Today’s article is brought to you by….. the guy who sent me a message on Instagram asking for this video. So Mr. Mcguire, here you go. And like I said earlier, I can’t believe I haven’t made this video yet. But also note, styles change. And since this video is being filmed in September 2020, it very well could be irrelevant next year or the year after. But as of today, and for the last several years, this video represents the overall blanket standard, as well as my own personal opinion.
Baggy, loose fits are gone
Let me just start by saying this….. if your goal is to be at least somewhat stylish, gone are the days of baggy, loose fit pants that puddle down around your shoes. This is, was, and always has been an pretty bad look. Plain and simple, it looks sloppy. It looks like you’re wearing someone else’s clothes, and that someone else, is like a foot taller than you and 30 lbs heavier.
Pant leg width
Here’s the thing though, we can’t just talk about length and break without at least mentioning the width of the pant leg opening at your foot. Ideally, your pant legs should have a slight taper from about the knee down to your foot. This doesn’t have to be incredibly narrow or skin tight, but there should be a nice trim taper if you’re an average build guy. This helps in a few ways. First, it helps trim out your silhouette because the excess fabric can make you look a little bit larger than you are (body type dependent), and it also helps prevent your pants from flapping around too much when you walk, especially if you go with a cuff.
First, let’s talk about jeans. In my opinion, and for most guys in the 40 and over age bracket, I like to see jeans just touching the shoe. I don’t like a lot of break, but some is totally okay. I’m not completely on board with showing a ton of ankle either, (although I have in the past). I just think that’s a look best suited for the younger crowd. If your jeans are a little too long, take them to a tailor and have them hemmed, but make sure they can keep the factory seam, or make an equivalent one.
If you’re like me and you’re between standard inseam sizes, some of your pants might be a little long. In this case, try to cuff ‘em up once or twice. Now obviously, this isn’t for everyone and it’s a pretty casual look. But as long as the leg opening isn’t too wide, I have no problem going with a small cuff. Now, if your pant legs are a little wide, I’d suggest having a tailor sew in a taper from the knee down to the foot. However, if that’s not an option for you, you can incorporate a pinroll. It’s fairly simple. Just pinch the excess fabric on the inside, fold it back, then cuff twice to hold it in place. I’ve even seen some guys using a rubber band on the first cuff to help keep it in place. This gives you a nice tapered look.
Casual and dress chinos
Okay, moving on to chinos. There’s lots of different variations of chinos right now with some being more casual and some being more dressy with a crease down the leg. But just like jeans, I like the length just touching the shoe with minor break. With more casual chinos, the same rules apply with cuffing. But with more dressy chinos, in my opinion, those should be hemmed at the correct length.
Here’s something else to consider. The older we get, especially in our late 30’s through our 60’s, we should be paying attention to small details like this. And the reason for that is this…… the small details, like we’re talking about today, are just more noticeable with us. We’re older…. We should know this stuff. And when we get it wrong, it seems to get amplified because if we show too much ankle, we’re trying too hard to look young and trendy, but if there’s too much break, we look sloppy, uninformed and out dated.
Dress trousers – Cuffed or straight hem?
Moving on to dress trousers. Once again, I like the pant leg just touching the shoe. Getting the length right with dress trousers is a lot more critical because the details are a lot more noticeable. Too short looks like you’re trying a bit hard, and too long looks like you’re wearing someone else’s pants. I still like a nice taper from the knee down to the foot, so the finer wool fabric doesn’t flap around too much when you walk. I’m okay with a straight hem or a cuff hem. One cool side note about cuffs that can be beneficial is the little extra weight of the cuff helps pull the pant leg down. And because weight of the cuff is at the bottom of the leg opening, it helps to keep the fabric draping nicely.