The Long and Short / Big and Small of It

WARNING: This post contains personal history, shoddy statistical analysis, and old images of United States Presidents (one of whom got stuck in a bathtub).

Growing up, I was always fairly big. In fact, I was pretty chubby for the first 20 years of my life (I distinctly remember my mother taking me to the department store to buy "husky" jeans). I now lift weights to convert some of the junk I eat into muscle. This leaves me with an above average mass for my height (albeit slightly less insulated).
Willam Howard Taft: 6'0", 340 lbs.

When I first started caring about how I presented myself to the world, I was convinced that only slender people could look good. Hey, I never claimed to be insightful or intelligent. Since then, through research and experience, I've realized that anyone can look like a million dollars if they just wear clothes that fit their bodies and their personalities (easier said that done, apparently). I also realized that this is true for that of people on the opposite end of the spectrum as well. Small and skinny or tall and lanky guys can often have trouble finding clothes that flatter their body types.

James Madison: 5'4", 100lbs.
Since being larger than average is kind of my angle (and reality), I am constantly thinking about how different pieces of clothing will fit me. Most of the times, at least when it comes to pants, even trying stuff on is out of the question. But more generally, this got me thinking about variation in mens sizing and it's relation to access to good-looking, well-made stuff. My left brain took over and I started wondering if there was a typical male body size with regard to who is "into" looking good or not. I basically wanted to characterize who I'm constantly talking to all the time about clothes in terms of height and weight. Now, I'll be the first one to tell you how little credence I put in simple height and weight figures (don't get me started on the use of BMI as an indicator of health) but for raw data like this, it will do for now. So I basically asked every dude who I've spoken with via Twitter their info. This data includes some of your favorite bloggers and in general, just style enthusiasts (I've also included myself). This is the data I got:
For reference, 72 inches is 6 feet
The output graph of height vs. weight kind of surprised me. First of all, there is a lot more variation than I expected. On the other hand, there are no extreme outliers. The data does not follow a very clear trend (obviously in general, the taller one is, the more likely one is to weight more). One fact that is easily noticable is the cluster of points toward the middle-left of the graph. The cluster contains people who stand between 5'9" and 6'0" and weigh between 150 and 170 lbs. This group would be at the top of your standard bell curve (the normal distribution) and would generally be considered "average" for the age group surveyed (to my knowledge: 18-35 year old males). In this data set, 11 of 27 (40.6%) people are within this window. The points above and below this cluster represent the outlier combination of height and weight that are sometimes more difficult to fit off the rack. [Aside: What is also interesting is that the median weight for those taller than 6 ft. jumps disproportionally compared to those shorter than 6 ft. There is a hole in the graph in the 5'11"-6'3" / 170-190lbs. block. This is likely explained by a limited data set (only 27 data points).]

When a clothing designer makes a pattern for anything off the rack that will have more than one size, they usually try to do so such that the garment will fit the most number of people within their target audience of customers (most likely the top of the bell curve of body measurements). Outliers are often left out, especially in a company that makes high-quality products in limited runs. But hey, that's business. I know I'm really oversimplifying/over-complicating this but I hope it isn't too difficult to understand. My findings were overly simple because I didn't take body type into account; perhaps fodder for a future investigation.


  1. Love this!!! You are such a talented writer!
    Thanks for sharing your ongoing journey...


  2. Hey Tommy,

    Cool site -- and great post; it IS surprising that your following would be so all over the map. Not that it's a bad thing at all. Still, it might be cool to have a sort of height/weight/body-type gravatar that IDed all men's style blogs. Then we could easily search for the ones that would be the most helpful. At least, if FIT is the focus...

    Anyway, ThisFits turned me onto you -- and this post in particular. Seems you and I are on a similar sort of mission. Just at different ends of the bell curve. I'd love to know the urls of those four style bloggers in the lower left-hand corner of your chart. If you/they'd be willing to tell me.


  3. I fit into that 'hole' you speak of. I'm 23, 1/4" shy of 6', and currently 190 lbs. Yep, tough to find stuff that fits.