The Buyers Guide to Men’s Trouser Lengths

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Ever wondered, how long should dress pants be, can I wear cropped trousers or what are mens culottes? Don’t worry we at The Idle Man have got you covered.

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Deciding what pants length works best for you is based on an entirely personal preference. Get it right and you’ll be the sharpest man around, but fail and you’ll risk looking like a wardrobe novice. The most important thing to take note is the fit, regardless of style or colour. This can be carried out through trouser alterations, tailored to your exact measurements from leg length, waist width or trouser volume. Want to find out exactly what this all means? Look to our complete guide on the men’s trouser lengths you should be styling right now.

The Suit Pant Length

In the spirit of classic menswear suit tailoring has been championed for hundreds of years. Today it’s more commonly found on the streets rather than solely confined in the boardroom, and that means a modern update to the styles you may have been used to. How long should dress pants be you ask, well there are different rules to your suit pant length that need to be looked at depending on the occasion.

What has remained is the essence of the sharply cut tailored trouser, and there are rules in this domain in which you should abide. Traditional tailoring guidelines allow one break at the front of your suit trousers and straight down at the back, ensuring that the hem falls just above the heel, thus maintaining it’s immaculate silhouette.

However that emphasis on length has evolved over time, trousers have become skinnier and suits cut closer to the body ensuring a style that sits higher up on the shoe, with the material breaking at a much shorter length. One way to rectify this is to opt for trousers that fall with a smaller half break or in fact no break pants, meaning you’ll own a style that incorporates both the old and the new.

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Of course climate takes ownership when deciding on a suit trouser length, and seasonally the summer months tend to call for a shorter leg length. This gives you ample opportunity to show off a bold statement sock or a great pair of shoes. Bear in mind that if you do choose a half or no break pair of trousers, they should be slim-fitting to maintain a streamlined silhouette. For those slim guys out there it’s an ideal suit alternative for any occasion.

On a side note remember to always maintain your trousers in the best possible condition by regularly ironing or pressing them with a vertical crease down the pant leg. The line should be crisp, exact and firmly folded to ensure a perfect finish.

Style Notes

• Choose a slim trouser if opting for a half or no break style
• If you want to maintain tradition choose a pair of trousers with one break
• Experiment with a statement pair or socks or shoes for cropped lengths
• Shorter leg lengths work best during the spring and summer months
• No matter what the length always iron your trousers

Cropped Trouser Length

The ever-popular cropped trouser variation has fallen into favour over the past few years, and once again its bang on trend this season. For the style-driven gentleman this leg length provides an ideal alternative to the rigid suit trouser, allowing for a little outfit experimentation to stand out from the crowd. For others it’s simply a go-to trouser length for when the weather gets a touch warmer, and provides a safeguard from being forced into wearing a pair of shorts, and most likely an accompanying pair of sandals.

The cropped trouser length can be a tricky one to master. If you’re tall it’s perfect, but if you’re somewhat stocky this style enters grey territory. By cropping the trouser it effectively crops the leg, so if you already have pretty short legs this won’t do you any favours. However if you are lucky enough to be six-foot-tall then the cropped trouser market is your playground.

Cropped trouser lenght outfit grid
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Cropping basically reduces the amount of material gathering at the ankle, and in turn gives the wearer free reign to show off a pair of shoes, socks or indeed the ankle itself. You’ll rarely see this style being worn in the office as it can come across as a little too informal, but for creative types the cropped trouser is a better alternative to rolling the hem of the trouser, and can be paired with a stylish blazer or suit jacket depending on the occasion.

Arriving in trouser or chino styles, a cropped trouser length can accompany a luxe pair of leather loafers and instantly balances the formal and informal pendulum when dressing in summer. A classic pair of cropped trousers should be slim from the top to the bottom, and in the majority of cases requires a slim build.

If you can carry off the look then don’t be afraid to crop above the standard leg length. Around ankle height suits the majority of shoe silhouettes, but if you want to mix things up, like a pair of boots with cropped pleated trousers for example, then go for it.

Style Notes

• Cropped lengths are an ideal alternative to the suit trouser
• Wear in summer with a pair of loafers
• Alternate between a formal trouser style or a more casual chino
• The silhouette should be slim from the top to the bottom

The Ankle Roll

Though similar to the cropped style, the art of rolling the trouser hem allows the wearer the freedom to alternate the length however they would like on any given day. Aptly nicknamed the ‘pinroll’, it’s a technique devised to show off what could be a latest shoe purchase, or in fact just a way to warn off heat or cold.

It’s one of the most casual approaches to wearing a pair of trousers, and it’s a style that can work with the majority of what’s in your wardrobe already, such a blazer, white starched shirt, a simple t-shirt or a layered knitwear jumper. And of course footwear can come into play, rock the ankle roll with a pair of boots, a trainer alternative or a pair of loafers.

outfit grid pinroll
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If you do choose an ankle roll trouser style for more formal occasions then it’s best to introduce it during the summer months. Try coordinating them with an unstructured lightweight jacket in linen or cotton; this style would look particularly great in shades of khaki, beige and white.

