When people think of a well-fitting suit there may be images of a perfect chest and shoulders, and something that well... fits. The length of the trousers may not immediately pop into their mind, but how much the pants crease (break) at the bottom of the hem will make or break a suit. The break has a more visible impact on the look of the fit than almost any other aspect. It’s also one of the easiest options to get tailored. A lot goes into the decision of how a man wants the trousers to break: where is he going to be wearing this suit? what kind of message does he want to give others? is he slim, large, tall, short? All of these things will have a factor to play in the decision making process when getting a pair of pants.
So, what is the proper amount of trouser break? Nobody wants their trousers to pool at the ankle in a bundle, but we don’t want to look like we just walked through a flood either. Those are the extremes, but there are plenty of acceptable and stylish in-betweens. Today we’ll focus on the full break, half break, and no break.
A full break is where the hem of the pants in the back reaches down to the top of the heel. This creates a more casual look, but it can also create a look of sloppiness or an un-tailored appearance as well. It's basically one step from having them pool at the bottom of the shoes or having them long enough that they're stepped on while walking.
Unless a client is already wearing a full break and loves it, we generally discourage it. However, it can be worn confidently and may look good on some men. Guys whose proportions are tall and lanky can benefit from having a full break. It helps add some visual weight around the ankles and the horizontal lines can break up the overall impression of excessive height and skinniness. On a side note, this may not be the best for dress trousers, but looks great with chinos or jeans. Especially since those styles of pants give the option to roll them up to your preference.
A half break is exactly what it sounds like. It’s halfway between a full and no break. The hem of the trouser should reach to midway between the top of the heel and the top of the shoe. This will create a crease in the front of the pants, but it won’t be as dramatic as the full break. It adds an extra dimension to the trouser.
A half break is arguably the most conservative and timeless option as it rests safely between any extremes.
This would be on the fashion forward end of the trouser break spectrum. When standing, a proper no break should end just barely below the top of the shoe or just barely above it, so as to not cause any wrinkling. This gives a clean, finished appearance and is more flattering the smaller the opening is at the ankle. Wider pants will look like floods without a break, whereas slimmer alternatives can appear more youthful and rakish.
While opting for no break is the current style, it's not something we recommend lightly. It can be difficult to pull off and is more likely to fall out of favor in the next few years. Consider it an option for the times when being a bit more fashionable than stylish is appropriate - dates, drinks out with friends, after-work functions, etc. For formal and business scenarios we recommend the half break.
The right or wrong break can make or break (heh heh) a pair of trousers. Experiment (it is very easy to fix) and figure out exactly what works for you and you're one step farther on your road to sartorial greatness.
As always, style rules are written in pencil, not ink. Play around with it, be daring, show some personality, and discover your own style.
To your style,
P.S. If you want daily updates of new styles, client shots, and overall style goodness, follow us on Instagram.
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An interview with Kevin Salsbury, shop manager of Beckett & Robb, Denver, about the changing world of custom tailored suits for the men of Denver, Colorado.
What's your background in menswear?
My background in menswear has been in men's tailored clothing, with an emphasis with luxury brands, most of which were European. My personal drive...
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When it came time for us to consider adding eyewear to our product mix, we decided to defer to another brand for their expertise.