Of all the articles I’ve written in our Wardrobe Building series, this might be the hardest.
Even if we’re just looking at smart trousers, the pairs that suit somebody will vary hugely with lifestyle and with taste. A pair of whipcords is probably smarter than a pair of flannels, but the difference is just as much about which look someone prefers.
Still, there are certain areas that are less controversial, and we’ll start with those before branching out into specific looks or how flash or fuddy something is.
The assumptions I’m making for everything in this list are:
- the wearer is looking for smart, separate trousers, probably for work
- they still want some range of formality (eg for a meeting and not)
- and they want to wear them with a jacket and without.
1 Grey flannels
I’m always confident putting trusty mid-grey woollen flannels top of the list because of the reaction of a good friend of mine, when his office was transitioning from suits and ties to trousers and shirts.
He couldn’t believe how different they felt to everyone else in the office (who had, of course, just removed their suit jacket) and yet how smart and even sophisticated too.
Flannel remains unique among trouser materials for the place it holds between smart and casual (there is no real summer equivalent), and mid-grey is the most versatile colour, happy with black, brown and tan shoes, with black-and-white and with strong colour.
Bunch: Fox Classic Flannel. Fox is a great, dense flannel and the 370g mid-grey is my go-to
2 Charcoal or dark-brown flannels
Charcoal is for the formal dresser who wants something a little smarter than mid-grey. Or for someone who wears a lot of black and cold shades of brown and olive.
Dark brown flannels are similar, just without the office/business applications. I love both, and I’d suggest them as a second option to anyone that has loved flannel and is looking to expand.
This is the point where I think the first subjective, more personal angle comes in. A whipcord or cavalry-twill trouser in either of these colours is just as nice and almost as useful. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as home with something casual, like a denim shirt and a crewneck, but it’s not far off. Feel free to go for a sharp wool twill at this point instead of more flannel.
Bunch: Fox again for the flannels, with their char-brown (pictured above) the kind of colour few others seem to do. For whipcord and cav twill, try the Holland & Sherry Dakota bunch
3 Grey high twists
A central problem with this list is that most people will want different trousers for summer and winter. Unless you’re in a tropical country, or a very cold one, you won’t be able to wear most of the fabrics year round.
So here we have to recommend trousers in a similar shade of grey to the flannels, but in a smart summer material like high-twist wool. It’s very breathable, and it doesn’t look like the orphaned bottom half of a suit.
On the topic, by the way, suit trousers (usually fine worsted) aren’t so bad with just knitwear on the top. It’s when you try to wear them with separate jackets that they usually start to look odd.
Bunch: The classic here is Fresco, but I find it a bit too harsh. Crispaire from Holland & Sherry is good, but my favourite is probably the Drapers 4-ply
4 Cream or dark-olive linen
The summer requirement also means we need something a touch more casual than high-twists, which is linen. A heavier, Irish linen will usually look smarter, stay sharper, and be more professional-looking.
Navy and greys usually aren’t great in linen, with the former looking old and the latter rarely being the right shade. They might be what you’d go for instinctively, but it’s good to consider cream, or if that scares you, a very dark olive colour.
Bunch: Most mills don’t develop their own Irish linens, buying them in from mills without much variation. It’s more important to make sure it’s Irish, and the heavy end of the range. More on that here
5 Grey, olive or dark-brown cords
In order to add something slightly more casual than any of these, I’m including corduroy but in relatively smart colours like very dark brown, olive (basically, a darker and browner shade of green) and grey.
I’ve never worked out why grey (either charcoal or mid-grey) looks better to me as smart cords than navy does. Neither are the conventional colours, but somehow navy always seems to look more wrinkled and dustier than grey.
It might also be that I find navy trousers in general not as versatile with jackets as people expect them to be – largely limited to greys on top. (See article, and much dispute, here.)
Bunch: Everyone does cords, and even though many buy in from Brisbane Moss, if you want something softer or with more variation (eg a wool or cashmere mix) look to non-English mills like Scabal or Loro Piana
The next five
Have aimed for the most useful, the most comprehensive and versatile, these are five more types of options to consider, particularly based on taste.
The nicest materials that are not a suit trouser but still sharp. Serge from Fox is great (above), as is the Dakota bunch from Holland & Sherry. Avoid the country colours and try something like charcoal. The charcoal in the Porter & Harding Thornproof bunch is a purist’s version of that – very tough yet sharp.
Wool or cotton gabardine
These have the same name, but in reality are rather different. Wool gabardine is particularly smooth and sleek, and I’d recommend it more for formal events. Cotton gabardine is nice, the smartest cotton gets and if you like cotton like cord or moleskin, this has the same cotton touch, but smarter.
Chinos and other cotton twills
I haven’t really included chinos because even when smart, I don’t think they’re the best with jackets. (Even if a smart chino such as this is a great office option with just knitwear.) There are other cotton twills around, however, which can be nice. They’re hard to define because the only thing that unites them really is using finer cotton and a smoother finish. But if they’re in a tailoring book, it’s usually safe to say they fall into this category, rather than being a chino.
This is of course by no means a complete list. Rather, it’s a selection you can pick and choose from – including multiples – to suit your workplace and lifestyle.
A guy that works in a smart office five days a week, for example, and wants more of a uniform, might have three pairs of grey flannels – with maybe a charcoal and a brown for variation. Another, who moves much more around different places and meetings, might want a mix of cords, flannels and a pair of smart chinos.
Colours can vary similarly. The most important thing to remember there is just navy and grey will always be smarter than green and brown. It should be obvious when you think about it.
I’ve recommended some bunches above, but if anyone has any questions about other things, such as weights, please do ask in the comments below. I’m sure readers will chip in too.
Next up: Casual trousers
Hi Simon, couldn’t recommand enough the Rubato trousers in cav twill, released this winter. I do not know if you tried them. Great weight and colours, allowing to bridge styles quite easily. A bit wide but given the current trend, I guess in no time this fit will be quite common.
Thanks Gab. I haven’t tried them, but given how much I like the chinos, I’m not surprised they’re that good.
A perfectly timed article. I’ve had two meetings this weekend at which I needed to be smart but not too formal. I found my only pair of woollen trousers no longer fitted comfortably and ended up wearing a suit. When I got home from the second meeting I emailed my tailors, Hemingways, to arrange an appointment to discuss trousers. I now have a starting point for when I meet Toby.
This is a brilliant topic,Simon.
Whipcord is a tough fabric. Can an appropriate grey in this kind of fabric be worn with a suit jacket in say Harrison’s Oyster, Botany or H. Lesser fabric.
Secondly, side adjusters. Do these feel more comfortable than wearing a belt, which I currently wear?
That will be an issue when I visit London in September for my first bespoke commission. I never tried braces…I struggle with that one as I have a lower right shoulder. I’ll need advice here.
Grey whipcord is certainly versatile with jackets, but I’d be more concerned about the idea of wearing a suit jacket as a separate. Very few materials work in that way, in my experience. And they’re pretty casual, such as cottons and linens. Avoid trying to make the suit do lots of different things, or you can easily end up with it doing none of them well.
Whether side adjustors are more comfortable is rather personal. You certainly notice you’re wearing a belt more, but some people don’t mind that at all, others do.
I would avoid braces, personally. I think they look anachronistic – they did 10 years ago, and they do even more so now. Certainly not for your first bespoke commission – you don’t want to have something beautifully hand made, then not wear it because of a style choice like that.
If I may offer a personal note on braces?
Firstly, they can perfectly accommodate a dropped shoulder as each side is independently adjustable. Secondly, they can have a hugely beneficial effect on the way a trouser hangs, as the line comes from the shoulder and not the waist, meaning the hang is not dependant on rise/tightness at the waist.
And of course, anachronistic or not, they are not seen unless you remove your coat.
“Firstly, they can perfectly accommodate a dropped shoulder as each side is independently adjustable.”
Unfortunately this isn’t true. I have sloping shoulders, left lower than right, and braces just fall from the left shoulder regardless of how I adjust them.
Hi Robert. I did make the comment to Simon that his sloping shoulders may be the reason he doesn’t like them.
Lindsay, Simon, isn’t one possibility to have side adjusters and buttons for braces as well? Then you can experiment with the braces and if you don’t like them you can rely on the side adjusters. I think trousers made for braces are generally cut a little looser in the waist, so if you don’t use the braces you probably would need to use the side adjusters.
Braces are obviously not to Simon’s taste. I don’t mind the look personally. I wear them because I find that with my particular figure (a flat seat being the most salient issue I think) they are much more effective at actually holding the trousers up, and therefore at keeping a nice crease and a nice line generally. And I find them more comfortable as there is no tension around the waist.
