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Side adjusters, belt loops, pleats or flat front trousers for office wear?

Ddubs

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I'm looking to pick up some formal trousers for a smart casual office environment, mainly odd trousers to wear with a tucked in shirt. I'm undecided whether I should go for pairs with side adjusters or belt loops or if they should be pleated or flat fronts however. I'm not overly knowledgeable on the 'rules', so to speak, surrounding this kind of thing. I typically like to wear high waisted. It's also worth noting whilst I haven't expanded my wardrobe to blazers or sports jackets yet, I will be in the future and will want to pair formal trousers with these. I may also want to use these trousers for some casual purposes. At the moment, I'm looking at Rota's Manhattans, Westsides, flat front and higher rise trousers. What would you recommend?
 
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KOz

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I'm looking to pick up some formal trousers for a smart casual office environment, mainly odd trousers to wear with a tucked in shirt. I'm undecided whether I should go for pairs with side adjusters or belt loops or if they should be pleated or flat fronts however. I'm not overly knowledgeable on the 'rules', so to speak, surrounding this kind of thing. I typically like to wear high waisted. It's also worth noting whilst I haven't expanded my wardrobe to blazers or sports jackets yet, I will be in the future and will want to pair formal trousers with these. I may also want to use these trousers for some casual purposes. At the moment, I'm looking at Rota's Manhattans, Westsides, flat front and higher rise trousers. What would you recommend?
If you're going to go for classic menswear, you should plan on how the jackets and trousers will go together - colours, fits, etc.

Any pictures of your current outfits would help add context.
 

circumspice

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I don't think there are any real rules here. Belt loops are probably more traditional in the US, and give you the chance to accessorize with a belt, for better or worse (if you buy a pair of tan loafers, you may feel compelled to buy a tan belt...)
 

Ddubs

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If you're going to go for classic menswear, you should plan on how the jackets and trousers will go together - colours, fits, etc.

Any pictures of your current outfits would help add context.
I see, as I'm rather new to classic menswear I don't really have many examples as my wardrobe is not entirely geared that way was as yet. But I would say the examples attached are typical currently though. With and without belt for reference. (Also excuse no shoes and poorly fitting clothes lol.)

Generally, I'm planning to base things around grey, brown and crem/ecru coloured trousers with predominantly blue/navy, green, grey and cream on top, but I'm just spitballing here. No real idea on fit or pattern other than I prefer higher waisted pants. (Excuse no shoes and poorly fitting clothes)
 

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TheIronDandy

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Pleats are mostly a matter of comfort if you have a larger midsection or poweerful legs, though they obviously have some visual effect too. You seem fairly slim, so you probably don't need pleats for practical reasons, so the choice should come down to if you like the look. While there are no "rules" regarding this, I find that things like pleats and cuffs still give you a bit of an old-school look, since they are not very common on RTW clothes today.

As for belt loops or adjusters, I would say belt is easier today. If you're wearing tailored trousers with no jacket (as you plan to be doing initially), a belt is one of the few accessories you can wear. A suede belt can soften a tailored look a tiny bit, where as a shiny calfskin belt can make it look a tiny bit sharper, and something like aligator will make it look a bit more louche. These are all tiny changes, but classic menswear have always been about fairly subtle touches, so worth considering.

Final thought: consider the fabric. Odd trousers (even if you eventually wear them with a sport coat) should ideally be in slightly coarser, less formal fabrics. Flannel is the classic, but linnen is great for summer, and fresco/other open weaves can work for anything except the coldest months. Avoid the sleek, shiny worsted wools that are often used for business suits: it will make you look like you're wearing half a suit, rarely a good look.
 
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Thin White Duke

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Pleats are mostly a matter of comfort if you have a larger midsection or poweerful legs, though they obviously have some visual effect too. You seem fairly slim, so you probably don't need pleats for practical reasons, so the choice should come down to if you like the look. While there are no "rules" regarding this, I find that things like pleats and cuffs still give you a bit of an old-school look, since they are not very common on RTW clothes today.

