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Trouser break and cuffs for shorter man?

josepidal

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If you are short (below 6 feet or even below 5' 6"), should you avoid all but the smallest break in your trousers and should you avoid cuffs on your trousers, so that you look taller?

Or is a small but visible break fine? Is a small cuff fine?

Does the answer change for casual pants such as chinos or linen, especially lighter weight cloths?

Does the answer change if you add pleats, which have become much more popular lately?

I assume you should avoid having your pant legs end 2-3 inches above your shoes, and not just because you will definitely look shorter.
 

breakaway01

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Much has been written about cuffs and break, but IMO there really are few (or perhaps just one) hard and fast rule(s). The only strong rule that I am aware of is that cuffs never go with black/white tie attire. Everything else is more or less up to you.

Personally, I think one's height has relatively little to do with cuff height. I like 1.75" cuffs but others like 2" and some like 1.5". Anything in that range won't look out of the ordinary IMO, and is a matter of taste. The usual advice is that lighter fabrics benefit more from cuffs than heavier fabrics since they provide a little more weight to keep the trouser leg straight. I don't vary my cuff height based on the trouser fabric.

The old recommendation was that pleats should be worn with cuffs and flat front trousers should be worn with a plain hem. I am not sure how much this really matters anymore, or that anyone outside of SF would notice.

As far as break goes, it's also a matter of personal taste, though I think most people nowadays would lean towards either a small amount of break (a "shivering" break) or no break. That being said, if your trouser hem is relatively narrow, having little/no break is more important than if the trouser hem is more generous in size. Excess fabric in a narrow trouser leg looks more messy than in a wider leg IMO.
 

josepidal

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Excellent answer thanks.

So 2-inch cuff on shorter guy, especially for pants in a lighter fabric, should be OK and a matter of preference?
 

breakaway01

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Excellent answer thanks.

So 2-inch cuff on shorter guy, especially for pants in a lighter fabric, should be OK and a matter of preference?
I would say so. Also, if you start with a 2" cuff, you can easily lower the height of the cuff if you change your mind. It may not always be as straightforward to make a cuff taller (or to add a cuff to a plain hem) if you don't have enough extra fabric under the them.
 
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josepidal

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What do you think of the details on Italian style drawstring pants, whether a more relaxed or a more tapered cut? Don't think you want a big break with these but a lot of makers enjoy putting large loose cuffs on them.
 

stuffedsuperdud

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I am medium-ish in length I guess (5'9" with a ~31" inseam) but thick so that I often look shorter than I am. For wool trousers that naturally drape and flow, I get the shivering break on the front as you describe: this is to me the perfect balance of not having my socks overly visible and not having my pants pooling around my shoes like a sloppy groomsman. The problem though is that if you have your pants hemmed straight across, parallel to the ground, they'll look kind of shortish on the heel side, esp. since with shorter legs, the leg opening will look especially big. This tends to be exacerbated if you are walking fast and not just standing straight up in front of the tailor's mirror.

To address this, your tailor should hem the back side of your cuffs, the part above your heels, about a half inch longer than the front. That will give you a clean complete line on both the front side and the back, and this is really a useful guideline to anyone who wears pants, not just a shorter person. For cotton pants, which tend to be stiff and don't flow/drape, I get them a touch shorter in the front, and just hemmed straight across. The reason is that any longer than that and they start to rumple around my shoes, so even a shivering break looks sloppy. On the back side, they keep their tubular shape and don't ride up when I walk, so there's no need to do the guards thing, which would only tangle on my ankle due to the fabric stiffness.

I cuff almost all my non-black-tie wool trousers as the weight is useful for keeping the pants hanging cleanly. The recommendation is probably 1 - 1.5" but after trying 2" everything else looks woefully inadequate. I don't really care about this cuff-with-pleats thing since that's probably some bogus 1980s fashion rule that doesn't come from logic, given that the features are not related, as cuffs are for keeping your pants bottoms clean while pleats are to cinch a roomy seat onto a smaller waist.
 

ValidusLA

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Regarding post above, I agree that you don't have to link pleats w/ cuffs necessarily. However, cuffs do help with pleated pants in keeping the lines of the trousers clean. The weight of the cuffs is even more important for this purpose with pleats.

Regarding size of cuffs. I don't think there are necessarily any "rules" to this that mean anything. However, a 2" cuff will stick out quite a bit at 5'6" I should think. I might go for a 1.5/1.75. I have cuffs in all three widths and have only ever gotten comments from CM types, and usually on 2" cuffs.
 

Joe Schmoe

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I am very short - 5'4". In my experience, when you are this short there is not much point in trying to look taller. If someone who is my height were to wear shoes with 2" lifts -- we'd be 5'6" LOLOLOL. If you are 5'7 or 5'8" it might be possible for you to look taller by selecting the right clothes, etc., but when you are 5'4"... you are always going to be short. So I wear 1.5 - 1.75" cuffs with a full break. (These days most guys opt for a partial break, or no break, but my cuffs tend to migrate up and down over the course of the day, and if I were to opt for no break my cuffs would be too high part of the time.)

The two things you really can do to compensate for your height / minimize any issues posed by it (1) are erect posture -- if you stand up straight and square your shoulders you'll be perceived as someone with "normal" height, i.e. most people won't notice that you are short, it just won't register with them. If you were to ASK them -- is that guy short -- they'd think about it for a second and say yes, I suppose he is -- but if they weren't asked and didn't consciously concentrate on assessing your height, they'll just think of you as "normal." However, if you slump your shoulders you'll be seen as "short" or "small." The other thing you can do is (2) accept that you are short. It's how God made you, it's not a big deal, everyone is different and has an assortment of strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you won't play in the NBA but you will always have plenty of legroom during car rides and airplane flights.
 
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DapperPhilly

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I believe once upon a time the rule was cuffs only with pleated pants.

Also, while discussing the break is a great topic the reality is the break moves with us as do
the waist of our slacks. In other words while standing perfectly still at the tailor and directing
where we want the break is not where it will be when we are out and about.
 

Despos

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The taper of the leg from thigh to knee to hem, the silhouette, will do more to accentuate height or have a diminishing effect on height.
Cuffs can work if the other proportions are in balance. Circumference of the bottom in relation to your shoe and getting the appropriate length that balances the width and how it sits or your shoe will get you best results.
Best result is everything just looks right and doesn't draw attention by looking awkwardly out of sync.
 

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