After surgery and struggle to lose weight, techwear helps me feel comfortable in my environment and in my own skin. With this guide I hope it can do the same for others.
Earlier this year I started my fashion journey, once I was finally successful maintaining weight loss.
I have always been a large dude standing at 6’4 / 193 cm but ever since middle school I have been overweight. For years I had tried dieting and exercise, keto, and many other fad or restriction diets. Keto was the most successful one, getting me down to a weight of 320 lbs/ 145 kg, but it was so rapid that it caused my gallbladder to fill with stones.
After the ensuing surgery and inactivity, all I had achieved was lost. I ballooned up to 450 lbs/204 kg. At this point I considered weight loss surgery, and after a year of doctors appointments, dieting consultants and a six week liquid diet, I had the surgery to remove 85 percent of my stomach in December 2018. After two months of recovery and finally being back on normal food I had to buy a whole new wardrobe.
I decided I would now care about what I wear.
After a brief streetwear phase, I decided that the aesthetic that appealed most to me was techwear. To me techwear embodies the idea of being comfortable with whatever hurdles the environment throws at you while maintaining a modern or even futuristic aesthetic. The only problem was that I was still not any kind of standard size. So I had to find my own personal style and refine it through trial and error.
As most of you are probably aware, fashion in general is not aimed toward the larger sizes, so finding clothes that fit properly was an issue. I had discovered that Uniqlo offers extended sizes of most of their clothing, so I used them as a launch pad for my techwear journey. A pair of their relaxed cargo pants, some dry packed shirts, and a blocktech parka was all I needed to know that I was about to go down the rabbit hole that is techwear.
Hopefully this guide will help you feel comfortable exploring the fashion niche that is techwear, whatever your size is. It is known that being overweight is unhealthy and everyone has their own journey to make in that regard. But it is important for people to be comfortable in their own skin. Self-expression through techwear is one way I can achieve that, and I hope it could be for others. I encourage everyone to strive to be healthy both mentally and physically.
Styles and recommendations
As a bigger guy, you are likely to find that some styles and stylings help make a flattering silhouette for a fit. For shirts and jackets, you will want to go for a boxier style, avoiding slim or profile fits as much as possible. The goal is to not have curves showing and to try and have it drape off the body as much as possible.
The Alexander Wang Airism shirts from Uniqlo provide a nice boxy cut that drapes off the body quite well. There really is no way to hide pectoral fat without wearing a jacket so it will just be a reality if it is there.
The style of pants that tends to be flattering for larger guys are wider cut with a straight leg or slight taper. The goal is to create a silhouette in which the outline of your legs becomes defined by the pants themselves. The length and drape will impact the pants/shoe interaction (PSI) as well.
Besides the wallet protruding from my pocket, the look of these pants has been the best I have found. They start wide in the thigh area and have a slight taper in the calf. For the PSI of this fit it is slightly cheating because the Downtown Air Force 1‘s force a strong interaction, taking over the pants mid shin. Also note that this shirt is more profile fit, and you can see the curve of my stomach right above where my pants sit. Avoid if possible.
Evolution of a fit
My favorite outfit can serve as a visual example of my advice above and explain the changes between each and the critiques. The first and second fit are 100% the same items just styled slightly differently and an added cap. The fit is RosenX Orion Anorak, Uniqlo Relaxed Cargos, Adidas Alpha Edge 4D, and an Orbit Gear R202.
The first fit was my first ever techwear fit and it is fair to say I had zero idea what I was doing. The photo was taken head on which is not going to be as flattering as say at an angle. I posed with my hands in the pockets which changes the silhouette of the total fit to seem wider. The anorak is not pulled all the way down so that my white undershirt is exposed slightly, looking sloppy and unintentional. Wearing the bag with the cross body strap is unflattering since it creates un needed curves in the pullover.
The second fit improves some posing/picture issues but introduces some other issues to avoid. I was using the cargo pockets at the time which made the pants seem lumpy and awkward. Since I wear my clothing my Orion got a stain, it is not a great look but especially isn’t great for us larger guys. If I had seen it before I would have taken care of it, all it took was some soap and water and it came right out. While the pose is better it is still slightly awkward because my feet are forward but my body twists as to look away. Bag on one shoulder is a visual improvement since it does not disrupt the flat front of the anorak. I also cleaned up the facial hair, it was not doing me any favors looking like a futuristic biker.
The third fit changes the pants and shoes to Uniqlo Kando pants and a pair of Yeezy 700 V2 Geodes. The pants were altered when purchased to allow for a small amount of drape over shoes when worn high on the waist. The shoes are controversial due to being Yeezys, but aesthetically they fit and they are extremely comfortable due to the full boost midsole. I fixed the posing issues from before for this fit, but my head is slightly forward and arm is back, so I introduced some different issues. The bottom of the Orion also has a square outline of my wallet which is distracting. One small accessory for the fit was in-ear Air Pods, just a small tech touch that I am fond of.
In-between each of these fits I lost about 10 lbs and it can be seen in the jacket becoming less tight. Losing weight is something we larger men should keep in mind when purchasing clothes because as you lose weight things will start to look better. Because of this I highly recommend not spending too much money on expensive clothing if you are actively trying to lose pounds. Therefore, most of my wardrobe is Uniqlo so I can dress well but not feel bad about donating clothes every few months.
