1. Jeans are great. But wearing them every day is boring. Most importantly, you will never let out the stylish man that lies within if you always wear jeans. Get some variety.

The jeans that you do wear should be a raw denim, starting indigo dark and relaxing into true blue as you wear them, imprinting your own creases and folds. They are like good shoes, and indeed most good clothes. They improve as they are worn and become more personal.


2. The waist can be altered. When you try on a pair of trousers, it is instinctive to buy the pair that fits on the waist. But it’s easier to alter the waist than the drop, thigh line or anything else. So make sure the trousers are right everywhere else, and then get the waist altered if you have to. This includes jeans – I don’t care what the denim heads say about the chain stitch. Don’t get raw denim altered until after it’s been worn and washed, though.

3. The other pair of trousers you want is grey flannels (pictured top). Suit trousers, by which you mean worsted wool, are too smart to work casually. They are smooth and sharp for a reason. Chinos, or khakis, are a straight alternative to jeans: just as casual, workmanlike and performing the same role in a off-duty wardrobe.

When you want something smarter than your old jeans, go for grey flannels. They can be cut slim, with turn-ups, a low waist, flat front and a flapped rear pocket. In that guise they go with fitted T-shirts as well as Oxford button-downs. They go with any knitwear you own. Go out and buy a pair, or have some made.

4. Trousers take a lot less time and skill to make than a jacket. Yet they will often be a third of the price from a bespoke tailor. So buy them off the peg and get them altered (waist, length, narrowing leg), have them made to measure, or go to a cheaper tailor.

5. A beginner’s wardrobe should contain: indigo jeans, grey flannels, cream chinos and brown moleskins. Then branch out into white cotton trousers (not jeans), khakis in earthy colours, and corduroy (to avoid associations with your grandfather, see fit details in point three).

Only at that point should you flirt with linen, gabardine and bright colours. The latter, in particular, require a mastery of accessories and buckets of attitude to pull off. You may well have developed those two during the previous, seven-stage trouser journey.
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Roger

Brilliant post and excellent points. These points ought to be kept on a Post-It note by every man to remind himself that there is more to trousers than jeans and the annual suit.
The point about getting trousers to fit throughout the seat, drop and thighs rather than soley the waist is spot on.

Anonymous

Great post – out of interest, what would say a reasonable price would be for a made to measure trouser?

Anonymous

where would you recommend getting grey flannels?

Rik

Anonymous

What are the main points on pleats? (Formal, casual, high waist, fat, tall, comfort,old fashioned)

Anonymous

Hi Simon

Can you give any recommendations for grey flannel trousers? My budget is pretty flexible with a preference for Uniqlo +J all the way to considerably more expensive if they’re going to be an investment to last years. I prefer slim cut, low waist etc.

Fantastic blog btw. I’m a regular reader.

Many thanks – Pete

Tim

Great post! Trousers seem to get neglected over ever other article of men’s clothing. Thank you for the tips.

Anonymous

Simon– Would you consider setting out a few guidlines apropos proportions as applied to jeans, grey flannels, summer khakhi, winter tweeds, etc.
Silk and or linen trousers (To be cuffed or not to be.) Optimum range in sizes ; widths of pantleg at cuff or hem. Depth of rise, and how such variables as height and booty size factor into the equation. (Not to mention a range of interpretation within parameters of Permanent Style.Thanks. –JC

Matt

Would you recommend any shops with nationwide branches for flannel, moleskin, and corduroy trousers? I visit London very rarely, and having just moved to a new city I’ve yet to discover the local shops.

Rykman

Very well said, as usual. The first paragraph especially, as many men think of jeans as their default, even though they are uncomfortably warm in summer heat.

I have just adopted chinos after years of resisting them. They are obviously lighter weight and cooler than jeans, but I enjoy them mostly because they are not jeans. Mine are in shades of grey, because I find the khaki colours a bit standard.

Anonymous

i love this post! Thanks a million!

wear with chinos

I absolutely LOVE this post! Thanks for taking time to post this.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

Reading the above advice got me thinking: I like the idea of wearing cream chinos or tan, but would this be appropriate for the evening? The evening usually favours darker trousers, do you agree? Does that leave much choice other than indigo jeans for evening wear?

marcus liang

Hi simon,

would linen trousers be a good choice? im planning on making a pair of linen trousers but have no idea what cut to make them in as they seem rather fragile? any ideas?

marcus

Peter

That’s just what I’ve been looking for on this website – your criteria about casual trouser width! Here you say but not too narrow! If I buy RTW chinos from Cordings – doesn’t the judgment if their width is too wide partially depend on my own body? Cordings is too small to offer RTW trousers in three different cuts (is that the right term?) – normal, slim, extra slim, as Charles Tyrwhitt does.

