Talkin’ Pants

by Michael on June 16, 2009 · 0 comments

Two weeks ago we looked at the shirt you’re wearing, and determined that you need a new one. (Play along with me here.) This time we’re going to focus on what covers your nether regions.

I’m assuming you already know that women generally can’t stand tighty-whiteys, and I can’t say I blame them – out of your entire closet there’s no item that can remind a girl of grade school than standard-issue white briefs. And unless your partner is into that, it’s a much safer bet to go with boxers, or if you need that support, the modern breakthrough of boxer briefs. And please consider a color other than white: while you may practice impeccable hygiene, accidents do happen.

When you kick ass like Rex, you can wear these pants. Bow to your sensei.

When you kick ass like Rex, you can wear these pants. Bow to your sensei.

Um…so, how about those Sox, huh?

Moving on quickly, let me look through the screen and guess what you’re wearing. It’s mid-June, so there are probably equal parts jeans, khakis (for those surfing at work) and cargo shorts (probably in khaki). They’re comfy, they’ve got plenty of pockets, you fit in with the other guys, and you know what size and brand you like. They’re easy.

But when it’s time to go on that date, or get out somewhere other than a sportsbar, what do you do? Something other than cycle the same stuff you’re wearing when you’re sitting around reading blogs, that’s what. As part of the right ensemble, Levi’s 501s or flat-front (always flat-front, no pleats until you’re 60 or so) khakis can integrate nicely, but until you’re good at pulling together something that can be called “a look,” it helps to have a bit more in your arsenal.

The kindest cut

As with shirts, there’s a wide variety of fabrics, styles, and cuts. The first thing to determine is the cut – it’s what flatters your body type. A linebacker squeezed into “skinny” designer jeans is not a pretty sight, even if dude plays for the Steelers. Especially if he plays for the Steelers. And for God’s sake guys, pull up your damn pants. Especially you larger men. With your crotch at your kneecaps you look like a Muppet, and you’re not fooling anyone vis-a-vis the size of your junk.

Really, the rule of thumb is the thinner and taller you are, the slimmer the fit you want – if you’re super bony you might want a bit of extra fabric, though, or consider starting a workout plan. Larger men can avoid the “sausage casing” look by choosing a looser fit, while staying away from the baggy look. Never, ever, let your pants sag at the bottom.

Legs can be tapered, straight or “boot cut.” A tapered leg is difficult to wear, and virtually impossible in jeans: even the professional model photos here look kind of iffy. The vast majority of guys will look good in a straight leg or boot cut, and the latter will cover for those of us with thin calves (the most difficult part of the body to build). Skinny jeans are for demonstrating just how starving an artist you really are.

A word about waistlines: 90 percent of men need to wear their pants at or just below their natural waistline (the old rule about dress pants fitting at the bellybutton is just that: old). Invest in a couple of belts to keep them there. Some men can pull off the low-rise look, but that look usually requires two things: a thin, tall or athletic build, and either hips or a butt to keep them from sliding south. As a general rule, the shorter your legs, the higher the waist, to make your legs look longer.

Material issue

But if not khakis and jeans, then what? One suggestion for a casual-but-not-too-dressy pant is a pair of cords. Just make sure to pick a tight (narrow) wale (that means the “stripes” of the corduroy are thin and close together) – a looser (wider) wale is a bit like a flared leg in that it goes in and out of style quickly while the tighter version is more or less perennial.

For winter, wool pants can be warm and comfortable, and for all seasons you can find variations on chinos in different colors and patterns. Designer jeans can be pricey, but they do fit well and for younger men who can accessorize, you can go just about anywhere there isn’t a dress code.

Mix and match

For a starter wardrobe, I’d recommend buying two or three pairs of pants, nothing crazy, one in a dark color and one in a lighter hue, maybe one with a light pinstripe. That way you have a pair to contrast with various colors of shirts. As always, try several different brands and styles (remembering flat fronts only), and if you can bring along a female friend to give you an opinion, that’s even better. I understand you may not like to shop, but this is an investment you’re making.

Once you’re comfortable trying on pants and know better what you can pull off, you can start trying patterns (for slacks) and different types of washes (for jeans). Try and have fun with it.

When you get your first non-sarcastic “nice pants,” it will be worth it.

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