Fresco trousers

  
Dear Simon,

I’ve always been extremes: a worsted wool suit or denim jeans. But having had my first couple of “sports jackets” made I thought it was worth while moving up in the formality stakes with trousers occasionally. I realise up from jeans is chinos, moleskins, cords etc but when you start getting into fresco, flannel and gabardine I am totally at a loss as to their relative formality.

I did have a quick look at flannel and fresco samples when last in my tailors and I personally wouldn’t be able to say which is more formal than the other – or are these two relatively equal and more a winter/ summer divide?

A simple list, for a simple person like me, from formal to informal would be really useful.

Jack
 

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Hi Jack,

It’s a good question. We often look at the sliding scale of formality in regards to jackets and suits, or colours and patterns, but rarely trousers. There are certainly some materials that are more suited to summer or winter, but I would say we can safely combine them on the same list.

I’d suggest the scale for trousers could then be thought of as:

  • Worsted wool (standard suits)
  • Wool gabardine (gabardine finish on wool, surprisingly smooth and hard and therefore formal)
  • Fresco (and similar weave/finish)
  • General woollens (the actual formality depends largely on the finish, but they usually belong around here)
  • Cotton gabardine (not as formal as wool – can fade and crease more)
  • Flannel
  • Linen (often more casual the lighter in weight)
  • Moleskin/general cottons (most standard cottons belong around here in the scale)
  • Corduroy
  • Chinos (and generally, garment-washed cotton trousers)
  • Denim

Of course, this involves vast generalisations. We are essentially talking about three things – fibre, weave and finish – and some of the cloths listed above specify all of these, some of them only one. Particular finishes, as well as weight and construction, could quickly move a pair of trousers up or down the scale. Without even considering colour and pattern.
 

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But it remains a useful way to think about formality of dress. The further down the scale you go, the less likely the trousers will suit a smart navy blazer. The further up the scale, the smaller the chance they will go with your heavy Harris-tweed jacket. 

We could easily write a post on each cloth on the list. But hopefully this is the kind of simple list you were looking for Jack.

Simon

Images. Top: fresco. Middle, cotton gabardine, linen, flannel. Bottom: woollen, denim, fresco.

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Sam

Thanks for this timely (at least for me post Simon) A couple of related questions:

1) what are my odd jacket option with a pair of light grey fresco pants (which are proving less versatile than I had anticipated)
2) what trousers would you recommend to match a lightweight navy linen jacket? I assume linen on linen is a no no?
Cheers!

Anonymous

Anyone who you could recommend as doing good, heavy, RTW linen trousers?

Hristo

Hello Simon,

I currently have the following problem related to the article.
I have a very light weight quarter lined mid blue odd jacket(SB, 3 patched pockets, spalla camicia shoulders) made from a silk/wool/(maybe +cotton and linen) mix, which has some of the silky glance.
Until now I have worn it with red (a darker tone of red) jeans, but I want to order 1-2 pairs of trousers that would go with the jacket. Can you advise me which kinds of fabrics should I consider?
Until now my choice is at the Minis 2-ply Fresco in light tan colour. The colours go well, the lightness is similar, the only thing that worries me is that the silk-mix is so different than fresco…
What do you think?

Hristo

Hello Simon,
my question was more in regard of the fabric than the colour. My concerns are if the fresco is the best option for silky jacket?
Best regards
Hristo

Fred

Maybe you make a formality matrix.
With cloth on one axis and cut and style on the other.

Anonymous

Actually yes please! Info graphics would be much appreciated (and for your own interest simon would be extremely popular and drive traffic)

Jimmy

Simon

Do you favour worsted flannel or normal flannel? I particularly like the grey A&S pair you have with the slim leg and deep turn ups from the bespoke G&G post. Are these flannel or worsted flannel and do you wear them year round?

James

Hi Simon,

What is the difference between standard cottons and chinos? Aren’t some very similar? Some chinos can seem quite formal, depends what you wear with them though I guess.

