If you're out shopping for menswear, you'll probably see the offer: Buy a suit, get a second pair of matching trousers discounted.
Besides being a good sales tactic – there is a very good reason for buying a extra pair of trousers when you purchase a suit.
An extra pair of trousers can double the life expectancy of your suit.
It ensures you always have a pair of trousers that exactly match your jacket.
As that trousers are more likely to be ruined or wear out before a jacket, and time and wear can uniquely alter the color of even a solid colored 2-piece suit, this small investment at the time of purchase is a smart decision even if you only wear your suit a few times a year.
It's an old idea, for one thing — almost as old as the idea of a “suit” made from a jacket and matching trousers. When most men relied on tailors rather than stores for their suits, that was a typical way to buy them: two pairs of trousers, one jacket, all made from the same cloth.
The Wear & Tear Of Trousers
The reasoning behind the second pair of trousers option is this: a suit is only effective when both pieces are in good shape.
If one tears or fades, you don't have a suit anymore. You might still have a decent sports jacket, but that's a poor substitute — and a painful loss, with the price of bespoke tailoring.
Trousers are a heavy-wear part of your wardrobe. We beat our pants around and don't think much about it. The seams get stretched and flexed more than jackets, our weight rests on the seat of the pants; cuffs get dirty and wet. The trousers of a suit tend to wear out before the jacket.
Can good tailors, knowing this, make their trousers sturdier?
They do their best, but the material is still going to be the same for the jacket and the trousers, and there's only so much good stitching can do to extend the trousers' lifespan.
The Trouble With Replacement Trousers
Repairing your wardrobe can go a long way, as we've discussed here. You can keep your trousers alive if they suffer damage at the seams, and you can clean certain types of stains. But you're eventually going to lose a pair of trousers, and if it's the pair that goes with your matched suit you'll have lost an expensive investment.
Not that all jacket can't be recycled into sport jackets — some of my favorite sport jackets used to be suit jackets — but for the price of a tailored suit you want a wardrobe staple that's going to last you for many years.
And a suit made from a striped fabric is lost if the trousers are ruined – pin or chalk stripe jackets do not make smart sport jackets.
And even if you use a single regular tailor, you don't want to count on him having the same fabrics year after year. Suppliers, availability, and tastes all change quickly.
You need to anticipate the day you buy your suit is the last chance you'll get for matching the jacket and trousers perfectly in both color shade and pattern.
Even if your tailor has the same cloth when your pants tear a few years down the road, it won't be a perfect match anymore — sunlight, the stretching from regular wear, and especially cleaning fade the cloth.
The result is a one of kind set of garments – impossible to match even if a tailor has 5000 fabrics at his disposal. A brand-new pair of trousers in the similar but slightly off cloth will be a noticeable and unattractive mismatch. Throw in complicated patterns such as in the fabrics below and you'll find
Obviously, the fading issue means that you can't buy a second pair of trousers and stick it in the closet until the first pair rips. If you opt for a second set of trousers when buying a suit you'll want to alternate the pairs every time you wear the suit.
Dry cleaning has a fading effect, so be sure you're having both pairs cleaned at the same time even if one of the pairs appears not to be dirty.
Men certainly want to get a good deal for the price of tailored clothing. A good suit is a major investment.
We'd recommend keeping that second pair of trousers in mind when you're getting your next suit made — the extra 20-30% it adds to the price up front will pay off in a 100% extension of the suit's lifespan.