imageShack, so here goes: repost/reconstruction with images stored on flickr.
Ok so where should I start this from? Hmmm... this has to do with pants and their fit and some of the problems we often see with examples in real life and the stuff that gets posted on forums. For long, I have always felt that pants (and their fit), esp. in our times, is a neglected part of RTW or bespoke. It is even more interesting to note that people who fuss about the tiniest of details on their jackets are totally careless or clueless when it comes to their pants.
I have thought about this issue for years and certainly had my share of problems with several tailors and countless RTW examples. The question that has bothered me is that not only why they (pants) are neglected by customers but also by the cutters and pant makers. So below in this thread I have tried to address some of the common problems that plague the fit of pants, esp. in bespoke although it is certainly applicable to RTW as well because same fit principles apply. Before writing this post I searched and searched to find one thread where this problem of pants and their fit was addressed at least somewhat comprehensively and I could not even find one. That solidified my interest in tackling this extremely elusive of a topic.
So I would like to get down to the heart of the matter without much explanation but I hope after reading this post you appreciate the fit and importance of pants as an integral part of appearing well turned out. We will discuss the basic problems and their remedies and then discuss more detailed topics like balance in pants, seat construction and their angles and "openness" and "closeness" of legs.
Before I start I would like to Thank Sator whose generous offerings of scans from valuable books made this post a possibility. Furthermore I would like to thank Jefferyd and Vox who were kind enough to share with me some pictures of their fitted pants that you will see below.
Since this is a consumer related forum as opposed to industry related I have tried my best to minimize the use of very technical concepts involved in the cutting and making of pants. However, some of that is included in here for a better understanding of these concepts.
I am aware of the fact that not everyone is interested in such detailed matters of cutting and making of pants and they would just like to see a quick example of good pants fit and a very short explanation what makes these pants a better fit.Note
This post because of its length is divided into 4 sections. 1st one goes over some general pints about fit, section 2 goes over the trouser problems with pictures, section 3 is all about balance and section 4 is for pictures of pants.SECTION IA GOOD FIT IN PANTS
Pants fit is nothing complex like fit of jackets, and while it is so simple to understand it is almost always ignored or never fully understood because of its simplicity. There are many a few interpretations of how a jacket should fit with many contrasting ideas within school of thought but there is really nothing like this for pants. In this case the criteria are rather simple and there is no room for stylistic debates effecting fit. With the possible exception of "working man" pants or "horsey" pants neither of which are we discussing here, for dressy "walking man's" pants, a good fit is a good fit no matter what style (full cut, slim cut) is chosen. So let me define this for you.
1.\tRegardless of its style (slim, tapered, full legged or whatever) a classic pair of men's dress pants should have no puckering, pulling or stretching across the waist /seat area front and back. There should be no ripples horizontal vertical or diagonal anywhere on waist or seat front, back or on the legs.
2.\tIf it is pleats, they must remain closed at all times. At least in most normal circumstances.
3.\tThe line of the pants should be completely uninterrupted from top to bottom, both front and back
. If there is a break that should be the only
interruption in line both front and back. There is NO
such thing as double, triple or quadruple breaks! Only one break is permissible and that is at the hem.
4.\tThe Creases should be sharp and hang dead straight in center of the leg both front and back
all the way to the hem. There should be No twisting or pulling going on with the creases.
I may have missed a thing or two but generally speaking these 4 points cover most of what constitutes a good fit in pants. If I remember more I will add them.
Now, that said I would like to clarify a few things about stylistic choices. Slim legged pants are neither inferior nor superior to the full legged ones they are just that, i.e. slim legged pants. Break or no break has nothing to do with the overall fit of the pants. If you have a break that is fine as long as line of the pants is uninterrupted and there is ONLY one break. Pleats or without pleats has nothing to do with pants good or bad fit. If pleats are present as mentioned above they must remain close. The same goes with braces (suspenders) and belts, the presence or absence of either does not inherently make of a better pant. Finally turn-ups (cuffs) and no turn-ups (cuffs) is another one of choices. These choices often do effect they way pants fit but regardless of what you pick the overall result should be with clean seat, front area and line.
Below are pants made by jefferyd of this forum and are one of the best examples of fit in every possible way. Note the completely absence of any puckering, pulling stretching, and above all perfect back balance.
*I just wish there was a front picture of these; maybe Jeffery would be kind enough to share that with us
Let us look at some of the problems and concepts in greater detail. However, even before we go into balance and other problems it is absolutely crucial that you understand what is a "fork" and a "seat". These terms will come up quite a few times and understanding them will help you go over following sections smoothly.
