A Guide to Trousers

The way men choose to cover their legs has led to one of the most political articles of clothing known: the trouser. Thirty inches or so in height, it has been used to divide the sexes, boys from men and even whole races in the case of “askaris” whose short length seemed to be rather shy of knees. Many a man invests heavily in blazers, shirts, shoes and ties but neglects what may by the easiest garment to get right. Let’s look at some points to consider when choosing a pair :


What is my trouser size?

The easiest way of telling if a trouser will fit you other than wearing it is to stretch the band out flat with either hand and wrap it round your neck. Should there be more than half an inch space you’re better off getting a smaller size. Too tight and it will definitely be uncomfortable.

How high?

We’ve all laughed at he the image of a bi-spectacled, bow-tie wearing high waisted fellow and frowned(i hope?) at low riding pants that give sunlight to boxers, but how high should one wear their pants? Well, its all dependent on the rise , which refers to the distance between the middle of the crotch seam and the waistband.

A low rise would mean wearing ones trousers at hip level as theres less space to go around ( think bell bottoms)// while a high rise would enable one to hike it up. This leads to altering the perception of ones natural waist, affecting body proportions.Low rises are more suitable for casual pants such as jeans while a high rise is favored for a more formal look.

Rise illustrated. Photo courtesy


Note : Rise should be one of the most important factors in determining fit before a purchase as it isn’t adjustable per se.

How should it fit?

Highly subjective too, depending on personal taste and body type. if you can’t move freely or are at peace jumping off airplanes at will (read parachute pants) then you’re definitely wearing the wrong size. I advise working with your tailor till you get a fit that works. It took me about 5 re-fittings to achieve mine and lots of time, but once done its sheer joy.

How long ?

The length of a trouser and how it interacts at the bottom with shoes is formally referred to its the break of the trouser.

A no break refers to what most of us call” don’t touch “, where the hem touches the top of the shoe only slightly, leading to exposed socks when walking. This look is rather fashion forward, works great with thin heeled shoes such as loafers and is suitable for short people as it gives the illusion of length.

A medium break will have some of the hem resting on the shoe, covering the top bit, with a slight bunching of fabric at the front.This is the hallmark of a man who cares about his tailoring but remains slightly conservative in taste. Safest bet there is.

The full break is where we have quite some fabric sitting on the shoe, covering a good part of the lacing at the front, with no bunching at the back. This form is very conservative, vintage, preferred by older generations.Wider pants tend to handle the extra material better as less piling would be experienced. If there’s bunching of fabric at the back and front, there’s simply too much material.

                                                                                                                     images courtesy

Cuffed or nah?

Cuffs add a certain level of je ne sais quoi to what is otherwise a rather plain ending to a trouser. It is deemed that they are more suitable on formal, double pleated pants or those to be worn with suspenders, The horizontal line created by them shortens the leg,proving suitable for men taller than 5’10.Draping off the trouser is greatly improved by the extra weight the cuff gives,working beautifully with a well defined iron crease(wembe). No cuffs are better for flat front pants or single pleated ones on shorter men.Although preferred for formal wear, cuffs are not recommended for black or white tie dress as they aren’t as elegant.


This refers to a slight fold in fabric as its adjoined to the waistband on the front part of the trouser. The extra fabric is perfect for heavily set men or those with athletic thighs as it allows some stretching out when one sits or walks. Variations in pleats come about on their direction,forward(front facing) and reverse (back facing, mostly used ) and their number (one,two, rare three). Pleats tend to give a slightly widened look at the hip while no pleats maintain a straight silhouette.


Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them

– Marc Jacobs





Student at JKUAT.Purveyor of thoughts and clothes.

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