Anatomy of a 3 Piece Suit, Part II: Trousers Guide
If you are following our style and etiquette blog, you will have already read the first part of this two-part series on suit anatomy, where we covered the terms used in jacket and waistcoat tailoring. In this second part, we will move to the trousers, which also come with their unique details and set of definitions. In fact, trousers are the unsung heroes of men’s fashion: if they fit well, no one notices them but, if the fit or style is wrong, you just can’t take your eyes off them.
As trousers are also the suit element which most often requires minor alterations, it’s very important that you learn the different characteristics so that you can decide for yourself which style works for you and then explain to the tailor exactly what you need. So let’s see which features you should look out for.
The definitive guide to suit trousers
1. Waist adjusters and belt loops
One might argue that a well-fitting pair of trousers does not require any waist management. However, we all know that 3 piece suits are not wardrobe items that you buy for one season and our waistline may fluctuate over time or even over the course of a single day. There are two solutions to this problem, belt loops and waist adjusters. The former are considered less formal but a stylish gentleman will always turn any detail into a fashion statement. The main principle is that, if the trousers have belt loops, you should always wear a belt which should, in fact, match the colour of your shoes. Waist adjusters work with either a pulley or buttons and they are popular because they draw less attention to your waistline and feel more comfortable as there is no buckle.
2. Flat fronted or pleated
Look at the front of suit trousers right below the waist. If the fabric is flat, they are flat fronted but, if you find folds of fabric there, they are pleated trousers. Although flat fronted ones are more fashionable, pleated ones are making a comeback because they work well with fuller physiques and they feel more comfortable when sitting and walking.
3. Trouser pockets
Slanted front pockets are the most common style in suit trousers. As their name implies, they run at an angle from the waistline to the side seam and they are perfectly positioned to welcome your hands. In vertical pockets, the slit runs along the side seam and their main advantage is that there is nothing to break the front of the trousers, which is very important in pleated ones. Back pockets, if any, are usually welt or jetted, which means they are internal with a single or double trimming respectively. Sometimes they are adorned with buttons and they may even come with flaps, although this style must be worn with caution as it increases the volume. A gentleman, by the way, will never put anything in the back pockets of his suit trousers.
4. Cuffed or uncuffed
Now move to where the trouser leg ends. If the fabric is folded on the outside, they’re cuffed trousers. If the fold is on the inside, so effectively just a hem, they’re uncuffed. Cuffs add weight, keeping the leg of the trousers straight. On the other hand, without a cuff, your leg appears longer and the trousers more formal.
A break basically describes how the trousers’ leg meets your shoe. If it barely touches the shoe, without creating a fold, the trousers have no break. If you only see one fold where the hem touches the shoe, they are half break and, finally, if you see multiple folds, they’re full break. Although no break trousers work well for shorter men, they often create the impression that they are a bit too short. On the other hand, a full break may appear as if you are wearing a taller man’s trousers. Half break works for all body types and this is why you can order your Aristocracy London suit trousers in any one of the three lengths we offer (S, R, L) to ensure their break is just right for you and requires minimum, if any, adjustment.
All the above style details only look great if the trousers fit well. It’s therefore important to know how a suit should actually fit and we have just the blog for that. If you are unsure about size, use our amazing size guide, which includes both a detailed step-by-step guide on how to take your measurements and a calculator for a quick check.