* These explanations mainly come from Leggatt's "Climax System" published (1914?) and I encourage for those interested to study the complete discussion in his book and additional two topics linked below.Leggatt's Climax SystemPants Balance in CuttingFORK
Just like most of the faults in coat cutting are attributed to the wrong position of scye, many of bad defects in trouser cutting can be traced to the size and position of the fork.
The fork is that part of the leg which joins the trunk and consequently must be considered in relation to the underside as well as the topside of the trouser. There are many misconceptions with regard to what may be called the "fork," and without laboring the subject we will endeavor to show what it actually consists of. Look at the picture below
This figure No. 13 above gives a profile of one leg with the trunk cut in half. B is the place where the leg-seam unites the top and undersides, and the curved line 2-B-3 shows the actual fork quantity.
By reference to Fig. 14 above we can see that while B-L is the fork quantity on the topside the curved line M-R of the seat on the underside must also be added to this to give the exact quantity required to fit Fig. 13 from 2 to the front at 3.SEAT ANGLE
The term "seat angle" is very important and must be understood in order to fully appreciate the fit of pants. It can be a bit confusing at first so let us look at this fig. 13 again for a clearer understanding of this concept.
Let a line be drawn from N to W across the thickest part of the seat to correspond with the ground line upon which the figure stands. Then square with this line N-E to the height of the natural waist, and the distance from E to 4 will give the seat angle as shown by dotted line from 4 to N (see parallel to red line).
This is only an angle of about 78' and consequently would not allow for the movement of the body in a sitting or stooping position. It has been found in general practice that an angle of 65' is a good working angle for walking trousers, and in case of the riding trousers and breeches 5' more acute. This fig. 15 below will show these two angles and as they can be extended to any length a student of tailoring can test for himself.
While a crooked seat will, as a rule, give more fullness at the ball of the seat when stooping, it will remain there when the figure is in an upright position; this will explain the reason why it is impossible to have sufficient room in the seat when stooping or riding and not have an unsightly amount when standing. All the same, too great an angle in the seat, instead of securing comfort in the saddle, will only produce an excess of material which will form into unsightly folds. Hence it may be taken for granted that a more acute angle than 60' will overshoot the mark by producing objectionable folds.
With this above, you should be able to better understand the term "seat angle" and "fork" in following discussion about Trousers Fit Issues.SECTION II
Next for a detailed explanation of trouser troubles we will look at some of the diagrams and what they look like.
I highly recommend for those who are interested in advance study of these matters to read the complete chapter here Trouser troubles
I will discuss the same chapter but without the patternmaking aspect so it is readable by consumers also.TROUSER TROUBLESRoping along the seat seam
The symptoms of this fault are clearly shown on the illustration. Their cause is a definitive tightness in the seat-seam, which is drawn tautly up the center. The vertical folds are a result of this. In order to obtain anything like the comfort the wearer will have to ease the tension on his braces; but this will give him very small amount of freedom of movement for sitting. It will, as a matter fact, make the legs appear too long and will cause restriction in the fork"”most pronounced when the wearer is walking. He will feel some pressure on his thighs and his knees.
The fault with such trousers insufficient "seat spread". Actually, the distance between the fly-seam and the seat-seam is too small for the figure's requirement and it must be increased. The fork needs to be let out and the seat needs to be reshaped. Size of the waist will also have to be adjusted by letting out the top of side seams. The amount of letting-out will depend on the degree of tightness found at the center back.Diagonal creases from fork to side seam
This is not really a very common fault; when it does appear it is more often than not on a corpulent or semi-corpulent figure.
The defect is objectionable because the trousers in which it occurs are inclined to emphasize the contour of the stomach-which is the very last thing a stout gentleman will wish to happen.
There are occasions on which the trousers cut for a man whose waist girth approaches that of his seat will show this fault. The more so in pleated trousers in which the pleat allowances have not been calculated on a sound and tried principle. In the case of a large figure with a prominent stomach for whom plain-top (flat front) style should have been made, the defect in latter will be caused by the fact that the "disproportion" allowance have been made on too generous a scale. A very small fork may also contribute to the trouble.
The remedy lies in reducing the round of the front and letting out the side seams. If there is sufficient material to be let out at the top of the side seams the underside-inlay can be used with good effect. In trousers with inadequate pleat allowance, the figure being on the plump side, the defect can be created by allowing (as some cutters do) some of the pleat "room" at top of the fly-seam, running into the fork curve.
