Have you ever watched a man trip over his own pants?
Pants too long that result in pools of fabric bunching over your shoes makes you look sloppy.
On the other hand – cropping your pants too short makes you look like a school boy wearing capris.
Paying attention to where your trousers breaks is the difference between an outfit that sings and one that looks like borrowed clothing.
The break of a trouser refers to the point where your pants touch your shoe.
What makes it so important to your overall outfit?
The trouser break affects the length of your trousers and your overall appearance.
A short break makes a shorter man appear taller and a full break on trousers for tall men makes their body look more proportional.
High quality dress trousers are sold unhemmed (you can often get them adjusted RIGHT in the store).
The expectation is that a man will take the trousers to a tailor for personal adjustment!
Find the look that works for your style and your professional needs and be clear with your tailor about what you want.
Below is a quick image overview – click here for a FULL infographic on how a suit should fit.
Types of Trouser Break
There are three basic ways for a man’s trousers to “break,” or rest at the bottom: no-break, half-break, and full-break. The appearance is determined by the length of the trouser legs and the shape of the ankle openings.
Trousers With No Break
This is the cleanest look. It’s good for short men – who lose some visual height if a break cuts them off at the ankles. It also suits men who deliberately seek a ramrod-straight, crisply-starched kind of self-presentation.
Trousers without a break barely rest on the top of the shoes.
They are often cut with a slightly angled opening that’s lower in the back than the front. The tops of most shoes are closer to your ankle than the support in the rear, and the trouser should be brushing the shoe all the way around.
The biggest danger with this style is that it’s easy to hike your trousers too high and expose too much of your socks.
Be careful of where you are wearing your trousers if you’re trying for the no-break look! Too high and your dress pants turn into ankle-hugging floods.
Trousers With Half-break
You’ll also hear this style called a “medium break.”
It’s the traditional standard for dress trousers. A single horizontal fold that dips across the front of your ankle.
The hem of the trousers rests lightly on the top of the shoe in front and covers the highest point of the shoe leather in the back.
A half-break is comfortable, conservative, and inoffensive in all settings. If you want to play it safe – have all your trouser hems tailored to a half-break.
The only disadvantage of this style is how universal it’s become. If you’ve got a pair of flashy pants that you want to show off, half-break doesn’t really add anything or draw the eyes.
That’s not always a bad thing – so a half break is a solid option for most men’s trouser needs.
Trousers With Full Break
A “full break” means a fold that runs all the way around the leg.
There may be smaller folds above or below it as well, and the cloth is resting firmly on the top of the shoe. Socks and the opening of the shoe are typically hidden.
This is a tough one to pull off well!
It’s a very short step from “full break” to just looking like you forgot to have your trousers hemmed.
It’s usually best left for very tall men – whose legs make the extra folds seem smaller and more appropriately-sized – or for looser trousers in a casual material like corduroy or denim.
Blue jeans are often worn with a full break these days. It looks a little sloppy, so if that’s the point go for it, but be aware of what you’re doing.
A full break generally shouldn’t be worn unless the rest of your outfit is also a little aggressively casual.
Exceptions to the Rule
Jeans, as we just mentioned, tend to have more of a break than other trousers.
That’s because a good pair of jeans is made with thick enough denim that a longer leg won’t bunch up into lots of wrinkles the way that light cotton or wool would.
Trousers with a cuff on them also break slightly differently than trousers without. A big break and a cuff looks silly – and unnecessary as the cuff is hidden under the excess fabric.
Cuffed trousers should just brush the shoe without creating any large creases. Iron a good firm crease into them and they’ll rest in a nice pointed shape that looks just as good as an uncuffed pair’s break.
There’s a certain amount of fashion that goes into the trouser break – bigger, more defined breaks might be trendily mussed one season, and crisp-fronted ankles with no break at all the next. Avoid following the fad of the moment.
Fashion trends change but the length of your legs will remain the same.
Never purchase trousers or jeans without making necessary alterations. All ready-made clothing stores offer a free service to adjust the length for you within a day. The patience of waiting an extra day will make a huge difference to the fit of the trousers.