As for belt loops or adjusters, I would say belt is easier today. If you're wearing tailored trousers with no jacket (as you plan to be doing initially), a belt is one of the few accessories you can wear. A suede belt can soften a tailored look a tiny bit, where as a shiny calfskin belt can make it look a tiny bit sharper, and something like aligator will make it look a bit more louce. These are all tiny changes, but classic menswear have always been about fairly sublte touches, so worth considering.

Final thought: consider the fabric. Odd trousers (even if you eventually wear them with a sport coat) should ideally be in slightly coarser, less formal fabrics. Flannel is the classic, but linnen is great for summer, and fresco/other open weaves can work for anything except the coldest months. Avoid the sleek, shiny worsted wools that are often used for business suits: it will make you look like you're wearing half a suit, rarely a good look.
Concur with most / all of this.

A couple more points:
“Tucked in shirts …” - looks like you have a t shirt in your pics - despite the continuing casualisation of menswear a crew necked t shirt still has underwear connections for me and I’d never wear one for work no matter how casual the place, especially with non-jeans. With a polo shirt you’re taking it one small but important step up in formality due to the collar. Keep the t shirts for the pool, beach, at home, run to corner shop etc. Instead consider OCBDs, polos, knitted polos (long sleeves in winter) add v necks when it’s cool, rather than t shirts for work.

If you’re going jacketless then the fit of your shirt which will not be largely hidden under a jacket is key. A glance at your light blue shirt, the sleeves look very long and you’ll need to keep an eye on details like this if you want to maintain a polished and well put together look.

As for the strides - for around ten years the trend was for very slim to skinny low rise flat front trousers but the last few years the trend has moved in the other direction so prepare for the inevitable overly aggressive pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction towards overly loose and baggy strides that come up to your nipples. Personally I believe that the flat front versus pleats issue should be a decision based on body type and personal preference and not a function of when some idiot in Paris or wherever decides it’s time for a change.

I have about twenty suits and about twenty more odd jacket and strides fits with barely a pleat or cuff among them but that’s my personal preference and ignores whatever trend may be current. Pick what works for you. Some people like a higher rise and pleats help to shape strides over broader hips but you look to be very slim, so even if you want a higher rise you might not need pleats. Comparing the pics you posted IMO the flat fronts look to fit you better but I have a personal bias against pleats especially on younger slim fellas. Side adjusters are a bit like surgeons’ cuffs on jackets. They were typically a feature of high end / custom made strides in the past so some RTW brands ‘borrow’ the feature to try to emulate the gravitas of custom made gear. If you stick with more accessible belt loops then for the love of god get a couple of decent belts in shades that more or less match your shoes, as empty belt loops looks unsightly to me and as noted above a missed opportunity to show a small bit of personal flair in your choice of accessory.
 

Ddubs

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I don't think there are any real rules here. Belt loops are probably more traditional in the US, and give you the chance to accessorize with a belt, for better or worse (if you buy a pair of tan loafers, you may feel compelled to buy a tan belt...)
The dreaded tan shoes I've been hearing so much about :eek:

On a serious note, appreciate the input. I'm just kinda concerned as buying some quality tailored pants will be a pretty big investment, so I want to make sure the details are right in terms of my lifestyle and dressing appropriately for the occasion.
 

Ddubs

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Pleats are mostly a matter of comfort if you have a larger midsection or poweerful legs, though they obviously have some visual effect too. You seem fairly slim, so you probably don't need pleats for practical reasons, so the choice should come down to if you like the look. While there are no "rules" regarding this, I find that things like pleats and cuffs still give you a bit of an old-school look, since they are not very common on RTW clothes today.

As for belt loops or adjusters, I would say belt is easier today. If you're wearing tailored trousers with no jacket (as you plan to be doing initially), a belt is one of the few accessories you can wear. A suede belt can soften a tailored look a tiny bit, where as a shiny calfskin belt can make it look a tiny bit sharper, and something like aligator will make it look a bit more louce. These are all tiny changes, but classic menswear have always been about fairly sublte touches, so worth considering.

