Chinos cut like suit trousers, pleaseBy Simon Crompton
Go on, wear some proper trousers. When it gets to the weekend, or indeed relaxing at the end of a working day, don’t just swap your suit for jeans. Be a little bit more creative.
I like jeans. I have lots of jeans. I have the utmost respect for the geeky obsession some young people have for the best selvedge and raw Japanese denim. But for most men out there, this is not what jeans mean to them. Jeans are lazy, a default, a no-brainer. They are popular because they are not a choice.
These men probably don’t choose their suits, so it’s not surprising that they don’t choose their casual trousers. They’re told what to wear during the week, and the creative spark has been snuffed out. Well, I have some quiet but thoroughly enthralling advice for them: wear some cords, some flannel, some drill cotton; revel in moleskin, in khakis and in chinos. And try to get the shape right.
For the biggest group of non-jean wearers in the world, the middle-American button-down shirt wearer, the California executive and the manager of every small business in the mid-West, is not a good advertisement for wearing chinos. Their chinos are big, pleated (God knows why) and often taper aggressively towards the ankle. Overall, they give the impression of serious swelling in the lower stomach/bladder area and some rather flabby thighs. They do not flatter. Even if the wearer suffers from all those bodily problems.
I would list the many ways to correct this shape and tailor a perfect trouser, but really the answer is simpler than that – wear casual trousers that fit like your suit trousers. Assuming you don’t wear your suit trousers on the natural waist (around the belly button) like 99% of the men out there, the fit of casual trousers should not be that different to those of a suit. They need to hang well, form a straight and elegant line down to the shoe and create a clean, svelte look both back and front.
Fine, there are some terrible suit trousers out there. But generally men pay more attention to their suit than their casual trousers when really the principles are not that different. Your casual trousers shouldn’t be pressed (like your jeans) and they don’t necessarily need to be hung and maintained with the same precision. This is not a sharp look we are aiming for, merely an elegant one. But they should be flat fronted unless you can really get away with the extra bulk on the thighs, and they should finish on the shoe with no more than one break.
Turn-ups have the same role with casual trousers – weighing down the trouser and giving it visual heft – and the pockets need not be that different. Avoid patch pockets at the rear and go for no more than one flapped; there’s a little more leeway on frog-mouth openings at the front.
But keep the look just as clean and well thought-out when you commission your cords, chinos, moleskins or flannels. The weight and texture of the cloth should be enough to give the message of casual relaxation. There’s no need to have them puddling at the ankle or ballooning at the thigh.
Try cotton trousers that are not jeans. And have them cut more like your suit than your pyjamas.