L CLOTHES – THE LOOK*2023 update

My advice

Whenever you can’t decide between two shirts, because you know one looks better but you think it might be considered overdressed, always go with the overdress.

In work and your private life the same rule applies, no-one ever thinks badly of you for being better dressed than everyone else. So wear good quality shirts not T-shirts, and jackets not jumpers.

T-shirts are designed for young men with waists and big shoulders. Quads have neither so don’t wear them. Jumpers look as bad as T-shirts on quads, so buy jackets and get them altered so you get them on and off.

The key thing is to take charge and take an interest. Don’t just accept what others get you. In fact refuse to let them buy for you, and refuse to just accept what is in the shops if its not quite right. There are millions of alterations places that can shorten things, let things out, put more buttons on, or swap buttons for other things. Get the look you want, not the look your wife, mother or nurse gives you.

My experience

When I go out wearing jeans and a jumper or T shirt, shops are much slower to serve me and almost no-one smiles at me. When I go out wearing my good quality shirts, and/or a suit lots of women smile at me and I get good service just about everywhere.

As a result I never wear T shirts anymore. It took me about 10-15 years of being a quad to realize T-shirts make quads look bad, same thing with jumpers. T-shirts are fine if you have a waist and big shoulders. Quads have neither so I don’t wear them.

This approach is harder. I have to get the shirts and jackets altered, and they can be harder to get on and off. However, now that I realise how much better I get treated at work functions, cafes, bars etc I have no doubt it is worth the effort. So now I try to overdress at all times and it has transformed my life. I now take pleasure in choosing and putting on good clothes that I like.

I have learnt that good quality shirts with vertical stripes and button down collars maximise these positive benefits, so I mainly buy that type of shirt. Vertical stripes are good because they disguise the quad belly. A proper collar that stands up is good because it minimises the effect of the sloped and slightly hunched shoulders that most of us quads have. Button down collars means the collar stays vertical even when you don’t, or can’t, iron your shirt.

I have also learnt that shirt size is based around neck size. For quads this means the right size shirt for your neck is too big for your arms, because our shoulders are not as big as they should be due to the lack of muscle mass. This means any shirt that fits you around the neck and body will probably need the arms shortened. I get the arms of all my shirts shortened by about 10 cm.

Picture: CLICK HERE to see three graduation pics of me. The first two are 20 and 15 years prior to the third one. The third one illustrates the benefits of taking more care with your appearance.

Here’s what the experts say

CLICK HERE for some tips

CLICK HERE for SCI Australia stuff on fashion

CLICK HERE to see what can happen to you if you  let other people take control of your look


My advice on suits: This part of the page may not be relevant if you don’t either: live in the CBD of a big city, work in the CBD, work for a big organisation, or go out a lot in the CBD. For that reason I have made it a separate section. If you do any of those its likely to be relevant so read on, if not maybe move on to another page. 

Suits only look good on quads if they are significantly altered. So if wearing a suit makes sense for you then it is worth spending time working out how to get jackets and trousers altered so you can wear a suit well. This investment of time is likely to be very worthwhile if you work in the CBD of a city, or in the office of a big organisation and you want to get ahead. Likewise if you go out in the CBD a lot.

My experience

I had never worn a suit until I was about 40. This was mainly because I was opposed to them, being a bit of a country hippie, and because I rarely went anywhere that expected me to be wearing one. However, like everyone there was the occasional wedding or funeral where it crossed my mind that it would be nice. On these occasions I couldn’t see how I could wear them. I thought the jacket would flap about in my wheels, and look stupid.

Although I had thought this, it was never really a live issue for me because of my lifestyle and my location. However, when I moved to the city I began working and living in a place that expected suits, and the expectation got stronger as I moved up the organisational ladder.

So one day somewhere around 2003 I got the courage up to go into a menswear shop and talk to a sales guy about my need for a suit, and my difficulty in wearing one. He said every guy that buys a suit has to get it altered in some way, sometimes in a major way, for example very fat guys. So he said the kind of alterations I would need could be done, and they have people who could do that for me.

He was absolutely right. I then went on to buy and wear suits for work until around 2015 or so. Then my work changed so suits weren’t really required but a jacket definitely was, and living in the city jackets are very handy so I continued to get jackets maiden wear them most days up until 2021. In 2023 I now live in the country a fair bit of the time so I don’t wear jackets as much but I regularly go back to the city and it’s still very useful when I’m in that environment.

The alterations people have no issues in doing the changes, on the contrary, you pay the money, its their job, they are happy to help.

In my experience what is needed to wear a suit successfully as a quad is to:

  • get the jacket shortened. it needs to be shortened so that it just touches the top of the thighs at the front, does not get in the wheels at the side, and comes down far enough at the sides and back to cover the shirt but not so long that it scrunches up. In my experience that means about 8 centimetres all round, a little bit more at the front, and little less at the back
  • get the sleeves shortened, about 10cm
  • get the trouser waist expanded, and
  • buy 3 or 4 button suits only, because 2 button suits gape at the top.

I mainly started wearing because I wanted to get jobs at the next levels up in my work. I had noticed that the people chosen to act in these roles tended to look the part. So I decided to turn myself into the type of person who has one of these jobs, thinking that would help me get one of these jobs.

As it turned out I was exactly right. That is how the world works in government, which is my experience, but it seems similar in the private sector.

Although it started as a work thing, I have also found suits to be very practical and versatile for my lifestyle as a CBD resident. I now tend to wear suits, or the jackets at least after work as well. I find they keep out the wind and rain, look good, and are well received pretty much everywhere I go. Obviously all that is because of where I live and how I live, and may not be relevant to you.

My rule number 12 – Always overdress – The shirt maketh the man


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