NCG tailor’s point of view
Unlike a waistcoat (or a vest, if you want) which has pretty simple structure, a pair of pants has much more details for us to discuss.
NCG Tailor’s factory has dedicated for over 15 years in manufacturing men’s custom dress pants. In this guide:
We will talk about only what we know the best:
Men’s dress pants (or suit pants, or suit trousers, we consider they are the same thing), made by wool or wool-blended materials.
We will not talk about:
Jeans, chinos (or chino-like trousers), sports pants, or any other casual styles, like corduroy trousers.
photo credit: forlifeandstyle.com
For starters, you can’t go to your office or attend a business meeting in your colorful shorts, that’s for sure. You might say, “hey, there are some high-tech companies allow their employees to go to work in pajamas…” Hey, come on, stop messing around, you know that’s not our point here.
Too big? No. Too small, no. Slim fit? Maybe, but definitely not skinny. It is not their goal to show your athletic body figure (even if a pair of well-fitting pants can), no, no, their ultimate goal is to show your respect to others. You want to be sharp-looking, attractive, fine; but the bottom line is that you should look formal in a pair of suit pants. In some occasions, you can combine a pair of dress pants will a casual style jacket, but that’s still business-casual, there is still some part of formality in it.
So rule number 1: when you are buying dress pants or having them custom tailored, the first thing you need to do is to put them on, look in a mirror, and ask yourself: Do I look “respectful to others” enough?
The shining star could be your formal jacket, or your dress shirt, or even your beautiful tie, or even your face, but never your dress pants. Anyway, in the formal occasions, when a person sees you and pays immediate attention to your trousers, that’s probably not good, something could be wrong with them.
If your upper-body outfit is the leading star, a pair of well-fitting pants should be a good supporting actor, never the other way around.
Ok, that sounds a little too “big talk” about being formal, let’s move on.
A good pair of dress pants can have smooth and slim fit, but never skinny. That’s not an option. When they look very tight around your hips, thighs, knees or your ankles, the whole “formality thing” we just talked about will be ruined. Please note that we are talking about “very tight” or “skin tight” here, not “slightly tight or slim.” There is a fine line between “slim” and “skinny.” If you have an athletic body figure and the suit pants look well fitted around your hips, that’s fine, but not “too tight,” never.
If you are having your dress pants custom made, the tailor will know that, and you have nothing to worry about for this; but when you are buying from an off-the-rack store, make sure to avoid all skinny-form trousers.
Bulging is different from big or loose. Sometimes, the pants could fit just right for your thighs, knees, not too big not too small, not too loose not too tight, just right; just the hips area could look bulging. Or, anything else looks good, it’s just when you sit down, the front rise looks bulging (that’s probably because the front rise is too long).
Regarding“sharp-looking,” pleats are not good. They are folds (or wrinkles if you want) sewed just below the waistband, on purpose; they are just there to give your pants some extra spaces for movements. They create extra “redundant” impression. For some people who have a belly or large hips or thighs, pleats are necessary because, without them, they might feel tightened and uncomfortable. But still, if you can choose no pleat, don’t choose one pleat; if you can pick one pleat, don’t pick two pleats.
As a supporting actor, your suit trousers should coordinate the leading actor, your suit jacket. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice a little the pants’ fit to guarantee the overall elegance.
For instance, for a man with large shoulders, or muscular chest, he should not choose slim fitted pants because in that case, his upper body and lower body might seem unbalanced.
Some people say that a pair of well-fitting trousers should follow the natural shape of a man’s body. Well, NCG Tailor cannot agree to that. Think about it: if a man has large hips and small waist, what kind of shape will the pants be if they follow exactly this body shape? In this case, a tailor should make the waist a little bit looser and the hips a little bit more tightened; in other words, re-shaping your body to make the pants more “serious” and less “spandex-like.”
This is obvious, no matter how good-looking you can be wearing a pair of pants, if really uncomfortable, they will, soon or later, end up in the garbage can.
The thing is, it is not so easy, especially for those who don’t have a standard body shape, to find the pair of pants that can be both “sharp-looking” and “comfortable to wear.” Being in the tailoring business for so long, one of the most important facts we learned is that sometimes we have to compromise.
One of the most obvious example: flat-front pants and pleated pants. As we mentioned before, the pleats are not good for sharp-looking, but they are very good at creating extra room for movements. One pleat is the compromise that a tailor can find for you: gives you more comfort than plain-front, and creates less bulging effect than the 2-pleat pants.
The following tips can be useful for choosing a pair of off-the-rack pants, but also useful when you have them custom made.
1. Try “ordinary” colors, not too bright nor too shining, never let your pants steal the thunder of your jacket.
2. Avoid very light fabrics: relatively heavy fabrics are better for the fit.
3. Put them on, look into a mirror, and ask yourself: do I look formal enough?
4. Don’t wear a belt, stand up, to see if the pants will slide off.
5. Pay attention to the crotch, to see if it is too loose or too tight.
6. High rise? Low rise? Well, for a pair of dress trousers, we recommend mid-rise.
7. Try to put some small objects into your pants’ pockets, like keys, credit cards, to see if they will make your pants look bulging.
8. Try to sit down, to see if there are some uncomfortable places, especially around the hips, the thighs, and the front rise.
9. Stand up, turn around, ask somebody to check your pants’ back (don’t wear a jacket). Do they look good on you? Are they any redundant parts?
10. If possible, avoid the pleated pants; if you feel uncomfortable in plain-front pants, and you choose pleated ones, ask your tailor to make cuffs for you. But please do remember, the cuffs can make you look shorter.
11. If you see a pair of pants with patch pockets (especially in the back), don’t buy, they are not dress trousers.
12. Put on the jacket (or even the shirt, if you can) you want to match, to see if your dress pants match your jacket and if the whole outfit looks “harmonious” on you.
13. Everybody loves 100% wool fabric. But wool blended fabric might not be so bad sometimes. A little percentage of polyester fibers might make your pants more wrinkle-resistant.
14. You don’t have to wear your pant’s waistband up to your navel, but still, don’t wear them too low. Otherwise, you will diminish the formality.
15. Tuck your shirt into your trousers.
16. Find the right length, hem your pants. If hemmed correctly, the dress pants should fall on your shoes naturally.
17. If you can use suspenders, don’t use a belt.