Thanks Andrew. Yes good point, you could do that. Even if it meant later you may want to take off those buttons and narrow the waist a little back to a normal fitting.
It’s perhaps worth mentioning that I find braces less comfortable too, but I think some of this may be a question of what you’re used to.
I agree. I tried it but it just felt like someone was pushing my shoulders/having a ever so slight weight on my shoulders all day, to the point I felt fatigue. I tried loosening them but it didn’t seem to help, so I went back to adjusters and pulling my trousers up every now and then.
I’ve recently gotten back into belts, especially for odd trousers and I quite like it.
Simon on the comfort point, it may be that your very sloping shoulders do not provide much of a platform for your braces to sit on.
Good point. Interested to hear whether others that find them uncomfortable have squarer shoulders
I have pretty square shoulders and the first couple days I wore braces I found them uncomfortable. I ended up with a quite tired trapezius muscle by the end of the day. Then I loosened them up a few centimeters and I don’t have that problem any longer.
All my trousers are cut for braces. I also wear them quite high waisted to elongate my short legs, a side effect of being blessed with Sicilian genes. On my very, very oversquare and fairly broad shoulders I find properly cut braces much more comfortable than just chinching the high waisted trousers taugt. My hips are really narrow and there is not really something to grab on to.
Concerning the anachronistic touch: I wear lots of dark colours and blacks and have a very minimalistic style focused on cut and texture. This brings the whole braced look a bit more into modern times. I would never wear braces with a Glencheck suit or the like… It looks like costume.
Additionally my braces are tailored without adjusters since all my trousers sit at the same height. This helps with comfort, you also do not have adjusters showing through fine summer cloths and unstructured jackets.
The lack of shiny metal clasps simplifies everything and makes them more a minimalistic functional accessory rather than a style statement. Also avoid patterned braces at all cost!!! I personally wear exclusively black so they disappear more and don’t jump out against my dark clothes. For a more “normal” colour palette I could see Navy, dark Grey or Brown working too, but never brightly coloured ones!
I will second you on braces here. I have a very flat seat and narrow hips, and for the longest time I wore belts rather than using side adjustors because they held up my trousers better, albeit not perfectly.
I recently tried braces on a few suits following the suggestion of my tailor and I am a convert. They hold my trousers up much better than either belts or side adjustors and the line of my trousers looks better now. The benefit of trousers that hang properly and don’t fall down outweighs any risk of looking anachronistic, in my opinion, and since I rarely take off my jacket unless I am alone in my office the look doesn’t matter much anyway.
I will definitely transition all of my suits over to braces over time, but will probably stick with a belt for odd trousers. This mainly because of some of the reasons Simon mentioned in his recent article on wearing more belts: I rarely wear a pocket square or tie with a jacket and trousers, and the belt creates some visual interest.
If I were to go for separates, I obviously would be better choosing an appropriate jacket fabric like serge or another jacketing fabric,whatever is correct for a smart ensemble.
I think so Lindsay, yes. Much of this is contained in the articles in the Guide to Cloth, if you haven’t looked at those by the way. Particularly those on suitings and then jacketings.
I would not recommend trying to combine side adjusters and braces. For braces to work well, you need a high rise with a braces (fishtail) back. Choose one or the other and commit. And if you choose braces, they *do* look anachronistic if you show them, so not the most versatile option.
One of the benefits of braces is that you don’t need to cinch the waistband in to hold the trousers up – so if a very high rise is genuinely what you want, braces do work well; the same rise with side adjusters or belt means being squeezed right around the tummy, which many men don’t find comfortable.
Opting for a mid rise with side adjusters I’d argue is the best all-around option – this places the adjusters just above the hips, enabling them to hold the trousers up very well in comfort. I will say that this varies by body shape – eg. Simon has frequently stated his preference for wearing jeans without a belt, but I have given up trying to make this work for me.
FWIW, I find braces most comfortable.
I’ve worn braces since the late 80’s. They hold your trousers naturally and you don’t have to constantly pull them up and adjust them when wearing a belt.
It’s hard to find braces with catgut nowadays but if you can, they are worth buying.
For what it’s worth, I don’t constantly pull up my trousers, worn with a belt or side adjuster.
I find side adjusters more comfortable than a belt but more suited to formal trousers. I tend to use a belt for casual trousers. For me, braces seem too much of a faff, which would more than outweigh any improvement in how the trousers drape.
Thinking ahead for (hopefully) warmer days would a darker cotton gabardine fit into ‘smart for summer’ but still lightweight.
Yes it would. Personally I prefer linen, or even linen/cotton mixes, rather than cotton gabardine, just because the latter will rumple more. But it would certainly fit in
Cotton gabardine will rumple more than linen? That doesn’t sound right to me. (Great article btw)
It’s a qualitative thing, rather like the way lightweight linen wrinkles like a crisp packet, but tighter linen rumples elegantly.
Are there any good books for linen/cotton mixes?
Mostly the Italian jacketing books – Loro Piana, Drapers, Caccioppoli
I have a pair of linen/cotton trousers and they tend to rumple rather than to crease, which is perhaps a good distinction to make. I think they are great for summer with a linen shirt.
Could you include some potential sources for ready-made trousers as well as fabrics? I am looking to smarten up my trouser collection at the moment but don’t have the time or money to be getting them made bespoke. In particular I am in need of upgrading my grey flannels (my current ones are M&S) and some linen for the summer – I like the idea of olive for these as I already have other summer trousers in cream/beige. Any suggestions? Thanks!
The issue is I don’t buy RTW tailoring trousers, so I have no experience there. I would suggest looking to Anglo-Italian, for example, but I haven’t actually tried anything other than their chinos. Same goes with Rubato and Perro, for example.
Perhaps it would be a good one for our columnist Manish to look into time.
I have a pair of olive green linen trousers from Cordings. 8 oz weight and hemmed to my length. They get plenty of use in the summer.
Thanks, I will certainly take a look, as I have brown flannel trousers from Cordings which I like a lot.
I agree it would make a good article at some point. RTW smart trousers seem a lot more difficult to find.
Cavour’s own label range of trousers are excellent. I have them in both flannel and fresco. They’re good value at full price and outstanding value when on sale.
I have a heavy cotton and a grey covert from Cavour. Two things to note:
I also have a pair from Natalino, dark brown cavalry twill:
I like them more than Cavour, although it’s hard to make a direct comparison as I have not had the Cavour pair taken out at the leg, and also I ended up not loving the texture of grey covert. I kind of wanted cream covert, which looked to be the best of the shades, but also needed grey trousers, so I ended up with grey covert but probably should have gone either for standard grey flannels or the original cream I wanted.
However, Natalino cavalry twill has a serious problem in the fact they are NOT (half)lined, and indeed very abrasive on the thigh. I have emailed the brand about it, they might change this next season (their flannels are already lined, though, they say).
Finally, also have a pair from Berg&Berg, olive cord, but still have to hem them and wear them. Quite roomy in the leg, but not excessively. A notable thing is that their cotton trousers are machine washable, which I strongly prefer: wool is fine left unwashed for many wears and seldom dry clean, but cotton really isn’t, and dry cleaning every couple of wear is out of the question for me, both costly and time consuming.
I agree on Cavour, I’ve considered their trousers in the past but 18cm hem is just not elegant with shoe sizes larger than IT43, you can’t achieve balanced proportions. Not helped by a fact that this is fashion sizing that’s about to be outdated. They should really consider going to ~19,5cm for slim but classic look. But I won’t be a customer anyway now that they moved production to China.
I also agree that for the most part I prefer my cotton and even linen trousers to be washable at home, it has to be something really special for me to deviate from this principle.
Would highly recommend Natalino for RTW trousers. They’re UK based but everything is Italian made and very smart. Quality is excellent for RTW at the price point (£200 and below) and customer service is excellent.
I had exactly the same problem as you and I’ve spent quite a lot of time trying to find RTW flannels. The places I have found that I like are Berg & Berg (although I can’t seem to find any flannels on their website today which is odd as there were some a week or so ago – perhaps they have swapped to Spring/Summer but it might be worth an email to them) and Natalino. There is also Cordings (although I have never managed to get any as they never seem to have my size) and the Anderson & Sheppard haberdashery. I am sure there are others but that is what I have managed to find.
I’v had a couple of Natalino trousers and to be honest I wasnt that impressed. Finishing was not that great. Also, they only come in one single style. I also have about 3-4 Berg Berg trousers and they are finished to a much better quality, and they do trousers in a variety (albeit small)…and they were purchased off their seasonal sales which made them cheaper than Natalino. Others I have are A&S and Husbands which both make good RTW trousers but quite expensive. Husbands surprisingly easy to pair with non-Husbands stuff…you wouldnt think that at first. Anglo Italian does RTW trousers too which seem good, but I have had no experience.
