How Should Dress Pants and Wool Trousers Fit?

The short and honest answer for how should dress pants and wool trousers fit is that they should fit exactly how your suit pants should fit, so if this article looks familiar,that’s why. This advice goes for any of these pants: slacks, dress pants, wool trousers, wool pants, whatever you want to call them. Since this is a fit guide, I won’t get into fabric weights here, but it’s a very important point when choosing your dress pants/wool trousers that won’t be worn as part of a suit. See my Wool Pants & Trousers article for details.

Waist and Seat

Dress pants and wool trousers should fit perfectly around your waist with no need for a belt to hold them up. They should hit around the high hipbone area, or even slightly higher. You do not wear wool pants at the same waist as jeans – which are usually designed to sit lower. Saggy pants is a big no no.

The seat, or butt area, should lightly hug your butt and not be saggy or super tight. If it feels like you’re going to split your pants, they’re way too tight. If you’ve got a bunch of extra fabric around the butt, they’re much too loose. A tailor can fix this, it won’t be easy or cheap, but if everything else on the pants fits properly, definitely get it done.

RealMenRealStyle has the perfect illustration of how the seat of your pants should fit:

Seat-Suit-Pants-Fit-Ashley-Weston

Legs

Thighs

You want to be able to pinch around 1/2″ to 1 inch of fabric on either side of your thigh. If it’s less than that, your pants are too tight. If it’s more, have your tailor slim the thighs.

Knee to Ankle

If you’re a thin to regular build, the pants should have a slight taper so that it gets narrower towards the ankle, like the image below. This will look great on this body type/size.

Legs-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Clothing-Fit-Guide

If you’re a thicker/wider guy, you want the pants to be cut straight down from the knee to the ankle – like how your jeans should fit. This will balance your proportions nicely. If you went with a taper here, it’d make you look very top-heavy.

Dress Pants Wool Trouser Fit Ashley Weston

Hem & Cuff

Always default to having your pants hemmed to leave a quarter (also called slight) break. It looks more polished and sharper than a full break and no break at the hem is a time & place kind of thing, and not generally for everyday wear. A slight break works for everyone.

A trick I do with all my clients is to have the tailor hem the pants so that it’s slightly longer at the back of the hem. That way, when you’re walking, you’ll show less sock and when you’re standing still, it’ll lay nicer on the top and back of your shoe.

There are very few times, I’d argue almost never, when you’d cuff your dress pants or wool trousers. I’ve never cuffed pants for a single client because it’s not necessary, no matter their body type.

If you’re not familiar with the different type of pant breaks, PrimerMag has some great images to help you understand:

PantsFit_Breaks-2

The Best Wool Pants And Trousers For Men

See my Wool Pants and Trousers Essential article for my favorite wool pants for men.

The Best Ways to wear Dress Pants & Wool Trousers

See the bottom of my Wool Pants and Trousers article for details.

How Should A Suit Fit?

In this article, I want to talk about and show you how should a suit fit if you’re going for the perfect fit. These fit rules are for every single guy, no matter your age or body type. A lot of my older clients say, “I don’t want to look like an older guy trying to look young and hip in a suit.” and my younger clients say, “I don’t want to look like some old stuffy guy in a suit.” I always reassure them that I’d never fit them to look younger or older than they are.

Well here’s my dirtly little secret – no matter their age or body shape – I fit their suits exactly the same. A well-fitting suit looks good on everybody. Can you guess how many times they’ve complained after we got them fitted in a suit?

0 times.

The below items are everything I look at and adjust to ensure my clients look razor sharp in suits.

Have questions? Curious what others think?

Join us in the comments section of the video above.

Note: The model used for these shots is around 6 feet tall. Just so you have some frame of reference.

How should a suit jacket fit?

Length

The suit jacket length will dictate how “balanced” your upper body is to your lower body. Mess up the length of the jacket and the whole suit will look off. The jacket should end around mid-crotch if you’re under 5’9”. Mid to lower if you’re any taller than that.

Crotch Measurements

The model’s jacket below is perfectly in the “mid-to-lower crotch” area.  A tailor can shorten your jacket up to an inch without messing up it’s proportions, but they can never really let much out because there’s no fabric there. Overall, you generally want this part to already be perfect when you’re buying a suit, even off the rack.

Shoulders

You want the shoulder seams of the jacket to end at the end of your shoulders – where they start curving down to your arm, basically. You should see no divots or wrinkles in the shoulders anywhere. The shoulders should lay perfectly flat, with no divots or rumpling or pulling on the shoulders. If you have more rounded shoulders, the seam should still end in the same place, you would just need a little more padding in the shoulders to make them appear less rounded. If the shoulders are too big or small, a tailor will have a very hard time fixing this, and it would be very expensive – if it was even possible. So ensure these fit properly when buying a suit from anywhere, as well. 