DKP

I’m sure this should be obvious but when you say your trouser width is 16inches – to which part of the trousers are you referring?

DKP

Simon – I must be misunderstanding what’s meant by “width” then as 16″ would be enormously wide and it certainly doesn’t look that way in any of your photos.

DKP

Ah, that makes much more sense. Is this how you would communicate your preferences to a tailor, ie that you prefer a 16″ width?

L.Whitfield

Why are trousers with turnups or a wider leg so hard to find these days & why do the majority of menswear shops seem only to cater for the younger male.

L.Whitfield

With a fuller figure should I wear flannels with pleats,if the answer is yes double or single pleats.Where should the trousers sit,too low & im constantly hitching them up,too high & I look like someone in a 1920s movie.

The North

What shade of color will be the best/most versatile for my first pair of flannels?

Eric Scots-Knight

Simon,
I am a longstanding client of neapolitan tailors and Savile Row (live around the corner of Luca and Mariano’s shop), but sometimes I want something simple made – like the trousers you mention above- and don’t think it requires top drawer tailors. Can you recommend a decent but lower end tailor in London who can make simple things?
Thank you
Eric

sogno

Simon
Do Flannel trousers go also with sweaters and cardigans?

Barak Cohen

Simon,

What kind of sports coat do you recommend with moleskin trousers (say something pretty informal, like Cordings)? Would flannel work?

Barak Cohen

One additional question regarding flannel as a sports coat. If we assume that the cloths are of a comparable weight and harmonious patterns/colors, would a flannel sports coat pair well with worsted odd pants?

Many thanks.

Barak Cohen

I’m surprised that you caution against patterns. Aside from pinstripes, I rarely see men wearing patterned suits, so when I seem a man wearing trousers of a non-pinstriped pattern (e.g., a fine hounds tooth), I assume that they’re wearing odd pants. Maybe a fresco or a worsted wool with a sheen or texture might contrast nicely with a flannel coat?

Chris

Hi Simon
Just looking into some mid/light-grey flannels and plan to wear with brown shoes or tan brogues.
Question is, should I consider light weight, smarter oxford brogues, like a Barker Newcastle or can you carry off a heavy, country style Loake Chester?
I’d have thought the country brogue might jar a little with the smarter trousers? Or are there flannels that suit that kind of shoe? Maybe fuller cut, more relaxed rather than slim fitting ones? Grey flannels are a tricky thing to source it seems.

KN

simon, do you typically get your wool trousers lined? what are the advantages/disadvantages of doing so?

Andrew Walker

Simon,
Many thanks for another great article. I have purchased a couple of pairs of chinos (both straight-leg and slimmer-leg) for wear with loafers and other British summer appropriate shoes. My research has revealed considerable variation in length. What are your thoughts on chino length if to be worn without a turn-up? Many thanks in advance.

Greg

Hi Simon would a pair of odd trousers made in mohair be weird (like it was part of a suit)? Thanks

Anonymous

Dear Simon,
may I ask whether all your suits, impressively listed in the „Tailors I have used“ -post include two trousers? –
I am asking, because my tailor is convincing me to have only one trousers (in oder to avoid differences in color as well meticulous switching) which should apparently last as long as the jacket is still „good“, on the other hand, my Jeans for example only last a year on average, even the Drakes cotton ones you recommended start to wear out between the legs after only 10 times of wearing. It surely is different with a high twisted suit fabric and the bespoke fit – I am however still thinking whether or not I should pursue the old rule (if it is one?) of always ordering two trousers with suit since a jacket will surely last longer – hence my question what did you do with your suit orders?

Many thanks!!

Sam W

Simon

Would you be able to give your advice as to when trousers should and should not have cuffs? I’ve seen both kinds throughout your posts, and am very curious as to your philosophy on this subject. Many thanks.

S

Dan

For a first pair of flannel trousers, I have the option to have one bespoke pair made (shocking expense for something relatively easy to make) or I could put that money into 2-3 pairs of RTW ones (Incotex, Rota, Ring Jacket, Zegna, etc). This would be my first bespoke piece made, trying to weigh the cost/benefit vs quantity.

Dan

Simon, follow-up question: Incotex were kind enough to send me 6 pairs of flannels (different cuts and sizes) to try on. Being a largely denim and cotton chino wearer, the Slim fit appeals the most, on account of “familiarity” of the cut of the legs. That said, what am I looking for in the leg fit? An unbroken drop from the seat to the shoes? How close should the leg hug the thigh before it’s too close?

