Suit Yourself

by Danny Kavadlo on September 23, 2014

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Danny Kavadlo Dressed up in a Suit

This was not a post I planned on writing, but it had to be written. You see, when the above photo was innocently shared on social media last week, it sparked a conversation that, quite surprisingly, I had never seen publicly addressed. The subject was something I’ve personally spoken about many times, but had no idea how many others were on the same page. Again, my Calisthenics Brothers and Sisters, it’s proven time after time just how much we have in common in this path of fitness and life.

The comment that initiated the conversation was made by Karen Lee, the wife of Jason Lee, PCC Instructor. This is what she said:

Karen Lee Social Media Screenshot

Good call, Karen! Here it is.

A few months ago I wrote an article for in which I described what has become known as the Calisthenics Body: a male physique that is strong and broad in the shoulders, wide in the lats and shredded in the abdomen. I detailed how, despite the high amount of lean muscle mass of this streamlined human machine, he remains narrow in the waist, though muscular in the legs. Simply put, calisthenics staples such as bar work, push-ups, pistol squats and levers, along with a clean diet, result in a very distinct body type. (For more read the entire article here.)

Most commercial clothing sold in America is not tailored to fit the Calisthenics Body. Rather, it’s mass-produced for the “Wal-Mart Male”. Whereas the PCC male hits the pull-up bar a few times a week, many Americans hit the bar at TGIFriday’s for an oversized drink and nachos platter instead. For the record, any food consumed that we do not metabolize for fuel will be stored as body fat, not only harming your pull-up game, but increasing your waistline. Besides poor eating habits, many people choose to be sedentary whenever possible. Unlike the Progressive Calisthenics enthusiast, the average American drives when he can walk, sits when he can stand and makes excuses when he can train. This lack of activity actually lowers the metabolism, which further increases body fat (not to mention estrogen) in the Wal-Mart Male. It’s a downward spiral from there. Hence the “ginormous waist” to which Mrs. Lee refers, which comes standard-issue on most pants.

Danny Kavadlo -- Calisthenics Abs. Can you pinch an inch?

Calisthenics Abs. Can you pinch an inch?

Since the target demographic of major clothing manufacturers doesn’t exercise, the pants-with-the-oversized-waist are often complemented by wide-bellied jackets with pint-sized shoulders. This is why you have to buy a jacket two sizes too big and get the mid-section drastically taken in if you do push-ups, pull-ups and dips with any regularity at all. Sad but true.

It is not only the suits affected by this madness. Jeans, drawers, shirts and shorts are all manufactured with the ample-bodied desk jockey in mind. Even athletic apparel is tailor made to fit the physique of the overweight! That’s right. It’s hard to get a pair of workout pants with a leg-to-waist ratio that resembles that of anyone who actually works out! Ironic, don’tcha think?

The fact that most clothing companies cater to the average, overweight consumer really shouldn’t come as shock to anyone. After all, that’s the target of almost every commercial product there is, from cars to televisions, mobile devices to appliances, and obviously food products and supplements. The industry changed to “suit” the needs of the typical consumer. Again, not surprising.

It’s hard to find clothes that fit. No wonder Al and I seldom wear shirts!

It’s hard to find clothes that fit. No wonder Al and I seldom wear shirts!

But what I do find surprising is that sizes themselves have changed. By this, I am not referring to the fact that “Medium” or “Large” are bigger than they were years ago (as is the case with both clothes and food portions). What I am speaking about is that a lot of clothing labeled “32-inch” waist actually has a waist that’s bigger than 32 inches. Be it slacks, jeans or boxers, the printed measurement is not always the actual measurement! How can this be, you ask? It’s easy. We are being lied to. In order to keep the Wal-Mart Male happy, his corporate masters will tell him anything… even that a 35” waist is a 32”.

Danny Kavadlo With Pants

So what can we do? Well for starters, if you find a particular brand that fits your physique, then stick with it. Every company measures things a little differently. See which, if any, work for you. Apart from that, always make it a point to try things on. Allow extra time. Even different clothing made by the same manufacturer will have disparities in sizing. You never know how anything will realistically lay out until you experience it firsthand. That statement holds true for clothing and just about everything else life. Good luck and let me know how it works out.

Oh yeah, one more thing… make friends with a tailor!

Keep the dream alive,


Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s most established and respected personal trainers. He is a Master Instructor of Progressive Calisthenics and the author of Everybody Needs Training: Proven Success Secrets for the Professional Fitness Trainer. A true in-person experience, Danny is known globally as a motivator and leader in the body-weight community. Learn more about Danny at:

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  • PGJ

    Another good one, Danny! I seldom wear suits but after reading this I tried on one that was really well tailored for me a couple of years ago and the damn thing just doesn’t fit anymore.. It feels like it’s gonna rip anytime on my shoulders or back but at the waist it’s like the bottom of a tent. So thanks guys for ruining my fancy suit really thank you.. Just kidding love you I owe you guys so freaking much. Besides, a suit is still cheaper than years of gym memberships and supplements.

    • dannykavadlo

      WOW! You raised a lot of good points. The fact that your custom tailored suits no longer fit you is a HUGE testament to what we’re talkin about here! And you’re right… most suits are WAY cheaper than a gym membership! Thanks PGJ!

  • Tom

    Find a good tailor! Most garments can be tweaked to look like a million bucks.

    • dannykavadlo

      Right on Tom. A good tailor can make it work!

  • Mario C

    Great post Danny!

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks Mario!

  • Karen Lee

    Well done, sir!

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks for inspiring me Karen!

  • V Kishore Vancheeshwaran

    That’s a wonderful post Danny. After I started Calisthenics, my shirt and pant size changed. It was very hard to find the perfect shirt. And after C-Mass, whoa… I really HAD to get my clothes stitched by a tailor. I keep changing clothes as I move on to harder exercises. Good thing too. I still have hopes of getting the calisthenics body. Thanks to progressive calisthenics.

