Men’s Trousers – everything you need to know

To find the right men’s trousers, you need to know the answers to some tough questions. How high should the rise in your trousers be? Where would you like the break in your leg? If questions like these leave you in the dark, read our illuminating infographic:
Samuel Windsor mens trousers infographic

Frequently asked questions about men’s trousers

Here you’ll find all the information you need to help you choose men’s trousers which both fit and flatter, and to make things easier, we’ve also included a handy infographic. Whether you’re not sure about flat-fronted or pleats, slim fit or straight cut, or which length looks best on your frame, here are all the answers to your trouser-related questions.

Should I choose a belt or braces to wear with trousers?

Braces sometimes get bad press because of negative stereotypes about the kind of men who wear them. But despite this, braces do give the wearer more freedom of movement than you get with a belt, and they also make sitting more comfortable.

A bright pair of braces can be a snazzy addition to your ensemble, helping you to cut a dash at work or formal events. And of course, if you’re wearing a three-piece suit you’ll want to wear braces as a belt is a fashion faux pas with a waistcoat. Choose between button-slung and clip on – the former being reserved for trousers designed specifically with braces in mind.

If you go for a belt, simply match your choice to the occasion – a job interview requires a suit and a sober black leather belt; a weekend jaunt in your blue jeans and lumberjack shirt means it’s OK to fasten a big Western-style buckle.

Should I choose trousers with a zipper or button fly?

Zips are so ubiquitous, it’s hard to believe they’ve only been with us for a little over 100 years. Invented in 1913, they’re a slimline and convenient fastening that’s very well suited to men’s flies.

Looks-wise, it doesn’t really matter whether you opt a button or zip-up trouser fly, but slimmer cuts and lighter fabrics do look better without bulky buttons. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

Which waist line works best on men’s trousers?

If you thought a ‘high rise’ is a block of flats, it might surprise you to learn that it’s also the term used to describe Simon Cowell’s trousers. That’s right – if you like to wear trousers with a waistband that bisects your belly button, you’re an aficionado of the ‘high-rise’ trouser.

High rise actually refers to trousers with a generous 10” or so of fabric from crotch to waist. As you’ll know from the ridicule Cowell receives for his choice of pantaloons, this cut isn’t designed for shorter guys. If you’re tall though, high-rise trousers are comfortable and help balance your proportions.

A mid-rise trouser is the best choice for most of us – because the waist line splits your body at roughly the midpoint. Low-rise hipsters tend not to be so flattering on older men – they accentuate a burgeoning belly and can make your legs look awfully short.

When should I choose trousers with pleats?

Flat-fronted trousers have been on trend for a long while now but the good news for those who like pleats is that this style is making a comeback. That said, for some body shapes, pleats never really went away in the first place.

If you’re a bigger guy, you should always choose pleats because their more generous use of fabric gives you room to move. Pleated fronts also drape better from the man with the fuller form, creating a more flattering silhouette.

For leaner men, flat fronts look great because they don’t swamp you and, in any case, if you’re slim and athletic, why not show off your body to its best advantage? Do you play rugby or perform squats? If you have bigger thighs, pleats will stop your legs looking like a pair of sausages.

Which is the most flattering cut for men’s trousers?

If you’re bemused by the plethora of trouser cuts to choose from, never fear. All you need to do is match your shape to the cut as described.

If you’re skinny, choose slim-fit chinos or slim-fit cords. If you have very big legs – a looser cut will be more comfortable to wear. For most men, a straight cut does the job of covering your legs in a classy, dignified manner. Leave styling extremes to younger men who have enough decades ahead of them to be able to laugh at the style failures of their younger selves.

As for trouser length, if you have short legs, go for a length that skims the top of your shoe – any extra cloth will make your legs look even shorter. The opposite applies to tall fellows with very long legs – avoid the half-masted look at all costs. For most of us, a half break where the trouser leg creases gently on the front of the shoe, is the most flattering look.

When deciding whether or not to go for trousers with cuffs, consider both the formality of the occasion and the length of your legs. Although suit trousers do sometimes feature cuffs, we’d say formal attire looks less fussy without them. If you have short legs, avoid cuffs, but if you’re of a lankier build, they help to weight the hem of your trouser and so stop them billowing in the breeze. Cuffs can look preppy on chinos, and if you’re off to the beach, turning up your trouser hams looks nice with a pair of espadrilles or leather sandals.

Deciding which pair of men’s trousers to buy is a minefield but, as always, here at Samuel Windsor, we’re committed to making sure you have the menswear knowhow to make good fashion choices.

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Posted in Men's trousers, Mens clothing visual guides and infographics.