Final thought: consider the fabric. Odd trousers (even if you eventually wear them with a sport coat) should ideally be in slightly coarser, less formal fabrics. Flannel is the classic, but linnen is great for summer, and fresco/other open weaves can work for anything except the coldest months. Avoid the sleek, shiny worsted wools that are often used for business suits: it will make you look like you're wearing half a suit, rarely a good look.
Thank you for this! Really appreciate the detailed insight and it's given me a lot to think about. I have a few follow ups, which I hope you don't mind.

I do really like the like of pleated trousers, but as I think you alluded to and as the user below pointed out, flat fronts probably suit my body type more.

Regarding belt loops or side adjusters, say when I reach the point where I start incorporating more blazers and sports coats into my outfits, would you recommend side adjusters over belt loops? Currently I'm not really the type of guy to wear a jacket round the office, mainly from a temperature standpoint, but would to open to trying it more. I pretty much only wear jackets to and from work currently. At the moment, it's a button up OCBD/dress shirt or polo with odd tailored trousers. But like I say, I am open to change.

Ultimately I am aiming towards building a capsule wardrobe (very cliché, I know) where I have a small but versatile collection of tailored trousers rather than a myriad of variations to suit every specific scenario. But maybe my thoughts will change about this later down the line. At the moment, I'm planning to have maybe 5-6 pairs; three in wool flannel and three in lighter wool waves/linen.

As a side, I think I do also have a bit of confusion around the lexicon surrounding the formality levels of trousers and in what scenarios they are worn i.e. formal trousers, tailored trousers and odd trousers, so please excuse that haha.
 

Ddubs

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Concur with most / all of this.

A couple more points:
“Tucked in shirts …” - looks like you have a t shirt in your pics - despite the continuing casualisation of menswear a crew necked t shirt still has underwear connections for me and I’d never wear one for work no matter how casual the place, especially with non-jeans. With a polo shirt you’re taking it one small but important step up in formality due to the collar. Keep the t shirts for the pool, beach, at home, run to corner shop etc. Instead consider OCBDs, polos, knitted polos (long sleeves in winter) add v necks when it’s cool, rather than t shirts for work.

If you’re going jacketless then the fit of your shirt which will not be largely hidden under a jacket is key. A glance at your light blue shirt, the sleeves look very long and you’ll need to keep an eye on details like this if you want to maintain a polished and well put together look.

As for the strides - for around ten years the trend was for very slim to skinny low rise flat front trousers but the last few years the trend has moved in the other direction so prepare for the inevitable overly aggressive pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction towards overly loose and baggy strides that come up to your nipples. Personally I believe that the flat front versus pleats issue should be a decision based on body type and personal preference and not a function of when some idiot in Paris or wherever decides it’s time for a change.

I have about twenty suits and about twenty more odd jacket and strides fits with barely a pleat or cuff among them but that’s my personal preference and ignores whatever trend may be current. Pick what works for you. Some people like a higher rise and pleats help to shape strides over broader hips but you look to be very slim, so even if you want a higher rise you might not need pleats. Comparing the pics you posted IMO the flat fronts look to fit you better but I have a personal bias against pleats especially on younger slim fellas. Side adjusters are a bit like surgeons’ cuffs on jackets. They were typically a feature of high end / custom made strides in the past so some RTW brands ‘borrow’ the feature to try to emulate the gravitas of custom made gear. If you stick with more accessible belt loops then for the love of god get a couple of decent belts in shades that more or less match your shoes, as empty belt loops looks unsightly to me and as noted above a missed opportunity to show a small bit of personal flair in your choice of accessory.
Thank you, really appreciate the detailed response :)

Currently I don't really the type of guy to wear a jacket round the office, mainly due to the temperature, but I am very much open to trying it more. I usually only wear jackets to and from work. At the moment, it's a button up shirt or polo (add a sweater in colder months) with odd tailored trousers round the office.

Say if I were to start incorporating more jackets into my outfits, may I ask if you would recommend side adjusters as opposed to belt loops in that scenario? Side adjusters may feel a little odd to me having been a belt guy all my life, but I'd really like to try them and I do really like how they look. I'd just be slightly concerned if I was going too formal. Officially my office has a smart casual dress code, but it errs far more on the casual side. Personally however, even in that scenario I like to put effort into my outfits and appear well put together when I'm out in public.

