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Finding the right material for odd trousers - those worn with sports jackets rather than suits - is not easy. 

The kind of smooth, worsted cloths you're used to wearing as part of a suit are too sleek and formal. Many cottons, particularly garment-washed chinos, are too casual. 

The most popular alternative is flannel. In grey, it is a menswear classic and very versatile in its formality. 

But it has disadvantages - specifically, that it is too thick to wear for much of the year and is terrible at holding its shape: it bags quickly and is awful when wet. 

I have a lot of grey flannels - in fact, five pairs in various shades and weights. (And in the warmer months I wear a lot of high-twist trousers like Fresco and Crispaire.) 

But I am increasingly turning towards cavalry twill, as a very versatile and functional alternative. 

And I would certainly put it above the various other wool twills, like gabardine, serge, covert etc. 

Among wool trousers, twills (those with a diagonal stripe running across the material) are particularly good for holding their shape and draping well.  

But usually the first twill a tailor will offer is a gabardine. 

This is the more traditional choice for an odd trouser, being more formal. But its formality and sheen make it less useful in a modern environment, when you might want to wear it with everything from a button-down popeline to a cowboy shirt (as pictured here). 

Cavalry twill is less shiny, largely because of the double-twill weave that defines it - if you look closely at the surface, you can see two lines running down in parallel, rather than the single twill found on gabardine, serge, covert etc.

This also makes it more robust. (It was originally created for military riding trousers and breeches, hence the name.)

Part of cavalry twill's strength and durability is also reflected in the angle of that diagonal line. 

To make a twill line run more steeply - more vertically down the cloth, rather than across it - you put more warp ends in relative to the weft. Of the wool twills, serge usually has an equal balance of warp and weft, gabardine has more warp ends, and cavalry twill has the most of all.

(They do all vary, however, and are usually best defined by other things - such as the tightness of weave with gabardine and the double twill with cavalry twill. More detail on weaves in general can be found on our 'Weaves and Designs' post, part of the Guide to Cloth.)

The trousers, by the way, were made by Richard James as part of a three-part commission last year that also included a mid-brown cashmere jacket (yet to be covered) and Harris tweed waistcoat (which I covered here).

Both the fit and the make of the trousers was superb. Beautiful straight line, snug fit at the waist, and lovely pick stitching - around the fly, for instance. 

Savile Row tailors are not highlighted enough for the quality of their trouser work, largely because they will often be more expensive than Neapolitan specialists like Cerrato or Ambrosi.

But the work is just as good, just often focused more on things like a precisely fitted lining to the band, rather than dozens of tack stitches. 

The cloth of the trousers is the Holland & Sherry cav twill I highlighted on my favourite cloths from them, last year. 

The jacket is my Escorial-cloth piece from Solito, seen in review here

The shoes are my old Edward Green Oundles

The cowboy denim shirt is from Niche via No Man Walks Alone.

And the red-donegal beanie - which provides a nice pop of colour - is from Cappellificio Biellese (or CB1935 for short). 

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

 

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Anonymous

Speaking of no man walks alone – just ordered some campshita brown herringbone trousers on sale. Received a nice handwritten note and lovely packaging. Great balance between formal and trendy rtw

Scott

No Man Walks Alone is fantastic and they carry some really high quality companies and the service is excellent.

Anonymous

Would you really advocate a trouser made from covert cloth? At around 550 gr., they would be very heavy indeed.

David Minella

Great piece, Simon. When I look in my closet, it’s grey worsted, grey worsted, grey(er) worsted, grey flannel, grey flannel, blue chino, tan chino. Now I’ll be on the hunt for some twill.

Rabster

On the subject of trousers what are the colours that should form a staple in any gentlemans wardrobe ?
Navy , beige, green …..?

StuartR

Great article – Cavalry Twill is definitely due a renaissance.

One thing; I have a CT waistcoat that is (quite literally) over 100 years old. It wears well under a tweed jacket but I wonder how you think CT would work as a jacket fabric?

Best

Stuart

StuartR

Thanks. Look foward to that piece. How does whipcord differ from CT? Is it a matter of angle of the weave?

John

Hi,
In addition, whipcord is a bit shiny.

Karsten

Hello Simon,

from my own experiences I can only confirm what you write about cavalry twill. I wasn’t familiar with this material but ordered a pair from New and Lingwood in sand. When I saw the material on photos I was a bit concerned it could look kind of synthetic. But then, I was really surprised about how versatile and comfortable to wear they are. Even when worn frequently, they hold their shape pretty well. Due to this and the plain front cut it’s easy to combine them with sports coats or even short length leather jackets. That said, they become one of my most worn trousers during the last time (besides grey flannels, of course).