The best plan of rectification is to take off sufficient at the top of the fly-seam and to make up the correct waist size by dispensing with the second pleat. As a matter of fact, one pleat is sufficient in trousers for stout figures. But if such customers insist on having two, it will be still be necessary, in putting things right, to take off the supported surplus at the top of the fly seam and then to make up the waist size by letting out the underside inlay.
This means the top side will be slightly smaller than usual, which will have the effect of brining the side pocket mouths rather more towards the front. The later is not altogether a disadvantage in trousers for this type of figure.Vertical Folds at the fork
In this illustration the defect has been exaggerated in order to show more clearly its exact nature. Folds of excessive material are seen on each side of the fly, they run to the inside leg. The back view is not given here, but it may be taken for granted that the state of affairs in such trousers will not be at all satisfactory. It is quite certain that the appearance is a very unsightly one.
The fault in this cause is due to the errors in construction. The legs of the trousers have been cut too "open"; the fork is too large for the figure's needs. The fork here needs to be reduced, below the fork level the "run" is taken well down the leg seam and the underside is also reduced. With regards to alterations at the seat-seam, it is advisable to go well outside the original seam before re-making the new line. The side-seam maybe taken in, in order to get the correct waist size; or, if necessary, a large waist dart can be taken out.
It has been assumed that the foregoing alterations are designed to be carried out on a finished pair of trousers, or on one that is almost finished state. If a new pair is being cut, the main adjustment can be carried in quite simply. The legs should be cut "closer" and slightly less fork quantity should be given.Excess Material in the lap (wearer seated)
This is something which often causes customers to make adverse comment. Sometimes such a comment is justified and other occasions it is not. A peculiar feature about the apparent defect is that when the wearer is standing there seems to be little or nothing at the fault in the trousers. It is when their wearer assumes a sitting position that the effect of the trouble is seen. The fly section will fall into deep folds of surplus material which appear to pass right across the lap of the figure.
Needless to say, there will always be a certain amount of surplus material in the lap of trousers when the wearer is seated. And this will be more noticeable in the case of pleated trousers. Customers are prone to demand the removal of such material; but this is not a practical proposition. There must be necessary "length" in the trousers at this part to allow the wearer to stand up! However, if there is too much of this surplus stuff it must be regarded as a defect in trousers and the customer will have every right to complain about it.
At first sight, this defect may suggest a front which has been cut in too receding line. The resultant surplus has been caused by pressure at the top of the fly owing to the natural expansion of the customer's body. This pressure will, of course cause the apparent extra length from top to fork.
Assuming this is a correct assessment of the trouble, the remedy will consist of taking out a "wedge" (at the bottom of fly), thus reducing the length of the fly seam.
Such an alteration would improve matters, provided the cause of the defect had been rightly determined. However, the real cause may be insufficient room for the expansion of the seat; or it may be that the fork of the trousers is too small. In many cases both seat and fork will be found to be at fault.
Lack of seat room may be attributed to a very "straight" seat-angle or one which, in addition to being so, has been hollowed out too much."Horseshoe" folds
This is a common enough fault in trousers. As will be observed on the illustration, the rear part of the trousers shows folds of material as though excessive length occurs here. The underside set in too close to the back of the figure's thighs. In some cases, even in these days of relative wide trousers*, the lower part of the legs will be found to cling to the calves of the figure. There may also be a definite "drag" running in a diagonal direction down the inside of the leg.
By careful manipulation at the time when the trousers are made it might be possible to disperse much of this excess length; it might also be possible to reduce the amount of it in a finished pair. But the cause of the excess may be something more than mere misplacement of cloth. It is probable that the trousers have been cut without due regard having been paid to the customer's stance and to the general build of his figure. It is well known among cutters that this particular trouble occurs very frequently in trousers worn by men of erect posture and whose calves are prominent.
Rectification is not easy in the case of a finished pair of trousers. The front of the fork needs to be slightly extended and raised such that the effect of this alteration is to give more length in the front"”an essential thing for the type of figure being discussed.Fullness Under the seat
The accompanying illustration clearly shows what is meant by the above description. There is a series of folds (slightly exaggerated for demonstration) at the undersides at a position under what cutters call the ball of the seat.