Stephen

Hi Simon, as Hopsack is not dissimilar to Fresco would you rate Hopsack with a similar formality rating, though I’ve not seen trousers in Hopsack? I’d also welcome your considerations re. Fresco trousers (are they as light as linen but without the creasing?). Also, as it is a cloth I don’t often see, are the other makes of Fresco as good in weave and weight as the Hardy Minnis brand (company originators of Fresco).

Matt S

What are the “general woolens” and “general cottons”? I’m wearing cavalry twill trousers today, which I would put formality-wise around where you put general woolens, even though they are worsted and not woolen. Is that one of your “general woolens”? And is brushed cotton one of your “general cottons”?

Matt S

Thanks. I would certainly place my cavalry twill below other worsteds, like plain weave, serge, prunella, and then below gabardine but above flannel and tweed. The difference in formality between some of these is so minute that it really doesn’t matter. Moleskin, corduroy and brushed cotton fit essentially the same role and are the same in formality. I agree that moleskin can be placed above corduroy, simply because it’s a smoother cloth, but it gets to the point where it doesn’t matter so much.

Rob

Simon, another great and helpful post thank you. This just reminds me why I love Fresco, it is just so practical. Hard wearing, it doesn’t crease and can easily bridge formal to casual. I find with enough shades of colour in the threads it gets sufficient feeling of texture to be worn as a suit or separates. Just ideal for travelling.

Jonathan Board

Dear Simon
I am complete beginner when it comes to sartorial matters but I did some research using the wealth of information on websites such as yours and recently took the plunge intending on getting a sports coat to wear with a variety of trousers. Unfortunately I painted myself into a bit of a corner as I ended up with a jacket made from worsted wool, Navy Glen Plaid with a Blue Overcheck (HS1274 – 741040). I love the jacket but I’m struggling to find trousers that work with it. My intentions were to be quite bold with colour but it seems I don’t have the right eye for this and the colours and textures that I’ve tried have been off the mark. I’d love to match bright green and blue like these guys: http://s624.photobucket.com/user/niidawg3/media/49e4cb15.jpg.html & http://thebestfashionblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Boglioli-Spring-Summer-2015-Menswear-1.jpg along with more formal combinations. To make matters worse, the last time I went looking for trousers I ended up with another jacket (Doh!) made from a very similar material, Black and White Glen Plaid with a Blue Overcheck (HS1274 – 741041). I really need help. Looking at your article the trousers that I’m considering (chinos, moleskins, cotton gabardine) are too casual to mix with worsted wool. Fresco seems a good choice but it seems to be made in very formal colours only and I have been told that I would wear out flannel too quickly for it to be practical. I would love some guidance

Anders

I have a navy blazer from Arthur & Fox. In the winter it is perfect with corduroy, either in bottle green or a purple close to navy. With the navy/purple corduroy I love the combination of the seemingly formal colour and informal texture. Blue shirt with some texture.

john

Info graphics?! On this website?!!Bounder

Eric

Thank you for the informative post. As a follow up, what would you consider a summer alternative to flannel (on the scale of formality) for someone who wants to wear wool trousers all year. Is there such a thing?

Jerrell

Hi Simon,

I was amazed to see that Holland and Sherry have procured Super 240s wool.

Who buys this sort of material, and how long until the industry hits Super 300s??

Jack

Many thanks for posting my question.

Are you aware of any RTW brands that sell Fresco trousers but ideally south of £200? Appreciate you wont have much personal experience at this lower level but I cant even find anyone to even look at their quality.

I know that you promote Incotex for chinos but I am surprised how hard it is to find anything by them (or under their parent brand as I’ve seen some advertise them). I did order a pair from Saks in their sale which were billed as “italian fit” but unfortunately they were too narrow on the calves for me though I was impressed by them other than that. Everywhere I’ve seen doing mail order almost exclusively sell slim fit which I am guessing it what Saks renamed to italian fit. Do any stores stock a wider range or do Incotex only make a very limited range of models with a tendency towards very thin legs? (The waist and thighs were fine, just the lower legs were an issue)

Alex

Excellent post Simon; very useful and informative. Might it be possible to do a similar thing regarding shirts?

