Keith Olbermann & the Importance of Proportions

I was lucky enough to style the massive, in personality and stature, Keith Olbermann for a recent GQ spread. (My hands also make their modeling debut in the spread, as you can see in the above pic.)

Olbermann is (for lack of a better word) HUGE. When I was on set with him, and now seeing these pictures, I was reminded how important proportions are. If you’ve never seen him in person, you won’t understand just how big he is. Even the article touched upon it:

“Keith Olbermann is a large man. Conventional wisdom says TV adds ten pounds to people. Maybe. But conventional wisdom rarely applies to Olbermann. And seeing him in person, you realize TV makes the man appear smaller. In life—life outside the electronic box—he’s a good six feet three, with a chest that suggests a retired football player.”

The Importance of Proportions

When the magazine first sent me Keith’s sizes, I couldn’t believe it. Clearly these weren’t right. From all the pictures and videos I’d seen of him, I assumed he was average-sized. Upon confirmation that the measurements were accurate, I realized that Olbermann was a master of proportions.

Keith has consistently worn perfectly fitted suits for his stature. Couple that with appropriate-sized lapels, dress shirts with spread collars, and perfect tie widths and you’ll fool even a professional, like myself, into thinking you’re average-sized.

Example: The image below shows Eric Stonestreet (L) and Olbermann (R). Would you guess that they’re about the same size? I’ve met them both and they’re closer in size than you’d think.

This highlights exactly what I’m saying.

Eric is wearing a suit with regular width lapels and a skinny tie. Notice how he looks way larger than Keith?

To overcome Keith’s size, and what I would’ve done with Eric, I went with wide lapels, which have an amazing slimming effect on larger builds. One thing Eric did correctly was wear a dress shirt with a spread collar. Unfortunately, he should’ve chosen a wide tie (3.5″ at it’s widest point) and tied an equally substantial full Windsor knot to finish off his look, which is great for guys who are tall and/or have large torsos.

Golden Rules For Proportions

The width and knot of your tie should ALWAYS be in proportion with the lapels of your suit and the spread of your collar.

Here’s a quick breakdown for your height and build:

Tall & Slim: Regular width suit lapels, spread collar, 3″ wide tie, and half-windsor knot
Tall & Broad: Wide suit lapels, spread collar, 3.5″ tie, and full windsor knot
Average & Slim: Slim suit lapels, semi-spread collar, 2.5″ skinny tie, and half-windsor knot
Average & Broad: Wide suit lapels, spread collar, 3-3.5″ tie, and full windsor knot
Short & Slim: Slim suit lapels, semi-spread or point collar, 2.5″ skinny tie, and half-windsor knot
Short & Broad: Regular width suit lapels, spread collar, 3″ tie, and full windsor knot

Keith says: “Get your damn proportions in order!”  (Not really. But that’s what I imagine him saying in this picture.)