Karsten

Rik

Beautiful trousers, Simon. I wonder if you could give us some tips on how you care and clean them. My trousers never seem to be the same after the first wash!

Rik

Thanks Simon. I misunderstood and thought these trousers were cotton

Leonard B.

Hi Simon,

Could you recommend any other makers that offer good cavalry twill trousers, rtw or other?

Anonymous

Cordings are considered the home of the covert coat, and they do make a good cavalry twill trouser.

Gonzague

Interesting. I like satinated cotton (smooth and a little bit shiny but not formal) for summer trousers and jackets but I am struggling to identify fabric merchants offering such them for tailors. I believe most are made in Italy. Do you know of any by any chance?

Brian G

I purchased a pair of rtw, CT trousers from Paul Stuart last fall, Nov. ’16. Trousers are a dark olive. PS also sold them in navy which were very nice. I chose the olive because I though it more versatile and find it so. I do also think that the navy would be versatile as well. I’m surprised, Simon, that I do not see olive listed in your cited posted on Trouser Colors?

Martin

I just looked at PS´s website (nice initials by the way). They offer cotton cavalry twill trousers. You only mention the wool version, so I wonder what you think of the cotton one.
Another reader recommends New & Lingwood. Are you familiar with their trousers?

Anonymous

Hi Simon

I believe you class cavalry twill as quite a formal cloth. What’s the reasoning behind this? To me, it appears more casual as the twill pattern is not smooth.

Anonymous

Thanks for clarifying. Do you think, if the cut was slim, they could be worn without a sports jacket? Say, a field jacket or something similar.

Anonymous

Any summer woollen fabrics you can recommend that would work in a casual outfit? Much like flannel in winter.

Md

Would you recommend turnups for these?

Nick Inkster

There is no rule, and therefore no rule to be broken, but I think PTUs on a cavalry twill trouser is wrong. Given the heritage of the cloth, the correct finish is a military hem.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

Do you have details of the grey cavalry twill cloth? They don’t look to have a completely uniform colour. Is this correct? Almost like a marled effect.

John

Hi Simon,
Eventually, we have the first post on CT. A few lines on weight might have been helpful.
John

Anonymous

Amazing trousers, as always!

Just out of curiosity, do you think a pair of worsted trousers of a versatile colour (like charcoal/mid grey) can work as odd trouser? There are many examples where people do this, but the result often varies very much. Some look very nice but some not so nice. Are there any times that you would try that? Also, what do you thinks of the idea of combining worsted odd jackets and trousers? Perhaps in a little more formal setting than normal sports jackets + trousers in less formal fabrics like flannel?

Thorn

Cavalry twill trousers. That brings back memories. The trouser of choice for members of the Young Conservatives in the 1960s. Preferably teamed with a tattersall shirt, a cravat, string back gloves and a Sunbeam Alpine.

Anonymous

If only one could purchase the same quality clothes today at an affordable price.

Nik Ismail almurtadza

Simon
What’s the weight of your trousers you are wearing in the pic and cavalry twill does come in various other colors,i guess?

Burt

Another characteristic is that cavalry twill wears cool for its weight. Apart from that it drapes and holds its crease well. Dugdale produce a very good, sturdy one .

Hugh

As nice as the trousers are, you’ve said hardly anything about the most striking part of the outfit- the cowboy shirt! I’d love to know your reasoning behind choosing this over a regular denim shirt- i have to say it’s not something I’d ever wear in an outfit like this (or at all of Im honest), but I’ve also never considered wearing one with tailored clothes

Karnan

Hi Simon
Regarding the cowboy shirt, are you wearing that off the peg or did you get it altered for fit?
Overall, really nice combo.

T.

Another great outfit here, Simon… So this is 13oz from the Dakota bunch, would you recommend this for Summer or is it too heavy and more suitable for Spring? There are some nice 14 to 14.5 oz also in that H&S Dakota bunch — but wondering if they’re more for the winter…

Paul

Hi Simon
Following a meeting at your shop I ordered a bespoke pair of trousers from one of the tailors there. We had quite a discussion about pleats which seem very much in vogue in Naples. I notice you opted for a flat front here. Can I ask why. Also you say the cloth holds its shape well does this include its crease. I wonder that more people don’t opt for perhaps treated cloth that keeps its crease /shape better
Thanks
Paul

Anonymous

Pleats on cavalry twill? Good grief.

Fernando

Hi Simon,
First of all thank you for your invaluable work here, it means a lot.
I wanted to know what’s your take on trouser linings as I’m going to have one made and wanted to know your opinion. Do you prefer half, full or no lining at all?. I’m including casual pants to (except jeans of course).
Thankfully,
Fernando.

