It’s a tailoring decision that can drastically change the appearance of a pair of trousers, and because of this, it has become a polarizing issue in men’s fashion over the past decade or so. Today anything goes – some guys wear their trousers short and cropped, some wear them long and full, and others manage to change their silhouettes seasonally. Here’s a quick guide that describes the most popular hemlines in menswear today:
While the above-the-ankle style can only truly be pulled off by some, many guys feel comfortable with a “no break” hem, where the pant leg just kisses the top of the shoe.
Though aesthetic makes no allowance for shaping the width of the pants down the leg, this style looks best with a well-defined taper. As a result of the cropped trouser trend, many men opt to go with this widespread pant shortening. “No break” lands at a point where the trousers basically skim the top of the shoes.
The Slight Break
If “no break” and the requisite aggressively tapered leg is a little too fashion-forward for you but you still want to be a bit contemporary, the slight break is for you. This looks best without a cuff and with the back of the pant leg angled a little longer than the front. This style looks best on pretty much everyone, slim (not cropped or skinny) trouser widths, the modern businessman.
The Medium Break
The more breaks you wear in your trousers, the more conservative you will look. A medium break is ideal for the well-dressed man of no-frills. This is also an ideal look for those with a more conservative style, who don’t want a tapered or slim trouser and want to go with a cuff. It looks best on middle-aged guys, conservative businessmen, gentlemen carrying around a little extra weight.
The Full Break
Ideally, to pull off this style and for it to look “right,” the pant leg needs to be wider. In a perfect one, there is a decent amount of fabric pooling at the ankle, but it should look a bit more elegant. The wide-legged trouser with a full break is a bold retro look. Through this style you can revive the trend of 1920’s and 1930’s, when more cloth meant more strength and more luxury.
What’s important to note is the inverse relationship between length and width. Ultimately pant length is a decision that should have less to do with fashion trends, and more to do with personal style.