RealMenRealStyle has this awesome graphic showing the proper shoulder fit.

shoulder fit graphic

Sleeves

When you bend your wrist so your palms are facing the ground, the jacket sleeves should be about ¼” above the top of your hand. A lot of people recommend that it hits the top of your hand, but that’s BS – then none of your shirt sleeves will be showing, like in the picture below. This length allows for a little bit (¼”) of your shirt sleeve to peek through. If your sleeves are longer, a tailor can easily fix that. If they’re shorter by more than an 1.5″, ditch the jacket because there’s probably not enough fabric in the sleeves for your tailor to let out.

Sleeve-Length-Ashely-Weston-How-Your-Suit-Should-Fit

Body

With the top button fastened (never the bottom button), the jacket should lightly hug your midsection, but not feel tight or constricting. The jacket shouldn’t be pulling at the button, creating an ugly “X”. The X mean’s it’s too tight. If it’s roomy around your stomach/waist area, you can (and should!) have a tailor take in the sides of the jacket so it fits properly. This is a very easy and common fix for a tailor to do. Remember: For tailoring purposes, it’s better to have a jacket that’s slightly too big in the body than too small.

Suit-Jacket-Length-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Clothing-Fit-Guide

For details about the items in this exact outfit, see here.

Collar

The collar should rest against your shirt collar, which in turn should rest against the back of your neck. All of these should touch lightly, without significant gaps in between. If there’s a gap, it’s too loose. If there’s bunching just under the back of the jacket collar, it’s too tight or the stance of the jacket is off.

Collar-Fit-Ashley-Weston

Armholes

They should be high, but not so high that they’re cutting into your armpit. The picture below shows where the armholes should be on your jacket. Notice it’s not cutting into his armpit? They should be large enough that you don’t notice them, but not so big that you have a few extra inches between your armpit and the bottom of the hole. The arms should be able to move somewhat independently of the jacket’s body during normal motion, but not excessively.

While I’m speaking about suits and motion, a lot of guys who are new to wearing suits usually complain that they should be able to move their arms more while wearing a suit. Let me tell you that a suit is not activewear, so don’t think you should be able to do everything you normally do while wearing a suit. It’s just not built for that purpose.

Armholes-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Clothing-Fit-Guide

Button Stance

The jacket’s second button from the bottom (aka the top button) should lie just above your belly-button, never below. My rule of thumb is no more than an inch above and never, ever below. Otherwise it’ll throw off your body’s proportions and you’ll look really odd in the suit.

Button-Stance-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Clothing-Fit-Guide

How should suit pants fit?

Waist and Seat

Suit pants should fit perfectly around your waist with no need for a belt to hold them up. They should hit around the high hipbone area, or even slightly higher. You do not wear suit pants at the same waist as jeans – which are usually designed to sit lower. Saggy dress pants is a big no no.

The seat, or butt area, should lightly hug your tokhis (Yiddish for butt – I just love the word) and not be saggy or super tight. If it feels like you’re going to split your pants, they’re way too tight. If you’ve got a bunch of extra fabric around the butt, they’re much too loose. A tailor can fix this, it won’t be easy or cheap, but if everything else on the pants fits, definitely get it done.

RealMenRealStyle has the perfect illustration of how the seat of your pants should fit

Seat-Suit-Pants-Fit-Ashley-Weston

Legs

You want to be able to pinch around 1 inch of fabric on either side of your thigh. If it’s less than that, your pants are too tight. If it’s more, have your tailor slim the legs with a slight taper so that it gets narrower towards the ankle. This will look great on every body type/size.

Legs-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Clothing-Fit-Guide

Hem & Cuff

Always default to having your suit pants hemmed to leave a slight break. It looks more polished and sharper than a full break and no break at the hem is a time & place kind of thing, and not generally for everyday wear. A slight break works for everyone.

If you’re not familiar with the different type of pant breaks, PrimerMag has some great images to help you understand:

PantsFit_Breaks-2

A trick I do with all my clients is to have the tailor hem the pants so that it’s slightly longer at the back of the hem. That way, when you’re walking, you’ll show less sock and when standing still, it’ll lay nicer on the top and back of your shoe.

There are very few times, I’d argue almost never, when you’d cuff your suit pants. I’ve never cuffed suit pants for a single client because it’s not necessary, no matter their body type.

