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Proper trouser break

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by misterbowles, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. misterbowles

    misterbowles Senior member

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    I can't seem to get this right. The conventional wisdom seems to be that the trousers should break ever so slightly on your shoes, but I find that if I wear them at this length, when I am walking, my trousers seem to be a bit high-waterish. I have been erring on the shorter side, as the "puddle of cloth around the ankles" look is, obviously, horrible, but I can't help but feel that I'm showing too much ankle *blush* in my stride. What EXACTLY is the accepted US standard? I know this is hair-splitting, but that's why this forum exists, right?
     
  2. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    The default method of obtaining the proper break, which I learned from my tailor, is to not actually bother with trying to figure out which is the proper break, but to measure the trousers down to the top of the heel of your shoes---The resulting break is the "proper" break. Works for me--I have the perfect breaks--not too weak nor too baggy--by employing this tailor's method. So, give yourself a "break" and try this method, too.
    Grayson
     
  3. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The American standard (to the extent that there is one) is 1/2" of "break."  Which is to say, the trouser leg should, at the front crease, be 1/2" longer than is required for the bottom edge to reach and just touch the top of the shoe.  With a cuffed trouser (with a bottom edge that is parallel to the ground) that means that the rear out to be long enough to cover about half or at most two-thirds of the rear of the shoe (not counting the heel); on most men, that will result in 1/2" of break in front.

    Savile Row tends to cut a shorter trouser leg, so that there is a "whisper" of break -- just a ripple in the front crease.  Some Italians (and especially the Romans) finish the trouser legs so that they just touch the top of the shoes, and the front crease drapes cleanly, in a smooth line.  But with either of these lengths, you will show sock at full stride, which it sounds like you do not want to do.  1/2" of break on a cuffed trouser will show no sock.
     
  4. misterbowles

    misterbowles Senior member

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    Thanks, guys. I'll go by the heel method. Seems to make sense.
     
  5. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Are these cuffed or uncuffed trousers?
     
  6. misterbowles

    misterbowles Senior member

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    Both; it's a pretty even split in the suit department, and with trousers alone, I tend to stick with no cuffs. Does it make a difference?
     
  7. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Yes.  Uncuffed can be slanted downward from front to rear (and in fact should be, because in lacking a cuff, they don't have the weight to remain "pulled down" over the rear of the shoe).  In that case, the rear hem of the trouser leg can reach almost to the heel of the shoe, and the front will look all right.  But if the trouser hem is parallel to the ground and the rear reaches the heel of the shoe, chances are high that there will be too much break in front, and your trousers will look "puddled."
     
  8. cuffthis

    cuffthis Senior member

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    This is my idea of the proper trouser break. 1/2" in the front, 3/4 of the way down the show in the back. [​IMG]
     
  9. misterbowles

    misterbowles Senior member

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  10. montecristo#4

    montecristo#4 Senior member

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    I find that the real problem is keeping the pants at the same height on your waist. If I'm a 34" waist when the pants are cuffed, the break will be done properly for a 34". But when my waist hits 33", the pants ride a little lower and the proper break gets thrown off. I think it's also tough when you're being fitted to get your pants to ride at the "natural" level that they assume over the course of the day, usually, some time after you've put them n in the morning.

    This is the best argument I can think of for suspenders, which I don't like and don't wear.
     
  11. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Trousers cut correctly, so that they stay at the same latitude without suspenders, are rare birds indeed. If your waist fluctuates, I'm not sure there's anything that even the most skilled tailor can do. You can tighten your belt a notch, but cinching is unpleasant and your waistband will bunch. If your waist fluctuates in the other direction, well ...

    One solution, if you wear belts, is to wear hip-rise trousers. Personally, I don't like the way they look, but they won't slip. They have nowhere to go. And the hips fluctuate significantly less than the waist.
     
  12. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    BINGO. You have perhaps unintentionally arrived at the best reason for wearing suspenders/braces. However, in order to incorporate suspenders into your trousers properly, they really need to be designed from scratch as the suspenders will tend to hike your trousers up beyond the rise if ready-made, rendering you a falsetto. Addtionally, retro-fitting suspenders on ready-made trousers with pleats will likely screw up the pleats by tugging at them. Lastly, there's a good chance the seat of the trousers will creep up into your, well, you get the picture. Try the suspenders and "brace" yourself for well-fitting trousers.
    Grayson
     
  13. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    Quick tip on increasing your chances of achieving a desireable break: When the tailor is determining the break (presumably it will be in a mirror), be sure to look straight ahead into the mirror and drop your eyes to watch, but don't drop your head. Many guys make the mistake of dropping their heads to look, throwing off their posture and, thus, affecting the way the trousers break when you're standing normally.
    Grayson
     
  14. Luc-Emmanuel

    Luc-Emmanuel Senior member

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    [​IMG] for hip-rise, flat front trousers which I usually wear: I let the break goes to the top of my shoes heels. As stated before, don't look down when putting darts, it will change your posture and result in a higher break. Luc
     
  15. Vintage Gent

    Vintage Gent Senior member

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    My default length is 1/2 inch above the top of the heel, which does a serviceable job of avoiding both the high-water and puddle of fabric look.
     
  16. lisapop

    lisapop Senior member

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    One more quickie regarding trouser breaks: There are no rules about breaks (unless you're in the military), beyond the normal parameters that there should be some degree of break and not too excessive a break resulting in sloppiness.  By the way, someone needs to advise Nino/Tony Corvato, apparently Dave Letterman's tailor,  that the trousers he's making for Dave suffer from waaay too much of a break, bordering on sloppy.  
    The advantage of braces/suspenders in this regard is one can make subtle adjustments to the level of break desired.  Some of my suits are made from a weight of cloth where a less aggressive break is desireable, other cloth can allow for a more aggressive break.  In any case, give yourself a "break" by not getting too worked up over trouser breaks.
    Grayson
     
  17. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    Maybe that is intentional, to try to cover his white socks and loafers.
     
  18. The Louche

    The Louche Senior member

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    Anybody here seen flat-front trousers cut for wear with braces (i.e. with a loose waist and high-rise, as well as a possible fishback)?

    I'd like to get into wearing braces to address trouser break once and for all, but my hip-rise flat fronts don't take kindly to braces. ...
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  19. Pingson

    Pingson Senior member

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    I wore a pair just like that yesterday.....
     
  20. dapperdoctor

    dapperdoctor Senior member

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    Before I started reading SF I'm pretty sure I wore some pants that looked horrible. ughhhh
     

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