Being a first pair, I’m thinking the chosen cut can be a “transition pair,” as a way to get me used to wearing casual trousers up the scale of formality without sacrificing the simpatico comfort of the chino zone. What do you think?

Also, both the Slim and the Normal fits have 15″ leg openings. Is that too narrow for turn-ups?

I lied—that was several questions.

Patrick

Hi Simon,

From your vast experience, can you advise re point 2?

Is it better to take in the waist or let out? Which one is the harder job? I read that letting out the waist sometimes can leave some white whites??

Thanks.

Justin

Hi Simon! I know you have written that it does not matter where the clothes are from, if they are high quality, but just get some recommendation, I have found a store, that has Incotex chinos, but some of them are made in Italy, others in Turkey, therefore I wanted to ask, if you have had any experience with the ones made in Turkey? Are they any different to the made in Italy ones?Thanks!

Justin

Thank you very much for your input and terribly sorry for so many questions. Sadly, I do have another, which goes into the odd trouser direction. How would you evaluate trousers in Houndstooth pattern in terms of versatility (a bit darker than your Vergallo blazer)? Is there any color that might go well with it? thanks!

Justin

I can imagine that! Although the trousers by themselves look good, I had the gut feeling, that nothing good will come out of this. I will look at this as a mistake made during the learning process.

Anonymous

Simon, how do you feel about pants like these? Do you think they look too much like they’re part of a suit?
http://www.jamesbondlifestyle.com/product/acne-wall-street-shark-grey-trousers

Hans

Hi Simon,
If I would like to try linen trouser, which color will you recommend first?

Hans

Thanks for reply. I just struggle with these two colors. I search your website and find you rarely wear linen trousers, except this article
‘ getting-dressed-tan-jacket-and-green-linen-trousers’ . Is linen difficult to wear as trousers,so you put this at last in your recommendations?
I remember you said cream is most versatile color for trousers, but why cream linen trousers is not?
Thanks for your patience to answer my questions.

Charles Rogers

Simon,
Is there a color/contrast rule-of-thumb for pairing tops and bottoms? I rarely see a trouser or chino darker than the jacket and wondering if there is a way to wear dark, odd trousers well?

Anonymous

I have a recurring problem with my pants (MTM) in that they crease right below the buttocks, like this: https://www.styleforum.net/content/type/61/id/2224777/width/350/height/700

I have heard conflicting ideas as to what’s causing this (seat too tight, too loose etc.). I have muscular thighs (24in), and a relatively narrow waist (32in), and buying off the rack is a nightmare for that reason. As for bespoke it’s still out of my reach…
Simon, have you had this problem before? And if so, how did your tailor fix it?

Anonymous

Thanks! So there seems to be no obvious fix for this. I think I’ll go bespoke on my next pair and see if I can finally get pants that fit.

Anonymous

hey Simon I’m just looking into buying my first pair of flannels would you say that a pale grey is much better than a darker shade

many thanks

Federico

Good evening Simon
I’m looking to have a pair of grey flannel trousers made by my tailor and I have two doubts:
– Slant hip pockets or besom pockets? http://henrydavidsen.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/IMG_3294.jpg I really hate when the pockets flare, so I’m interested in the besom pockets, I also like the look. I realize that if pockets flare that means there’s a fit problem, but still.
– I would like to try a waistband with daks adjusters. How do you feel about them? I’ve only tried the side metal adjusters so I don’t have any experience with the daks adjusters. Pros and cons?They would be too formal for a pair of flannel trousers?

Federico

the thing with daks adjustors is that I heard the elastic might lose its elasticity after a while, is that true?

Jtkuga

Simon,

I too am a fan of DAKS style side adjusters. I personally think they look better. With my recent suit I got an extra pair of pants, so I had one made with the slide buckle variety, and the other with DAKS. I like the DAKS better, although it has been a short period of time and my waist hasn’t changed much so I may change my mind down the road. It is hard to find well constructed DAKs side adjusters in ready to wear clothing, even some made-to-measure people don’t make them. Do you have any suggestions for ready-to-wear brands that make good trousers with DAKS side adjusters, price up to $500. Any more than that and I could just get my tailor to make me a pair.

