I work at Banana Republic and we get shoppers of all kinds: young teenagers looking for a prom suit to corporate guys who just want another suit for work. Every time I’m asked for advice on pant length, I always say they should be hemmed right at your ankle. They laugh immediately, saying that they’re conservative and want a break (or breaks) in their pants).
This response baffles me. I don’t get why people are scared of having breaks! It creates a straight visual line for your leg and makes your legs look longer and skinnier. Any pooling at your ankle makes you look fatter and sloppier. I over heard one customer’s wife adamantly tell our alterationist that she wants a lot of breaks. Why? She didn’t want her husband looking younger (or “hipster”) and she said that no breaks look weird. I’m sorry, having a clean leg line looks weird?
I mean, how in the world are pant breaks preferable over a clean pant line? Who wants this?
It’s a great suit, but all those wrinkles and folds at the ankle ruin the whole look. Why do people like this? Let’s explore.
Many people say that having pant breaks are conservative. What does conservative mean? Well, these people who say that no-breaks are “young” are usually in their 30s-40s, and had their “cultural height” in the 80s and 90s. What did the typical suit look like to these people? Like this:
Good lord, everything about that 1990’s outfit is just wrong . The break on his pants is also too much.
The problem with the “conservative” argument, is that the 80s and 90s definitely aren’t conservative. If you want to look at what is classic, then look to the actual Golden Era of Menswear: the 1930s-40s. Pants back then were tailored to perfection.
If you don’t like cropped pants, that’s fine. There’s a difference between “no breaks” and “cropped” and I personally am somewhere in between. Now, most cropped pants are slim/skinny fit and I can understand the aversion to that trend, especially because skinny pants have only been in fashion for 10 years or so. However, you can still have a straight leg pant and have no breaks. You’ll look vastly superior to any one who has got loads of fabric pooling at their ankle, making them look sloppy and disheveled.
All clothes are meant to make your body look good. Back in the 1930’s we had wide lapels to make your shoulders look broad, nipped waist to give you an athletic figure, and high waists with no breaks to make your legs look slim and long. This is the true definition of conservative, classic menswear. Not your pants from 1999 that have enough fabric hanging on the end to make a blanket for a starving child.
Men need to grasp the concept of tailored clothes. It still boggles my mind that guys do not understand how clothes make you look. Anything baggy will make you look terrible. Adult men can not complain about “youth with their baggy jeans hanging off their ass” when their pants are two-to-three sizes too long. Breaks are like fat; you trim the excess. It also helps to think of your pants as extensions or your legs. You don’t want it look you’ve got a sagging ass right? No, pull up your pants. You don’t want to look like you’ve got some sort of weird growth on your ankles do you? No, get them hemmed. If you’re an adult man who actually wants to look good for once in your life, then look to the actual classic menswear icons and emulate them.
Classic menswear is all about straight, angular lines: Sharp shoulders, triangle-athletic body, and straight legs from thigh to ankle. You don’t have to wear 1930’s suits or even go to a bespoke service to get those done. The first step is to accept that pant breaks are not conservative, they’re terrible, and you need to go down the path of “no breaks”. No need for skinny, just keep your legs straight and let your pants hover over your shoe. The guys at B&Tailor, shown below, have this silhouette down.
I don’t mean to rant, but I sincerely want all you guys out there to look good and feel good in your clothes. For me, my biggest insecurity are my legs and nothing gives me more confidence than to wear pants that make them look long and clean.
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza
*Street x Sprezza does not own any pictures (except the last one) in this post