I’ve had a few such questions over the past few months, so let’s try and cover all the bases at once.
I always wear ‘metal tabs’ (side adjusters, side straps, strap and buckle) with my suits and similarly formal odd trousers. And I prefer belt loops with my casual trousers (chinos, jeans, cords).
With formal trousers, belts and therefore belt loops should be avoided for several reasons. They detract from the formality of the suit; they interrupt its clean, well-tailored lines; they are uncomfortable on thinner, worsted cloths (would you wear a belt with pyjamas?); and when cinched tight, they buckle the trouser waist, creating an ugly bunching.
So no belt loops. Why not tabs with buttons? Because they tighten elastic inside the waistband all the way around the back, creating similar bunching. At their tightest, the look is not that far off the elasticated waist of tracksuit bottoms. Side tabs, even when highly cinched, restrict any bunching to a couple of inches on either side. Plus they offer a continuous range of settings – buttons are discrete.
And why not braces? Well, I can see their virtues and I’ve tried them consistently on one suit, but they are not for me. Yes, the line of the trouser is cleaner and no shirting is exposed below the jacket’s waist button. But I spend some time every day in just trousers, and the high rise then looks unstylish and frankly unflattering. I also find the comfort of greater room in the waist is outweighed by the discomfort of having barathea wrapped around my shoulders.
By the way, side straps should be positioned on the waistband seam, not the waistband itself. This makes them more comfortable and, if worn at the hips as I do, adds an extra inch to the rise. The waistband is amply hidden when wearing a waistcoat.
I enthusiastically recommend side straps, particularly if you currently have belt loops on your suit trousers. Belt loops can easily be removed by a tailor, and side straps can be made out of the turn-up on the inside of the trouser leg, if enough excess has been left.
And then why belt loops on casual trousers? Because side straps don’t work as well on very heavy cloths, and their weight makes slippage less of an issue. Plus, I like belts. They are another opportunity to wear beautiful, hand-stitched leather and to accessorise effectively. A good belt can add colour in a way that would be garish in leather anywhere else.
[Pictured: Charcoal suit from Toby Luper, with side straps on the waist seam]
Could you, perhaps, recommend a couple of lovely belts/belt makers?
I agree whole heartedly on your comments regarding bunching when wearing belts.
I’ve never been one for braces; even when worn under a jacket they don’t look very modern and remind me too much of Gordon Geko from Wall-Street.
I wat to buy a pair of trousers with metal side adjusters and would like to know if they will be suffice in not wearing a belt?
I’ve read men complain that trousers still droop in the middle with adjusters?
Keep up the good work.
I’ve never had any problem with metal side adjusters. Don’t be afraid to cinch a little tight.
Dear Mr Crompton,
I share your views about the bits on the side, although I have never heard them given such an elaborate if accurate label as “side adjusters”!
Here’s a thing: I recently had a pair of trousers made here in the mid-east, and the tailor simply cannot find suitable buckles. So I now have the button option, but contra your reference, there is no elastic or anything like that — it is the same as the metal buckle kind, but limited to the discrete spacing that the buttons allow. Seems to work satisfactorily — I can live with a bunch of ~ 1/4″ on a side, which would be there with buckles as well.
I have been having things made for many years, but never noticed about the vertical positioning point you made. I may well try that next.
Excellent web site. Thanks & regards.
[…] On this page they discuss the style pictured and one that has an actual belt buckle. All three of these options require one waist adjuster on each side of the pant. http://www.permanentstyle.com/2010/12/reader-question-trouser-waists.html#.UoeAjuJCyz4 […]
Hi, I do have a belly and wear my work pants below my belly. However, it keeps falling off at the back of my pants even though it is tailored. Is there a way to actually hold up my pants besides wearing braces? Or is there any suggestions I should voice out to my tailor.
Without seeing them (in person) it’s hard to tell Edmund, but it sounds like the tailor should be able to do better than that. Braces will of course always solve the problem
Where can I buy adjustable metal tabs for trousers in uk?
I don’t know a supplier that normally works with end customers, but I can ask a tailor for the supplier (or indeed do so yourself)
I’m in the process of buying my first made-to-measure suit and have elected to go with Gieves & Hawkes. This will be my first time wearing trousers with side adjusters and was unsure whether to go for buttons or metal tabs. I remembered this page on your site so have held off making a decision to check back on the above – and this reminded me about your point re. the adjusters being on the seam. The adjusters on their M2M trousers are on the waistband and I’m not sure if this can be changed as M2M draws upon one or two house blocks – will they still have the right effect? I take in board the above point re. metal tabs over buttons but just wondering how significant a difference not being positioned on the seam will make if they can’t be changed.