    PS: I do always wonder how those olympic gymnasts get their clothes. I mean, look at the shoulders.


    • dannykavadlo

      Hey Kishore,
      Thanks for sharing. I love to hear how a body can transform using calisthenics. Keep training hard my friend!

  • TimK

    Yes I do my pushups and pullups but I hold onto that extra 30lbs of manly lard just so the my clothes fit a little better. Well mostly everything fits like a tent. Even with the extra beef I carry, my waist to shoulder ratio makes it impossible to buy a suit without the tailor taking in the waist by inches.

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks for the comment Tim. IT’s hard to find clothes that fit!

  • Lovely. So “vanity sizing” has fully arrived for men’s clothing too. Welcome to the PAIN, guys! I get around it by taking just about anything and everything (have even taking a few workout items in) to my very very very trusted tailor (it’s not THAT expensive). Below is an image of some bizarre numbers on clothing in my closet that all fit me…. notice the variety (admittedly the Italian size 42 was included as a kind of joke). For my “special” shape I will typically buy a size larger, then have my tailor skillfully nip in the waist as necessary. Also noticed that saving up for higher tier manufacturers OR even better, finding a trusted high end consignment shop is a real boon.

    • dannykavadlo

      Hahaha! I love the picks. Just goes to show, TRY EVERYTHING ON!!!

  • Doesn’t matter what you wrote after that first pic, my friend. All anyone’s gonna think is “wow, don’t those Kavadlo boys scrub up nice?”

    PS. Damn, you dudes look good all suited up though. You should do your street workouts that ways. We’d attract some yuppies into the PCC family.

    PPS. …Do you still get “yuppies”?

    • V Kishore Vancheeshwaran

      Hey Coach. Long time no see. How are you? My training is going good. I wanted to ask a couple of things
      1. When is CC3 coming? Am very excited and anxious.. 🙂
      2. I read a lot about gymnastics in the past few weeks. I wanted to know. How do you consider the “principles” of progressive calisthenics(PC) in comparison with gymnastic training? I mean, cut the part of skill training away from gymnastics. For the strength part, does PC and gymnastics follow the same principles of progressive overload? Both are bodyweight strength training. Is there any difference in the strength training part? Or is it just the same with PC and gymnastics?
      3. I see you have expressed a lot on bent arm strength. What are your views in straight arm strength? How can one train for it from the basics?

      PS: Sorry to bother you in someone else’s post. Its just very hard to catch you. 🙂

      Love you coach

      • dannykavadlo

        Hey V,

        I can’t speak for Coach but I’d like to personally thank you for supporting the PCC Blog! Don’t worry my friend, CC3 will be here soon… we are ALL excited!

    • dannykavadlo

      Hey Coach! I’m glad you like the “cleaned up” pic. And yeah that would be a hilarious street workout!

    • martymonster

      I was looking at the photo and found myself humming ‘Sharp Dressed Man’.

  • Russ

    I’ve had good luck in the past with Jones New York “athletic cut” suits, Levi’s 569 and Timberland jeans – though I can’t recall what the name of the cut was as they change it all of the time.

    Nautica stuff works fairly well.

    But I feel everyone’s pain.

    • dannykavadlo

      Hellyeah! Both my jeans are Levis 569. But try ’em on before buying–the sizing is subjective.

  • Pat McCarthy

    Drawing the distinction between “I need a suit for a wedding” and “I wear a suit to work,” You can go to Thailand and find a few tailors that will make you a suit from scratch, to your measurements. If you only need one suit, the plane ticket is not worth it. If you need 5, go enjoy Bangkok for a couple of days. Bring them some pictures of whatever you want, they must have 1000+ fabrics to chose from. Best part is, they will keep your measurements on file and you can order more from home should you need to with updated measurements as appropriate. Food for thought.

    • dannykavadlo

      Thanks for the comment Pat!

  • Matt Schifferle

    The “calisthenics body” was one of the final deciding factors for me in becoming a dedicated BW practitioner. After watching some Youtube vids of guys doing playground workouts I thought “damn, that’s the sort of body I want!” Not the big and blocky look of a power lifter or body builder but the lean and kick-ass-at-a-moments-notice look like Bruce Lee.

    Love the body, love the movement, love the life.

    • dannykavadlo

      Right on Matt. That’s a great compliment coming from you!

  • This is definitely a problem I have. Its difficult enough to find clothes for a shorter stature male and it’s especially difficult to find ones that fit my particular shape.

    • dannykavadlo

      Word up. Good clothes that fit are hard to find.

  • Tom

    Another thing to consider is that there is an overlap in price between off-the-rack and custom made. There are a lot of online businesses now that get your measurements, then have the clothes made overseas to order. So, you could spend pretty high $$$ for an off-the-rack Canali suit, or actually less for something made to order. Every man should have at least one really BANGIN’ suit.

    • dannykavadlo

      I had not considered that. But yes I totally agree… every man needs one BANGIN suit indeed.

  • Vasily K.

    Right on these days I faced this problem – my jeans is almost fit my legs, but in waist they’re really bigger than I need! It’s very sad, but there is not an excuse to have such a calisthenic body! Thank you, Dan, for such a good article. It was pleasure to read it.
    PS. You and Al look so stylish in suits. Awesomen!:D
    PPS. I read your and Al’s articles on bodybuilding_dot_com a few days ago – that were really good! And I don’t expect that you, Danny, are 40-years old! Your, Al and Coach are my biggest motivators, really *maybe, not only you – there were some great oldtime strongmen, but you are on the same seats:)

    Vasily K.

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