Corbin Chamberlin is a writer for publications such as Scene Magazine, the Financial Times, New York Magazine, Avenue Magazine, and Us Weekly. He’s also a big, stylish gentleman. We caught up with Corbin to talk about fashion options for big men, where he likes to shop, and his tips for guys who want to create their own look.
You’re a pretty stylish guy. Did this come naturally to you or have you created your style over time? I’m really fortunate to have fashionable parents, and style is something that has always been around me. My parents dressed me until I was 7 or 8, when I started to get interested in catalogs and thrift stores. I had a lot of clothes made for me when I was really, really young, because I couldn’t always find things in my size that were interesting enough. Bespoke fashion has always been on my menu. I’ve always been stylish – I know what looks good on myself.
Do you think that knowing your style comes from being adventurous and unafraid of trying new and different things? Yeah. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and people have written about how awful I look, but you just learn as you go. I’m always willing to try to make it happen. If I see something that I like, then I’ll try it on. If it doesn’t work, you live and you learn.
How did you become a writer? Has this been a lifelong passion or something you’ve recently jumped into? I’ve always loved fashion and journalism, and at first, I really wanted to be a war correspondent. Then I realized that wouldn’t work really well with my lifestyle. After that I met Gina Sanders, who was the publisher of Teen Vogue. We were talking and was like “well, you should be a fashion writer.” I thought, why not? That’s how it started. I began working for New York Magazine’s The Cutwhen I was 19.
Do you ever find it frustrating to write about companies who make amazing clothing for men but aren’t offering a variety of sizes? Absolutely. I can’t give you names, but I’ll meet with some really huge designers who will talk about their menswear, and I’m always amazed with how much of a market they’re overlooking. It’s crazy. I know they could tap into that, and I suggest it to a lot of people I know well. It’s really disappointing and it’s sad, but I think the industry is becoming more aware. Right now, no one wants to turn down funding, and no one wants to turn down a customer. It’s a really smart move. I think menswear will take a little more time to come around than womenswear, but I feel like it’s on the right track.
Why do you think there’s such a lack of focus on fashion or style for bigger men? Speaking from a higher fashion point of view, and from bigger [fashion] houses – especially European houses, they felt like fashion should be exclusive, and part of that exclusivity was maintaining a smaller figure. But as the economy has tanked and those people aren’t in business anymore, the ones that are left have realized that they need to start offering more.
I think a lot of those people don’t want bigger guys to be seen in their clothes, so they just don’t make them in those sizes. You’ll hear them say “it’s so much more material.” No, it’s not much more material. That’s lies. The amount of shit that they throw away is crazy. I do think that’s changing though. Alber Elbaz, the creative director at LANVIN is a bigger guy, and I have a hint that he might be doing some larger size clothing for men and women.
You know what’s really interesting? I feel like there’s been a whole push within the larger men community. People are looking at bigger guys and seeing that they are attractive and that they don’t have to be all clean cut guys. I think people just don’t give a fuck anymore. They don’t fear the fat, you know what I mean?
What tips would you give bigger guys who are working on their own style? What I’m always telling younger guys who are bigger is to save their money. Instead of buying 5 $30 shirts from Gap that don’t fit them well, just save their money and get something custom made and then they’ll have it forever. I think that’s the way it’s going to go for a while, because that’s really our only option.
When I was young, I’d look at well dressed men and think “oh my god, I’m never gonna be able to do that.” You look at people like Peter Davis, and Nick Wooster– they’re the most well dressed men in the world – and you have to find your own approach to it. I’m always telling young guys just to go for it. Buy clothing because you love it – not because of the way it hides what you might consider a problem area. When in doubt, wear lots of black and just have crazy cool accessories. Looking cool is very expensive, and if you don’t have a lot to spend, you can start simple and add accessories.
Where do you like to shop? Pants & Denim: I’ve got to say, Gap has done a really nice job at offering to a larger customer. Their jeans are supreme. And at that price-point, you never have to wear a worn out pair. I prefer my denim to be ultra-dark. I love to wear tuxedo trousers from Ralph Lauren, but in a ultra-casual manor.
Shirts: I think shirts are the BIGGEST problem with larger guys. It’s so hard to find something that’s interesting and fits well. I have most of my items made custom at a little shirt shop in Scottsdale, Arizona. But when I’m feeling extra-lux, I’ll place an order with Charvet. They are also great with custom PJ’s and neckwear.
Shoes: For shoes, I’m always wearing Del Toro slippers, it seems. Velvet dinner slippers in emerald, purple and the classic black should not be reserved for formal events. Throw them on with a pair of jeans and a white oxford; you’ll be supremely chic. Converse has done a great job at reinventing themselves, recently. Love their new kicks!
Accessories: When it comes to accessories, during the hot Summer months I wear linen kurta from India, that I have made. They are super affordable. I normally get them in black. Also, some of my favorite items are from Farah Angsana. She’s a super-glam designer. I’m a fan, so is Miley Cyrus. I buy my russian fur hats from arctic-store.com, they will do custom items for larger guys, like me.