In order to explain how you can fake the perfect body we have to look at the maths of things first.
There are few things in math that make sense in plain English. Take the Pythagorean theorem, quadratic formula and differential equations, for starters.
Sure, there are some guys out there who could solve a problem set in their sleep, but for most, just the word “math” is enough to stir up nightmares of ninth-grade geometry and Mister I-Purged-His-Name-Out-Of-My-Head-Forever.
Then there’s the golden ratio. Even by any of its other names — golden cut, divine proportion or sectio divina — you know it has to be good.
Indeed, as the name suggests, the golden ratio is essentially mathematical perfection: When the sum of two quantities is exactly equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one.
After a few simple calculations, it turns out that this ratio has a tangible value — roughly 1.6180339887.
A calculator-crunching engineer may get off on that explanation, but the rest of us can take interest in the golden ratio’s relevance for everyday life in the real world.
And it has nothing to do with a train leaving Joburg station, a train leaving Cape Town and the time at which they could potentially collide. Rather, the golden ratio should be thought of as science that expresses itself as objective beauty in the real world. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the melodies of Chopin and Dali’s The Sacrament of the Last Supper are all based on this value of heavenly proportions. Even playing cards and wide-screen TVs are argued as evidence of the golden ratio in action.
While we could say that the dimensions of a wide-screen TV are perhaps the most important manifestation of this math yet, it is also said to govern our perception of attractiveness in the human form. Your face (the ratio of length to width), upper body (the ratio of shoulder width to the waist) and arms (the ratio of the upper arm to the forearm and hand) should all match up with this magic number. That is, of course, if you’re sculpted from marble at the hands of Michelangelo or happen to be Hugh Jackman. For the rest of us, our proportions come pretty close but rarely hit the target. So what’s a guy to do when he doesn’t quite measure up?
Cheat of course and the best way to do it without spending a lifetime in the gym is with fashion and the clothes you wear. Here’s a few tips…
If you have slim shoulders…
Introduce width and bulk to the upper body area. Horizontal stripes, a little extra padding in a suit jacket and an English spread-collar shirt all accomplish that just fine, but be careful. It’s easy to go overboard with stripes or padding and pack on pounds instead of working out your shoulder-to-waist ratio. This sweater is how to do a stripe right: The placement is perfect, the banding on the sleeve adds to the illusion and the Fair Isle print is basically Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s in fabric form.
If you have a short torso…
Draw the eyes downward. Slightly longer sport coats, vertical stripes and pants with a lower rise add inches to your upper half and literally balance the body from top to bottom. It’s worth mentioning, however, that the clothes you pick to fix your proportions need to fit properly. A shapeless shirt or jacket and baggy pants, no matter their pattern or inseam, won’t strengthen your stats. But these jeans will. The rise is right and the darker color commands attention where you need it most. Not tucking in whatever you’ve tossed on top — like a tee, sweater or slim-fit Oxford — will only get you closer to realizing the ratio.
If you have a long torso…
Wear pants with a higher rise. It’s a tough thing for most American men to understand (mainly because we tend to trot around in trousers that come nowhere near the waistline), but most dapperly dressed gents elsewhere in the world live on higher ground. Putting the kibosh on pant cuffs as well as opting for suit jackets that just barely brush the bottom of your behind can also lengthen your lower half. This shortened sport coat selection, with its wider torso-shrinking lapels and oversize patch pockets, can do exactly that.
If you have a narrow face…
Go for glasses that are bigger, broader and tipped at the temple with a decorative detail. A larger frame helps shorten the face, while an extra element on the sides adds width. Check out a classic wayfarer or browline style. The depth of the lens and sturdiness of the acetate eliminate the oblong issue, along with the assistance of those iconic metal tears.
If you have a weighty waistline…
Balance it out by broadening your shoulders. Remember: The golden ratio is a proportion, so everything is relative. Even if you’re hauling around some heft, widening your upper half and creating a strong, structured silhouette through your midsection can help get you golden. But that’s only half the battle of mastering your math. You should also look for a lower stance, single-button closure, peak lapels and a firmer fabric like velvet. They’re all tricks of the trade to help lean out your lines.
Though perfection may have a number, the most important thing to know is that almost no one ever achieves it fully. But with the right wardrobe we can get pretty damn close.