If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times – slacks and dress pants are two VERY different garments.
They have entirely different fits, styles, and functions.
I know a lot of guys just they're interchangeable – they're both trousers, right? They've both got pockets, belt loops, and legs.
Sure – but a Ferrari and a Ford Corrola both have 4 wheels, a trunk, and a steering wheel. Are you telling me they're the same thing too?
You want to be the Ferrari, not the Corolla – so you need to know the basic rules of fit, fabric, and function when it comes to your pants! This is men's style 101, gents.
As ever, it’s my mission to help you look like the best-dressed man in the room, which is why I’m setting the record straight once and for all.
In this definitive style guide, we’ll explore:
- The Differences Between Slacks And Dress Pants
- Top Styling Tips For Slacks And Dress Pants
- Your Lifestyle – Which Style of Trousers Is Best For You?
#1. The Differences Between Slacks and Dress Pants
The most significant differences between slacks and dress pants are in their fit, fabric, and function.
Like any other trouser style, both slacks and dress pants have distinct features. I‘d go as far as to say that they contrast in many different ways.
Slacks Vs. Dress Pants: Differences In Fit
What does ‘slack’ mean? Loose, right?
Coincidence? I think not.
Slacks are loose-fitting trousers designed to fall baggier on the leg.
Dress pants, on the other hand, can be tighter. Often, they feature a slim design that hugs the thigh to match the tailored silhouette of a formal suit.
Slacks Vs. Dress Pants: Differences In Fabric
The contrasting construction of slacks vs. dress pants is a result of fabric.
Slacks are usually made of heavier materials like wool or corduroy. This makes them an excellent option for colder weather or when comfort is a high priority.
Their heavier construction makes the looser fit essential. A tight-fitting garment made from wool or corduroy would become a sweat disaster! Your skin would have no room to breathe.
Dress pants are lighter in construction and material. In general, this style of trouser is made from either:
- A Polyester-cotton mix
This lighter construction means that dress pants can be slimmer in fit. The thinner/more breathable materials are less likely to cause excessive sweat.
Slacks Vs. Dress Pants: Differences In Function
As with any garment in a man’s wardrobe – slacks and dress pants have unique functions.
Slacks are more informal in their cut and fabric. Wear them in casual/smart-casual environments where a slim silhouette isn’t required. Outdoor fun, family meals, and gatherings are great examples of slack-appropriate events.
Dress pants, on the other hand, are more formal. As the name suggests, they suit ‘dressier’ situations where formality is the priority. Wear dress pants at the office, to weddings, or on a trip to an upscale restaurant.
#2. Top Styling Tips For Slacks and Dress Pants
Dress pants and slacks can be styled very differently. As a result of their differing cuts, fabrics, and formality, a man can wear them in very contrasting ways.
When deciding what to wear with these different styles of pants, you must consider WHY you are wearing them. What occasion are you attending? Are you opting for comfort or a sharp silhouette?
When wearing slacks, a man can sport a more casual style. The looser fit of slacks is similar to that of straight-cut jeans – not too baggy but not too tight.
The critical thing to remember is not to wear anything skinny/oversized on your top half. This will either make your legs and rear look huge in comparison or make you appear fatter than you are.
Instead, pair your slacks with regular fit clothing. For example:
- Light-brown corduroy slacks with a brown belt
- A light blue Oxford shirt
- A brown leather strap timepiece
- Brogue Oxford or Derby shoes in brown
- A navy wool sports coat
Dress pants are more formal than slacks, so a slimmer silhouette is often required when wearing them.
I’m not saying you should go skinny-fit all over. However, it’s essential to ensure that the fit of your dress pants matches the fit of your overall outfit.
Wearing slim-fit dress pants with an oversized shirt will make you look much fatter than you are, so be careful!
Create an outfit with a slim silhouette. For example:
- Charcoal gray, cotton dress pants with a black belt
- A crisp, white poplin shirt
- A slim navy and burnt orange tie in a design of your choice
- A navy cotton blazer with a burnt orange pocket square
- Black leather Chelsea boots to finish
#3. Your Lifestyle – Which Style Of Trousers Is Best For You?
Slacks vs. Dress pants – which one wins in your books?
At the end of the day, it’s hard to compare them. They serve entirely different purposes and suit completely different situations.
So what’s the answer? Choose the pants that are right for your lifestyle.
You need to figure out the sort of guy you are.
The Family Man
If you consider yourself a family man, chances are a pair of slacks will serve you well.
A stylish man at home with his kids needs a flexible and durable wardrobe. Kids are messy; dogs get mud everywhere; DIY is risky.
That’s why a solid pair of slacks is your best bet. Tough corduroy will withstand a heck of a lot of punishment and is often machine washable. This makes them the perfect pant option for guys who want to spend time with their kids playing ball in the yard.
The high-powered businessman has no time for slacks. They’re too baggy, thick, and don’t look professional enough. He should opt for a pair of quality dress pants.
For a man that needs to dress to impress daily, dress pants offer a great alternative to suit trousers. Paired with a well-tailored blazer, dress pants offer the well-cut look of a formal suit.
Sure, when the businessman gets home, he might throw on something a bit comfier. But when at work, he needs to look like a million bucks in a pair of quality dress pants.
The Handy Man
Not all men work in an office. Dress pants won’t last long on a building site.
For the man who needs durable but professional trousers, woolen slacks are best. Should you build a house wearing these? Absolutely not.
However, during a promotion meeting with the foreman, a pair of woolen slacks will serve you well. They present a professional appearance without looking too ‘business.’
Slacks vs. dress pants – which is the winner? The answer’s pretty simple – both of them. Trousers are never one type fits all! A man needs to assess his own needs and lifestyle to make the right choice.
In short, the decision is yours to make. Click here for an outfit guide to help you boost your style even further