It’s always nice to treat yourself for a pair of custom trousers. Today, we review my latest purchase: chocolate brown peached cotton from Stóffa.
Summer clothing is the hardest thing to find in wearable condition, since the those vintage materials are usually lighter and are prone to damage. That’s why most of my wardrobe are tweeds and flannels (with the occasional worsted) as they can take a beating. I obviously can’t wear some of the heavier/coarse fabrics for spring/summer, which is why I’ve been trying to put more of my funds in that direction! I’ve been trying to get by with my chinos from J. Crew and Banana Republic, as I have pieces from the latter in multiple colors, but they aren’t high rise, which makes them hard to wear with most of my clothing. That’s when I decided to actually pay retail in order to finally get summer appropriate pieces I desperately needed.
I know that some of you may be surprised at me advocating to actually spend some coin on something new, but the fact is that there are times when it’s necessary. Most of the time it’s for rare pieces, like the Brooks Brothers sack suit or a great belted back. In this case, it’s for both details and practicality. Sure, you might be able to find chinos, but if you wanted pleats and side tabs, you’ve gotta be willing to pay for it.
I debated on getting RTW from Berg & Berg, as they had just launched their spring/summer options, namely their high-twist side tab, pleated trouser. Unfortunately, their sizing seemed to be a little difficult for me to figure out, and at nearly $200 before shipping/tailoring, it didn’t seem worth it. Spier and Mackay also brought out their fresco selections, but they have such a tiny rise and slim leg that it would never be able to work.
In the end, I decided that I really just wanted cotton trousers. Wool was too stuffy (and I’m not a huge fan of scratchy, summer wools) and linen is too wrinkly for it to be versatile. In general, my summer attire just means “comfortable” rather than breathable, and prior to this, my BR chinos were the most comfortable pair of pants I owned. While they weren’t as formal as worsted, they were extremely easy to wear with any outfit. Luckily Stóffa sold MTM cotton trousers in a similar fabric for $275.
For those of you who remember last year’s coverage of their trunkshow, Stóffa is a brand that is the latest darling child of classic menswear. Though they don’t make suits or sportcoats, they specialize in MTM options for outerwear and trousers; they’re probably most known for their flight jacket! As you can tell from their instagram, they have quite the presentation skill. All of their pieces are done in versatile, soft earth tones which makes them quite interchangeable with each other. They juxtapose their gorgeous product photography with artwork and architecture, providing an almost intellectual approach to their clothing. What I did notice is that none of their pictures show their products worn with full tailoring, which probably makes sense, as they strive to be a more casual, easy-going brand.
Their LA trunk show is always held at Magasin in Culver City and is head by Nick Ragosta, who is always eager to talk about the brand and take your measurements for your order. My last article focused more on the outerwear, but I definitely decided to probe a bit for more info on the trousers, since I was confident that I was going to walk away with at least one commission.
The measurement process was fairly simple. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take pictures during this part, but it wasn’t anything special. Nick first measured me and gave me a pair of trousers that were the closest to my waist size. They were intentionally roomy so that he could pin them to fit my shape. To his surprise, I told them that I liked the fuller cut, as I had been experimenting with it for tailored looks. I then mentioned that I like a high rise, which he said wasn’t going to be a problem; he did alter the back rise, as he noticed it was sliding down a little, causing a ripple near my seat.
In the end, we decided to keep the thigh measurement and taper the bottoms slightly to an 8.25″ opening. I had normally done an 8″, but my cinch back flannels (which are light enough to be worn in summer) were actually 8.5″; I was sure that this measurement was going to be just fine. Nick knew that I liked the vintage aesthetic, but we both agreed that we didn’t want to make anything to costume-y. Plus it was more of combining my style with the Stóffa cut rather than me just using them as a regular tailor. In terms of customizations, I asked for side adjusters, double pleats, suspender buttons, and 1.75″ turn ups
Nick then showed me a bunch of their cotton fabric (all at $275, as linen or wool was pricier). Their peached cotton was an instant favorite, which I’ve heard is similar in texture to moleskin (which I don’t have much familiarity with). To me, it felt extremely close to my BR chinos which see plenty of wear during the warmer months. I briefly considered doing a “regular” cotton fabric since Nick said they are the most dressy but felt that it was too basic. If I was going to be spending $275 on a pair of trousers, I wanted them to be special and not something I could simply thrift. My choice was the peached cotton (super soft and has a hearty drape!) in chocolate brown as tan and grey already fill my wardrobe. Good luck trying to find a similar color (with the customizations) in the wild!
After four weeks, Nick came back to Magasin for the fitting. They fit pretty well off the bat, though I suggested we let out the seat. I was also considering letting out the thighs (as I’m used to a roomy-yet-straight fit on wool trousers), but Nick cautioned me and said to simply wear them and let them break in naturally; they will loosen up. The trousers were also unfinished, so he pinned them to end right at the shoe. Another week later and they were here!
Let me first say that chocolate brown is such an underrated color. Most of the time, guys tend to opt for grey or cream, which is why I think brown has such a great allure to me. Since no one really wears it, it seems a bit more old school. I also think it has some 1970’s vibes when worn with grey.
