Believe it or not, the world of plus size masculine fashion is growing. More brands are creating clothing for big men, and we’re seeing more people share their stories and perspective on living life (and finding style) in their size. Ryan Dziadul is doing exactly that with Extra Extra Style, the blog he started in 2015 to encourage body positivity and share the style and resources he loves. We caught up with him to have a conversation about all those things and more.
Tell us about yourself – where are you from, how do you fill your time when you’re not blogging?
I grew up in Massachusetts (which is why my style has a strong preppy/classic vibe) but went to college in New York City and have been here since – 18 years and counting. During the day I’m the publicist for a home décor brand, but on the weekends I love shopping, reading, food, the Real Housewives franchise – you know, normal dude stuff.
The best part of living in NYC is that you walk out your front door to run to CVS and you see 10 amazing things before you’ve even crossed the street. Not a day goes by that I don’t see something crazy that I can’t wait to tell folks about. These moments make up for the expense and hassle of living in a big city. Someone walking a cat on a leash? A naked woman strolling down Broadway on a busy Friday afternoon? Someone commuting on a unicycle? Yes please.
Why did you decide to start Extra Extra Style?
I’ve always loved fashion – both my grandfather and my father were in the retail business so I think it runs in the family– but have always been a big guy (literally always; I was over 11lbs at birth). I found it hard to participate in the fashion world as a big guy. I wanted to shop and participate in trends but I couldn’t really do that at my size. I figured that I wasn’t alone, and if I was looking for a resource for fashionable big guys then other people probably were too. I decided to start sharing my outfits and shopping advice and, two years later, here I am. I should start sharing my finds and outfits.
I wanted to help guys feel ok about their bodies – body image issues and societal pressures to look or act a certain way aren’t something that only affect women. It’s been such a fun hobby, and I’ve met so many interesting people, both online and IRL. But the biggest surprise is how much I’ve changed over the last few years. I’m more confident, more comfortable, and happier in my own skin. Plus, I’ve started wearing hats. So.
You’re based in NYC, right? There’s this idea that living in one of the greatest cities in the world means you’ve got a lot more options when it comes to big men’s clothing. How true do you find this to be?
Not true at all, unfortunately. The big and tall clothing world is still predominately an online world. I’m mostly shopping on the internet (and having to buy a range of sizes that I know I’m just going to return in order to find the size that fits me properly) just like folks from smaller towns. It’s a real bummer and something that I hope changes ASAP. Big guys want to shop just like everyone else. We all know retail is hurting, and we’ve got money to spend – but stores won’t let us!
You seem to have a well-formed sense of your personal style. Have you always had that or did it evolve over time?
Is that a nice way of saying I have a uniform? Well, I kind of do. I think my style is rooted in the classics because of growing up in Massachusetts. There are photos of me at my 8th birthday party in an argyle sweater and Bass Weejuns. I guess you can take the guy out of Massachusetts but you can’t take the Massachusetts out of the guy.
But because of my blog and Instagram I’ve experimented with my style more in the last few years than I have in the past. It’s been fun to break out of my rut a little bit!
What are some of your favorite brands for big men?
I wear a lot of Brooks Brothers (both from their store and from DXL), Lacoste, and Ralph Lauren. I swear by Old Navy jeans, and some of their knits fit me well too. Even though I’m 36 and well out of their target demographic, I get my shorts at American Eagle, of all places. Being a big guy means you have to be open to exploring places you might not otherwise shop at. Oh, and Target! The launch collection from their Goodfellow & Co brand was kind of amazing and I’m hoping for more, more, more from them.
What’s still missing in big men’s fashion? What would you like to see that just isn’t available yet?
Selection! The selection of stuff that’s available skews towards, well, boring. It works for me because I have a classic style – and I’m not afraid of an accessory or two to jazz things up– but I totally get it’s not for everyone. How many navy crewneck sweaters or white polo shirts can one guy have?
Not all big guys want the same thing. We’re missing fashion-forward pieces. We’re missing designer brands. We’re missing the ability to shop in store instead of online. We don’t all come in one size, and the fit of some stuff can be CRAZY (thinking of you, Old Navy sweatshirt where size XXL was skintight but size XXXL hung down past my knees).
The conversation has started, thankfully, thanks to folks like you but there is so much further
Long term, what do you hope to accomplish with Extra Extra Style?
I have two goals, one selfish one not:
1. I want retailers to listen so that I can shop the way I want to. The big and tall community has money to spend, promise!
2. I want to continue spreading the message of men’s body positivity. I’ve gotten messages from around the world from people who say I’ve helped them feel better about themselves, or helped them better understand a friend or relative, and that feels fucking great.
Who inspires you?
All my brothers who are putting themselves out there on Instagram (Zach Miko, Kelvin Davis, Michael-Anthony, Ady Del Valle, A Bear Named Troy, and so many more! We all have different styles, but the same drive to show that every body is beautiful. I think back to when I was growing up and what a difference simply seeing people who looked like me would have made. I hope I can be that inspiration to someone else.
If you could impart one piece of style advice to people reading this, what would it be?
Where what you want to wear; life’s too short not to. And find a navy blazer that you love and wear it with everything. I guess that’s two things, but deal with it.
Are you reading anything, or listening to any music right now? If so, what is it?
I love to read. My bedside table looks like a table at Barnes & Noble. Roxane Gay’s “Hunger” is a must-read for anyone who has ever dealt with an “unruly body” (as she dubs it). Seriously life-changing. I just finished “Heather, the Totality” by Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men. Also recently finished “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, which was a real page-turner. Next up is Christadora by Tim Murphy – highly recommended by my boss, who has literally never steered me wrong when it comes to book recommendations.
For music, I just stream the “alt-J” station on Amazon all day. I wish everyone got me the way that the Amazon algorithm gets me.