Getting conflicting advice about how long your suit pants should be? Unsure what the ideal trouser break is for you, specifically? Let’s solve that right here, right now.
When it comes to looking great in a suit, the devil’s in the details. And one of those details is suit pant length. Too long, and you look sloppy. Too short, and it just looks weird (or perhaps too trendy, but that’s another story).
So what’s the right length for your trousers?
Short answer: I prefer no break, or a quarter break at the longest. This gives you the cleanest line and looks the sharpest. (Not sure what any of this means? We’ll get into it below.)
But! There are always buts, and exceptions, to everything. So keep reading to figure out the best break for you, and how to tell your tailor.
Your Trouser Break Guide: Here Are Four Different Suit Pant Lengths
So before you can figure out the proper suit pant length for you, you need to know the most common lengths of trouser break.
There are four main break styles: Full break, half break, quarter break, and no break.
Full Break Trousers
There’s a fine line between a full break style and too much break. A full break trouser has one generous fold of fabric that sits on top of the shoe, as seen in the photo below.
You can tell when dress pants are too long, or have too much of a break, by the number of folds in the pant leg where it meets the shoe. More than one fold? Too much break, which looks sloppy.
If you have more than one fold when standing straight, you’ll need your tailor to shorten the length of your pants slightly. 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.
Medium break Trousers
The medium break (or half break) is the perfect middle ground for most guys. This is also the traditional length for dress pants, which is why you’ll see it most often.
If you’re ever unsure about which length to choose for your trousers, 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.
This length is characterized by one half fold in the fabric when the cuff is resting on the shoe. Compare this with the image of the full break trouser, where the fabric is completely folded over. A medium break only folds down towards the shoe slightly.
Typically the back of the pants cuff hits the middle of the counter, between the opening and the top of the heel.
Quarter break Trousers
This style is my personal favorite; it’s the perfect middle ground between the classic medium break, and the cropped hem, which we’ll get to next.
Quarter break (or slight break) refers to the cuff barely resting on top of the shoe, and the slightest horizontal crease in the pants fabric. Compare the image to the first two and you’ll notice the differences.
Also, the back of the pants cuffs hit near the top of the shoe, where the opening is.
This type of trouser break works best with modern style
Cropped Hem / No Break Trousers
The no break trouser style means the pant cuff barely touches the top of the shoe, and there is no resulting horizontal crease. In more extreme examples, the cuff itself may end 1-2″ above the shoe, which is considered a cropped hem (or maybe you’d call them floods, highwaters, etc.)
The cropped hem style looks best with more modern
FAQ About Suit Pants Length
These are the most common questions we receive about trouser break and length.
What is considered the regular suit pant length?
The most traditional, and most common, suit pant length would be the medium break. I would suggest going with a medium break if you need a more classic looking trouser. If you are younger, or if you have a more modern suit (like from Spier & Mackay, SuitSupply, or a similar brand) you can go with the quarter, or slight, break in your trousers.
How do you measure suit pant length?
Generally, there are two ways to measure suit pant length. You could take the outseam measurement, which is the length from the top of the waistband, down the pant seam, all the way to the bottom of the hem.
The second, more common way, would be to measure the inseam. That measurement is taken from the crotch seam to the bottom of the pants hem.
But if you’re simply trying to find the best suit pant length and appropriate amount of break, you can just fold your pants hem inside the leg as you wear it. This will take some adjustment, but once you have it folded up correctly, you’ll have a better idea of what the pants will look like once your tailor hems it.
What’s the correct suit pant length?
There is no one correct suit pant length. It will depend on the pants, how slim or full cut they are, how modern or traditional your suit’s style is, etc. If you want to know the most common regular suit pant length, I’d suggest a medium break.
How long should your suit pants be when sitting?
When you have your suit trousers hemmed to the perfect length, they will feel slightly shorter when seated. Don’t be alarmed. That’s normal.
There is no standard suit pant length when sitting, since it will depend on the break you’ve chosen. If you have a full break, you will of course have more fabric at the hem, which means when sitting, your hem won’t come up as high on your calf.
I wouldn’t worry about this too much. What’s most important is to get the correct suit pant length. If you’re worried about showing skin while sitting, you can wear an over-the-calf dress sock, then you won’t have any problems at all.
What’s The Best Trouser Break For Me?
As with everything fashion related, it depends.
If you have a more traditional suit, or you’ll be wearing your suit in a more formal environment (traditional offices, for example), you’d want to go with at least a medium break. It’s the most common style and works with pretty much any trouser.
I personally prefer no break on my trousers. I like the clean line and unbroken crease it provides. It’s just a super smooth look.
There ya go! A quick primer on suit pant length and trouser break. Hope this helps when trying to figure out how to talk to your tailor.
If you have any questions or comments, hit me up on Twitter. You can also find join other readers on Effortless Gent’s Facebook page, or DM me on Instagram!