Hem-Break-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Clothing-Fit-Guide

My Suit Recommendations

Check out my post about the Gray 2 Button Notch Lapel Suit for my favorite suits that’ll fit any budget and look amazing on every body type.

The Leather Jacket

This post is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials Series. In the series, I give my tried-and-true men’s wardrobe essentials/basics/must haves that every guy, whether a teenager, in their 20’s, 30’s and well past their 50’s should own in order to be a classic, stylish, well-dressed man.

For well over 70 years, leather jackets have represented individuality and a rebellious, manly side throughout American history. Marlon Brando, The Ramones, WWII fighter pilots, and Springsteen all come to mind when I think of leather jackets. A well-made leather jacket is an essential addition to a man’s wardrobe because it will never go out of style, can be dressed up or down, will generally last a lifetime and fit like a second skin.

Watching a man put on a leather jacket is like watching a prize-fighter standing over his opponent after he’s been knocked down. There’s just something about it that harkens back to a classic, badass, bygone era.

What Type Of Leather Jacket Is Right For You?

There are many different types of leather jackets available, some better than others. The biker jacket, what Marlon Brando is known for, is what usually comes to mind when thinking about a leather jacket. As iconic as this jacket is, I don’t recommend it for most guys. The buckle straps, zippered cuffs, and buttoned collar and lapels are a bit much in my opinion. Unless you’re going for the ’50’s greaser or heroin-chic rockstar look, it’s best not to go this route. It often looks much better in print or on the screen than it does in person.

If you like the classic ruggedness of the biker jacket but want a cleaned-up version, the motocross jacket is perfect for you. It has a tabbed collar and less… stuff all over it, which makes it much more versatile. I prefer this style over the biker jacket because the clean design won’t add additional bulk to your frame, so it’s a great choice for all body shapes.

My hands-down favorite of all leather jackets is the bomber style jacket. It has a clean, timeless body style and the elastic, ribbed cuffs, collar, and waist allow the jacket to hug your body nicely, while adding more comfort than the more traditional styles. The leather on these jackets is usually very soft and supple compared to the other styles, so it makes for a perfect everyday type of jacket.

Best Ways To Wear It

The Biker Jacket

If you go the biker jacket route, I highly recommend this AllSaints ‘Conroy’ leather biker jacket ($670). It has all the classic biker details and an awesome slim fit, which is important since you don’t want it to add bulk to your frame. I’ve personally worked with this jacket, and like all of AllSaint’s leathers, the quality and attention to detail is exceptional. The jacket a steal at this price.

Going on a date? Pair with a white button-up shirt, wool trousers, and lace-up leather shoes and watch her salivate the whole night. Switch out the dress shirt with your favorite t-shirt and a pair of dark washed jeans for beers with the guys.

The Motocross Jacket

I’m recommending this Zara jacket for its awesome fit, super clean design, and perfect cognac shade of brown. You may be wondering why it costs less than $100. That’s because this is actually a synthetic leather jacket. But I can assure you, no one will notice. If anything, this jacket is softer, both in feel and in the hit to your bank account than real leather, which is a plus in my book. A brown jacket pairs well with shades of blues, so go with a light blue striped dress shirt, solid navy tie, light brown v-neck sweater, and a pair of dark jeans and brown dress boots to pull this awesome look off. Nix the v-neck sweater if it’s a little warm out or you tend to run warm-blooded.

The Bomber Jacket

If you want something that looks great, is super versatile as well as comfortable, then look no further than the bomber jacket. Whether going out at night or running errands during the day, I’d pair this jacket with a white t-shirt, charcoal or dark brown wool trousers, and lace-up black leather boots. You’ll look put together and not like you’re trying too hard.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, a well-made leather jacket is an essential addition to a man’s wardrobe because it will never go out of style, can be dressed up or down, will generally last a lifetime and fit like a second skin. When you throw one on, like a well-tailored suit, it’ll make you feel and look better. You’re not just investing in a leather jacket. You’re investing in yourself. Remember that and let’s see those leather jackets!

Get This Look: Classic Navy Coat & Camel Cardigan

The perfect layered look for Fall. Navy and camel is a classic color combination and one of my favorites this time of year.

 

Zara Blue Check Blazer, $170
J. Crew Cotton Cashmere Cardigan, $74.50
H&M Oxford Shirt, $25
TopMan Light Grey Textured Skinny Fit Suit Pants, $120
The Tie Bar Spree Dots Tie, $19
Brooks Brothers Silver Buckle Dress Belt, $128
Tom Ford Andrew Sunglasses, $395

Photo Credit: The Sartorialist