How to wear wider trousers and why I like them

A couple of weeks ago I posted some photos of my new bespoke trousers. I got some private messages telling me to ditch them and give the slim-fit look a try. One guy went even so far as to tell me: ‘you are soo young and already wearing clothing designed for old men…I cannot bear the sight of it’. Well, I want to explain and break a lance for wider trousers!

I’m not here to convert you to the ‘wide trouser’ belief. If I’m honest I will tell you that they áre considered ‘old-fashioned’ and definitely not something you see every day. They require a lot of confidence to pull off and you will definitely get some funny comments like the ones above.

So why are they considered ‘old-fashioned’? Just look at your average grandpa and you will know the answer. All old man wear them. They are, of course, comfortable and therefore appealing to the older generation. The other reason is the vintage-enthusiasts who like to wear oxford bags. So the connotation is most of the time a bit vintagey, I find that a negative.

The other reason is that it’s not flattering to one’s figure, I will debunk that myth in another post, but in some way this is true. We are used to the slim silhouette we know how to pull it off. We also are used to the slim-fit look and find the wider look a bit ‘alien’. When you start to experiment with wider trousers you will quickly notice that it affects the whole look. So the top of your body is as important as your legs. When you only wear slim-fit trousers you may find it hard to wear wider trousers because you are not used to it. This can also be fun because you will discover a whole new way of wearing certain items.

Let’s look at some real-life examples:

The ‘slim-fit’ look

Here are two very interesting suits that will show you that slim-fit is not bad. When it’s done properly it will look good. In my opinion, the photo on the left is a bit too slim. So what do you notice? First of all: the jacket is cut shorter. This makes it look more ‘trim’ and will make sure that the legs are elongated. This makes it work with slimmer trousers. The jacket fits close to the body, look at the chest, it’s clean.

The quarters (space under the button) are more open to make sure that it looks more fitted. It gives the whole look a bit more harmony. Some people say that the lapels need to be smaller, this is not true. You can rock those larger lapels and it will work. As long as the shoulders are not too heavily padded or extended. The next thing you will notice is the buttoning point. This is the point where the jacket is buttoned. Most of the time this is around the belly button, the natural waist. For most man, this is the smallest point of the torso . It’s a flexible ‘rule’ (like most rules). The suits above, for example, have a higher buttoning point. This is a logical decision by the tailor. When you cut the jacket shorter the buttoning point has to move up. Otherwise, the jacket will look out of balance. it will also emphasise the leg line, your legs will appear longer and this makes it ‘slimming’ (as long as you don’t have a protruding belly). So is it a bad look? NO of course not. Just imagine those suits with wide trousers. It will look a bit ‘off’. Why? Well, the trouser will make you appear shorter and will also make emphasise your slim torso. In other words, it will be out of balance. Of course, this is an opinion of mine, the look (wider trouser, small jacket) was really popular in the 1930s and there are still men rocking it. To my eye, it doesn’t feel right. Try it for yourself! Maybe you do like it.

Some examples of wide trouser/small jacket:

So if you want to wear wider trousers you also have to consider the jacket. This is the reason why most man will look a bit ‘off’ in wide trousers. They only consider the trousers and forget the top.

The wider look

Train your ‘eyes’, do you notice a difference?

The jacket is longer. Yes definitely The jacket has more room. Well, not really. It looks like the Duke of Windsor put on a bit of weight because his buttons are almost popping off.

Look a bit higher, do you notice the shoulders? They have more padding and they are extended (they are wider than the natural shoulder, notice the ‘hanging’ effect midway of the shoulder). This makes the shoulders appear wider and has a slimming effect. The waist area will appear smaller in contrast.

The buttoning point is definitely lower, at the natural waist. This makes the torso appear longer and has a slimming effect. You can only achieve this with a longer jacket. The suit of Prince Bernhard is a good example of the clean line a wider trouser can create. There is no interruption between the jacket and the trouser. The trouser also hangs freely and there is no rippling at the knees. Of course, you can also achieve this with smaller trousers but it’s much easier with wider ones. The most important thing is the extended shoulder. If you ditch that…you will make the trouser appear even wider. Just imagine that the shoulders of Prince Bernhard were stopping at the moment they start to hang downwards.

So is one better over the other? Well, definitely not. It’s the look you want to create but it also is important to consider body shape (for a later post), but don’t let that be the only consideration. You also want to make sure you like it!

Personal reasons

  • I like the clean line;
  • I have a bad eczema problem; (so fabric rubbing at the thighs is uncomfortable)
  • The comfort, when I sit down I don’t feel restricted;
  • Insulation and airiness, because of the room the trousers are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer;
  • The whole look, I’m old-fashioned at heart.

Some ‘problems’: 

  • The ‘old-fashioned’ image; (the fashion industry is trying to change that though)
  • Hard to balance, you will probably have to rely on good MtM or bespoke;
  • Criticism, but remember whatever you do you will always get some criticism;
  • And…so much more I will probably have to do another post to explain other stuff related to wider trousers so: “stay tuned”.

Do you like wider trousers? Or do you find them ‘alien’ or passè?

I will end this post with a quote:

“Come to think of it, who knows how anything becomes bad or good taste? Who decides a standard of esthetics? If it’s the majority, then how is it the minority are the ones considered well dressed? Everything is only exactly what it is. If a man wears the kind of clothes that please him, then, providing they’re clean and don’t shock society, morals, and little children, what is the difference as long as that man is happy?”

—   Cary Grant (source)


Pictures from: 

Not done reading? Check these articles: 
Slim vs wide trousers
On Oxford bags 
Elephant legged trousers

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Excellent examples! One of these things someone like me never pays attention to, unless someone points it out.