It all started with a simple pair of pants. We posted about this suspiciously flattering pair a little while back and the response was so enthusiastic, it got us thinking: Why not sniff out the most flattering things across a bevy of categories, from the most skin-enhancing light bulb to the brightening eye drops to the shapewear designed for all sizes? Welcome to Flattering Week on the Strategist.
Different men have different needs. Some of us are self-conscious about our chests. Others want their legs to look longer. Over time, most of us have learned some tricks for showcasing our assets and hiding our flaws. To learn these secrets, we went straight to the source, talking to 11 guys about the most flattering piece in their wardrobe, from the slimming chinos to the pec-embracing Henley.
“I only very rarely find myself having to wear collared dress shirts, but my favorite not-quite dress shirt to wear is the band-collar shirt, which has the dressed-up vibe of a typical button-down without being quite as stuffy or square. This one’s got the cool cut (slim around the torso and the perfect length for wearing tucked or untucked), but my favorite thing about it is the band collar, which actually frames your face nicely if you leave the top button unbuttoned. It’s that bit of oomph that a regular oxford doesn’t give you.” — Jason Chen, senior editor, Strategist
“These cotton shorts from Saturdays are essentially just cut-off sweatpants — which is a perk if, like some of us, you’re rolling into summer a few stomach flus above your goal weight. The waistband is forgiving, but they’re trim and short enough that they don’t seem too slouchy to wear out and about. They come in a couple colors, but I like the indigo, since it’s dark enough that from a distance, no one can tell exactly what they’re made of.” — Ben Reininga, editor-in-chief, Vocativ
“Henleys are a really tough shirt to wear well, but it’s not necessarily your body’s fault. In my experience, materials can be off, the fit can be a little drastically skinny — or, more often than not, they can just hug you in all the wrong areas. But I bought this Henley a few years ago, and never went anywhere else. The length is just right — they’re light enough to wear solo in the summer, but good for layering when it’s chilly, and they make you look slightly more in shape than you are in the arms and shoulders and pecs. Always the first shirt I wear out of the wash.” — John Jannuzzi, U.S. editor, Twitter Moments
“A decade ago, back when American Apparel wasn’t bankrupt, it seemed every man owned that company’s Technicolor briefs, but then I started to notice that all guys (muscle queens in Fire Island, schlubby tech bros in the gym locker room) had switched to Calvin Klein’s cotton stretch briefs. I bought them myself and understand now: The 5 percent elastane keeps your junk in place without bunching between your legs, and the gracefully curved leg holes are the platonic ideal of what briefs should look like: classic, not porny. Black is, of course, the sexiest and most flattering choice here.” — Kurt Soller, features editor, Bon Appétit
“These Save sweatpants are the first pair I’ve loved since I had to retire the striped Adidas sweatpants I got in high school. They’re cut in a way that’s neither too fitted (like old high-school gym sweatpants) nor too baggy, which allows them to work even with sweaters and button-downs (versus tees and sweatshirts) when you’re walking the dog or going to the bodega.” — Ian Klein, senior director, Corigin Real Estate
“Finding great swim trunks requires a multipronged strategy. There’s the length, which should hit around mid-thigh on a guy — optimal for tanning without being too revealing — and the cut, a bit fitted but not too tight, lest it makes you look bigger than you are (or like a kid). And a netted lining inside — mandatory, I say — which should be a bit looser than briefs, so it holds everything in place. This is the best option I’ve found. Perfect cut, with a drawstring waist that stretches no matter what my summer bod looks like.” — Tony Nikolla, vice-president, Edelman