You can see the subtle twill of the cotton, which has a bit of shine. in certain light. It’s very smooth, as it’s similar to moleskin. I do like the use of the caramel button; vintage menswear nerds will know that caramel buttons are a sought after detail, especially when it contrasts with the garment’s fabric.
The fit is pretty good: slim but straight through the entire leg. The waist fits pretty snugly, but isn’t uncomfortable. While the hips have pleats, they don’t flare out like some of my thrifted trousers; it probably helps that the pleats are shallow and act as an aesthetic detail rather than behave functionally. Because the fabric is tight, I was concerned about how they were going to fit my large thighs. They’re pretty snug right now (but not restricting), but I’m sure that they are going to break in well, as I’ve had a similar experience with my BR chinos.
I will say that I wish the rise was a bit higher. They currently sit right at my belly button, which is the hallmark for high rise, but I always find myself pulling these trousers up higher, which in turn messes with the length. This could also be due to the fact that there isn’t much extra room in the waist, seat, and thigh. I obviously don’t want to be swimming in my pants, but I’m probably used to working my way down from a bigger size (due to thrifting) which usually results in a much higher rise. In the past I’ve tailored down trousers with a 34 and 35 waist, which makes them end well above my navel!
From the side, you can see that they definitely follow my leg line really well. Since these are peached cotton and not wool, they will take some getting used to, as my wool trousers tend to drape straight down without much shape. It’s not overtly slim as the leg opening is 8.25″, which is much higher than the norm for most.
I want to talk about length again, as we all know how obsessive I can be over it. Now with loafers, they just barely touch the top of the vamp. While I am not a fan of overt breaking, I’m pretty sure that I can lower the trousers at least half an inch so that they cover more of the shoe before they start to break. It’s such a miniscule amount, but I think it’s important because they feel a bit “off” to me. I probably should have caught this at the fitting stage (when the trousers were practically finished apart from the hem), but I was pretty shy and didn’t want to come off as like a bad client. After getting some real wear out of the trousers and trying them across different shoes, it’s clear that a simple lengthen would be fine!
I emailed customer service and they said to simply get them lengthened and make note of the new outseam for future orders. If it needed a full remake or any major alteration, they would’ve been happy to do it, though it was definitely not needed in this case.
For the inaugural journey of these great trousers, I decided to redo an old favorite: this combo from when I went to the Broad almost two years ago. It was one of the first times I ever wore brown trousers with a blue jacket and I’ve wanted to replicate it ever since. Unfortunately, the shirt is long gone (a bad commission from Natty Shirts), so I wore a thrifted OCBD instead. The tie is the same and is another one of my favorites due to its versatile color and pattern; it’s pretty damn close to this new seasonal one from Drake’s.
One of the reasons I like this outfit so much is that it’s pretty much the basis of “Ethan Style”: a little bit of ivy (sack jacket, OCBD, white socks) with a not-too-bold 1930’s/40’s tie and a pair of high rise pleated trousers. As I said earlier, it’s also one of my favorite color combos because it’s a little bit different than what other people would do! I honestly love this outfit so much that it takes some creativity not to default on it when creating a smart outfit; it really treads the line between modern and vintage in a good way.
I really like these Stóffa trousers. They’ve got great craftsmanship, my desired details, and a versatile cut that works for my aesthetic. Other than slightly short length and rise, these came out pretty close to what I imagined in my head! I’m sure that Nick had a few reservations, as he even told me that most guys get an even slimmer and shorter silhouette. At least we now know that Stóffa can make stuff for you guys who have a similar style. $275 isn’t all that cheap, but I haven’t once found a source for a chocolate brown chino with side adjusters and pleats. Hell, chocolate brown trousers are hard to get in general.
Now I know I started this by saying that I wanted summer clothing. Most of you guys would recommend something fresco or linen, but that wasn’t really what I wanted. Moleskin-esque trousing isn’t exactly the natural choice for spring/summer but I really like it. The tight fabric breaks in really easily, which is why I really liked my BR ones despite their low rise. Something comfortable and versatile that can be worn year-round in LA is what I got from these trousers.
To be quite honest, I’m probably not going to order another pair until I’m confident that I can take some different measurements and obtain the real silhouette I’m after. Something slightly higher and a little fuller in the thigh will probably get me to where I want to be, but these aren’t unwearable. And like I said before, these will break in more and more over time, so the leg might get more comfortable and wider! I’m debating on lengthening the trousers, because I’m an obsessive bastard, but it’s not bad; just half an inch! A part of me is saying to just go ahead and get cream/light brown in the peached cotton to continue my summer trouser collection, but I know that it’s better to make sure things are perfected before moving forward.
If you guys aren’t as anal about fullness or the perfect not-quite-break, then I say give Stóffa a shot! The mistakes are most likely due to me being too nervous during the measurement and fitting stage combine with the fact that my preferences are against the grain of their normal clients. It’s important to remember that this is MTM and not bespoke; in both cases, most brands will be dedicated to doing their house style, so you can expect some resistance if you are picky with your fit and detailing. With that said, I think they were able to translate the Stoffa look to my preferences pretty well! I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy with my trousers whether or not I take them to get some minor adjustments. I just need to make sure to update them on my next commission.
Always a pleasure,