Choosing a Suit – Your trouser style

When you wear your suit you’d be right in thinking that the first thing people will notice is the jacket. But your trousers really are important too. Badly cut trousers will make the difference between a reasonable suit and a great suit.

The rise

Generally speaking, trousers in Ready to Wear (RTW) are cut with a lower rise to what they used to be. I often have people saying to me that they want to avoid the “Simon Cowell” effect when going down the bespoke route. But to quash any thoughts of higher waisted trousers being a bad thing, they are not. For the majority, they will guarantee a better line for you, be far more flattering and really look the business. They don’t need to be sky high, they should be on or just above the hips – around in line with your belly button.

Speaking of which… What if you have a huge belly? Well, here’s the thing… Either you have trousers cut below it, or you keep them up. To my mind if you have a very big tum then keep them up, and wear them with braces. Also, avoid having pleats because although a stylish detail, they will only accentuate matters by having more cloth in the front. This will lead to a baggy conclusion! Plain fronts are what you want.  I hate to break the news, but if you are very big, whatever the cut of jacket or trousers, no tailor is a miracle worker. What they will do is do everything they can to flatter your shape.

Straight round

As the phrase suggests this is when the trousers are cut straight around the waist. Most will go for this, especially if you aren’t one for braces, but even if you are, you can always ask to have brace buttons put inside to give you the option.

Cut for braces

Also referred to the “Fish Tail” cut, this means a pair of trousers cut with a rise in the back.


Supporting your trousers

So here are your options:

Strap and buckle on hips

My favourite without a doubt. They keep the trouser front clean and fuss free. Give then a quick tug on your hips and you’re done. So practical if you have the occasional fluctuating waistline!

Elastic and button

Smart, and again keeps the front of the trousers clean, but I’ve always found them not to give me enough tension in the waist.


For me a belt doesn’t belong with a suit. RTW suits often include a belt, but I’d wear a belt for your casual trousers whether they be cords, flannels or chinos. The biggest sin you could possibly make is wearing a belt with a three piece. It will never sit well with the waistcoat. Also avoid it with your double breasted jacket. The buckle will get in the way of the jackets double wrap.


Pleats or no pleats?

If you’re going to have pleats then I’d have two reversed (The English way). They do give you more room in the front which some prefer.  As said and perhaps a little surprisingly, if you have a bigger build, plain fronts will suit you better. Pleats are a stylish detail but they do translate as having more cloth in the front which won’t necessarily be flattering.


To turn up or not to turn up?

It is more formal to have plain bottoms to your trousers. That’s evident but the fact that on Evening wear you should never have turn ups. They are a nice touch for your cords, flannels or chinos, and for me the two scenarios to which they also belong is a double breasted suit, or if the suit is a Prince of Wales check.


Give yourself a break

Too little and the trousers will look short. Too much and they’ll look too long. Aim for a single break over your shoe. It’s the simplest and cheapest alteration to have done, and makes all the difference in the world. Don’t be lazy, get it done.


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