Considering the price difference that’s not surprising.
Pini Parma flannels come in various colours and weights. As do their linen trousers. All unfinished so alter them to suit your own style-with turn-ups or not.
I bought some mid-grey flannels from suitsupply last year and they were great. I tried Natalino first but found the rise too high for me. I sized up at suitsupply to avoid the leggings look, but once I did I was very happy. Got a few compliments on them too. Planning to repeat with some tropical wool ones for summer.
Rowan, based on my experience, you should try Incotex. Those are what I wear in RTW and they have different models etc.
Appreciate the financial issue! Please allow me to share my MTM (not bespoke) costs.
I purchased 1.5 meters of classic charcoal flannel fabric from Fox Brothers (UK) for $320 USD. The price to have trousers made-to-measure by my New York City tailor will cost an additional $250 USD. So my trousers will cost $600, but they will fit perfectly and be exactly the way I want.
For MTM jackets, I purchased 2.4 meters of PS Harris Tweed fabric ($295 USD total cost) and 2.4 meters of PS Shetland Tweed fabric (same $295 USD cost). My NYC tailor will do MTM jackets for $1,150 each. So that’s $1,450 for each coat.
My tailor is reasonably priced and produces great results. Sadly, I live 800 miles from NYC so there’s additional expenses of travel and lodging. But such is life! 😉
Hope that helps!
Thank you for this! May I ask you why do you prefer Drapers 4-ply over Crispaire? Would you say there’s a difference in terms of warmth regarding the fact 4-ply is heavier? Thank you.
I found Drapers 4-ply stays crease-free better. Even the 2-ply version does, though I prefer the 4-ply. I haven’t noticed much of a difference in heat, at least in trousers (there would be more in a jacket)
Thank you. Is their 2-ply version you efer to Ascot, such as this one? https://drapersitaly.it/us-en/collection/18022/ Is is still hight twist? Thank you.
Yes, Ascot is the bunch, and yes it’s still high twist
Hello, I have tried many high twist bunches over the years and agree with Simon that Ascot 4 ply is a great bunch.
I have three suits made of it. It holds a crease, hangs well and has lots of interesting colors.
My personal favourite is 4 ply Finmeresco by Smiths. It hangs better than any other high twist I’ve tried, seemingly never wrinkles and is dry but not as scratchy as Fresco. The only downside is that there are relatively few colors.
I personally don’t like Crispaire very much. It is quite soft and with a less dry finish compared to Ascot 4-ply and firmeresco and I find the colors to be quite flat. I had some trousers made from it but sold them because I didn’t like the fabric.
Fully agree. Smith 4 ply is a great cloth.
Brilliant. Thank you.
Pretty much spot on Simon, although I do have some darkish blue pin head formal trousers which I find really useful with grey or brown jackets.
As an aside, I really can’t do loafers, especially with e low vamp, with formal trousers, particularly if they have turn-ups. Might be because I have small feet , 7.5 for my height, but it’s a real no-no. Can’t handle very fine socks either maybe for similar reasons.
PS I have some unworn black suede St Crispin noorveger stitched loafers on Marrkt, if anyone wants to spice up spring !
Good article. Odd trousers always seem exceptionally seasonal – is there any particular cloth that would be good as a 4 season cloth to be worn with odd jackets of about same formality as the high-twist wools? In my head I always think of pick-and-pick, nailhead and herringbone but also worried about being too suit-y.
I think the closest thing would be a worsted trouser but one without any of those textural details – a plain twill – and without much of a sheen so it didn’t look anything like a suit trouser.
That’s not far off what the whipcords are a lot of the time, it’s just that they tend to be heavier. There is a general assumption that people will have trousers for different seasons among makers, if only because if you care enough to have them made, chances are you will appreciate the distinct appeals of flannel or linen.
Hi Simon I want to experiment with more cream for tailored trousers with odd cashmere jackets. What do you think of these https://www.reiss.com/g288050s9/t53166
They look nice Tom. I’d call that more a taupe or pale grey than cream, but that might mean you find them more useful
Thanks Simon. Anything to suggest they wouldn’t work as an odd trouser? I wondered if they might be too sharp worsted in texture
It’s hard to tell remotely, but I think they should be fine. Certainly with a nice sweater or a jacket
No mention of covert trousers. Any particular reason for not including them? I always fine they fill the casual smart gap quite well.
Just because it’s very similar to whipcord/cav twill. I’d put it in the same category
have you got some write up that differentiates between covert, whipcord and cavalry twill?
Yes, it’s in the guide to cloth, here
Even though they are different in texture, covert especially, the three always seems to be interchangeable when looking at pictures. I assume it’s down to poor image text, but I often find covert described as cavalry twill.
Cavalry twill should be the easiest to separate, as it has two twill lines, not one
Covert cloth is not for trousers or suits. It is for topcoats.
Because of weight, out of interest Lawrence? Or something else?
I think simply because covert cloths were designed to be made into dense, thornproofs for topcoats. They were never intended to be made into trousers.
Good point. I’m not sure that means they can’t be though, as long as the weight isn’t too heavy. They have more in common with a trouser than most coatings, and certainly jacketings?
I have covert trousers and have seen several great looking suits in it. I think it’s a nice and subtle way to add some texture to a fall/winter suit.
I’ve been seeing a bunch of covert trousers of late at Spier and Mackay and Cavour among the RTW brands.
I have a pair of greenish-brown Covert trousers and love them. They have quickly become my favourite trousers for the weekend or occasions when I want to look put together but not too formal.
I personally am not too fussed that Covert was originally designed for topcoats. There are plenty of examples of fabrics being used successfully for different uses than originally intended: my tailor F. Caraceni has shown me examples of heavy Cavalry twill top coats they’ve done for clients, Simon’s Liverano tweed ulster, and YSL in denim suits come immediately to mind.
I have a covert cloth suit… wears excellent and I would say lighter than my tweed suits. Give it a try.
Simon, I always love these lists as they tend to put everything that we kind-of-already-know into an efficient expression of that knowledge.
The issue that arises (as you stated in your opening paragraph) is that there can be such variation between individuals. That said, if someone like myself, who lives in the American Southeast, needs to fully remove any flannels at all due to the generally warmer temps, what would your short-list look like? I know that VBC and others make lightweight flannel fabrics but they seem to wear out much more quickly due to the nature of the finishing.
I don’t need you to re-write your article, of course. Just a shortlist would be very much appreciated. As always, thanks so much for your response.
Nice to hear it Cameron, thanks.
I would avoid lightweight (worsted) flannels, yes. They remove most of the attractive qualities of flannel in the name of weight.
I guess for you I would remove those and focus on high-twists (two or three pair), cottons and linens. But of course it also depends on how formal you need to be, or what else you’re wearing them with.
Grey cords are a really great choice, yet it’s hard to find them RTW, and I’m not sure why. Cords are a classic trouser material, grey is a classic trouser color.
It’s a good point. I think it’s just because cords are traditionally not a smart trouser, and grey is a smart colour.
I have a pair of grey cords I used to wear to work, but to be honest I find them a little boring. I guess that’s okay in trousers, and not as bad as grey chinos, but I absolutely would choose grey wool trousers or cotton cords in almost any other colour over them.
AngloItalian has charcoal cords. They are lighter, fine wale Italian cords, not heavy English ones. I have a pair and they are some of the most versatile trousers I own. I’m a big fan of AngloItalian RTW trousers and have them in flannel, cotton, and linen.
Anglo – Italian usually carry a lovely Grey in their Cord offering each season
Craig, Angloitalian have a charcoal cord tailored trouser. I have the style in a dark navy and they are excellent.
Right! Perfect. I’ve been looking forward to this one. Thanks.
Fantastic article! Looking forward to your future article on casual trousers, too!
Just a quick question. What sort of footwear do you wear with your dark brown flannels? I love my pair… but always have trouble picking shoes to go with them.
Yeah, that’s always an issue. I wear black usually, calf or suede, but also sometimes brown calf – it works if it’s shiny not matte, and has some variation of brown in the shoe
Thanks for another article, and also thanks for the other readers to engage on it. There are so many useful discussions!
I have a question about to pair brown trouser with brown jackets. Would you normally avoid it? And if you had to do it anyway, how would you try to make it work?
Ex: I feel that the brown escorial tweed would be a bit weird with the pair of charcoal brown flannels from Fox. But even a greater contrast, like tobacco colored high 4 ply feels a bit strange in my mind. Or is it only me?
