We don’t really know what we look like. Sad, but true. Not understanding one’s body shape, or perhaps how one’s shape has changed over time can also lead to ill-fitting clothing. Men often think they are a size that they are not.
I worked in the fashion industry for a number years. The on-set tailor was de rigueur. It was here that I learned the power of proper tailoring. Many a time I saw a simple T-shirt deconstructed in order to perfectly fit a celebrity. Not that I would do that, but just seeing the possibilities was eye opening.
Don’t Settle for Ill-Fitting Clothing
It is astonishing how many men wear clothes that don’t fit. Guys, please, just because you bought those jeans that way doesn’t mean there is a contract that says they have to stay that way. Pants too long, baggy jackets not fitting, sleeves too long and shirts too tight from a bit of age-related trunk spread — these are all easily handled. You will look better, you will feel better, and you may notice people treat you differently. I can hear the howls: “But I just want to be comfortable.” Being comfortable is part of having well-fitting clothing. The solution is easy and painless.
Pants and Jeans
Pant shape and length, besides last week’s unexpectedly divisive thoughts around shoes
, are the most troublesome area. Pants, including jeans, should be the correct length. That means don’t cut them super short like the kids do. They are being ironic. We are the people they are being ironic about. It looks cute on them, silly on us. Don’t do it. The same goes for the too-long huge-pant look in the fashion mags. Fine if you are 21 and 6ft tall on a runway in Milan; inappropriate on us. Modern, flattering and discerning should be our organizing principles.
How Long Should Pants Be?
How long depends somewhat on the shoe and the pant. With a sneaker or other rubber-soled shoe, it is best that the pant hit the shoe with a slight break, not a spill-all-over-the-floor break. With a boot, slightly longer is best. When you are considering the hem, make sure the pants are on your hips or where you wear them. I like mine on my hips, not above. Someone more of John Malkovich’s
persuasion may want to go all the way to the waist, but that is a very special look and absolutely do not do that with jeans.
The Width of the Pant Leg
The width of the pant is also important, and can also be changed. I have a habit of buying used broken-in raw denim APC
jeans on eBay, then tapering the leg about 2 inches. If Levi’s 501s are your jam, you may want to do the same. They are a fine jean, but in waists over 30 they can use some tweaking. (Pro tip: Levi’s has Slim Taper version of the 501 and some Levi stores have Tailorshops that can taper jeans for you.)
An Expert Opinion
But that is just us. For an expert opinion on pant length, we asked Jonathan Cheung, SVP of Design at Levi’s
. “For suits I generally recommend no-break length unless you are really tall (6’ 2” plus). It looks neater that way. Showing a little peek of sock is good. I do think a looser silhouette is coming back, but the danger is that on most people it will just look sloppy. For jeans, there’s the slim-stacked-at-the ankle look that guys like Travis Scott wear. But generally, I would encourage people like us to go a bit shorter, this is particularly true for women. Either hemmed off or cuffed.”
“My advice is to ‘take your time’ and invest the same amount of time in finding well fitting jeans as you would researching a new car, watch, BBQ or whatever you nerd-out about. So always when trying on jeans, try on 1 size bigger and smaller than you think you are too. And where possible that means in 1 inch increments, that is 32-33-34 rather than 32-34-36. It can make all the difference.”
A Tailor for Every Job
I now have a portfolio of tailors. There is the $10 tailor at the dry cleaner who makes the pillow cases fit better. Then there is the skilled, but not particularly discerning $25 tailor who will hem my jeans or shorten the sleeves on a shirt with some very nice workmanship. Then there is the top-level tailor, $80, for when I need my classic APC jeans tapered, or the shortening of a dated dinner jacket to making it modern. This person, like any really good tailor, is highly attuned to modern style and can be trusted for feedback and recommendations.
Clothes That Send the Right Message
If you are going for a job interview or have some career-oriented anxiety, having clothes that fit well signals that you are modern. Wearing an ill-fitting suit from 15 years ago says you are from 15 years ago — depending on the industry, not necessarily the message you want to communicate.
More Like This
to read Over-50 Shoe Solutions for the Modern Guy
to read Reading Glasses as Fashion Statement
to read Barbara Warren: Fashioning a New Career