Anders

Jonathan Board:

I have an SB worsted navy jacket like you describe. In the winter I use it with narrow striped corduroy in bottle green or a purpleish navy. The latter in particular makes a nice contrast between formal colours and informal texture. Very versatile. Textured blue shirts.

Bertie Wooster

Simon
1. Is flannel really that far down the list because I have see your flannel suit…I got a flannel chalk stripe suit made…the sort I thought Churchill or Cary Grant wore…is that not formal for a suit
2. What is the difference between worsted flannel and normal flannel in terms of appearance and process of manufacture

Many thanks
BW

Sandeep

Simon

I am having a fresco sports coat made (mid blue Hardy and Minnis 9 oz). Mr Hitchcock advised against having a liberty print lining due to the see thru nature of the fabric.

Can’t quite see how this would work on trousers given the advise on the linings… I’ve defaulted to Super 120s/140s for summer wool trousers.

Thoughts? Comments?

Enzo

I already own quite “dressy” chinos with hidden seams and higher rise. Quite similar to dress cotton trousers, but they lack the crease.
So I need something smarter than chinos; cotton dress trousers are too informal, similar to my chinos. I might get a pair of cream cotton trousers but as I said they are quite similar to chinos.
are fresco trousers available rtw?
I like tropical wool trousers too, but they often lack any texture and can look like orphaned suit trousers. Linen trousers… I don’t know, difficult to find heavier linen trousers rtw. Before I was very pleased with howard yount but now with the euro/dollar almost 1/1 it’s not that convenient anymore.

Enzo

in winter you have flannell trousers which are dressy but casual at the same time. Not in summer… I will probably go with tropical wool trousers. I believe the “orphan trouser” is more of a problem on the internet or for the so called “igents”. It’s a problem with jacketing, a jacket is much easier to look like an orphan without more casual features. In trousers much less, especially if they are quite lightweight and light in color, like light gray trousers.

Anonymous

Hi Simon

You listed flannel as being pretty casual. Does colour have a bearing on this? Would a mid grey brushed flannel be less formal than a charcoal brushed flannel? Out of curiosity, which of the two colours would you go for to wear as stand alone trousers.

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous

Deep sigh of relief! I’d ordered the Fox Brothers mid grey flannel and was beginning to think that perhaps the charcoal might have been a better choice. As always, thanks for the response.

Jens

Hi Simon,

Regarding moleskin and corduroy trousers:

What sort of jumper goes best with these trousers? Crew- or v-neck? Should colour be taking into account vis-a-vis formality? And what about the shoes?

Ie. would a pair of dark mulberry/ red corduroy trousers (fine cord/ ”stripes”) go well with a dark navy crew neck jumper?

Thanks.

Brgds
Jens

Jens

Hi Simon

Thanks for your reply.

Do corduroys with fine cords normally imply more informal shoes?

Thanks again.

Greg

Hi Simon. What’s your take on wool gabardine (9-10 oz) for a suit in the tropics? I seem to have picked up from the internet that it acquires a certain sheen over time and am confused as to if this is a desirable effect over time. Thanks !

Greg

Hi Simon, pardon the slew of questions but do trousers cut by the various houses differ vastly and if so, do they appear out of place when paired with another house’s jacket? For instance, would a jacket cut by Cifonelli paired with trousers made by say Huntsman or Dalcuore look out of place? I ask because I remember your piece on the various house styles where jackets were concerned and would like to know if this house style applies to trousers as well. — If this is one of your upcoming pieces then I apologise for jumping the gun. Thanks!

Hugh

Hi Simon,

Would you be able to suggest a way of wearing corduroys without looking too “fogey”, especially for a younger man?

Thanks!

Anonymous

Hi Simon

What are your thoughts on fresco trousers with something like a field jacket? Do you think the cloth is too formal? Are there any wool fabrics you could suggest to go with such a jacket?