I wouldn’t wear brown and brown like that at all to be honest. Maybe knitwear and trousers, but not jacket and trousers
Could you help me out a bit more? In this regard to brown trousers, what sort of shade would you think would still got well with the brown escorial. For example, would you wear the escorial with taupe (such as the ones offered by The Anthology) or the chino in kaki color from Rubato?
Yes, those colours would work well.
Olive green gets a couple of mentions here. I’m quite tempted to give it a try but will I find it difficult to pair them with a separate jacket?
I don’t think so. Start with grey jackets
What grey jackets do you suggest as odd jackets, Simon? I’ve always had difficulty finding something suitable for this, other than grey herringbone tweed or perhaps specked winter-weights. For 3-season or warm weather I struggle finding something suitable for a good odd grey jacket, unless it is perhaps a gun-club with a grey base.
A few suggestions for Mervyn on pairing olive green trousers, from my experience of what has worked well: beige or off-white or cream jackets are the best, various shades of brown can work but it is a bit of trial and error, if you’re feeling preppy you can add a bold striped shirt and it would work well with blazers or other dark blue sport coats.
Good point on lighter weight greys, it is hard. Nothing is springing to mind!
I’m a big fan of olive trouser(although most I wear are olive chinos).I think it’s great to pair with brown sport jacket or navy blazer.
I second this motion, missed the comment and went ahead making mine 🙂
I live in a subtropical, humid climate and rarely have a need for a jacket. I’m wondering if you think high twist trousers would work with a smart polo on its own (say, the PS one), without a jacket. I’m wondering if the smartness of creased high twist trousers may be a bit too much for just a polo (I also wonder about turnups in this situation too – I wonder if trousers may be better without turnups if no jacket is worn).
A PS polo could definitely work there, yes. Most wouldn’t, but a fully fashioned one (more knitwear than pique polo) does.
Turn ups and plain bottoms both fine
I for one, think that it can actually look really nice. Especially when it’s 90+F and humid.
Simon, any tips on where to source Irish linens outside of the tailor? I tend to use luxire a fair amount for trousers but their offerings of good Irish linens are not great. I’ve yet to find any linens heavier than 250grams online.
No, sorry JB
You can order by yourself from Dugdale (e.g. the Lisburn bunch which is a 350g Irish Linen I think) as they sell to consumer.
Luxire also has Dugdale on offer, so maybe they can even order for you if you ask.
Hi Simon. For someone who wears a combo of white shirts/ navy knitwear/ navy outerwear on top, and brown leather/ suede on the feet, would you suggest brown or charcoal flannels as a second choice to mid-grey? Brown feels a little scary!
If you want versatility, definitely charcoal
Very useful article. Thank you, Simon.
To clarify on this point, would you wear charcoal trousers with the type of dark navy jackets and knitwear you’ve suggested elsewhere?
Maybe, but it can easily look like one big block. Mid-grey is easier
Understood. Thank you, Simon. As a second choice to mid-grey, would you instead favour a brown (i.e. https://www.permanentstyle.com/2021/05/the-t-shirt-under-tailoring.html or brown flannel) for relatively formal offices who wear a lot of navy and grey jackets/knitwear on top? Or would you go for something more like your beige cavalry twill?
Yes, brown would be very good in that case
Thank you, Simon. Much appreciated.
Nice list, I have to say I’m a big fan of my dark green cav twills
A really great article which sumes up all many good chices for someone who wears formal a lot. It would be very interesting to see a more casual version too. By the way can you tell more about the brown jacket with the cream trousers ?
That’s from Prologue – have a search for them and you’ll find the post
This is a good list, although personally I feel that mid-grey cavalry twill is a better choice than mid-grey flannel. It’s just as versatile and almost at the same formality level but I find the durability and crease resistance makes it a more practical option.
I’m surprised that grey cords are so uncommon. I could not find any off the rack and when I ordered some from a Brisbane Moss fabric it had to be rewoven first. Yet navy cords are everywhere despite being a much less useful colour.
Thanks Alan. For me, cav twill is rather smarter than flannel, being that much more smooth and sharper.
Great article and very timely.
Have you tried H&S Airesco as an alternative for a summer weight trouser? I have a pair and find they hold their sharpness well whilst remaining light and cool to wear during summer.
I haven’t, no Richard. Do you have other high twists? How do they compare?
Those are my only high twists in a beautiful mid-grey. My other bespoke odd trousers are heavier twills. However, with April around the corner it’s time to get back to see W&S, so I can see an additional pair being ordered. So, your list was very welcome in giving ideas on cloth and colour
Oh good, nice to hear Richard
I have tried it. It feels much silkier than the Ascot and the Fox Air, and I found the handle wasn’t as dry (which I prefer). I prefer the Ascot 4- and 2-plys, then the Fox, then the Airesco
Is “tropical wool” considered high twist or is it fine worsted? I’ve always been confused about what it actually is
It’s normally a high twist, but it’s not a technical description so it could be anything really!
This looks suspiciously like nine pairs to me Simon… I also find it hard to err on the minimalist side.
Yeah, attempting to cover a multitude of people rather than necessarily recommending a multitude of trousers!
Hi Simon another question, if I may:
When buying separate cords trousers, would you go for small wale or thicket ones? I feel that thicker ones look a bit “oldish” to me
Yes they can. Still, I would usually go for wider ones, because the narrower can be too soft and lose their shape quickly
After much thinking and planning I have now been able to build a wardrobe of trousers in just a month, ‘all thanks to you’. I now have a pair of (Olive green Linen, charcoal grey wool trouser, dark grey tailored cotton trouser and beige tailored cotton trouser).
The only area I am struggling with is a pair of informal trousers which could work during weekend but ready to wear chinos is not a good fit on my body and jeans is very difficult to wear in summer.
So I wanted to know, can smart trousers like these get used in the weekend as well?
Do you ever dress in that manner?
Maybe keep smarter trousers and dressing down everything else, for ex wear a polo with linen trousers and espadrilles.
Yes they can do Monty, it’s obviously a bit smart but it depends on your style and lifestyle
Just a quick question on style: I have particularly large thighs and often RTW/MTM trousers are too tight for my waist size. Do pleats help with this, or should I simply size up in the waist and have them brought in later. To broke for bespoke atm.
I’d size up, you don’t want to be pushing those pleats out
Recently commissioned my first grey flannels. They look so smart and are so comfortable to wear – just a revelation. Would definitely buy more.
That’s so great to hear John. Look after them well – a brush down now and again, and a press when they lose their crease completely
And as further proof – wore them at the office today with a new brown tweed jacket (bought at the same time as the trousers, largely based on your jacket recommendations), blue Oxford shirt, brown suede Chelsea boots – colleague said “you’re looking very dapper”. Usually I’m in a suit from the same tailor and tie. This isn’t quite as smart but it’s fine for day to day office wear without formal meetings – and comfortable when it’s bitter as it is in London today.
Hi Simon, for a person to start with a pair of smart cotton trousers, would you recommend Drapers cotton bunch or H&S Dakota? Thank you
Probably the H&S, they have a bit more body/weight if I recall
Hi Simon. Concerning your reluctance to pair chinos, even smart chinos, with jackets, it seems chinos can go quite well with a variety of cotton jackets.
Thanks Michael. I’m having trouble imagining that, the materials seem quite similar then. Do you have any examples?
I think brushed cotton nicely complements typical Chino fabrics. And in cases with similar materials, calibrating similar tones can result in an appealing airy look.
Thanks Michael. It sounds like that might not be for me, as I don’t think I’d wear a brushed cotton jacket full stop. But if you have any pictures I’d be interested. Good point on similar tones, just hard I guess but can certainly look good
Nice! But naturally this type of article will make me ponder on the possibility of ‘If you only had five casual trousers’.
Exactly – as mentioned at the end Ian, that’s next in the series!
Simon, is that going to come out soon?
Probably in a couple of weeks
What is your recommendation for weights in regards to Corduroy or Mokeskin from Brisbane Moss?
I think try to be above 300g, and really above 350g.
Hello Simon! Not sure why, but for me gray doesn’t quite work in either linen or cotton (even corduroy). Do you think that might be because gray is such a formal color? I find gray needs some texture or variegation where linen and cotton usually look flat.
On the subject of linen, most creams I’ve seen were fairly see-through. Have you found any way to mitigate that, barring a full lining?
I also note there’s surprisingly little beige in your selection. Is there any particular reason for that?
Lastly, how do you feel about cotton trousers? You have some very nice-looking examples from Dalcuore and P. Johnson among others, but somehow cotton trousers look a bit like you’re trying to pass off a pair of chinos as dress pants — just like people wearing brown leather sneakers with a suit in lieu of dress shoes.
