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How to Bulk up Without Hitting the Gym - 6 Style Secrets

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Dressing to impress when you have a thin frame can seem frustrating as you don't want to appear frail, but you don't always know how to choose fabrics, styles and options to make you look stronger. Here's six easy ways to "bulk" up without lifting weights or working out.

It goes without saying the only way you’re going to put any muscle on a skinny frame is by working out… a lot. Unfortunately, not all of us have the time to hit the gym three times a week, and some of us have a metabolism that just won’t allow weight gain, no matter how many protein shakes we chug. But fear not, there’s hope for us skinny fellows, and all it takes is a little sartorial know-how.

Avoid oversize clothes

This is a no brainer as far as formal wear is concerned, but it’s a rule you should apply to everything you wear. From rugby shirts to those baggy boardies, if it’s too big, it’s not good.

It’s simple when you think about it. If you have skinny arms, then wearing an oversized t-shirt makes them look like noodles.


However, wearing something that fits snugly around your bicep gives the impression your guns are popping. You should also make sure the shoulder seam on all of your shirts sits right at your shoulder’s edge to avoid looking like you have the shoulders of a ten-year-old.

It’s all about the layers

The simplest way to bulk up your appearance is, of course, to cheat. And piling on layer after layer of bulky clothing is one way to do so, but follow this path, and you’re more likely to look overweight than muscular.


Start with light or thin clothing and with each layer you can take it up a notch bulk-wise. And making sure each layer (aside from your undershirt) is visible helps you maintain your original body shape but give the impression of a larger frame.

Choose bulky fabrics

Another little trick is to add bulk to your clothing by opting for heavier fabrics. Wool, tweed, denim, flannel and corduroy are ideal for this purpose. If it’s rough to the touch, then it’s a safe bet it adds bulk to your frame.


You can also add thickness to one item of clothing rather than layering up. Wool is perfect for this as chunky-knit sweaters and cardigans are quite the style statement of late, so get a few in your wardrobe as soon as.

Beef up your neck

There’s one thing all your weight pumping mates have in common - aside from biceps the size of your head - and that’s a big neck. Forget about the rest of your body, if your neck looks the part, then you’re halfway there.

Turtlenecks, zip necks, and shawl collars all help create this illusion, but the stand-up collar is the clear winner here. Although the other styles of collar add more bulk, it’s the uniformity and almost military appearance of the stand-up collar that creates the strongest look. And that’s why Polo shirts and custom tailored shirts are a skinny man’s best friends.

Choosing Proper colours & patterns

In the height of summer, bulking up with layers isn’t an option, so we must make do with more subtle means. While we all know dark colours have a slimming effect, did you know light colours do the opposite? A light coloured shirt will show off any muscle tone that you have whereas dark colours will hide it.


We all know those of us with a few extra kilos under the hood should avoid horizontal stripes like the plague, but that is why the skinny man should wear the hell out of them. Check patterns and horizontal stripes add considerable bulk and width to a small frame and can make your shoulders seem far bigger than they actually are. Big win right there.

Wear a suit

Or at least wear a sports coat or a blazer. The suit jacket is made with all the right angles in all the right places creating the much sought after V-shape that is the internationally recognised signifier of male strength. Okay, so maybe it’s not that important, but it still makes a huge difference to your frame.


The suit jacket can add an inch or so to the width of your shoulders, which is a massive change to a man with a slight build. It also tapers down to your waist with the lapels accentuating the V-shape you are looking for.

While these tips are no real substitute for the hard work needed at the gym, they certainly will help bulk up those of us with lighter builds. And as for the best one on the list? We’d have to say the stand-up collar and the suit, but as tailors of custom made suits, we would say that, wouldn’t we.

Pop into our showrooms or call us and schedule a personal consultation to find out how Montagio Custom Tailoringcan make you look damn good – regardless of your body shape.

Image credits© Fashionstock .com | Dreamstime.com © Felix Mizioznikov | Dreamstime.com © Kadet23 | Dreamstime.com © Catalin205 | Dreamstime.com


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