This is another defect noticeable in trousers for erect figures and is most likely caused by a seat-angle that has not been adjusted to the attitude of the indented wearer of the trousers. The seat-seam, instead of fitting reasonably close to the figure, sags away from it. The underside of the trousers may cling to the back of wearer's legs, instead of hanging nicely from the seat prominence downwards. There is no discomfort to the wearer"”indeed he has been provided with too much comfort! Excessive seat angle is the cause of it.*
*This is in my observation the number one cause of plaguing bad fit in pants either bespoke or RTW. Now, RTW we can say of course it is RTW and only so much can be done about it. That is mostly correct but in bespoke there should be no excuse, especially if it coming from a reputable tailor. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above this problem is present on 98% plus of the bespoke commissions as well and is unlikely to be rectified without ever mentioning it to the tailors.
Since this is problem is prominent I have explained this in greater detail above (see Leggatt's "Climax System" discussion of Seat angle). It is absolutely Not
correct for a trouser to be called well fitted if they suffer from this problem. Sadly, as Jefferyd also mentioned this is a problem that eludes a great many cutters of today and unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this. I can explain some rectification of this problem but it MUST be understood with patternmaking knowledge so I am omitting it here. Please see the full discussion of this in "Trouser troubles" and "Leggat's Climax System Links above in seat angle discussion.Drags from Fork to Knee
The sketch here shows a series of objectionable creases extending from the fork in the direction of the knee of the wearer and there is a very definite "drag" from the crutch to the knee. There is also a pull from the knee-bone to the back part of the leg.
The defect is greatly aggravated when the wearer of the trousers is seated. Also, when he is walking, he will feel a certain pressure over his knee-cap. If the trousers are very wide they will tend to swing inwards on the leg. The back section of the trousers may be uncomfortable, with tightness at the base of the seat-seam. Insufficient seat-angle is the main cause of the trouble, together with a shortage of fork quantity.Horizontal creases at the fork
This defect is frequently found in trousers that have been worn for sometime, the more so of they have not been pressed and re-shaped occasionally. Such creases are observed only after a period of wear. In fact, it is after the wearer has been sitting about that the trousers assume this very unsightly appearance.
It may be thought, at first sight, that this defect is the result of a too "close" cut of the legs. Upon closer investigation, however, it will likely be found that the seat seam is the real cause of the trouble. It has likely been hollowed out probably on the assumption that this would produce a clean fitting seat. Actually, it has caused tightness across the front of the trousers.SECTION III
Now in this section will go over the detailed aspects of "balance" most of which has been covered above but below you will be able to see and appreciate how it directly ties in with vertical and minor balance problems.NOTE
This section can get confusing Very quickly if you are not familiar with the construction of pants and are only a visual person. It is best recommended only for detailed study otherwise you can certainly skip over it (except look at the chart below maybe). It is not necessarily difficult, but just demands a more comprehensive knowledge of pant making than the preceding section which was made much easier by the illustrations.
Furthermore, these discussions here are presented for your knowldege as a customer. It is not advisable that you start dictating to your tailor the method with which he or she needs to alter something. That will not go very well with them in most cases. Just be aware of the problems and be sure to mention them at fittings.BALANCE IN PANTS
Balance in pants is rather different from jackets in the way that unlike in jackets, pants are not exactly hanging from shoulders or neck point. However, there are still 2 elements of balance involved here; the vertical and lateral balances and further each of these is divided into major and minor balances.
Since the detailed study of balance cannot be understood without going into patternmaking, I will skip it. Lol! If you really want to I guess I can explain but since this is a consumer forum it would be hard for most to understand, not only that but annoy the crap out of your tailor if you try to direct something in patternmaking with minimum understanding of the subject.
For those of you absolutely interested in this please follow this link below for a detailed look into how these balances effect the patternmaking and eventually what changes do they cause in final garment.Pants Balance in Cutting
However, what we will discuss here is how these balances effect the final garments and what distortions or problems we see that are caused by bad balances and how to rectify these problems.
To summarize all that is to follow please observe these 2 charts below in detail.