Yes, I think grey’s associations with smarter trousers make a difference. Also, grey is often nicer when there is some variegation or texrture, yes, a melange of greys or blacks and whites, or a brushed finish like flannel perhaps.
I find the heavier Irish linens not see through.
That’s a very good point on beige, I hadn’t noticed that. I guess it’s a slightly more casual colour, and wouldn’t fit into most of these categories – certainly not flannel or high twist, probably not linen as much. But it can be nice as a cavalry twill, as here
Do you mean a beige high twist wouldn’t be as formal or that you wouldn’t have high twist made in that color? Personally beige/oatmeal is one of my favorite colors for trousers, including high twist like this one from Standeven: https://www.standevenfabrics.co.uk/product/27036-beige-brown-plain/)
Both to be honest. It isn’t as smart and I’ve never particularly liked it in a high twist. I did have a pair but never seemed to wear them
Hello Simon,I’m living in tropical(Winter is about 15~24 degrees,Autumn and Spring are about 18~28 degrees , Summer is about 25~35 degrees.). if I had five smart trouser would be 1.Charcoal high-twist 2.Mid-grey high-twist 3.Beige linen 4.Olive linen 5.Beige cavalry twill for winter. Do you have any suggetion?
I think that sounds pretty good. You’ll know whether they suit your work, lifestyle etc, but I’d want a dark cav twill just as a more personal thing
Hi Simon. Another great article and very helpful. I’m a bit confused where a pair of dark brown covert twill pants fit. You mentioned a whipcord or calvary twill as an alternative to dark brown flannels, but then stated that you would avoid country colors for the ‘next 5’. Can you clarify please?
A covert twill I’d put in the same category as whipcord or cavalry twill, as mentioned higher up.
On colour, I’d say a brown that was really dark wouldn’t be so much of a country colour. Those tend to be more mid-browns and greens, and warmer.
I hope that helps?
What color of trousers do you prefer to wear in the evening?
Do you prefer dark or light colored?
I wouldn’t think about it that much, unless it was a smart event for example. I’d wear either
Compared to flannel, how well does cavalry-twill hold its shape? Would there be any tendancy to bag at the knee, for example?
A lot less, it’s pretty much the best you can get for holding a crease
Thanks. Would the same also be true of whipcord?
While I own 3 colours of grey high-twists for when I need them, I do find myself most often going for linen in summertime, usually cheaper rtw items that I don’t need to worry about. When I can’t get away with linen shorts I opt for lighter shade of navy or a bit darker blue linen trousers and just with cotton shirt I find those work very well.
Blue has that youthful, crisp and fresh summery feel and works amazing when paired with white and white-blue/white-x striped shirts. For shoes you can go with trainers or other semi-formal shoes like you would go with chinos. I find this outfit perfect for running errands in downtown for example. Come evening you can also switch the shirt for a knit, something like merino ones from Smedley or knit polo/sweater from PS shop.
Since I’ve only had experience with cheaper light weight linen I wonder how 350g+ Irish linen performs? Somehow it feels counter-intuitive to have more fabric in an hot summer day when you just can’t stop sweating.
I prefer that kind of heavier linen myself, because it creases rather less and looks much more elegant as a result. But then, if you’re wearing the trousers casually then you might not want that.
I also find it doesn’t make much difference to how warm my legs are. You can generally get away with more on your legs than your torso, as less heat is generated there.
Then I must have something made out of it for coming summer and for dark olive colour recommended this heavier weight would probably work better as I prefer my pants slightly smarter.
Can I ask you for an opinion on Ascot 6ply. I’ve considered having pair made out of it for a while but I’m not entirely sure yet. I see it gets a lot of praise for being basically cavalry twill of summer: very wrinkle resistant, holds crease, and drapes well but breeze still goes right through so it’s wearable during normal summer days.
What makes me cautious is that I rarely see it in the wild, I don’t think I’ve read that even you have high-twist of this weight made up? Is it that people just instinctively don’t feel need for 480g summer trousers or are there some other factors at play?
No, I think you’re right in your analysis. Oddly, I’ve never had a pair in it, but I did actually have a fitting in that cloth yesterday. I can attest that it drapes beautifully, but not much more than that I’m afraid. If in doubt I’d go for the 4 ply
Dear Simon! The cloth from your grey ciardi suit is a 4ply from VBC if I remember correctly? I think I have the same cloth in two trousers that I started wearing again at the start of spring. I really enjoy the VBC 4ply. It is quite hefty, around 400 grams. Although maybe a touch too dark to be called mid-grey. Do you also use these trousers from ciardi as an odd trouser? Cheers
I do, yes, and you’re right on the shade of grey
Simon, what’s your opinion of a linen/silk blend, usually 60/40, as a substitute for the traditional linen pant?
I haven’t tried it to be honest, but I’d worry it wouldn’t have enough body – even a wool/silk/linen is pretty flimsy as a trouser
I am looking for a few pairs of spring to early fall odd trousers for return to office in NYC. I have ordered from Rota in the past and plan to order from their MTO program. They offer a 4-ply 420 gram fabric and 2-ply 240 gram fabric. Do you have a view on what would be better for three season wear (I have flannel for colder months).
What’s the fabric though? Is it a high-twist wool for instance?
Hi Simon. Me again. I really like how you pair beige calvary wool twill pants with your odd jackets and would really like to pull off the look. However, I am having a hard time figuring it out. I know the jacket should be dark and it looks great in a green or brown hue. Any advice? I’ve included an image of a pair of beige Rota calvary wool twill with an Orazio country hue jacket. I think it works, but not sure.
I think that sounds nice. Certainly the jacket colours sound good. If it looks a little too country, maybe try a denim shirt with it as here
Hello Simon. Me again. I really like how you pair a cream Calvary Twill in wool with an odd jacket and would like to do same. I am, however, having a hard time figuring it out. I think that a darker jacket in green or brown tone works well, but am not sure on the ‘rules’. Can you help out? I’ve attached a pic of a Rota beige pant in wool calvary twill with an Orazio Luciano jacket in green/brown hues. I think it works, but not really sure. Appreciate your thoughts.
I think that combination looks nice – put it with a pale blue shirt, maybe a denim, and some brown suede boots
Anyone have a recommendation for a good dark-olive heavy linen yet? I feel like that has been a gap in everyones offerings for a long time
I’m trialling this one at the moment. It’s not that heavy, but it does have a nice feel. I’ll report back
Hi Simon, as I understand you already received your recent commissioned trousers in dark olive linen and therefore was wondering would you recommend this particular fabric from MH? And how would you pair it? Versatile enough? BR H
I haven’t received them yet, Henry, no.
Hi Simon, have you now received them? What do you think about them considering they’re on the lighter side of linens. Did you got for flat tronts?
Also, have you got any experience with Fox Khaki’s bunch for slightly more casual trousers?
Yes I have. I don’t mind the lighter weight, but I think they’re still very different to the heavier Irish linens. The colour isn’t quite what I hoped for either – a bit bluer than I expected and not quite as easy to wear
Hi Simon, what would you say about patterned trousers? Like a very subtle glen check in grey wool.
Personally I don’t like them much. I think they usually look a bit flash or dandy, and at the least they force you to keep other parts of the outfit simple.
So nothing necessarily wrong with them, but probably not the best thing for a small wardrobe of clothes, as targeted here.
Simon, for what it’s worth, I do think most if not all of your trousers are just a tad too short and too wide at their trouser leg. Naturally, as you are wearing knee-length socks you would never reveal skin (when sitting or when the legs are pulled up). Though I think they would look better if somewhat lower and less wide at their trouser leg. Curious to hear your – and the readers’ – views upon this “criticism” and your reasoning for how you choose that length. Perhaps I am the only one who thinks that.
I can certainly see that view – it is pretty personal, and there is always a bit of a compromise between how much sock you want to show when walking, or with hands in pockets, and how much when just standing. Personally on that basis I prefer to have the trousers just touching the top of the shoes when standing stock still, but that is personal as I say.
On width, actually I feel a bit more strongly. I think too many guys try and wear trousers that are too slim, somehow thinking it looks younger or more contemporary, when actually it breaks up any chance of drape in the trouser, and looks out of proportion to what they’re wearing on top.
However, it’s not a small subject for a comment – one for another post I think
I certainly agree…Cuffs, hems, trouser width and breaks.
All totally uncontroversial and not likely to raise anyones blood pressure.
Thank you, Simon, for your response and personal view on the matter.
We did also cover it a bit in this article, but it deserves a full piece perhaps
If you were to replace 1 and 2 for a closer to “all weather” option – what would you suggest? Where would you place a mid brown/tobacco option? Like Fox Air high twist in tobacco or a light brown hopsack?
