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Casual Pants

How Men's Dress Pants Should Fit

Women seem to think men have it easy when it comes to finding pants that fit.  After all, we don't have to contend with all the curves women do, so on that point, I have to agree; we normally do have an easier time of buying pants.  Still, our slimmer hips and buttocks aren't a guarantee that every pair of pants is going to fit our manly bodies perfectly.

I wish we could base our choices on size alone, but we all know more than waist and length measurements dictate a proper fit.  Style, fabric, and cut play major roles in determining how pants fit, as does the type pant.  Jeans and casual pants typically fit differently than dress slacks, and because they're casual, their fit doesn't have to be as precise as dress pants should be.  That being said, let's take a look at how dress slacks should fit and how to make sure they do.

  • Shopping for dress slacks is much easier if you know your proper pant size.  You can save time and trouble by knowing which pants to grab off the shelf from the get go.  However, if you're unsure of your "perfect" size, check the inside tag of your best fitting pants before hitting the mall.  If you can only find a tag in a pair of jeans, that will work, too, as long as the length and waist are the correct sizes.  Of course, if all else fails and you aren't in the mood to try random pants on, have the salesman grab his measuring tape.  I realize most guys know their pant size, but it can be challenging, especially for guys who are in between or changing sizes.


  • Whether you know your size or not, always aim to buy pants that fit.  Pants that fit and require no alterations save money.  Not only will it save money, but it will avoid any alteration mishaps, which do occasionally happen.


  • Bring the shoes and belt you'll wear with the pants along for the ride.  It's always best to wear these shoes, or a similar pair with the same sole and heel thickness, so you can choose the correct pant length, or have the store hem them if needed.


  • Waist: The waistband of most dress slacks sits at the natural waistline, which is located above the bellybutton, and in between the bottom rib and top of the hipbone.  The waist should fit comfortably, with enough room to sit, bend, and breathe with ease.  Just because they're dress slacks, doesn't mean they shouldn't be comfortable.  The pants should not pull or gather around the hips or pockets, for if they do, it screams the pants are too tight.  Some dress slacks have adjustable waistbands, which are a great option, particularly if your weight fluctuates or you sit at a desk all day.


  • Rise: This is the distance between the waistband and the inseam at the bottom of the crotch.  Typically, today's dress pants use the standard 12 inch rise, bringing the waistband to the natural waistline.  The rise fits properly when you can comfortably sit without annihilating the family jewels, or giving yourself a wedgy.  Seriously, you'll know if the rise doesn't fit properly because your groin will pinch, and the pants won't feel or look as though they fit.  Go for a form-fitting rise that is comfortable and complimentary to the old caboose.


  • If too much fabric in the crotch is the problem, the rise is too high.  Opt for slacks with a slightly lower rise, which can be found in certain brands.  However, it's best to avoid a rise that's too low, especially in the professional arena.


  • Drape: This refers to how the pant hangs on your leg.  It should fall freely to the ankle, without interruption.  The pants should not be too tight, have horizontal lines across the thighs (which indicates tightness), or have protruding pockets.


  • Length: There are several length and break styles, but for those who know me, you know I prefer the "single break", which is today's most commonly used length.  This length requires the pant hem to hit the front of the shoe, which causes a single break or crease in the fabric.  The hem on the backside of the pant should meet the top of the heel.  This explains why it's beneficial to wear the correct shoes when purchasing or hemming dress pants.


  • Fabric: Dress slacks come in countless fabrics, so be sure to wear pants that feel as good as they look.  Many fabrics have the ability to stretch, which makes a difference in comfort.  These accommodating dress pants can be found in many men's shops, as well as online.


As you can see, there's not much to fitting dress pants; yet these few basic rules make all the difference in how they fit and ultimately affect your appearance.  Although dress pants don't vary much in style, choose only pants that look great on you.  Fabric and color are two important features to consider, so enhance your physique by wearing dress slacks that maximize your build from every angle.

by Aaron Marino

Past Topics

New Topics Added Weekly!
Tour de Cords | Men's Corduroy Pants  -
October 9, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. is at the mall because 'tis the season for corduroy pants. Today's corduroys are not the same from when you were a kid. They come in various wales, and Alpha's looking for sexy and minimal. When shopping for pants, always try on the pants with the shoes that you are going to be wearing. Aaron displays different cuts and styles in various stores around the mall and ultimateRead More»
What to Match with Army Green Clothing  -
September 28, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. discuses the glorious color inspired by the military, and it's found it's way into main stream fashion. Sometimes army green is called khaki, olive, or simply green. It's earthy and rich as well as it matches with a lot of skin colors. Matching tops to this green is challenging. Other than black, color options are white, tan, camel, pink, and light or medium gray. These coRead More»
Pre-Shrunk Clothing? My Butt! -
September 24, 2012
Does your men's shirt say 'pre-shrunk" but it shrink in the dryer anyway? Aaron Marino of alpha m. has done it, and you've probably done it too. Don't trust anything that says 'pre-shrunk'. Take special care when drying clothes if they are the perfect size. Cotton shirts will shrink if put in the dryer when wet, and there is nothing you can do to un-shrink them. Pre-shrunk? Don't believe the hype!Read More»
Men's Pant Leg Length -
September 14, 2012
The biggest men's pant length issue is the pant being too long. The visual streamline is broken with the bunching of the pants at the ankle, which makes a man look shorter. Aaron Marino of alpha m. also discusses pants being too short and shows a prime example. You don't have to be a fashion or style expert to see that the pants are too short. He needs an in between size. So, purchase the in betweRead More»

Where to Shop for Dress Slacks | Express and Macy's  -
August 31, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. recommends places to shop for great fitting dress slacks for business casual environment. Express Producer Pants are decent for what they are-- in between pants. For more quality pants, check out Banana Republic for a great selection which last longer. Macy's has the widest selection of options for men's pants and slacks which are typically on sale (such as Kenneth Cole ReRead More»
Body Measurement Trick for Custom Clothing and Proper Fit  -
August 27, 2012
Want a dirty little trick for your men's fashion and style arsenal? Aaron Marino of alpha m. reveals how to get custom clothing measured and fitting properly. Taking body measurements does not work-- so when ordering custom clothing, run out and purchase that piece of clothing that fits you like a glove. Take it home and measure it. Then return it! Get your money back and now you have a template! Read More»
Dealing with Pant Crotch Holes -
August 2, 2012
How do holes in men's pant crotch happen? Aaron Marino of alpha m. discusses the reasons why holes in the crotch happen. Men's pants that fit well will wear-out in the crotch area from friction. Typically pants made of cotton wear-out in the crotch even more.  If you want to extend the life of a pair of pants or jeans, don't wear the same pair as much. Not that jeans should only be worn twice befRead More»
Finding a Good Tailor | Clothing Alterations -
July 11, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. suggests methods of locating a good tailor. Tailoring is almost a lost art. Tailors specialize in the understanding the construction of clothes. Nowadays, it's harder to find a tailor you trust. He discusses getting recommendations or performing a Google for tailors. But the dry-cleaner also offers alterations. Does Aaron trust the dry-cleaner with his pants or suits? AbsoRead More»
What to Wear with Colored Pants and Chinos -
June 29, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. analyzes what to pair with and where to wear colored pants- and more specifically red men's pants. Colored pants are not really appropriate for the business environment. And if wearing the pants on a night out-on-the-town, what do you wear with them? Remember, the more flamboyant an item, the rest of the outfit must be toned down so that you don't look like you're trying tRead More»

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