How Pants Should Fit

A handmade jacket is undoubtedly the highest expression of the tailor’s art.  Nothing else a man wears requires the skill and care that go into cutting, sewing and shaping a coat.  So it's not surprising that they get the most attention.

But assuming your interest in menswear isn’t limited to collecting nice things (a condition that I realize isn’t always met) but also extends to a desire to look good, you need to pay attention to how your trousers fit as well.

A lot of looking good in tailored clothing comes down to sidestepping a few well-worn pitfalls.  And trousers are one of the most common obstacles on the road to steez.  Luckily, they’re also one of the easiest things to get right – provided you know what you’re looking for.

Waist: Yes, pants are sold by waist size but it's a red herring.  Focus on how everything else fits and then simply have the waist altered.

Hips: Until that blessed day when a Henry VIII physique is again de rigeur, you want your hips to look as small as possible.  Make sure you have enough room for whatever you’ll normally put in your pockets - keys, phone, wallet, ‘ironic’ Discman, your hands as you shuffle your feet and look at the ground - then have the hips cut as close as possible while still allowing you to move comfortably.

Line: This is, admittedly, a bit of a catch-all phrase but no less important for its generality.  When looking at the front or back of a pair of trousers, the sides of each leg should follow a smooth and relatively straight line from top to bottom. There shouldn’t be any bunching or pulling anywhere.  Similarly, the creases in front and back should hang nice and straight (assuming you ironed your pants correctly).  Problems in this vein will most often arise from a “long back balance” which is a somewhat technical way of saying too much cloth over the seat, resulting in what experts call "diaper butt" which isn’t very technical but rather descriptive.  You should, however, get your diagnosis from a trained professional.   

Nowadays, even in the last bastions of business formal, suit coats usually serve as outerwear and as decoys hanging on the back of your chair to provide cover for skiving off work.  Since you’ll generally face the world in trousers and shirtsleeves, make sure they fit.

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