I’m not sure there is really an ‘all weather’ option Benn, to be honest. Probably the lighter cav twills/whipcords come close? But neither flannel nor high-twist nor linen are
I would put those kinds of colours outside the top 5, but it does depend a lot on what colours and styles of jackets you wear
Thank you. When wearing odd jackets it’s mostly Navy jackets with white shirts. And by “all weather” I should have said warmer weather options. As you’re right there’s no one “all weather”.
I suspect it would be mostly high twist, and linen, and hopsack, etc. In hindsight, I guess the better question would be what colors to focus on if your focused on spring and summer weight pants exclusively, due to climate.
I see. In that case I’d do high twist, mid and dark grey. Then a dark brown
Thank you, Sir. I greatly appreciate your patience and opinion. I know you have better things to do, so giving of your time is so generous. Especially for younger men like me who have no one else to ask
I was wondering how mid-grey flannels compare to mid-grey high twist in terms of formality. Thanks in advance.
Flannels are more casual, they are unique for me in how they bridge formal and casual. High twist is really a similar formality level to a suit.
What type of fabric in mid-grey would match or come close to the formality of flannels? Thank you in advance.
What are you looking for in the other fabric? What’s wrong with the flannels?
Nothing at all. In fact, I would love to have flannels for fall and winter but would also love to have something for spring and summer.
Ah, I see. Nothing for spring/summer is quite like flannels in terms of their formality I’m afraid
Great article as always. Whitcomb and Shaftsbury now charge around £800 per pair of trousers. Would you still recommend them or do you know of other places with better value?
And that’s the offshore service, correct?
I’d still recommend them to be honest, if you want bespoke. You may be perfectly happy with MTM
Yes that’s for their offshore service.
Great, thanks for the opinion. Are your recommendations for RTW/MTM still the same as the ones in the complete capsule article (Berg & berg, Anderson & Sheppard, Stoffa)?
Those are all good, though I’d add Anglo-Italian and Drakes too. And depends where you’re based – good to see someone in person if you can
I’ve been fortunate to have several pairs of trousers made by pomella Napoli, although I now realise I have probably fallen foul of ‘kid in a candy shop’ syndrome and ordered commissions without a plan in place.
Whilst I’m very happy with what I own and the quality of such, I wanted to get your thoughts regarding gaps. Specifically I currently have;
-Flannel: Mid grey and brown
-Cavalry Twill: Greeny brown
-Cotton: Stone, Mustard, Light Green
Very grateful for your input.
Well, it depends a lot on your lifestyle PM, as mentioned at the top of this piece. Are you dressing smartly for work? When you’re not, how smart do you like to be? Do you need hot-weather trousers.
The idea of articles like this is that you consider your lifestyle and apply it to the different options here. So I’d be interested to hear what you think you might need, based on that.
Why don’t you write a book “Building a wardrobe”?
I’d love to, perhaps that’s a good idea for the next project
Does anyone have any thoughts on black flannels? Fox offers that colour but I’m not sure if they would really work – black somehow seems more suitable for worsted or demim than flannel.
A question for my fellow (French) PS readers: any recommendations of good RTW or MTM brands for trousers in Paris ?
Hi Simon, I have never tried bespoke trousers, and I would like to ask for your advice on the choices.
I am considering making mid-grey flannel trousers and am not sure whether I should choose Marco Cerrato or Whitcomb&Shaftesbury. I assume both are great in terms of quality and style, but if the trousers would be my first flannels and I am aiming to wear them often, which would you recommend?
Both would be very good Jack. I would pick based on which cut you like better from what you’ve seen – although this is a small difference with trousers of course. And then which is more accessible, so easier to go back to for alterations etc
Thanks, Simon. Visually I can tell the difference, but technically, what would be the main difference between the two (British and Italian)?
Also, just wondering whether you know their starting prices?
Technically there isn’t much of a difference, just usually more details and finishing on the Italians (two-button French bearer, extended waistband, tack stitches etc)
I don’t know what the starting prices are currently, no
Thanks, would your go-to fabric, Fox flannels classic, fall into a slightly higher price category?
Thanks, could I ask where you had the beige dress chinos from the above image? They look really nice.
There’s two pairs of beige trousers there, but neither are chinos. The first is a linen/cotton, an old pair from Eidos. The second is cavalry twill.
Thanks, Simon. I think it was cavalry twill.
Ha! To my surprise these are exactly the 5 trousers I own. Not a bad start for a young academic, I suppose. I particularly love my Irish Linen trousers as they are compatible with almost every item in my wardrobe, and comfortable to boot.
Hi Simon, I see reference to a future article in the series: casual trousers. Do you have an approx. publication date planned? Looking forward to reading it!
Nice work on the quality jeans article published today.
Thanks, yes it’s planned for 2/3 weeks’ time
Hi Simon, any recommendations for where to buy grey flannel trousers online?
This is something we’ll be doing a survey on soon, but I’d suggest looking at Anglo-Italian, Drake’s, William Crabtree, Berg & Berg.
Thanks Simon. In addition to the options you suggested above, how do Rampley and Co. look? They have offer grey flannel trousers in a 95% virgin wool, 5% cashmere mix. How does adding cashmere to the mix impact the trousers? Thanks.
I haven’t tried their trousers, but generally I’d avoid cashmere in a trouser material. You want something like that to hang sharp and retain its shape, and cashmere fights against that but little improvement in the feeling normally
That’s a great tip, thank you for that.
Hi Simon – I was curious to know if you or the other readers have experience of the cotton-hemp “Games” trousers at Drake’s. I wonder if these might be a nice option for odd jackets
I don’t, sorry
On the moment I’m considering a new pair of winter trousers. I am building my trouser wardrobe and want some more dressier trousers than just jeans and 5 pocket corduroys. My first pair is (naturally after reading the blog) a pair of grey flannels. For the second pair I want something lighter in color, something I can pair with my navy, green and brown checkered sports coats. I found a warm light brown colored cloth, but it is a blend from Ferla with alpaca in it (Ferla, 280gr, 58% Alpaca, 27% Wool, 15% Polyamide). I am curious what you think about it, does a blend like this hold it’s shape and crease well?
Sounds like you’re on the right tracks, pleased the article was helpful.
With a fibre mix like that it depends a lot on the weave and weight, it’s very hard to tell without feeling it. If you’re unsure though, my advice would be to avoid it.
How about a lighter grey flannel or a stone-coloured wool?
Hmm, better safe than sorry, I will go for a light brown of stone color in that case. I already have a lighter grey flannel, al be it part of a suit. So I think with the dark grey flannels, a stone or light brown in wool will be a nice addition to my winter trousers. Thanks for your advice!
No problem, pleased I could help
I’m trying to get my head around the difference in how they work as odd trousers (for example for a navy jacket) between chinos like your Rubato chinos, and the bone/ecru cavalry twill trousers. Would you ever consider doing a piece on this – contrasting how odd jackets look with cav twill/whipcord or other wool trousers as compared to how the same jackets look with chinos?
I guess the issue is I don’t really wear jackets with chinos like that so I’m not sure I’d have that much to say on the difference. But a few people have asked, so maybe I’ll play around with it a bit more and see if there’s something useful I could do.
One of the best things about this site. Thank you Simon.
Checked out the Fox bunch you suggested (mid-Grey 370G/13-14oz) and noticed other weights available. In a more temperate climate than UK – would you go with the 300G/10-11oz weight or would the drape suffer?
The drape would still be good, particularly from Fox
Also re: “Grey High Twist”… your top choice is Drapers 4-ply at 370G, and next is Crispaire at 280g. Does your Drapers pick have to do with the weight/drape? Would that weight make Drapers hotter to wear than Crispaire?
Yes it is a little, though not a lot. If you’re worried about that, you can go for the 2-ply instead
Great! Thank you. Trying to make a seasonal capsule for trousers. Your generous help is invaluable!
Hi Simon, thanks for this helpful guide. I live in a warm climate and for reasons of vocation (I’m a clergyman) most often wear black. It’s difficult to find black trousers in high-twist wool or similar. Do you have any suggestions?
Also, I tend to wear through the seat of my trousers very quickly, perhaps because I have an athletic build and my thighs rub together. Any suggestions here?
A heavy Irish linen might be good – won’t wrinkle anywhere near as much as a lighter pair. But no, I’m not sure I’ve ever looked for black high twists, sorry.
On wearing through, make sure to alternate the trousers – don’t wear them two days in a row. Wool is a lot weaker when it’s damp, so it’s good to give them a day to fully dry out. Also worth trying a fuller cut.
Hi Simon, thank you for this. What is your advice on how trousers should fit while sitting?