Regarding pleats, personally I do really like them and I think they add a stylistic feature of interest to trousers, but I equally enjoy flat fronts too. I would agree from my pics that felt fronts suit my body type more as you pointed out however.
 

KOz

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Firstly, I strongly recommend a jacket. Shirt and trousers without a jacket looks incomplete and creates a cliche corporate business casual feel. If you're concerned about temperature, opt for something looser fit in cotton/linen. Even if the jacket is thrown to the side while you sit at the desk. For inspiration, consider Universal Works, The Marchant Fox, The Anthology, Natalino, if you want to swing a bit less tailored.

As for trousers, pleats are an entirely personal choice, so don't get too pressured either which way. Not all pleats are created equal either - some or deep, functional ones, others - shallow (shy) and aesthetic. Traditionally pleats go well with turn ups (cuffs).

If you want to go the classic menswear route, you'll want higher-waisted trousers, which, to me, look better when with side-adjusters.

As for trouser formality reference, there's a decent PS article on that.

In the end, I would suggest trying things out. Do not immediately spring for for an expensive buy-it-for-life purchase before you understand what you like. Collect some reference imagery for what you're trying to achieve.
 
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Ddubs

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Firstly, I strongly recommend a jacket. Shirt and trousers without a jacket looks incomplete and creates a cliche corporate business casual feel. If you're concerned about temperature, opt for something looser fit in cotton/linen. Even if the jacket is thrown to the side while you sit at the desk. For inspiration, consider Universal Works, The Marchant Fox, The Anthology, Natalino, if you want to swing a bit less tailored.

As for trousers, pleats are an entirely personal choice, so don't get too pressured either which way. Not all pleats are created equal either - some or deep, functional ones, others - shallow (shy) and aesthetic. Traditionally pleats go well with turn ups (cuffs).

If you want to go the classic menswear route, you'll want higher-waisted trousers, which, to me, look better when with side-adjusters.

As for trouser formality reference, there's a decent PS article on that.

In the end, I would suggest trying things out. Do not immediately spring for for an expensive buy-it-for-life purchase before you understand what you like. Collect some reference imagery for what you're trying to achieve.
Thank you, really appreciate this and I love the look of the less tailored jackets you linked. Just one thing regarding this, would it still be considered 'right' to pair high waisted side-adjuster trousers with less tailored jackets seeing as beltless dress trousers are (as far as I understand it) more associated with the highest echelon of formality as part of a full suit?

What is the 'correct' way and your opinion on how to wear a polo shirt in this situation? Are they best worn belted, unbelted or untucked? Can they also ever be paired with formal trousers, or would they be better suited paired with something more casual like chinos?
 
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KOz

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would it still be considered 'right' to pair high waisted side-adjuster trousers with less tailored jackets seeing as beltless dress trousers are (as far as I understand it) more associated with the highest echelon of formality as part of a full suit?
There's more nuance to it than that. For example, fabric choice is also involved in determining formality. Flannel will be a bit more casual. Linen even more so.
 

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TheIronDandy

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Thank you for this! Really appreciate the detailed insight and it's given me a lot to think about. I have a few follow ups, which I hope you don't mind.

I do really like the like of pleated trousers, but as I think you alluded to and as the user below pointed out, flat fronts probably suit my body type more.

Regarding belt loops or side adjusters, say when I reach the point where I start incorporating more blazers and sports coats into my outfits, would you recommend side adjusters over belt loops? Currently I'm not really the type of guy to wear a jacket round the office, mainly from a temperature standpoint, but would to open to trying it more. I pretty much only wear jackets to and from work currently. At the moment, it's a button up OCBD/dress shirt or polo with odd tailored trousers. But like I say, I am open to change.

Ultimately I am aiming towards building a capsule wardrobe (very cliché, I know) where I have a small but versatile collection of tailored trousers rather than a myriad of variations to suit every specific scenario. But maybe my thoughts will change about this later down the line. At the moment, I'm planning to have maybe 5-6 pairs; three in wool flannel and three in lighter wool waves/linen.

