It’s all too easy to get stuck in a style rut when it comes to trousers. Jeans, chinos and suit trousers are the three garments that make up most men’s legwear rotations, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t hurt to throw in the odd curveball here and there to keep things fresh and interesting.
Thankfully, there’s no shortage of options. Modern menswear has a trouser style to suit every budget, taste and occasion. So, this considered, here are the key types of pants you should have hanging in your wardrobe.
As far as casual dressing goes, “if in doubt: slim jeans” is a pretty solid mantra to live by. Skinny-fit denim can make larger guys look top-heavy, while looser cuts leave short or skinny men drowning in fabric. Slim fit is the comfortable middle ground – a simple, flattering cut that looks good on anyone.
The best thing about this style is that, really, anything goes when it comes to your outfit. Try pairing with a gilet, flannel shirt and suede boots during the colder half of the year. Or cuff the legs and go sockless with a plain white tee and your go-to trainers on warmer days. When the evening rolls in, simply throw on a lightweight jacket like a bomber or Harrington over the top.
Straight-leg jeans are another men’s style classic that just so happen to be on-trend at the moment. The rise of 1990s nostalgia and stonewash denim has seen traditional styles like the Levi’s 501 soaring in popularity once again. But don’t let the fact they’re trending put you off because straight-leg denim isn’t going anywhere. So long as you keep the wash plain and distressing to a minimum, it’s a cut you can keep coming back to season after season.
As it’s a slightly looser fit, styling straight-cut jeans is about creating a balance between your torso, legs and footwear. That means a skintight T-shirt and low-profile shoes aren’t going to work here. Instead, use layers on top to add depth and bulk, and opt for either a boot or a chunkier style of trainer for your feet. Then simply cuff or pinroll the hems to your desired length and you’re good to go.
Until very recently, pleats were almost exclusively found on the trousers of men over the age of 70. However, the loosening of silhouettes in menswear has seen this throwback style thrust back into the spotlight. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Pleated trousers allow for increased freedom of movement and the looser cut is much more comfortable than slimmer fitting alternatives.
Yet for all its plus points, it is a type of pant that’s notoriously tricky to pull off. Pleated trousers work well with relaxed tailoring so try wearing a light-coloured pair as separates with a navy, unstructured blazer, an Oxford shirt and a pair of black Derby shoes.
When winter rolls in and the mercury begins to plummet, men can find themselves limited in terms of options for keeping their legs warm. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you don’t want to squeeze yourself into a pair of long johns prior to putting your legwear on every morning. In which case, a set of wool trousers could be just what you’ve been looking for.
Technically speaking, wool trousers are classed as tailoring. But that doesn’t mean they should only be worn with a blazer and dress shoes. In fact, this type of pant is very versatile and can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. For a weekend-friendly option, wear with a roll neck or long-sleeved tee tucked in at the waist and top it off with a pair of canvas high-tops or leather trainers.
They may be something of an acquired taste, but if you can get yourself on board with a pair of wide-leg chinos, you’ll soon begin to see the benefits. This relaxed cut is about as comfortable as it gets and offers a simple way to add a contemporary touch to almost any outfit. They are a particularly nice option for the summer months as the added width makes them nice and breezy.
Unsurprisingly, wide-leg chinos are best worn as part of a laid-back, casual outfit. Unless you’re deliberately trying to look like a skateboarder from 2002, they should also always be cuffed above the ankle. Pair with other loose-fitting clothes, such as chore jackets, boxy T-shirts and hoodies and opt for simple, low-top trainers on foot.
For a more accessible option, look no further than the slim-leg chino. This timeless classic is nothing short of a wardrobe staple and is about as versatile as they come. The flattering shape lends itself to almost any type of casual or formal outfit and its cotton twill construction offers a level of comfort that’s difficult to replicate with denim.
Slim chinos are smart casual’s best friend. They’re smart enough to be worn with a shirt and blazer on Dress-Down Friday or in business casual offices, but relaxed enough to be teamed with trainers and a T-shirt come the weekend. The key is making sure the fit is just right. Always aim for a style with a mid rise and a slight taper to the leg.
Whether you’re on a long-haul flight, running errands at the weekend or just lounging about on the sofa, a pair of comfortable joggers is a must. Jersey joggers may not be the best option when it comes to working out, but when it comes to comfort, there’s nothing better.
Thanks to the rise of athleisure, your options for styling joggers are more varied than ever before. Why not team them with a plain crew-neck sweatshirt, adding in a pair of luxe leather trainers and an overcoat to smarten things up? High-low dressing at its finest.
On the flipside to traditional jersey joggers are these teched-out training trousers. Technical joggers may not be much good for incorporating into your day-to-day clothing rotation, but when it comes to putting the hours in at the gym or on the track, there’s nothing better suited.
In terms of styling, if you’re worrying about that during your workout then you’re not training hard enough. Instead, focus on materials and construction when selecting a pair to purchase. Keep an eye out for lightweight moisture-wicking fabrics, breathability and, of course, comfort.
After a long stint as one of menswear’s biggest faux pas, cargo trousers are finally enjoying a (stylish) revival. These multi-pocketed utility garments were once a surefire sign that a man had thrown in the sartorial towel, but with everyone from Brunello Cucinelli to Carhartt WIP now championing the look it seems as though cargos are officially cool once again.
It’s good news as far as we’re concerned. After all, they’re practical, comfortable and give you yet another string to your bow when it comes to legwear options. If you’re unsure of how to style them, try wearing with a knitted roll neck, wool overshirt and a pair of leather Chelsea boots.
We’re thankful every day that we were lucky enough to be alive at a time when suiting and leisurewear have begun to cross over. Principally because it’s now completely acceptable to turn up at a meeting or even a date wearing a pair of jogging bottoms. Well, provided they’re smart enough, that is.
Tailored joggers are what happened when designers combined all the best parts of the most comfortable trousers in your wardrobe, with the best parts of the least comfortable. The resulting garment is a pair of trews smart enough to be worn with tailoring, yet comfortable enough to do a full split. Wear with a Breton top, a bomber jacket and sleek, white leather trainers for a fail-safe, minimalist look.
No man’s wardrobe could possibly be considered complete without a selection of dress trousers. Whether for the office or strictly reserved for special occasions such as weddings, tailored trousers are an absolute must. When buying, take into account fabric, colour and fit. The first two of these points are subjective but the fit of your trousers is not.
The most important thing to consider is leg length. The hem of the leg should rest just above the shoe. Any longer and the fabric will bunch. Any less and you’ll be showing too much sock. The only exception to this rule are deliberately cropped trousers, which are designed to be worn sockless.