I’ve only begun dipping my toes into wearing tailoring, but I’ve encountered what seems like a consistent issue with the fit of my trousers. I wear ready-to-wear trousers (mid-rise, flat fronts) that I have altered at a tailor. The fit seems right when I’m standing. But when I sit down, something seems to be off. There is excess fabric in my lap, but the crotch and seat of the trousers are uncomfortably tight and the fabric pulls a great deal there. This problem persists even after I have had the seat let out. And it is the same across various makes of trouser.
Do you have any advice as to how trousers ought to fit while sitting? Or an idea about what sort of alteration might correct this problem? Might wearing pleats help, for example?
(It may be useful to know that my build is similar to yours.)
These things are always a little hard to give advice on remotely, but no trouser should be uncomfortably tight when you’re seated, so it sounds like some area – the waist, the hips, the seat or thighs, are too tight.
The excess in the lap normally comes when there’s too much space rather than too little, so I suspect there may be some issue with the balance there, such as your seat being tight but the front loose.
In the end, you need to find a good local alterations tailor if things off the rack don’t fit you that well. I can’t really advise on alterations remotely. Pleats may help, but given that excess fabric at the front, it may even make things worse
My wife and I are taking a flight to NYC next month and while there I’ll visit my tailor in Brooklyn (Martin Greenfield) to have a couple jackets and trousers MTM. I’m debating bringing four pair of quality dress trousers I purchased and thoroughly enjoyed in the mid 1990s and early aughts. They’ve been in storage for 20 years and in good condition.
These trousers are gabardine wool (shiny from many ironing sessions) and are solid colors (1 tobacco, 2 are shades of olive, and 1 Navy). I’ve read some of your experiences with altering trousers through the years so I value your opinion on what is worth tailoring and what is risky.
My fashion sense in the mid 1990s was the double and triple pleats, baggy-wide trouser leg of the era and the rather low crotch. Now I try those trousers on and they seem clownishly blocky/wide – and wonder if it’s worth the effort/time, money and valuable space/weight in my luggage hauling them around.
What is your opinion on making these trousers into a more traditional fit? I’m not an expert but the low crotch concerns me on these 4 trousers.
I’m surprised at the low crotch Robert, that doesn’t tend to be something a tailor or good brand would do that much.
If they have been cut that way, the crotch will be impossible to change, as raising it would require extra cloth. However, if that can be pulled up and everything else looks reasonable, it could work.
I would suggest bringing just one pair on your trip, and seeing what they say can be done. Perhaps the one that seems like the best fit. You can always send others later once you know the kind of job they do, and your measurements
Hi Simon, I’m curious for your opinion on whether or not charcoal trousers would match with a dark green shirt. I know black shoes don’t go well with olive/green trousers, but would this also apply with charcoal trousers with a dark olive/green shirt?
I think this all depends on the shade of green, and I think to that end you have to look at the two yourself and consider. For example, I think black shoes can look great with an olive green that’s darker and browner
Hi Simon, I was wondering around what temperature you start wearing linen trousers?
After reading your articles, I realised that cotton trousers don’t go so well with tailoring jackets. Since then, I have struggled to choose alternatives from cotton trousers as they were my go-to material for trousers with tailoring jackets.
Therefore, I commissioned mid-grey fresco trousers and beige linen trousers, which I found very useful for smart occasions and during hot weather (above 25 degrees). However, when I didn’t want to look that smart, mid-grey fresco trousers often made me look too smart. Beige linen trousers felt awkward when the temperature was below 25 degrees (they make me look like I should be on holiday).
Would there be any alternatives you could suggest besides these two for summer (UK)?
Not especially Jack – I would suggest perhaps looking at darker and heavier linens though? They will look less like a holiday material. Also some mixes, like wool/linen
Thanks, Simon. I never thought of wool/linen for trousers. I should check them out.
Would you say olive linen would look dark enough? Or should I go for something like brown or navy?
Depends on how dark it is. A dark olive would be fine
hey simon love your work! im a young guy just starting my own mtm i dont have an established name or store but i like to deliver great quality. i’m currently working with a big company in china that deals with all the big mills around the world but they dont have there fabric books so my question to you is how can i get italian fabric books and if it is difficult do you have any ideas how i can still get my hands on them especially the fact my company does work with those mills?thanks so much:
You have to get the books by contacting the mills, Joshua, normally. But I’m afraid they won’t give them to everyone, you need to be a good potential customer, and convince them of that.
If your company works with the mills then going through them might be easiest.
I see what is a good customer buying a lot? And how can i try to convince them? Thank you so much.
I don’t know I’m afraid, I’ve never bene party to those kind of discussions, I just know that’s how they view it. Sorry I can’t help more
Hi Simon, thanks for the great article. It seems one assumption is missing, a person lives in a four season country. I’m from Sydney and having flannel trousers is not really versatile, they would be fine three months per year and mostly in the mornings. What would be the alternative for the warmer countries?
There isn’t anything for warm weather that’s quite as good as flannels in bridging formal and casual. The closest is either a high-twist wool (bit more formal) or a linen (bit more casual).
Have you tried both those?
Thanks for a great article, Simon. I would have added a very dark navy trouser with turn-ups in a heavy fabric that holds it’s crease well and doesn’t shine. I’m not sure if wool or cotton but likely the former to ensure it holds it’s dark colour. I often see these around and work well with a shirt and leather belt, or knitwear. I don’t know what to search for to source a pair, and struggle to find examples using Google, but often see them in person and look a great alternative to chinos, cords and flannels. Perhaps you could help identify this type of trouser?
It’s hard to know from that description, to be honest John. Is it quite sharp, quite smooth? If so I’d say it’s probably a worsted – the same kind of wool you get in a suit, but perhaps heavier and not as fine so perhaps not as shiny
Regarding front pleats, I have some bespoke trousers with the front pleats folded from the outside to the inside. I’m not sure why this has been done and makes them look a bit strange – I’ve only ever seen pleats folded the other way, i.e. from the inside to the outside. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
That is a classic way of doing pleats Ian – the more normal way is actually called a reverse pleat in English tailoring. The idea of these forward pleats is that they mean the section from the pleat outwards lies more cleanly.
However, it is hard to get right I find, and I generally prefer reverse pleats when I ever wear them.
Oh, and more on that on our dedicated pleat post here.
Hi Simon, do you think the trousers below the link could work for number two?
They have titled cotton flannels, but from the description and look, they are wool flannels.
Yes, they look lovely Jack. And yes, I’d ignore a chunk of what Mr Porter says!
Great, thanks, Simon.
Great, thanks, Simon.
Do you find the flannel trousers slightly stretch around the waist and thighs?
No, but bear in mind these are dress trousers, and need to be treated with similar care. They are not for cycling to the office or any similarly strenuus activity
Hi Simon, I received the brown flannel trousers from Mr porter, but I have noticed the trousers are double pleated. Also, the brown is not dark as I thought. I would say more mid-brown. Do you think these could make them less versatile and challenging to wear without tailored jackets?
The pleats are a bit more of a personal style point Jack – look up my post on them if you want my views.
On the brown colour, it depends what else you want to wear them with. Try them with other things you own
Hi Simon, I was wondering if the corduroy trousers below the link are similar to the colour you mentioned in number 5? I have also attached a photo of the trousers.
If so, could you suggest which jackets/coats colours would work well with the trousers?
Yes, they look pretty good Jack, and a wide range of colours on top could work with them. I’d mention:
– Grey (perhaps herringbone)
– Perhaps brown, if it were a pattern, such as a gun club check
– Anything bright, if that’s your thing
Great, thanks, Simon.
I didn’t know olive trousers could be that versatile. Although I thought most of the browns would work well. Could you explain what makes the plain brown uncertain? Is it because they are both rural tones?
Yes, they could be too close in tone, not enough contrast
I may be putting a rather different slant on this theme but think of my challenge here as a sub-set of the theme “If I have only 5pairs…”
I had my first appointment at steed bespoke…single breasted navy jacket (12/13oz HFW Crown Classic in Navy (code 0761) and the trousers will be 13oz Mid-Grey whipcords fromW.Bill ‘Whipcords & Cavalry Twills’ bunch (code WB16215).
The challenge is…what could my next four mid-grey trousers be?
I’m eliminating flannel. I want Strength durability and good drape qualities.
Simon, what could No.5 be?
can you offer me any advice here?
For 2, I’d go for 4-ply Drapers myself.
On 3, Thornproof is great.
4, grey linen is difficult, but do they have to be all grey?
5, I really think you should have some flannel. It’s the best, and if it’s a Fox 13oz or similar, it will be perfectly durable, particularly if you have four other pairs of grey trousers!