Anonymous

Since I’ve taken to wearing my trousers at the navel, I’ve noticed a persistent horizontal crease has formed in my trousers about an inch below the belt (maybe because I spend a lot of time sitting). Is that common and should I take it as an indication that something is wrong with the way my trousers fit? Thanks

Anonymous

I’m lean and like a slightly higher waist, as I find it makes me look taller. But I’ve never seen or heard anything about that. I guess all I can do is press that crease out every now and then? Have you had that problem yourself? Thank you

Anonymous

I love flannel trousers but today, as I was getting into my car, I cracked my favorite pair… I had gotten it only last winter. My question is, does this happen to you too and how to avoid it?

DKP

Well, it is pretty cold today

Anonymous

As in the seat tore along the thigh, yes. Does it have a different meaning you were thinking of?

Anonymous

It’s happened to me at least twice. I do have rather muscular thighs so that might have to do with it, but the last pair was made to measure so there shouldn’t have been any particular tension. Would you suggest particularly heavy weights in flannel so as to avoid this?
And still curious what you understood by “cracked”…

Anonymous

Oh also, what would you do with torn trousers? Throw them away?

Charles Rogers

In the last 6 months I’ve ripped one pair of linen and and one of flannel trousers. I am going to have to stop deadlifting and squatting so much, but until then, do you have any recommendation on stronger fabrics (or fabrics that handle torsional forces better)?
I am hesitant to spend too much on trousers until I figure out something more robust.

H

Are brown moleskins still part of your recommended beginner’s wardrobe? I don’t think I’ve actually seen you wear them – and I’m sceptical as to how they’d go with more casual shoes (mine being mostly tan to mid-brown).

Fraussie

Hi Simon

How would you style brown moleskin trousers – would pleats and cuffs be acceptable despite the fact that moleskin is typically a more casual fabric and made of cotton? What shade of brown would go for? closer to tan or closer to black?

H

I’m not an expert, but I’ve always thought moleskin was the perfect thickness for moleskin haha!

DKP

Simon – I understand this may be venturing somewhat into the realm of personal preference but could you breakdown the dimensions & proportions you look for in a pair of trousers, i.e. how much of a taper to the leg, how high a turn-up, if a break, how much etc etc.

DKP

That would be appreciated. General guidelines such as these would be very helpful for those of us just beginning our journey.

Chancellor

Hi Simon,

In the coming months, I’m looking to have some custom trousers made. I find off the rack/peg trousers rarely have a rise high enough for me (more a comfort issue, than a look issue) and the angle of the seat to my legs is never right and there’s always a crease there on the back.

Aside, from fit and aesthetics, what are the critical elements to ensure are present in a bespoke pair of trousers? I’m thinking analogous to your advice on jackets (ensuring hand padding of the chest) and shirts (collars sewn on the round). Is there anything critical in construction for trousers? Or are bespoke trousers exclusively about fit and aesthetics, similar to shoes?

Chancellor

Thanks Simon, very helpful indeed!

And on second thought, you’re of course right about there being more key construction elements to shoes than shirts. I wasn’t being very precise there.

Much appreciate your seemingly endless commitment to answer all our questions!

Anonymous

8 years later would you personally hold #4 true for your core wardrobe? Having trousers made-to-measure as opposed to bespoke.

What defines a good trouser fit? Should one be able to sit criss crossed comfortably? I have MTM trousers that look good, but I can’t exactly kneel well or be super flexible with them.

Anonymous

In this case, what should I correct? The leg/knee area? Or thigh? Doing lunges in my case is quite impossible, but I don’t know if my pant should even accommodate that. Reaching for something that’s dropped also pulls the pant.

For your jeans you had one made that goes from high rise (in the back) to mid-rise in the front. Would you recommend do that with MTM or bespoke pants?

Anonymous

Simon what do you think of the ghurka waist currently in vogue for trousers?

I appreciate the look, especially with shorts, but can’t help but think they look a bit stylized on trousers; especially with dress shirts tucked in, they’re almost a bit distracting (especially with pleats)? It’s almost too many details on one pant.

Anonymous

Simon why do you recommend people start slowly when first building their wardrobes, even if they know a fair amount about menswear?

Stefan

Hi,
You mentioned the first pairs of trousers a man should own. Does the colors matter with the skin and complexion of someone? Or they are good for everyone? I have a salt and pepper hair but my eyebrows are still darker than the hair… thanks!

Anonymous

Does the colors matter only for the shirts,polo shirts,sweaters or also for the jacket as well? Thanks!

CDBP

If I may…
I am a very keen owner of flannel trousers and suits and have excessive numbers of both.
Overall, I do agree with your recommendation for grey flannel trousers. It cannot be faulted. However, for a person who is generally younger or hipper or less formal, a good alternative can be a high twist cloth or even a hopsack. I would then avoid a shade of grey that seems more like a suit ( ie go lighter or darker, don’t go bland ) ; I would make sure it has some texture ( again to avoid it looking too much like suiting ) ; and I would make it heavier ( atleast 12 ounces, maybe 14/15 ) because it drapes and wears better.
Just a thought.

