In Fit Is Everything – Part 1 (The Shirt), I showed you how your shirt should fit. This week we are moving on to how your pants should fit. First, I will start with some terminology.
Break: The break in your pant leg is the fold in the fabric at the bottom of the leg caused by the pant hitting your shoe. A full break means that the pants cover most of the top of your shoe and the back of the pant leg is on the back of the sole of the shoe, causing a large fold in the fabric. A half break will cover part of the laces and slope back to the midpoint of your heel. This will cause a smaller fold. No break is what it sounds like. There is no break in the front of the pants. This is because the fabric barely or doesn’t touch the shoe at all.
Pleat: A pleat is a fold formed by doubling fabric back upon itself. It’s used to gather more fabric into a narrower waist. The opposite of pleated pants are flat-front.
Cuff: A cuff is the portion at the bottom of the trouser that is rolled outward and sometimes pressed or stitched into place. The main reason for cuffs is to add weight to the bottom of the leg, to help the drape of the pants.
Now that we have the vocabulary to talk about pants, let’s talk about how your pants should look.
When talking about dress pants, here are some things you should look for in most circumstances. Going down the list, you’ll want a half break if you are going for a more conservative look, and no break if you want to be more fashion forward. Never have a full break. It looks like you never visited your tailor. The less break you have in your pants, the taller you will look. Break is also going to depend on the width of your pant legs. Skinnier pant legs won’t break as much since they won’t fall around the shoe. Because of that, they also tend to look better with little to no break like in the cuffed picture above instead of piling up around your ankle.
Next, you’ll want flat-front pants. If you need the extra room in your pants, get one pleat, but no more. Do your best to avoid pleats. You want to create a sleek profile, and pleats are distracting.
For cuffs, a few years ago, everyone would have said to only get cuffs if you have pleats. As of last year, cuffs made a bit of a comeback. Now it’s more of personal choice. Again, to appear taller, no cuffs.
Once you are looking at the right style pants, it’s time to pick the best fit. As an overarching theme, slimmer is better. Get something that fits your body. Your pants shouldn’t wear you. You should wear the pants, literally and figuratively! Look for key words like “slim,” and “tailored.”
When buying jeans, there are a lot less rules. The break in your jeans doesn’t matter. A more casual look will have a bigger break. A dressier (read: darker, possibly shinier) pair of jeans will probably have less break. Darker jeans will look better with more things than a lighter wash will. You can pair a dark pair of jeans with a blazer and look great, but that won’t work with the light wash. If you wear jeans to work, they should be as professional as a pair of dress pants. Dark, little break, no holes, no distressing, uniform color, and a slim fit that won’t swallow your dress shoe (not skinny jeans). When not at work, jeans can also be rolled up a couple of rolls for a more casual look (a great way to use last week’s Quick Tip Tuesday – Going Sockless in the Summer).
Last, no sagging in the crotch! Like everything else that’s too big, it looks sloppy.
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Next week’s article will discuss how to make the clothes you already own fit like they’re supposed to!
“Baggy, pleated pants add about ten years—and fifteen pounds” – GQ