Thanks to many of the menswear brands catching on to this understated style trick the ankle roll trouser now comes with varying trims and finishes and brightly coloured lining, all of which can be showcased as the trouser hem is revealed. This works particularly well with denim, especially if you’re one of those guys who love to mix up dark and light washes when it comes to wearing jeans in the summer.


Be wary of creating too much of a break between the ankle and the trouser roll. Footwear that is slightly higher or chunkier, in terms of sole or general construction, will benefit from a roll that sits closer to the shoe. If you decide on a slimmer footwear style then you can experiment with the length, rolling the trouser length up higher might in fact benefit the flow from the trouser to the shoe. Effectively it’s all about getting the balance just right without manipulating your physique.

Style Notes

• Ankle roll trousers give you the option to alternate the length, unlike cropped or suit trousers
• Try mixing things up by styling them with a lightweight jacket
• Denim ankle cuffs are ideal for showcasing contrast jean washes
• Avoid rolling too high up the leg if you’re wearing a chunkier shoe

Culottes

If you’re brave enough to don a pair of culottes then you’re probably a style maverick at heart. Culottes are a tricky trouser length to pull off, even for the most ardent of trendsetters, but when you get them right they can elevate any outfit from drab to dapper.

Typically associated with streetwear, culottes are making a comeback. For those willing to tread the androgynous terrain they’re a perfect wardrobe staple for coordinating with a classically tailored blazer, or to dress down with a bomber jacket and a pair of high-tops.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Elle UK

Save this style if you’re naturally tall as the sheer volume of the culotte trouser can easily overwhelm a shorter frame. The trick is to dress in layers, perhaps an oversized t-shirt underneath a crew neck jumper, or a longline white-collared shirt with a sharp blazer. It’s all about creating that minimal aesthetic when deciding to style a pair of culottes.

To maintain the streamlined look choose footwear with both comfort and style in mind. The slip-on leather loafer is a popular choice, and anything with a white sole is an ideal accompaniment for a pair of black culottes.

Style Notes

• Only opt for culottes if you are naturally tall
• Coordinate with a tailored blazer for formal events, or a bomber jacket for casual everyday wear
• Layer with longline pieces to counterbalance the cropped nature of the culotte trouser
• It’s all about creating an overall minimal aesthetic

Harem Trousers

Another style falling in favour with streetwear brands is the sporty harem trouser, sometimes additionally noted as the ‘drop-crotch pant’. This style has been a favourite for budding street style stars the world over as it provides a more polished alternative to the casual sweatpant.

Harem trousers are typically over exaggerated in volume, with material that pleats from waist to just above the ankle and normally tapers down to a skinny leg. There are of course different silhouettes; sometimes the harem pleat can be higher up on the leg, giving just a slight amount of volume, other times it’s fully realised – which can be incredibly tricky to pull off.

outfit grid men harem
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

Harem trousers are a great summer staple piece as they allow ease of movement in warmer weather and can be paired seamlessly with sandals. For sportier pursuits why not pair them with a crisp white pair of high-top trainers and style with a t-shirt and hoodie.

The majority of harem styles usually come with either a drawstring or an elasticated waist, but additional hardware such as zippered leg enclosures as well as even more draped fabric are also on offer.

Style Notes

• To dress down why not pair with high-tops and a hoodie?
• Ideal for the summer season when styled with sandals
• Avoid the harem style if you find it difficult to wear volume
• Wear as an alternative to the sporty sweat pant

Your Quick Guide to Mens Trouser Lengths

  • Be adventurous with your trouser length, don’t just stick to the boring no break trousers
  • Check the occasion you are going to, sometime a simple trouser is a must
  • When you get into the realms of ankles on show, invest in some good quality socks
  • Shorts are for the summer – period
  • Harem and Culottes are very fashion forward, however if you have more athletic thighs these might not be for you
  • Pin rolls and turn-ups are your best friends when it comes to quick length adjustments

On That Note…

What have you learned from our complete guide to men’s trouser lengths? To reiterate, it’s all about the fit and knowing what suits your body. Sometimes a style you like may not be the best option for your physique, so instead try an alternative.

When you’re opting for pair of classically tailored suit trousers remember the full, half or no break rule. One break is traditionally associated with classic suit trousers, but for a more modern update choose a slightly cropped version with a half or no break so the hem skims the top of the shoe. Invest in a tailor to custom fit your clothing for you.

Avoid cropped trousers if you’re already short as this style will instantly crop your physique. If you insist on wearing the cropped trouser then enjoy the benefits of being able to show a little personality with a pair of statement shoes and socks.

Pin rolling your trousers – more commonly known as ‘ankle rolling’ is a great medium between the suit and cropped silhouette, giving you free reign to alternate the length of your trouser depending on the given situation.

For the fashion-conscious shopper wearing either a culotte or harem style can be a big risk, but can also reap great benefits. Individually their trouser lengths will make you stand out from the crowd, but avoid at all cost if you fail in the height department. And remember to keep it minimal.

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