The break: How to choose the best pants length + how to tell your tailor

August 24, 2011 · 34 comments

in How To, Tips

Hey gents,

Let’s talk a little about the length of your pants. When you’re wearing denim, this might not matter as much since you can always cuff or roll them up.

When you’re wearing trousers, however, that’s a different story. If you just bought a suit or a pair of unhemmed trousers, there’s no way around it… you have to get them tailored.

I went to a wedding last year, and some dude a couple rows ahead of me was too cool (or didn’t have time) to go to a tailor, so he wore his trousers unhemmed.

He spent the whole evening folding them up into his pant leg, and naturally, they unrolled after a few minutes, leaving 7″ of fabric bunching atop his shoes. Not only that, but the suit was too big in general. Tragic scene.

Don’t ever be that guy. Here’s how to figure out the best break for you, and how to tell your tailor.

Too much break

too much break - effortlessgent

This is generally the style you want to stay away from. Too much break looks sloppy. It’s as if you bought the wrong length for your pants, or that you didn’t know to visit a tailor before wearing them.

How can you tell?

You can characterize too much break by the number of folds in the pant leg where it meets the shoe. More than one? Too much break.

Also, if your heels are stepping on the back of the pants as you walk, and if your trousers have frayed cuffs, your pants are probably too long.

Enough break

medium break - effortless gent

This is the traditional length for dress pants, also considered a medium break. If ever you’re unsure about the length, this is the safest route to take. You’ll look clean and polished, and the break is neither sloppy nor trendy. It’s just classic.

How can you tell?

This length is characterized by one fold in the fabric when the cuff is resting on the shoe. Typically the back of the pants cuff hits the middle of the counter, between the opening and the top of the heel.

No break

no break - effortless gent

This style is my personal favorite, as it’s the middle ground between the medium break and flooding. This style looks best with a slim-fitting suit or trousers. No break refers to the cuff barely resting on the shoe, and no fold in the pants fabric.

How can you tell?

A draft down below? Probably. Also, the back of the pants cuffs hit near the top of the shoe, where the opening is.

This style really elongates the legs and makes you appear taller and leaner. It may be an optical illusion, but there ain’t nothin wrong with that.

Keep in mind that not everyone can pull this off. If you finding yourself saying “Oh hell no”, or “No way I’d ever get them that short”, well, then don’t. Stick with medium break.

Also, if you’re a pretty average height, you can probably get away with this hem. If you’re super tall or super short, proceed with caution.

Too little break

too little break - effortlessgent

Floods, highwaters, etc., are when the pants barely touch the shoe, if at all. This (along with number 3, No Break) has gotten popular again over the past couple years. This style also looks better on slimmer dudes—it all has to do with proportion. I also recommend it if you have some sexy ankles.

How can you tell?

You’re flashing ankle.

A word of caution. Your pants need to be slim if you’re gonna do Too Little Break. If you get a fuller cut trouser or some wide leg pants, it’s just not the same. Don’t do it.

What’s right for me?

Well, what do you like? Are you staying on top of the trends? Are you buying a Thom Browne suit? Then maybe you’d be into the No Break / Too Little Break styles.

If you have to ask yourself this question, I’d stick with #2 (Enough Break). Like I mentioned, it’s the standard length for any trouser. You can experiment with other types of break later.

There ya go! A quick primer on the break of pants. Hope this helps when trying to figure out how to talk to your tailor.

What’s your favorite style? Do you prefer one over the other? Absolutely HATE No Break? Think Enough Break is too conservative? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Also, if this article was at all helpful, please drop your email in the blue green box below for free updates, straight to your inbox!

About

Barron is the founder and editor of Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to helping guys figure out what looks best on them. He's based in San Francisco. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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