Anonymous

Thanks. Is 10/11oz ok for summer.? To be honest, I’d never thought about flannel in summer. In my mind I’d always thought of flannel as a winter fabric.

Anonymous

Ah, got you. Anything in wool that you could recommend for spring / summer. I’m not a fan of linen.

Anonymous

This could be tricky with a field jacket? Would a darker fresco cloth help? What about a cavalry wool twill? Could this work with a field jacket? I yearn for the days when things were simpler and a suit was the norm. Smart casual surely must be the bane of every man!

Anonymous

In terms of formality, how would you rank wool cavalry twill?

Anonymous

More formal than fresco?

Kevin

Dear Simon,

I have a question regarding what trousers to wear with a morning suit. (black jacket, pale grey waistcoat)
Can the trousers be a solid medium grey, or are they always striped?

Kind regards,
Kevin

Kevin

Thank you for your quick reply.

Anonymous

Hi Simon

With regard to linen trousers, do the heavier weights still crease excessively? I’m thinking of getting a pair of trousers made up in a 13oz cloth. Will they require ironing after every wear?

Anonymous

I take it you don’t iron the trousers after each wear? The creasing is both appealing and off putting. For me, it adds to its casualness but can also look scruffy if too creased.

Anonymous

Hi Simon

Are you familiar with Venetian weave fabric? If so, where does it sit on the formality scale?

Harris

Simon,

Not sure if this is the right thread to ask this but I have a pair of trousers that I’d like to add cuffs. My alternation tailor said there isn’t enough fabric to add them. However, he said he can add faux cuffs (french cuffs) to them. Do you have any reservations about doing this? Also, do you have a general rule of when you add turn-ups to trousers?

Anonymous

Hi Simon

Have you any experience of finemeresco fabric? I note you’ve had Crispaire trousers made previously. What weight were they? From what i can see, the high twist fabrics all come in around 9oz. My concern here is that it’s going to be see through. Thoughts?

Anonymous

What weight were your crispaire trousers?

Anonymous

Would you say, formality wise, crispaire and fresco are the same?

Stephen Dolman

Simon,
I am currently having a bespoke suit made. What do you consider appropriate width for Trouser bottoms wit turn ups for an older man
(I am 70) we settled on 18 inches, considering that they can always be tapered if necessary but not made wider. I feel the current trend of 15inches is too narrow and a bespoke suit should be relatively timeless

Alex N.

Dear Simon,
I am sorry to bother you on an old post.
However, when I was at the Anderson and Sheppard haberdashery, I got really confused trying on a case pair of flat-fronted tab trousers. While looking at different trouser designs, the guy told me that flat-fronted trousers without cuffs are less formal than pleated trousers with cuffs. Do cuffs make a trouser more formal? Do pleats make a trouser more formal? Is there a rule when to have cuffs on your trousers?
Thank you very much if you could elaborate on the subject.

Joseph

I have a pair of black rubinacci manny trousers and was wondering what colour blazer, other than grey, I could pair it with? And is there a combination that would be suitable in Spring / Summer.

Thanks in advance,
Joey

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

My build is very slim (and shorter). I had some MTM trousers made, and though they were well fitting, I looked like a pencil stick in them (together with my dress shirt). I almost always have to wear a jacket to cover that appearance.

How do I resolve this issue? I thought maybe it is because of the pant pleats. I usually have one pleat to accentuate the long line of the leg. Maybe having two pleats will help and give volume to my thighs, breaking up that pencil effect? If pleats are the reason, what kind of pleats are preferable for volume (forward or reverse). Any advice for the shirt fitting as well? Avoiding the look of a 12 year old pencil boy would be great.

Stephen Dolman

Hi Simon ,
Have you ever heard of having a crease sewn in to trousers in a heavier material to keep it razor sharp.
Someone told me about it the other day,
I’d never heard of it. Apparently, it was used in military clothing
Regards
Stephen Dolman