Trousers: The basics

Just in time for a tuesday post, and carrying on from where we left off!

Before I continue though, I must add that the series of posts I will be doing comprises heavily of my own sartorial opinion, and I have named the posts “The basics” for a good reason: I touch only on the essentials. The bare bones that every man who wants to look dapper should possess, or know about. A thorough discussion of the waft and weave, of tattersall checks and tweed is beyond the scope of a few blog posts. Moreover, style is something that should be decided by the individual. Know the basics, then decide your signature from there.

Trousers, particularly tailored trousers, can be a tad pricier than their dress shirt equivalents, especially when the salesman tries to sell you some of their finest cloth – lightweight, smooth to the touch and usually has labels like “Super 180s” to them (don’t worry about what they are.) For the amount of wear they receive (trousers tend to wear out faster than shirts, for obvious reasons), I would rather stick to the store-bought variety, and perhaps keep only 1 or 2 pair of tailor pants.

As with tailored dress shirts, most things will be measured for you, so this post focuses on the main things you’ll need to concern yourself with when shopping alone.

The fit: Where does it sit?

The natural waist. I wish I could say period here, but a good rule to follow would be: at the level right below the belly button for pants you wear to work, like the one seen above. For jeans, it’s slightly closer to the hip, with the emphasis being slightly.

The fit: break and hem

Sounds like a yummy breakfast, but no, it’s the second most important consideration, important enough for the salesgirl to pull out her measuring tape and for many an opportunistic male to steal a glance at the latest in lingerie fashion as she bends lower (alas, by the side!). What she is measuring determines how your pants break.

One mistake commonly seen in clothes shopping is the choice of shoes. If you’re buying a few pair of trousers for the office, then wear the shoe you’d wear for the office as well. How much of the shoe you want covered by the pants is a matter of individual preference, but I personally like mine to cover the front of the shoes and the laces, without any break and crumples you see on the first picture. For the back, I generally go for a mid-break (trousers cover half my work shoe at the back, exposing an inch of leather to the sole). For denim, I let it cover my shoe, but not the sole:

mid-break

Here, a picture to better illustrate the point.

The fit: How loose can it get?

You can certainly imagine how unflattering baggy pants can be, or how humiliating it might be if the outline of your member can be visibly discerned by your peers (even if you consider yourself a heavyweight in that regard). Once again, my rule of thumb is to wear the pants and see if the pants are tight about the thighs (it shouldn’t) and if your crotch feels comfortable. There shouldn’t be too much space, just about half an inch to an inch between your crotch and the fabric below. My tailor fondly calls it the ballroom. Quite an apt descriptor, and very charming too.

Ballroomtoo much ballroom.

Closing remarks

What are the basics for trousers, then? My absolute must haves are: Black pants from G2000 for the office, Levi’s 501s dark-blue-without-tatters-thank-you-very-much, and Khaki from Dockers. As an optional item, Gray is also a good addition for the office, and versatile enough to be paired with almost any colour, and can double up for a casual evening when paired with a polo. I love gray.

Finally, there’s also the question: pleated or flat-front? Pleated pants are the kind you see at the top of this post. The pleats are supposed to help the pants drape better, but I think the extra cloth makes the pants bulky, and could draw unwanted attention to the hip, especially if you sport a paunch. Flat-fronts are almost always a better choice – it’s a modern look and keeps you looking dapper.

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