I do have a couple pieces that are stand out, but they are pieces that will grow with me. The RosenX Orion anorak was made custom to my sizing so in the first fit it seemed tight but as I lose weight it will become a great oversized pullover that I could use as a layering piece. I also invested in a high quality belt from Havona Labs with a custom length as to fit my waist. I got the HL-B1 which will be adjustable and has a popular tech aesthetic of a cobra buckle and extra dangling material.
Measurements and sizing charts
The most important piece of advice I can give is to understand how clothes are measured by retailers, and to understand your own measurements. If you are just starting your fashion journey this is extremely important. As long as you know your measurements you will not be at the mercy of inconsistent sizing conventions across companies.
The one tool you will need is a tailor’s tape and understand how to use it. The way that I learned was through trial and error with Uniqlo and their tops size chart and bottoms size chart. I will also link the Acronym sizing to expose two different sizing charts and hope that with these two you will be able to interpret other size charts. You simply take the tailor’s tape, line up the zero end with the position of one arrow tip shown on the chart and measure to the other tip. It is important to note that some measurements require you to measure yourself such as your waist in which they will ask for the circumference or the length of the tape when wrapped around you. Other measurements such as Acronym’s ½ waist measurement is of a flat pair of pants.
Jackets and shirts: These are rather straightforward measurement wise, for Uniqlo you have: shoulder width, body width or pit to pit, body length, and in some cases sleeve length. For Acronym it is; ½ chest or pit to pit, length from collar to bottom seam, shoulder from collar to shoulder seam, and sleeve length. Depending on your body shape loose and or slightly oversized is recommended, so going an inch further than exact measurements will allow for more flattering fit of these items.
Bottoms: This is where us larger lads tend to suffer. Uniqlo’s convention is waist (measured around your body), waist (measured on garment), hip, thigh, rise length of waist to start of legs, bottom width, and inseam. Acronym’s convention is ½ waist, ½ hem, inseam, and outseam. Uniqlo will go more in depth for the measurements as to allow you a more exact fit so for example if large thighs are an issue Uniqlo will allow for you to measure and get the proper size. Uniqlo also offers free alterations so that while most of their inseams are 34 inches you can change it to fit perfectly for your height. This can be done online when you order or if available in a store near you.
I do not own any Acronym pants myself, but the potential for larger dudes to fit seems to depend heavily on the model of the pants. The XL of the P10-DS has a 48 cm ½ waist which comes out to be about 19 inches half thus 38 when doubled so it would be about a 38waist pant. The P30A-DS XL has a half waist of 59 cm which is about 23 inches thus 46 waist.
Knowing how sizing works is a great starting point for creating techwear outfits that you feel comfortable in as they fit your frame.
Inspiration from the community
Joe McGaughey is an active member on the Techwear General Discord and has put together some quality fits. Here he is wearing Arc’teryx Leaf Atom LT, AW Airism tee, Nike ACG pants, and Acronym Prestos.
I asked Joe for what advice he would give to plus-sized techwear enthusiasts. “The big thing I think is that clothing fit matters a lot more than for guys with smaller frames. It’s a fine line you gotta ride between wearing a bedsheet and leeloo from the 5th element. Also, I think shoes and PSI tend to be extra important to help draw the eyes down off thigh town. Oversized jackets can also be helpful, but of course you need to be cognizant of the fit of your pants.”
Austin is a community member from the Techwearclothing subreddit and this is one of his recent fits adapting to the summer heat. He is wearing a Nike Dri-Fit Premium shirt, Riot Division SWAWM, Orbit Gear R 211 with Pupil Travel reflective pocket, and Tevas.
He says that he is happier when he dresses in performance and technical clothing, rather than letting other people’s judgements exclude him from the techwear community.
“I would say that even though stacked pants are cool, too much can make us look shorter/stockier than we actually are — especially with baggy pants. Angle of photos is very important (for anyone of course). Having the lens closer to your waist level and angled upward will improve the layout itself and your presence in the photo. Don’t be afraid to experiment and go outside of generally accepted look of techwear. With the limited availability of plus size items, you must be creative. Keep an open mind about how a piece can be suitable for the look (even if it’s not water resistant or perfectly tailored off the rack). But mostly, just go for it. I get flack for being fat, but body positivity can still work in a niche like techwear.”
Dakota Perez runs a YouTube channel that is dedicated to techwear. His video was one of the first resources that I found relating to techwear for larger men.
“The biggest tip I can give for larger people, but it can apply to any body type really, is that you should learn how to make alterations to clothes. It’s a lot easier as a bigger dude to get some surplus clothing or some sort of outerwear or something that you like and then reshape it and slim it down to fitting you perfectly. I find that the biggest issue for larger dudes is finding something that fits the waist while also fitting the thighs in a flattering way. Anything that really helps obstruct your bodies curves and give more of an angular brutalist appearance to the silhouette helps as well. I’d also like to mention how much sweat wicking clothes, especially base layers, help bigger dudes too because we tend to sweat a lot.”
If you have any further questions or just want to chat feel free to contact me through my Instagram @Slackjackflack, or comment below!
3 thoughts on “The bigger picture: A guide to XL techwear.”
Hi am looking at the acronym p10-ds. wear a size 34 pants usually. what size of the acronym should I get?
Very interesting article with good ideas of techwear outfits for a discreet style less eccentric than the “ninja techwear” style. You can also find techwear clothes on techwear-outifts.com. They have some nice items to complete your techwear wardrobe ! 🙂