As a side, I think I do also have a bit of confusion around the lexicon surrounding the formality levels of trousers and in what scenarios they are worn i.e. formal trousers, tailored trousers and odd trousers, so please excuse that haha.
Don't mind at all, we're all clothes nerds here :)

One thing you should take away from the advice you get here is that there are many approaches to dressing well. @Thin White Duke and I have pretty different approaches to how our clothes are cut (I wear a more draped silhouette with wider trousers and broader lapels on my jackets), and we both dress well in our own way (in my humble opinion). It's a lot about finding what works for you, your body, and the style you aspire to.

If you want a capsule wardrobe with a coherrent, fairly timeless look, here's what I'd suggest:

Belt loops. No pleats.

Belt loops are more contemporary. Unless you're wearing a sleek busines suit, belt loops will be a better choice. The real benefit of side adjusters is if you want to avoid the belt "cutting you in the middle"; this is mostly relevant if you're wearing a very formal dark suit. Side adjusters aren't BAD for less formal trousers, but for everything short of a dark suit, I find the benefits of belt loops are greater. For what it's worth, I started with side adjusters, and have mostly switched to having my trousers made with belt loops. I wear tailored trousers at least 5 days a week, but I rarely wear full business suits these days. Tailored trousers with belt loops and a tailored jacket is still a fine look, and more formal than most people will be today. Belt loops will also look better with more casual jackets, as well as knitted sweaters.

I love pleats and have them on all my trousers, but I have very thick legs so they have some practical value to me. I think with your build, you don't need them, and flat front will make your trousers a bit more timeless. A moderate width and flat fronts, with a medium rise, will still look good no matter what direction the fashion pendelum swings. That said, if you really like pleats you can have them, it won't make or break your outfit. But consider that pleats will make your trousers fit a bit looser. If you're wearing polos or shirts with no version of a jacket, it can make you look a bit unbalanced towards the bottom. It's not a big thing, but something to consider:in my pesonal opinion, wider cut trousers tend to look better with a somewhat structured jacket and an extended shoulder, or with bulkier knitwear.

So if you want a capsure wardrobe that will last you a while, belt loops, moderatly cut, medium rise, flat front and no cuffs is the way to go. It's not what I wear, but it's what I would suggest for someone, especially someone young and slim, to start out. It will work with a jacket, it will work without one.

And don't worry, tailoring has it's own vocabulary entirely. Quick reference: tailored trousers is proabably what you mean with formal trousers. They're the kind of trousers you'd wear with a sport coat. They are often made of wool, are made to have a crese pressed onto them, and can be made with cuffs and side adjusters if you want to. "Formal trousers" depend on the context: we usually talk about a level of formality. A business suit (usually made of sleek, shiny navy blue or dark grey wool) is more formal than flannel trousers and a tweed jacket, but the business suit is less formal than a tuxedo. Odd trousers are trousers that were not made as part of a suit. They are USUALLY made of less formal fabrics, such as flannel, cavalry twill (another type of wool fabric) linnen, or even cotton. Odd trousers can be compared to "suit trousers", which were made as part of a suit - often suit trousers look odd when worn without the suit jacket.
 

Ddubs

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Don't mind at all, we're all clothes nerds here :)

One thing you should take away from the advice you get here is that there are many approaches to dressing well. @Thin White Duke and I have pretty different approaches to how our clothes are cut (I wear a more draped silhouette with wider trousers and broader lapels on my jackets), and we both dress well in our own way (in my humble opinion). It's a lot about finding what works for you, your body, and the style you aspire to.

If you want a capsule wardrobe with a coherrent, fairly timeless look, here's what I'd suggest:

Belt loops. No pleats.

Belt loops are more contemporary. Unless you're wearing a sleek busines suit, belt loops will be a better choice. The real benefit of side adjusters is if you want to avoid the belt "cutting you in the middle"; this is mostly relevant if you're wearing a very formal dark suit. Side adjusters aren't BAD for less formal trousers, but for everything short of a dark suit, I find the benefits of belt loops are greater. For what it's worth, I started with side adjusters, and have mostly switched to having my trousers made with belt loops. I wear tailored trousers at least 5 days a week, but I rarely wear full business suits these days. Tailored trousers with belt loops and a tailored jacket is still a fine look, and more formal than most people will be today. Belt loops will also look better with more casual jackets, as well as knitted sweaters.

