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How much of a break?

WJTW

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Hi,

I've read that the trousers need to be of a length so that it can have a vertical line and have a slight break on the shoe. So... how much of a break is this slight break? Any pictures?

Oh, another question: How is a black suit with black shirt plus white-tie look? Which situation would this ensemble be suitable for?
And, how is a white suit with the black shirt and white tie look?

Thanks,
WJTW
 

Manton

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So... how much of a break is this slight break?
To generalize a little: the Italian way is no break at all; the cuffs may not even quite reach the top of the shoe. Â The American way is a generous break; the cuffs are 1/2" longer than they need to be to reach the shoe. Â The Savile Row way is the mean between the two: a faint whisper of a break; the cuff rests on the top of the shoe, and the front crease of the trouser leg has the tiniest ripple just above the cuff.
How is a black suit with black shirt plus white-tie look?
Awful.
Which situation would this ensemble be suitable for?
Appearing in the cast of Guys and Dolls.
And, how is a white suit with the black shirt and white tie look?
Equally awful.
 

Mike C.

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I go for a slight break, Saville Row style as Manton has mentioned, on my heavier weight pants, cause it's too cold in the winter to be showing much ankle. On my lighter weight trousers, I opt for no break, Italian style, showing some ankle. It's funny, cause I literally have to argue with tailors for a few minutes to get them to do no break. I have suspected some of adding on a bit of lenght at their own will after I've left the shop. Also the amount of break depends heavily on what type of shoe you're wearing. For loafers, less break. For lace ups, do whatever, for boots, slight break or even less break if the leg is snug fitting. For a general rule, if the leg opening is pegged, do less break. If the trouser is looser fitting, more break.
 

oldskool

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Yes, I have been duped by the tailor as well. I ask for MINIMAL break, and always seem to end up with too much material. Also, on a related note, my tailor tried to get me to agree to 1 1/4 inch cuffs rather than my 1 3/4 inch cuffs on that heavy wool RL suit from polo.com... I don't get this guy (well, looking at the clothees in his shop... I sort of get him) but again, Big conservative 1 3/4" cuffs, minimal break. I should change tailors, but this one is next to my apartment.
 

kabert

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All decent tailors should understand the meaning of doing the classic "slight break." The frequent problem though is that tailors always seem to err on the side of too long, as I assume they think most customers won't demand a re-do in such case whereas they definitely will demand a re-do of slacks that are "highwaters." I always ask for a larger than usual break on cotton slacks, as they generally shrink a bit (get shorter) over time.
 

johnnynorman3

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I found this thread interesting, because I was under the impression that for trousers with narrower leg openings, you would want to go with less break (about 1/4 break, as opposed to the 1/2 break I normally go for with most trousers). But at the tailor the other day when I was getting my Belvest trousers finished (bottoms are about 17" I think), he recommended going with a fully break (plain finish, of course). He said that with the full break, it would make it just a bit easier for the pants leg to stay on the shoe, whereas the half-break might cause the pant to move up and then bunch on top of the shoe. He said he'd change it if it didn't work out, but he said, "Believe me, you go half break now you'll be sorry later."

I'll let you know how it works.
 

justlurkingthanks

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I have the same problem with tailors, always too long and I have to argue with them. But I get nervous about it because I fall into the better-too-long-than-social-suicide-short crowd.

On the black suit, black shirt, white tie thing. I'd say no. Well, actually, I would scream no, but I won't.
 

imageWIS

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I have my tailor cuff all my pleated pants, and I have her position the cuff slightly above the heel in the rear, thus there is a slight break over the shoe, which in turn in my opinion is the cleanest look (read traditional / classical) one can have. I believe the mid-point between one style and another is called the mid-continental, if I properly recall Flusser. If your pants are too long you wander into pimp territory, too short and you might start to resemble Steve Urkel.

Alas, I have to mention I don't wear loafers, always lace-ups or monk straps, thus my aforementioned advice works for me, but not necessarily for you.

Jon.
 

j

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I have a related question, regarding the length of material inside the hem. Does anyone notice that a longer piece there (say, 3-4" folded up inside) creates a very different break than a short 1-1/2" piece? I hemmed (no cuffs) a pair of pants from the Gap and had about 3" inside, and the break was at the top of the 3", which looked a bit odd. So I took them and ironed them so the outer portion was a tiny bit shorter than the inner portion, thus making them more likely to break in the middle of the hem (at a more normal place). This worked somewhat, but I am going to have a tailor take a try at it, as I'm still not satisfied. Has anyone seen this problem? Does your tailor cut the allowance down to 1-1/2" or so to alleviate it?
 

Manton

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It is standard to leave in at least an inch, just in case the legs have to be let down a little, and because the extra cloth adds weight, which helps the trouser leg hang straight, the pleats stay closed, and the creases stay sharp. But 3 1/2" is a bit much. I don't think I've ever seen that. It makes sense that the "break ripple" as it were would be above the interior excess cloth, since that would provide resistance to rippling.
 

Mike C.

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Oh, another question: How is a black suit with black shirt plus white-tie look? Which situation would this ensemble be suitable for?
If you're in the band The Hives or an extra on the set of Goodfellas. Otherwise please don't wear this.

A general rule is that ties should be darker than shirts. This can be broken, but it usually ends up looking weird or too gangster looking.
 

j

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With this in mind, one might become obsessed with engineering one's break by modifying the way the hem is cut and sewn in. If one were so inclined.... (washes hands 10 times)
 

Manton

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Another thing to keep in mind is that cuffed and cuffless bottoms are finished differently (apart from the cuff, that is). Cuffs are cut parallel to the ground. Cuffless trousers should slant rearward, so that the back of the trouser leg is longer (about 1/3 to 1/2 way down the shoe heel) while the front rests on top of the shoe.
 

j

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Possibly, but that also depends on how you want the break. If you want the back to the top of the shoe heel and a minimal break, a slanted hem will do that, whereas if you want the back to the top of the shoe heel and a full break in front, a straight hem is called for. If we are talking peg-leg pants meant to show ankle, then it would be a short, straight hem.
 

Manton

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If you want the back to the top of the shoe heel and a minimal break, a slanted hem will do that
That's the Savile Row way, and I think it looks best on uncuffed trousers. Personal opinion.
 

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