CDBP

Hence my comment on being selective about it being more on the textured / rougher end of the scale so it does not look too formal. These cloths are also much lower maintenance than flannel which, much though I am in love with it ( and I am ), is a pain in the proverbial to keep looking sharp, especially if one is generally a hard wearer, or if it gets wet, which it can often do in northern European or east coast USA climate.

Stefan

Hi Simon
I have noticed there are chinos with a crease in front and the back all way down the leg.
Can these type be used in casual settings? Without a sport coat just a casual Jacket.
And if i want to put some turn ups on some pants, corduroy,moleskin ,flannel for eg. It’s necessary to have that crease in them? I want to wear them as casual as possible,with knitwear ,a casual jacket,but still some leather shoes. Thanks!

Michael

Hi Simon,
You said that the crease in the chinos it’s made by ironing however i saw on Ralph Lauren suit chino trousers with no belt loops and with a crease in them… I thought chino is a casual type of pants and trousers are for suits. Isn’t suit chino trousers a paradox? Can those suit chino trousers be worn in a casual settings without a blazer or jacket? Maybe Harrington , quilted ,peacoat?
Thank you!

Matrescu

I have checked,the suit chino trousers are 100% cotton so it’s not a fine cloth i suppose? Also what brands do you recommend for chinos and flannels? I am strugling with finding some flannels and the incotex chinos are in a slim fit. Also could a pair of indigo denim ,like those from Albam could work with a calfskin tan loafer? Thank you very much for taking the time to reply!

Mihai

I contacted Ralph Lauren and they said the crease it’s permanent and for the fabric it says only cotton. It’s that good or bad dor casual settings I don’t know.
Also for the 4 first pair of trousers to have you mentioned cream but you said that it’s for summer so for fall i have the other 3 options , moleskin flannel indigo jeans.
And regarding the last question can a tan penny loafer work with indigo jeans? Thank you and sorry for all the nagging questions!

Michael

Hi Simon,
What brand for chinos do you recommend to wear them with a calfskin wingtip or a suede chukka even with a common project sneakers in a casual setting along with a bomber jacket ,maybe a safari jacket in Spring? Maybe sometimes I will wear only a t shirt not a shirt.
Trunk has a model and I found that Anglo Italian has some nice pairs.
https://www.trunkclothiers.com/products/trunk-welbeck-regular-fit-cotton-trousers-beige?variant=15419496202275

https://angloitalian.com/products/garment-washed-cotton-trouser-stone

Giovan Battista

Hi Simon, as a general rule for trousers alteration, when the tailor has to increase or reduce the width at cuff (from 14.5 to 15.5 inches), or make a slimmer/wider leg fit, is he/she supposed to always unstitch both the inner and outer seams of the legs? And, is he/she allowed to iron a new central crease, or is it a sacrilegious practice? Thank you, GB

GiovanBattista

Thank you Simon, now I know I should keep my tailor but change my laundry 🙂

Let me bother you with another super basic question: I’ve noticed that in some of my trousers (altered by various tailors) the legs’ inner seams are not aligned with the cuffs’ inner seams (the short part that goes inside the leg and then is covered by the heel guard). On the outside, at least, there is no misalignment.

So, is this a mistake due to poor precison and care, or is something done to avoid having 3 (well, 4) layers of stitched fabric overlapping one another? These trousers are made of wool and cotton, not of heavy corduroy or moleskin…

Thank you,
GB

Michael

Hi Simon,
I have some olive green cotton trousers part of a “weekend wardrobe”. However most of my casual jackets are in navy ,just a light grey shacket which I think works good with olive trousers. But when I wear this trousers with a navy jacket it seems that even though the trousers and the jacket, a Harrington by the way, are not formal the whole outfit seems formal ,maybe because of the colours all together? How can I decrease this formality from the two colours?
Thanks!

Michael

Thanks Simon,
Could a dark brown casual jacket decrease the formality? The trousers are in plain lightweight cotton with belt loops and no pleats,they are not that smart.
Thank you!

Michael

Simon,
I read that even though navy it’s smart as a colour the formality decreases with cloth and design so I guess that a navy Harrington it’s not that smart? Also the olive green trousers,since they have belt loops ,no pleats and being a lightweight cotton that makes them less formal so the overall outfit it’s no smart? Or it doesn’t matter those aspects?
Thank you!