Knowing how our dress pants should fit is an essential skill for everyone to have. But even for the well-versed suit-wearers out there, navigating the do’s and don’ts of how dress pants should fit can be a bit confusing. Keep in mind these points about how pants should fit.
When fitting the waist, we need to explain the ‘rise’, which goes hand-in-hand with the waist. The ‘rise’ of your dress pants is the total length of fabric traveling from the front hem to the back hem. Naturally, this means the ‘rise’ will determine where the top hem sits on your body.
It may be difficult at first to get used to but not all pants were intended to be worn as low on the waist as your low-rise jeans. For dress pants, a classic rise will leave the waistband sitting at the mid-to-high hip level, just below your belly button. Your waistband should be snug enough that wearing a belt or suspenders would be a style choice, not a necessity. If your rise is too short, you may be experiencing what we call a wedgie. This pulling is coming from the back because the pants waist is sitting too low. If your rise is too long, the opposite would happen, and your crotch would fall too low.
Once you figure out the rise, your waist should be snug enough for your pants to sit at the appropriate height for your rise without needing a belt to hold up the pants. If the waist is too tight, not only will you be uncomfortable but you’ll also end up with what is referred to as the muffin top. If the waist is too loose and you use a belt to cinch the pants you’ll end up with bunching along the waistline which is a dead giveaway of a poor fit.
Leg width comes down mostly to your personal style, and the trends today range from super-skinny to oversized. We recommend that you stick to a classic look.
On the classic fit you should be able to pinch about one to two inches of fabric on either side of your legs. The fabric will fall close to your natural shape and drape cleanly. A bit of a taper from the thigh to hem will fall along with the natural narrowing of the leg, this will look smart and natural on all body types.
For dress pant length, let’s first look at the seams. The inseam, is from the start of the crotch down to the bottom of the leg. The outseam, is from the top of the waist down to the leg is the most common measurement that determines leg length.
More importantly, we’ll look at the break, or the way the hemline meets your dress shoes. The break you choose will depend on the width of the hem, as some break options require a tapered or widened opening. It all depends on the look you’re going for with your suit, and where you’ll be wearing it. Here is a breakdown no pun intended on breaks:
1. No break
No break pants will have the bottom hem stopping right above your ankle, not quite reaching the top of your shoes. This option will come with a more tapered leg and is a more bold look. With the shortest break, you’ll be showing the most amount of sock or ankle.
2. Partial Break
For the partial break, your pants should reach the top of your dress shoes. They should form a slight single vertical bend in the front crease of the pant legs just above their meeting point with the dress shoes.
3. Full Break
A full break is the longest option, giving you enough extra fabric at your bottom hemline to reach or even cover your shoelaces. It will form a more pronounced vertical bend/wrinkle in the front crease of the pant legs above the hem. This is the no nonsense, least trendy break, but it’s a great choice for a more conservative office.