Fashion is the art of looking good. Now, that means different things to different people, but in Western culture, the basics of fashion is this: dress so that you look tall and thin. Make use of color and pattern and various optical illusions to draw people’s eyes away from whatever it is about you that isn’t tall or thin.

When I was in my 20s, I paid a little bit (not too much – I was cynical at an early age) of attention to fashion. I was, however, operating under a handicap; a self-inflicted one, perhaps, but still… I didn’t realize I was short. I thought 5’6″ was OK. I didn’t realize that I would be considered a “short man”. I just assumed my male friends were all “tall” and that I was at, or near, the average. It should have been a huge clue that all of my male friends were taller than me. Objectively, that put my height somewhere to the left of the bell-shaped curve. Ah, the delusions of youth.

And yet, subconsciously, perhaps I knew that I was below average in height for an American male, because I made up for height with weight. I, like many who aren’t paying much attention, gained and gained and gained in weight. I became a blocky, squared-off shape. And the bigger I got, the more I started to dress to hide that weight. Baggy clothes, dark colors, long coats, heavy shoes.

Several years ago, as I began to bring my weight under control, I slowly re-learned all the basic fashion tips that fashion experts give for men. And I quickly realized that there are separate tips for short men, and big men.

And they tend to contradict each other. It’s impossible for someone who may fit into both categories to follow all of the advice.

This makes sense on one level; short men are trying to look bigger, and heavy men are trying to look smaller. The advice is working at cross-purposes to each other.

Since I fit both categories, I had to pick one or the other. I went with the “big man” advice.

But the more weight I lose, the more I can start to incorporate the advice for shorter men: lighter colors, snug fit. And my friends are starting to notice…