Anonymous

Carrying your hat around all day must be annoying. I recommend wearing it on your head. Failing that, can I suggest a rucksack

Tim Fleming

Yes – cavalry twill is very fitting in the modern world where suits are less common. I have some trousers coming soon in moleskin – another of the cotton fabrics that is very comfortable for casual wear. Given it’s work-wear history and somewhat floppy shape, it’s further down the casual spectrum, I think, than cavalry twill, but can still look nice with a casual jacket – maybe unstructured rather than structured. Would you agree?

Tim Fleming

Hello Simon,
I like the way the fly on these trousers is created to be flat and even and the lapp sits nice and tight against the waistband, with no corners popping up. I’m curious how this fly and lapped waistband are created? Such as – is it a zipper fly or button fly, 2 side-by-side hook and bar closures appear to hold the end of the lapp in place but I can’t be sure, and so on. I know this is a little detailed but if you could explain each attachment piece of the fly, that would be great for my own trousers to match this similar look.

Thanks for the help and a quick side note here – I voiced some concerns before about where things were headed for you and PM with the changes in the recent past, such as the revamped website, and your assurance that the important elements I’ve enjoyed since the beginning would remain unchanged. It’s nice to see those assurances are holding strong. Nice going!

gary byrne

anyone wanting something really exciting in cavalry twill should check out the red

Michael

Simon,

Is there a prominent difference between cavalry twill and whipcord?

Anonymous

Do you still feel that whipcord is more casual than cavalry twill? If so, any particular reason?

Michael

Simon, your casual trousers always look spot on. If you don’t mind, could you offer up some advice in terms of rise and hem measurements? At 5’7 I’m finding it difficult to find options that I find both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. My natural waist is above my navel and I have a rather long torso.

Anonymous

Hi Simon, I notice you say you wear your pants at the waist but what height is this? I ask because my waist is about 3 inches above my belly button but you don´t seem to wear such high waisted trousers. Do you wear them at your belly button or above it?
Thanks in advance

Hans

Hi Simon,
Thanks for this article. I will try cavalry twill for trouser next time.
I wound like to ask if the cavalry twill trouser is suitable for hot climate?
And which kind of flannel is better for trousers? worsted or woolen?

Palo

I have ordered pair of trousers in the same cavalry twill as in this post so I’m curious how they will turn out. However when I went through H&S Dakota bunch I found very little choices for cavalry twill.

Can you recommend some other mills and bunches for cavalry twill with more colors? Colors like navy, cream, light fawn, chocolate and so on?

Daniel

Simon,
You mention that CT trousers are relatively durable. Do you have any experience in cycling in them? What I mean here are very short (2-3 km) commutes on a city bike. I would not do it in flannels but for CT it may be possible. What do you think?

Anonymous

Simon, you use so many trouser makers it’s difficult not to lose track! If you had to use only one, which one would you keep out of Pomella, Cerrato, Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, Richard James…?

Anonymous

Okay, two!
Finishing aside, any difference in style?

Anonymous

I was particularly interested in the differences between English and Italian, especially W&S.

Heiko

Is this Cavalry cloth thick enough for autum and winter trousers? I am still looking for a cold season alternative to chinos.

Heiko

Sounds tempting. Where would I get this exclusive rewove cav twill?

mgastolze

Hello Simon, a question (or two): What do you mean when you say Flannel ‘bags’? And what do you mean it doesn’t work in the wet? You mean it holds onto water too long?

Also, I have two pairs of trousers in a cavalry twill, but heavy cotton, not wool. Do you think they can achieve the same level of formality?

Martijn Stolze

Thanks for responding! Follow up: how do I treat the bagging of flannel trousers? Hang them in the shower with me, iron under a towel, just fold them well?

Jackson Hart

Greetings, Simon.

I don’t quite know where to put this, but here we go…
I, and I believe many of your other readers, would love to see a segment by you called, “What I am Wearing Today”. The title is self-explanatory. It can be as random as you have time for and shouldn’t take much writing work as you would merely just give us some short description of the items you’re wearing on that particular day and maybe where you are headed and why you picked what you are wearing; quick and dirty bullet points – with pictures/ or a picture even- of course. Think of it as a more detailed sequel to the piece you did a while ago telling us how you decide what to wear every morning.

I did give you the idea of the Lookbook, so maybe you’ll entertain my crazy thoughts once again. Thank you, Simon

Thanks

Jackson

Mac

Hi Simon
Would this colour cavalry twill complement your brown Harris tweed jacket?
Also, I’ve seen heavy Jacketing flannel (540g) on the Fox Website, is this still OK for trousers?