Now, this chart beautifully highlights some of the critical problems associated with bad balance and their possible remedies. We will look at these in greater detail below along with pictures. Before we start I would like to mention that this section below is only if you have followed the post so far. It will get a bit tricky as many of the problems appear same at first yet are caused by different issues.MAJOR VERTICAL BALANCESequence 1
Too much length on seat-seam, surplus cloth in length under seat. This usually results from the tailor's failure to observe that the seat was flat and the size of the seat-measure was to be found on the hips. Do NOT confuse this error in balance with that in sequence 4 of the Minor Vertical Balances, where there is too much back rise.Sequence 2
Too short on seat seam etc., causing pulling on seat. The cause here is the tailor's failure to note that the seat was too prominent. Do not mix this up with Sequence 3 of Minor vertical balances which deal with the insufficient back rise.MAJOR LATERAL BALANCESequence 1
Trousers too tight in fork, etc. How did this arise? Due to the fact that when measuring, the tailor, overlooked the fact that the customer was thick in depth and required more trunk room than usual. This cause and effect should be distinguished from those in Sequence 2 of the major vertical balances, where the seat angle is too short.Sequence 2
Trousers too full in fork, etc. what is the problem here? The tailor's omission to note that the customer's figure had more width than thickness; in other words that less trunk or fork room than usual was required. This symptom is not to be confused with those of sequence 1 of the Major vertical balance, were as we have seen, the seat angle was too long.Sequence 3
Lateral folds inside leg, etc. This usually happens because the tailor has missed the fact that the figure stands with legs close together.Sequence 4
Lateral folds on outside of leg, etc. This usually happens because the tailor missed the fact that figure stands with legs apart.MINOR VERTICAL BALANCESSequence 1
Tight crease from front brace (suspenders) button, etc. The reason for this effect is that when measuring the tailor overlooked the fact that the belly was unusually prominent and required more length, as well as width, in its vicinity.Sequence 2
Loose lateral folds, etc. This usually happens because the tailor didn't observe that the waist was exceptionally hollow.Sequence 3
Tight vertical crease, from back to fork. What is the cause here? It was that the tailor was not careful to observe that the figure stopped from the waist and hence, that it required longer back rise. Do not confuse this with Sequence 2 of the Major Vertical Balance, which is caused by a too short seat angle.Sequence 4
Loose lateral folds under waist. These folds are caused by too much back rise: that means that the tailor overlooked the fact that the figure was exceptionally hollow at the back waist. This symptom must not be confused with those in Sequence 1 of the Major Vertical Balance, in which, as we have seen, the seat-angle was too long.MINOR LATERAL BALANCESSequence 1
Tight lateral creases across the belly: insufficient room at the top of the fly. Cause? Tailor's failure to observe that the belly was carried well forward. As he result he didn't allowed sufficient Minor Lateral Balance to meet this protuberance.Sequence 2
Loose vertical folds at belly, etc. The cause of this was failure to notice that excessive size in the measure below the waist was carried on the hips, and not on the belly. In other words, adjustment for the Minor lateral balance has been made in the wrong place.Sequence 3
Tight lateral creases across hips. What has caused these? Here the tailor failed to observe the excessive size of the hips, and so got his adjustment of the Minor lateral balance wrong.Sequence 4
Loose vertical folds at hips, etc. These have arisen because tailor omitted to note that the figure had flat hips, so his adjustment for Minor lateral balance was incorrect.Sequence 5
Tight lateral creases at seat, etc. The cause of this was tailor's omission to observe the prominence of the seat. Hence he did not provide sufficient room in making his adjustment for Lateral Balance.Sequence 6
Loose vertical folds at seat, etc. This is the result of overlooking the customer's seat. Thus (in contrast to the mistake in sequence 5) in making Minor Lateral adjustment the tailor provided too much room.SECTION IV
Okay so finally in the fun section we will post pictures of our pants RTW, bespoke anything as long as it is a dress pant and fits well. Please post front, side and back (or Â¾ profile) pictures. Do NOT
post pictures of close-up details of pants or such. This is a discussion about fit NOT construction. You can post anything from JC penny to Kiton and from your local tailor to Knize or SR tailoring houses. Full vs slim, pleats vs flat front, braces vs belts or self-supporting does NOT matter. If it is has a clean waist, seat and leg (front and back) it is all okay. Kindly also share (if you wish) how did you arrived at the fit and if not what did you felt obstructed in this fit process.
To start off I am posting pictures of my pants. These are NOT
presented as something of a standard all should aspire to but rather one of my best take at understanding some of the fit iussues I described above. These did not came about overnight either.
Below are Vox's pants from a suit you have seen in WRYWRN thread and he will surely share his comments on these
In addtion please see jefferyd's beautiful pants above for a well fitted non-braces trousers.
Please carry on
P.S I would like to thank Sator again for his generous scans, without those this post would have been delayed forever. Also Vox and Jeffery for permitting me to share their pictures in this thread.