According to the CDC, 25 percent of American men—including the writer of this story—are 5’8” or shorter. This sizable segment of the population has been largely invisible to clothing makers—until Peter Manning decided to do something about it.
Two years ago, the slender, 5’8” former Broadway producer started a clothing line specifically for such fellows. His anti-Big & Tall online store offers classic American sportswear—shirts, pants, blazers, sweaters and more—in six sizes identified through a height/weight-based calculator on petermanningnyc.com. The result is clothes that simply fit better, look better and make men feel better about going out and making magic happen. As we look toward fall fashion, we had him take our Style Questionnaire—and answer a couple questions specific to his business.
Name: Peter Manning
Current Residence: New York City
Hometown: Larchmont, New York
Occupation: Designer/Founder, Peter Manning/Five Eight New York
Describe your style in three words.
Classic, well fitting, comfortable.
Who had the biggest influence on your style?
My mother was great dresser and always put things together in a great way. She was stylish but always appropriate. I was always aware of the men in our town who looked effortless and timeless. Never trendy. When I was in middle school the first preppy fad (we are in another) was in full force and that has stayed with me.
If you could have one piece of clothing from your childhood, what would it be?
I had a pair of slim mustard-color jeans when I was really little. I’ve thought about them a lot.
What’s one thing you always remember when getting dressed?
Make sure it all works together. Think through your whole day and whether what you are wearing will be appropriate for all the needs of the day.
What are three pieces that every man should have in his closet?
A perfectly tailored blue blazer with dark (not brass) buttons, a great lace-up shoe and just right white shirt.
Manning’s manna: These colorful clothes are just a few of the items on offer.
What’s one thing a man should do to improve his style?
Get clothes that fit better or take things to the tailor and have them adjusted. Fit is everything.
What stores or websites do you frequent?
petermanningnyc.com. I now almost exclusively wear my own clothes.
What trend would you like to see disappear?
Super-skinny jeans on men.
When you want to make a good impression, what do you wear?
Jeans, a blazer, a gingham shirt, pocket square and a great shoe. If it’s fancier, a well-tailored suit and always a pocket square. It is remarkable what that little piece of material sticking out of your pocket does for your style credibility.
What’s one thing that is always worth splurging on?
What’s the biggest style blunder you see men 5’8” and shorter making?
Pants that are too long and too wide and big billowy shirts with big pirate arms. Pleats.
What’s your top style tip for men 5’8” and shorter?
Clothes that fit well. Period. Everything else follows from that.