Also, I’d say don’t plan too many of these things until you’ve had both the jacket and trousers for a while – you’ll always find something it will influence about your next pair
Simon, you’re a star!
Maybe I’d go for a 13oz or higher for the linen…. What could be a suitable alternate colour for linen here?
I’d say probably a beige or a dark brown
Many thanks again.
Isnt thornproof tweed? I thought you did not have too high opinion about tweed trousers!
What about minnis 14oz flannel?
As we all know by now Martins, there are no clean definitions of these things. Yes, Thornproof is called a tweed, but it is much denser, thicker and more robust than almost all tweeds. And in fact, in the conversations we’ve had about tweed trousers in the past, I’ve specifically cited this bunch as an example of a tweed that’s woven more as a suiting than a jacketing.
Hi Simon, I have been enjoying wearing the mid-grey flannel trousers, so I have recently commissioned another pair of flannel trousers in charcoal. I initially considered brown as my usual outfit is not very formal(sports jacket, safari jacket, raglan coat). Still, I chose charcoal mainly because I have so many dark brown shoes and nothing in black (except the cap-toe oxford) or colour 8. However, now, I am slightly concerned that the charcoal flannel trousers would make the whole outfit look too smart, which is not what I want. Could I ask I ask what you think about my concern?
I think that colour is a little smart, yes Jack, though if you’re wearing it with a shirt and knitwear, and brown suede boots for instance, it would be less so
Could you recommend any other mill / bunch besides Fox for Charcoal flannel? I’m looking for something just a tad more sleek than what Fox offers.
I haven’t used any other for a while I’m afraid. If you are looking at others though, I’d try and find ones that are woven in England, or that feel denser, even in lighter weights or finer wools
Thank you Simon,
Any suggestions of possible mills in the UK where I could start the hunt would be greatly appreciated.
What’s your opinion on Vitale Barberis Canonico’s flannel? I believe you had a suit made up from it once? Or maybe it would be too light for trousers being around 340g?
To be honest Phil I don’t have any suggestions as it’s a while since I’ve used anything but Fox. I’d only say be carefully with UK ‘mills’ as some of them have their flannels woven in Italy.
VBC flannel is a bit light and soft. Nice for that, but I prefer something denser.
Hi Simon, would you wear peached cotton and moleskin trousers with the tailoring jacket?
Not really, but I’m not a fan of moleskin anyway
May I ask what is Drapers and what is Ascot? You seem to mention the two at the same time when talking about the 4-ply fabric which you recommend. Is Drapers the italian mill? And what is Ascot then?
Yes, Drapers is the mill (well, merchant) and Ascot is the collection/bunch name
what are your thoughts on winter cotton? Is it similar at cotton gabardine? Also what would be an ideal weight for these trousers? Appreciate the help.
Winter cotton doesn’t really tell me much Shawn – it’s not a type of cloth. I assume it means a heavier cotton, but in what weave and finish?
Weaves are twill and hopsack.
Appreciate the help
OK, so a little still depends on the fineness and finish, but I’m assuming these are fairly regular cotton twills, just in a heavier weight.
I’d put these in the cotton twills section above, therefore, not as smart as a cotton gabardine, more akin to a corduroy perhaps, just without that distinctive rib. They can be nice, but perhaps carry the same risks as cord of looking a little old-mannish. Also haven’t had the renaissance that cord has had in recent years of being taken up again by fashion brands, skaters, designers generally
Excellent article, Mr. Crompton. I have a question that is somewhat related to it: is there any kind of navy sport coat that you could recommend for year-round wear, to be used with both high twist grey trousers and mid-weight (around 13 oz.) flannels?
Certainly, I’d look to a wool that was between 9 and 11oz, depending on how warm it is where you live. It will be warm in the hotter months, and require layering in the winter, but that’s the most versatile you’ll get
Hi Simon, I commissioned a pair of corduroy bespoke trousers a couple of months ago, and I am having an issue as the fabric above the hem (where turn-ups are) is bunching. I brought these in to my tailor, and he cut a little bit of fabric as he assumed this was due to excess fabric, but the issue has unfortunately not been sorted. Could I ask your opinion on this, if you don’t mind?
I’d imagine it would be due to the turn-up gathering in the material above and narrowing it slightly. Or the trouser resting on the top of the shoe at the front. But hard to tell remotely
Thanks, Simon. I think the former makes more sense as the front of the trousers doesn’t touch the top of the shoes. Assuming that’s the reason for the issue, what would be the best thing for me to do to remove this?
The way to do that would be to take the turn-up off, then taper the trousers before remaking it. You could also have a ‘fake’ turn-up where the material doesn’t go round so many times, as that would reduce the effect. You get it more on thicker materials.
To be honest it happens a little bit on my thicker trousers though and it doesn’t bother me.
That’s good to know. Thanks, Simon.
Hi Simon, I am considering commissioning light grey high-twist trousers for summer. I’ve tried several mid-grey high-twist trousers, which I found useful but were too smart for me. I was wondering whether you think it could also be versatile and what the disadvantages would be over the mid-grey trousers?
It could certainly be versatile, yes, particularly in summer. The disadvantage would probably be that it would go with slightly fewer things on top than mid-grey. For example perhaps pale colours and stripes, which might be quite similar in tone to the trousers
I see. It sounds like a good alternative if I don’t wear pale colours on top. Would you say it certainly looks less smart than the mid-grey?
Yes, but not a lot
Design wise what would you suggest for these 5 pairs?
It depends how smart you want them to be Nasif, and what wear them with – have a look at the trouser chapters of the Guide to Suit Style
Hello simon which tailor do u think is the best trouser maker?
I’d say most of the top end tailors have all cut very good trousers for me – whether that’s Poole, Gieves or Whitcomb & Shaftesbury. There isn’t much to separate them
Is that 14oz Fox Grey Flannel the Mid Grey or one of their other greys?
Yes the mid-grey
Hi Simon, I am thinking of commissioning summer trousers but I am a bit stuck on choosing the colour and it would be great if I could ask for your advice.
I mostly wear dark brown, dark green, olive and navy for the jacket and I have mid-grey high twist and beige linen trousers, which I think go well with all of the jackets. I thought cream trousers would work but I would personally prefer jeans for that colour. I considered black linen but I am a bit uncertain whether it’s a bit too early for that.
Could I ask which colour you would suggest that would go well with all of the jackets as do the trousers that I own?
I think you’ll struggle to find a trouser you like with all those jackets, on top of those two trousers that go with them. But I’d say perhaps a darker grey, or a beige that’s a different shade to the one you have?
Thank you for the advice, Simon. I will consider stone colour trousers as I feel charcoal high twist may be too smart for me if linen grey isn’t an ideal choice.
Also, would you wear dark brown linen trousers with a mud (mid-brownish) colour jacket?
Probably not Jack, only with something paler
For winter I followed your recommendation and mainly use Flannel trousers and – as you write – find them extremely versatile.
However, smart – but not too smart – summer trousers wearable with an unstructured jacket but also with an overshirt are somewhat elusive. I find that high-twist wool trousers are just a tick too smart in many situations, and Irish linen can be too. What do you think of the versatility of such cotton trousers line the ones of Rota https://rota-pantaloni.com/products/beige-pair-of-regular-fit-cotton-trousers?_pos=2&_fid=8672c774a&_ss=c
Yes, it’s a hard one Markus, there is no real equivalent.
A tailored cotton trouser like that is probably the closest in terms of formality. I do find tailored cottons a little tricky though. On the one hand, they can easily seem old-mannish; on the other, ones that are styled to be younger such as those Rota ones (lower rise, slimmer leg) can seem a little inelegant or even cheap. I have had quite a few over the years, but I don’t find I wear them much.
Thank you Simon. Apparently a gap in the market for PS to fill 🙂
Yes perhaps, if I only thought I knew exactly what the solution was!
I have a question.
Is dark brown linen good for odd trousers?
How does it compare to cream and olive?
Yes it’s great, I find it very useful. Not as versatile as cream, but not as showy either. Olive is probably more versatile than brown in one way, which is footwear, but I wear dark brown far more, just because I like that cold-colour palette of black, cream, grey and dark brown
Hi Simon. Thanks for the article. Can you elaborate on navy linen ‘looking old’, please?
Do you mean that wear is visible prematurely (which some might see as attractive)? Or do you mean ‘old mannish’? Or something else?
I’m looking for some linen RTW trousers to wear primarily with a dark olive linen jacket and as always navy seems most versatile…!
I mean fading, yes, which you’re right some people might like. It’s also a lot easier in a trouser – in a jacket or full suit it can look like a tired version of a business suit
With that dark olive I’d go for cream and beige first, before navy, but navy will certainly be versatile