Mac

Hi Simon
Would this colour cavalry twill complement your brown Harris tweed jacket?
Also, I’ve seen heavy Jacketing flannel (540g) on the Fox Website, is this still OK for trousers?

S

Simon,

Would you recommend forward pleats on cavalry twill trousers?

And are Dugdale’s or HE Box’s cavalry twill good for trousers?

Thanks,
S

S

Thanks. The Dakota cloth from H&S seems a bit light being 13oz. If you re-ordered these trousers, would you choose a heavier cloth?

Thanks,
S

S

Thanks. So the 16-21 oz from Dugdales (and 990g from HE Box) would be too heavy?

And do you think “Light Fawn” or “Mid Fawn” is closest to your trousers in Dugdales? http://www.dugdalebros.com/the-white-rose-caldonaire/#!/the-white-rose-caldonaire/sort/az/rows/20/page/2/

Thanks,
S

Anonymous

Thanks! The Dugdale “Light Fawn” is 21oz, so that does sound a bit too heavy then..

S

Talking to Russell at GB it looks like a lot of the classic Cavalry Twill is around the 20-21 oz mark. I understand that this is also the “classic” weight for trousers in this type of cloth. Would I end up with something unwearably warm at that weight and what is your view that such heavy weight is the classic/traditional weight?

Thanks,
S

Daniel

Trousers made of 20-21oz CT are warm, but less than those made of flannel. I am using mines until late spring, more or less until the moment when I am moving to lightweight wool / linen.
The big advantage is that they need very little pressing. Great for travelling.

S

Thanks Daniel, that’s helpful to know.

Simon, do you btw know what weight Cording’s Cavalry Twill trousers are?

Thanks,
S

Henry

Simon, whats your opinion on cotton drill trousers? Regards Henry

Henry

Hi Simon, I just ordered myself bespoke cavalry twill trousers from the same fabric from Holland & Sherry. What would be the best navy fabric type to match with the trousers? Hopsack or? Thank you

Henry

Thank you. I trust double breasted navy will also do? regards,

JC

Hi Simon,

Any experience with the Summer Variety cavalry twills from H&S? I’m looking to add more texture to my multi-season trouser lineup, but afraid the Dakota line would be too warm into the warmer months. Do you think the 8oz is just a bit too light to drape well?

Thanks,

JC

Carl

I am ordering a pair of cavalry twill trousers in the exact same color. Would you also be able to use them with a navy blazer or would the comtrast be too high?

Rups

Is cavalry twill a type of serge Simon? the description sounds similar. are you able to recommend any cloth books which have a serge in them?

rups

ok makes sense. I found that cavalry twill is usually woven densely as well. I want to find a serge for a blazer but Im not sure where to look as there is no book of just ’twills’ if that makes sense)

Lindsay Eric McKee

Brilliant post on Cavalry Twill Trousers.
I had a look at the excellent Holland & Sherry Dakota Bunch and it carries Whipcords & Bedford Cords in various weights and colours, including oatmeal.
Which of these weights of cloth is best for wearing most of the year? I had considered 12oz, allowing for a Central heated environment.

Anonymous

Simon, Do you think it would make sense to use twill « Dakota collection from H&S » for a blazer

Anonymous

Simon, would you prefer H&S to Dugdale when it comes to cavalry twill? Thanks.

Nico

Hi Simon,
I am collecting style ideas for some trousers to be made. The waistband of your cav twills here looks great. Seems wider than the standard 3.5 cms, is it 5 cms?
And,
Would you say that trousers that sit on the hips, with side adjusters sewn on the seam and 5 cms waistband is a good compromise between a mid and a high rise?
Thanks,

Nico

Thanks awfully, will be on the lookout

Ollie

Hey Simon,

Would you consider the Dugdale’s navy cav. twill to be a reasonable contender for a jacket? Or is it better applied to suits?

Ollie

Thank you Simon!

John

Hi Simon,

a styling question. What do you think of paring these pale tan trousers (I have one made of exactly the same cloth and color) with black shoes (if other parts of an outfit are dark grey or navy rather than brown)? Preferably loafers, penny or tassel. Would you consider this paring garish or elegant? What socks would you choose? Navy, to make the transition more seamless, or the same light color as that of trousers to rather “punctuate” at the bottom of an outfit?

Thanks!

John

John

Simon, I apologize for the unclear question. I meant that with navy socks, the contrast between the tan trousers and the black shoes would not be so obvious. And on the other hand, with tan socks, the black shoes would be more striking. So, with the black shoes, you would prefer the tan for socks?

Anonymous

Hi Simon, at what temperature do you find wearing your cavalry twill trousers too hot?