Napoleon Complex


At a whopping 5'6", I am a giant among men nobody.
The UK average height for a man is 5'9", this is not that tall in the grand scheme of things, but falling a full 3 inches below average puts me in a distinct social group.

This is my usual look. I have to adapt
shirt and trouser lengths to fit
This is not a woe is me post or one full of tricks on how to appear taller. There is no point in trying to disguise your height, it's not going to fool anyone. [Sidebar, on researching this post, I found many articles were focusing on ways to make you look taller. This is unhealthy and unrealistic] Just embrace the concentrated little package we come in.
The real problem for men of smaller stature is fit. This might seem obvious, but realistically most men's clothing is seen in 3 sizes: small medium & large. This generally denotes width & with that proportional length. However, in order for many of us to change length, we must get skinny. The only industry that seemingly embraces and caters to a smaller man is in suiting & formal wear. Why does the high-street overlook short lengths?

My perpetual problem is with jeans. I have a 28" inseam. I challenge you to find a shop that does this off the rack (directing me to the kids department is not helpful). I understand the economic reasoning behind brands offering a selected range of lengths but this is still frustrating. I couldn't tell you how much I've spent on alterations over the years, sometimes in line with the original price of the jeans.
I find the best option is to stick to classic dark selvedge denim. No fancy finishes (That fading at the knee? It will be at your ankle once you've had them taken up), no additional pockets or patterns (they'll just swamp your legs). Just stick with indigo denim, ultimately more stylish and versatile. I find Gap the best fit for me (short legs, big calves, big thighs, no bum - I sound like a monster). With a good pair of selvedge jeans, you can wear them casual & smart and even get away with a cheeky wee turn-up. I am thankful that turn-ups have made a hipsterish comeback - it's saved me a fortune the past year or so.
NB: do not have a turn up more than about 1.5 inches wide, this will make your turn-ups look more like your mummy did it than it was intentional.

Over the years I've had to have the likes of shirts (body & sleeves), trousers, jackets, jeans, waistcoats, t-shirts & even shorts shortened. The best advice I can give is make friends with your local tailor/seamstress/alteration god. Explain to them what you want, explain how you want it. If at any time you don't feel confident, don't hand over your stuff - I've learned this the hard way.

Here's a few tips:
  • Can't find a good tailor? Ask your local suit shop where they send their stuff to.
  • A blazer/jacket sleeves can be shortened, but if the body is too long; it's not for you.
  • If your sleeve has working buttons and the tailor looks confused, go elsewhere.
  • Never wear 3/4 lengths unless you're expecting a flood.
  • Always ask for original hems on jeans.

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