I love pleats and have them on all my trousers, but I have very thick legs so they have some practical value to me. I think with your build, you don't need them, and flat front will make your trousers a bit more timeless. A moderate width and flat fronts, with a medium rise, will still look good no matter what direction the fashion pendelum swings. That said, if you really like pleats you can have them, it won't make or break your outfit. But consider that pleats will make your trousers fit a bit looser. If you're wearing polos or shirts with no version of a jacket, it can make you look a bit unbalanced towards the bottom. It's not a big thing, but something to consider:in my pesonal opinion, wider cut trousers tend to look better with a somewhat structured jacket and an extended shoulder, or with bulkier knitwear.

So if you want a capsure wardrobe that will last you a while, belt loops, moderatly cut, medium rise, flat front and no cuffs is the way to go. It's not what I wear, but it's what I would suggest for someone, especially someone young and slim, to start out. It will work with a jacket, it will work without one.

And don't worry, tailoring has it's own vocabulary entirely. Quick reference: tailored trousers is proabably what you mean with formal trousers. They're the kind of trousers you'd wear with a sport coat. They are often made of wool, are made to have a crese pressed onto them, and can be made with cuffs and side adjusters if you want to. "Formal trousers" depend on the context: we usually talk about a level of formality. A business suit (usually made of sleek, shiny navy blue or dark grey wool) is more formal than flannel trousers and a tweed jacket, but the business suit is less formal than a tuxedo. Odd trousers are trousers that were not made as part of a suit. They are USUALLY made of less formal fabrics, such as flannel, cavalry twill (another type of wool fabric) linnen, or even cotton. Odd trousers can be compared to "suit trousers", which were made as part of a suit - often suit trousers look odd when worn without the suit jacket.
Thank you so much for the depth of explanation, it is incredibly helpful.

Just a few queries regarding jackets, is there a particular level of formality and structure/silhouette (still very much learning about silhouette) I should be aiming for to pair with your trouser recommendations, i.e. flat fronts, moderate width and medium rise. Perhaps there might be a specific brand or jacket you might recommend, just to help me visualise things in relation to the terminology?
 
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Thin White Duke

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Looks like most of your questions to me have now been covered but that’s OK!
A couple more points of view -
You seem really into side adjusters but bear in mind that if you wear a jacket or a v-neck they may not even be visible and even if they are 99 percent of your viewing public won’t see them or else they won’t register. Side adjusters do have some utility beyond the aesthetic in shaping the strides over hips. In my experience they’re much more common on higher end suits and bespoke stuff.

As for bespoke - there are dozens of reasons to go bespoke or even MTM but I’d say the most common are choice of fabric, choice of details and above all precision of fit.

I’m 6 feet 1 and 170 pounds so I’m a straight up OTR size 38. My forays into MTM and bespoke have often fallen short of expectation so I retreated to mostly OTR with some tailored adjustments. That means I don’t have a single pair of strides with side adjusters. Even the few suits I had made custom I went with a belt over other options and no regrets. I like belts, like matching them with shoes and in any case I only unbutton my jacket when sat down so whether belt or side adjusters, if you do wear a jacket either choice will go largely unnoticed. My broader point here is that you can look decent with OTR stuff, especially as you’re finding your look, and will not have to lash out a lot of dough on custom gear (either MTM or bespoke) especially as you appear a fairly standard fit.

As for jackets, as I’ve said here recently if you started out with say a dark blue or navy blazer in cotton / linen / hopsack wool for warmer weather and a grey herringbone tweed for colder months they will be in keeping with your capsule wardrobe aim as they will pair with dozens of options as they’re ridiculously versatile but not so formal that you make you feel self conscious as ‘that guy’ in the office who’s always ‘dressed up’. And if you are? Screw ‘em! That’s their lookout if they want to be schlubs!
 

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