatotype? Great question.

A somatotype’s really just a fancy way of saying, “the characteristics of a person’s physique or build” (If you’re really interested in this topic, Herbert Sheldon founded the theory and delves into the personality traits associated with someone’s build. It’s super deep, bro).

Focusing on the physical attributes associated with somatotypes, each of us falls into one of three categories.


  • Someone who carries more body fat easily.
  • Short limbs
  • Wide shoulders and hips

This may seem unfortunate but endomorphs make great running backs. And as you can tell, those guys can dress regardless of how stocky they may appear. You’re also naturally strong as a bull, something many of us covet.


  • Someone who does not carry a lot of fat or muscle easily
  • Long limbs
  • Narrow shoulders and hips

The con of being an ectomorph is that you’re naturally thin (see: not lean). On the bright side, it doesn’t take a lot of muscle mass to make you appear defined. A solid workout program can set you on the right path and have you looking lean and mean in no time.


  • Naturally pretty lean and carries muscle easily
  • Wide shoulders
  • Narrow waist

The epitome of perfection. You’re never going to slam dunk and you’ll have a tough time deadlifting 500 pounds, BUT clothes are your friend. Like pretty damn close to your BFF.

As with any science, there are of course the outliers, many of which consist of people who are naturally one body frame working to become another. For purposes of this article, we’re mostly talking about the ecto and endomorphs.

So, What Should You Put on Your Body?

After the sweats been dried from a week of hard workouts and you’ve messaged with a few of your buddies, it’s time for the main event.

Saturday night: this is what all your hard work comes down too.

And what kind of guy perfectly measures his macronutrients, rests for the allotted amount of time between sets, won’t breathe a sip of alcohol until the weekend, and still wears a loose-fitted button down with baggy jeans?

Why even bother? 

Keep these easy tips in mind for the next time you getting ready to for a night out.

What to Wear: Endomorph 

To review: this is someone who carries fat easier, especially centrally around the abdomen, so our goal is to divert eyes and make you seem leaner than you may naturally be.

Items to avoid: horizontal patterns, tight clothing, shirts with phrases or pictures.

Items that bode well for you:

  • Vertical patterns: the long lines create the appearance of thinner.
  • Neutral colored v-neck tees: olive, navy, black, green. Because your size stands out, we’re looking to subdue a bit.
  • Pants: regular fit with a tailored calf.

What to Wear: Ectomorph

To review: an endomorph is thinner in build, as hallmarked by narrow shoulders and a narrow waist. The last thing we want to do is make you look thinner.

Items to avoid: vertical patterns, v neck tee shirts, and skinny (anything).

So to make you stand out we need to wear the opposite and create contrast. Make sense?

Items that bode well for you: 

  • Horizontal patterns: horizontal stripes and wide patterns make you appear larger.
  • Two-toned shirts: especially anything that’s in high contrast on the color wheel and closer to your neck. 
  • Jackets, Blazers, and Sweaters: these work great to add size to your frame. Multiple layers accomplishes this feat and thus gives us the desired illusion. A lot can be said of keeping it simple in a well-fitted leather jacket and white tee.

Pro Tip: Keep the season in mind when picking colors, select neutrals and use black or white as a base.

What to Wear: Mesomorph

To review: neither thin nor fat, probably muscular, but potentially over developed in the chest and shoulders (likely, not the legs).

Items to avoid: avoid: anything that’s going to add size to your shoulders like a suit jacket with padding.

Items that bode well for you: 

  • Fitted and/or v-neck t-shirts
  • Various patterns and fabrics, like camo or wool.
  • Mostly everything…enjoy free range to experiment, just have tact.

Finishing Touches

No, you don’t look that bad, but what you put on your body says just as much (if not more) about you than what’s underneath it.

With the right clothes, you create an illusion that’s closer to the ideal ratio. 

About the Author

Joseph Brigley is the owner of The Salubrity, a health and exercise website that focuses on living to a higher standard. He is currently working on his Masters in Exercise Science. Brigley holds a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification and a Sports Injury Specialist Certification through NESTA. Follow Joseph on Twitter and Facebook.

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