Spanx for Men: Sucking It Up to Make a Better First Impression

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No matter what your gender, thin is more in than ever when it comes to getting a job or a promotion. And to the relief of some and the chagrin of others, it's no longer just women who are attempting to trim the fat in their job searches. For years, females have been stuffing themselves into Spanx at Oprah's behest, in order to look slimmer and smoother.

But now, when the working world is more competitive than ever, men are streamlining their look as well. Products like Spanx for Men and the Slim Suit from Mohan Custom Tailors are becoming increasingly popular, and it's not so much about looking as dapper Don Draper as it is about looking like the best candidate for the job.

Like it or not, there is a definite prejudice against the overweight in the workplace. According to a recent Newsweek survey, 66 percent of business managers say they would hesitate before hiring an overweight individual and 59 percent of hiring agents say you should spend as much time and money perfecting your appearance as you would on your resume.

Dr. Seymour Adler, a senior vice president in Aon Consulting's Talent Solutions, confirms this, saying, "The research on the topic of weight shows that it concerns both men and women. Overweight people are generally perceived to lack self-discipline and self control, be less competent and even lazy, although there is no research that proves that perception... There is some evidence to support the perception that overweight people can be attendance risks, however."

Dr. Adler notes that negative perceptions can be overcome with a positive appearance. "Looking good makes an applicant more confident in an interview situation, and the confident individual is more likely to be hired," he says. He also notes that in particular, looking well put together and competent can overcome the drawbacks of being overweight.

"It's not that they can't have an overweight person in the position, it's just what they infer about the work habits of the overweight," Dr. Adler observes. "So if you are overweight and you project confidence and competence and you come to the interview spiffed up and put together, you overcome the negative preconceptions."

Clothes make the man slender

Hence the birth of slimming fashions for men like male Spanx and the Mohan Slim Suit, which are miracles of modern style and engineering. KJ Singh of Mohan's says, "Everybody wants to look slimmer and taller, so we've created this suit that both looks good and makes the wearer appear at least 10 pounds lighter."

Men from all over the world are ordering these custom-tailored suits out of New York, because the ones they bought several years ago are just not working for them anymore, according to Singh. "They say their old suits look sloppy and baggy," he says. Many job seekers haven't purchase a new suit for several years, and styles have changed considerably since the last time they were looking. Some consider the $500 to $1,000 they spend for a Mohan Custom Tailored Slim Suit well worth the investment if it helps land them a job that will more than make that money back in the first week.

So what is it about these suits? Are they lined with constricting, girdle-like fabric? Not so, according to Singh. It's all about design details such as a narrower fit in both pants and jacket, thinner lapels with a higher notch, no cuffs and less break in the pants, and a lighter weight, wrinkle-resistant fabric that drapes well. Mohan's is also selling a lot of custom-tailored, close-fitted dress shirts as well. The day of the baggy, loose fitting shirt is gone as well, as it tends to bunch and wrinkle under a suit jacket

A shape-altering alternative

If a man wants a tight-fitting compression garment that sucks him in and hides the muffin top, or, as men like to call them, the doughnut, it's Spanx for Men he's seeking. "The concept of compression garments for men is not new," according to Dave Was, who did a humorous feature on the subject for NPR. "Athletes have been wearing them for years, but for therapeutic purposes." He believes it was inevitable that they would be adapted for cosmetic purposes.

Starting this fall, Spanks for Men will have a full line of manderwear. The Spanks Cotton Compression Undershirts which were launched last February were so popular that now they're launching two more lines of men's shapewear, including the Zoned Performance undershirts, tank, crew neck, and V-neck shirta in black and white; and the Cotton Comfort brief and boxer brief bottoms, available in September. All can be found at Neiman Marcus and on spanx.com.

"Men love our cotton compression shirts and were asking for underwear to match," says Spanx founder Sara Blakely. We wanted to give them the really comfortable underwear with benefits and actually created an innovative 3D mesh pouch that gives guys plenty of stay-cool breathing room. This season we're also introducing the Zoned Performance undershirt, a physique-improving, seamless wicking undershirt with targeted compression zones that will transform the torso and chest." Shirts are priced around $58.

"$58 for a T-shirt?" some men may exclaim. "Is that extra holding power really worth it?" Most men probably don't realize that their wives may be paying that much and more for a good bra. Was, NPR's self-proclaimed "crack underwear sleuth," received a free crew neck shirt to try on, and he gladly did it, in an "attempt to conceal the ravages of life in the fat lane."

"Did it work? I became a true believer," he says. "Call me Slim and make mine a double cheeseburger." At least it's improved his confidence in the workplace during lunch.

Next: What to Wear To An Interview: 3 Basic Tips for Creating a Professional Outfit >>

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