I wouldn’t worry about it. They will still function fine, it’s more a question of a slight difference in the height of the trousers.
Oh and tabs over buttons
Another quick question – are there any ‘rules’ re. rear pockets on suit trousers? Is there a reason why many only offer a pocket on the right side, whilst a few (mostly the Italian designers it seems to me) have pockets on the right and left.
Nope, just a question of what you will use. I rarely use them at all, but aesthetically like one on the right
I have a customer who prefers strap/buckle but sits down all day in them, causing creasing and rolling over on the front waistband. Other than reinforcing the problem area (which has been tried with moderate success), do you have any ideas as to how to minimize this please?
I don’t think the choice of strap and buckle will make much difference there. It’s more a question of the fit, and excess cloth v comfort
can you please tell me where i can find mens suits with a self adjusting waist band
Do you happen to know any RTW brands which offer side adjusters?
Anderson & Sheppard, Paul Stuart, Ralph Lauren a tiny bit. Also always worth trying non-Italian tailoring brands – eg Gieves, or the Huntsman RTW.
I used to have pants with zipper on sides of waistband and it looked classic and worked just fine! Is it possible to order pants with zippers on the sides?
Few tailors would make them, but I’m sure some could still. You more often see it as an option with buttons
I need urgently to by buckles for side tab adjusters for my trousers. Were can I find this buckles? I need high quality ones. Thank you!
i have two flannel trousers in the works.
regarding the last paragraph, is 360 grams too heavy for side adjusters?
i like them from a style perspective but now i’m curious about their functionality too in this case.
No, that’s not too heavy
Hi Simon, late but related question, when going for side tab adjusters would you suggest the extension waistband have a hook-and-bar or button closure? The former seems like a cleaner option but I’ve heard the button is more secure. Thanks
Neither is that much more secure really. It’s just a question of what style you prefer – a hook-and-bar is cleaner and therefore perhaps more formal.
Thanks again Simon. Can I ask which style you tend to prefer for this detail?
I tend to prefer a hook-and-bar, certainly for more formal trousers
My cleaners recently lost the trouser side adjuster metal buckle to my favorite suit pants. Do you know where I can order a replacement pair? I’ve tried searching the internet but couldn’t find the right ones. Thanks
please tell me if i understood you rigth here.
I am talking about trousers worn at the hips.
You place the side straps on the waistband seam and the waistband seam itself is actually at the level (higher) were normally the waistband is located on trousers with belt loops or on trousers with the side straps on the waistband, rigth?
So like this your waistband actually sitts higher than it ‘should’, adding some visual rise?
Has this ‘visual’ rise any practicality on comfort by embracing a bit more ones waist?
It seems so to me.
Yes that’s right, and no I don’t find it any more comfortable, it just looks better
when you mention high-waisted trousers you also usually speak of the “necessity” of wearing such trousers with braces. But I’ve always thought natural-waisted trousers could easily be worn also with side adjusters, couldn’t they?
In such case, should side straps be placed on the waistband or on its seam? Despite what you have stated in this article, it surprises me that even bespoke tailors place them on the waistband (e.g. your charcoal suit from Sartoria Vestrucci).
High-waisted trousers can be worn without braces, yes, but they’re usually not as comfortable and more likely to slip. Most men I know that have high-waisted trousers wear them with braces, and I’ve had some high-waisted ones without (from Ambrosi) but had those twin problems.
Whether the side adjustor goes on the seam or waist is less of an issue with high-waisted trousers, generally, because there is more space to play with around the natural waist – it’s a bigger indent than the centre of your hip bones
Simon, I am considering having belt loops removed on some pants and, instead, having side tabs installed. But I have noticed that my pants with side tabs at manufacture have an extended waistband. However, an extended waistband would not be possible on pants that originally had belt loops.
My question is what are your thoughts on side-tabbed pants without extended waistbands? Would side tabs with the standard waistband still look fine?
I am off by about a decade in my comment here. But thank you!
I think that would be fine, yes.
However, how will you get matching cloth to make the side tabs with?
Thank you so much, Simon. These pants have about 4–5 cm width of material (going around the circumference) on the turn-up on the inside of the trouser leg. Do you think that’s enough? I was hoping to consult a good tailor about that.
Perhaps for a much smaller turn-up, done in the cheaper way without the overlap, yes. But ask the tailor, yes