The Men’s Trouser Style Guide

Men’s Trouser

The men’s trouser, pants or whatever you prefer to call them are a staple in the wardrobe.

These days, you have your pick of a number of different styles which can take you from professional, to business casual, to that informal function after work. 

When we use the term “trousers” it usually refers to garments that have been tailored with a fitted waistline, zipper (or buttons) and pockets. The term “pants” is widely used but is more broad – it may include trousers, but also items such as breeches, sweatpants or jeans. People often interchangeably use the terms, such as by saying “dress pants” or “dress trousers.”

Here we’ve created a quick guide to men’s trousers – take your pick from the different styles:

Bonus download: How to buy trousers

A brief history of trousers

Trousers have an interesting history. Some ancient artifacts, such as pottery, show that cultures throughout ancient Asia, the Middle East and the Amazon wore trousers, particularly as they were more comfortable and practical for riding a horse.

The Greeks and Romans however, snubbed trousers, looking upon their wearers as ridiculous and “unmanly”. To them, civilized people wore tunics. As the Roman Empire spread, however, trousers saw a surge in popularity. Their warmth and practicality, especially for horseback riding and in colder, northern climates were undeniable.

Trousers were initially a military garment and saw several changes with fashions between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries, including fitted and more “pantaloon” styles. The styles more like what we wear today were first seen in the nineteenth century – looser fit with a button fly and worn in neutral colors. Edward VII was a trendsetter for wearing trousers similar to how we know them today.

men's trouser

King Edward VII (L) with Kaiser Wilhelm II c. 1908 – WikiCommons

Modern trouser styles

There are now many different styles of trousers that can suit a range of occasions, formal or otherwise. If you have a selection of different styles in your own wardrobe, you’ll be prepared for anything. Our key factors for looking good in trousers:

  1. That the trousers are appropriate for the occasion.
  2. That they have been tailored for a proper fit to your body type and preferences.
  3. Coordinate your selections with matching accessories in colors, textures and weight to create an outfit that looks great in the setting in which it is to be worn.


Special Offer: Bring in an outdated trouser and receive a $20.00 credit towards a new pair in the model of your choice.* 

*Limit one per family.

Here are a few top picks:

The wool trouser

Worn in a year-round weight, the wool trouser will be wrinkle-free, breathable and a traditional choice for business-wear. It is a versatile choice in that you can pair them with a matching suit jacket, or choose tailored separates for a more “business casual” look.

The wool trouser is available in different styles to accommodate various body types and preferences. Some examples include a pleated, traditional fit, plain front with a traditional fit and plain front with a slim fit.

What’s the difference between the pleated and the plain front? Well, as it sounds, the plain front trousers are flat in the front and do not have a pleat. Interestingly, this style dates back to wartime rationing, when the pleated pant was considered extravagant due to the extra fabric required to achieve the look. Since then, there has often been debate about whether pleated or plain is better.

Our answer? It depends upon your own preferences and what looks good on you! For example, if you are very tall and thin, plain front may be a better option for you because the pleated trousers can appear to balloon around the waist. It’s about fit and proportion.

Wool trousers are a versatile option for business and business travel Click To Tweet

men's trouser

Traditional fit, double-reversed pleat

Casual(er) slacks

If you’re dressing for business casual, a less formal occasion, date night or any other event where you need to look well-dressed but not overdone, then a more casual style of slacks will be well-suited to the occasion.

These may be in cotton, a cotton/stretch blend or pattern or even a wool blend. When we define slacks, we usually mean pants that are not jeans, khakis or chinos, but that make you look slightly more dressed up.

You will find different styles, colors, textures and weights. A few examples include; tailored trousers in a patterned fabric, Brax Kapok cotton stretch, relaxed leg trousers (a Levi’s 501-type cut) and linen blends (especially good for warm weather). 

As always, your style should be determined by fit – relaxed leg trousers tend to look better if you can get away with a slimmer fit on top, for example.

men's trouser

Brax Kapok trousers

Weekend casual wear 

The field is wide open in terms of styles, fabrics and colors for weekend casual wear pants. Here are a few options which lend both style and comfort to your wardrobe:

Jeans

Different cuts and styles of jeans will suit different body types. You’ll find fits in skinny, slim, regular, relaxed and loose cuts. You might go for classic denim, colors or even corduroys for winter. 

In some workplaces now, jeans are acceptable wear for a smart casual dress code. If yours is one of them, we’d recommend a darker wash for a tidier look.

Here are some examples from our catalog – you can get any of these adjusted to fit:

men's trouser

Chinos and khakis

Chinos and khakis are classic wardrobe staples for casualwear. What’s the difference? It’s based on origin and construction. Khakis originated as part of British military uniforms in 19th century India. They are made from a cotton twill. Stitching and pockets are visible on khakis, which is one way to tell them apart from chinos.

Chinos are a version of khakis that were made in China for soldiers in the Philippines during the Spanish-American war. The stitching and pockets are hidden, they tend to be more lightweight and cut to a slimmer fit than khakis. Chinos always have flat fronts, whereas khakis may be flat or pleated.

If you’re choosing between the two for a more formal look, we’d go for the chinos. Below are a couple of examples from our catalog:

men's trouser
Free download: How to buy your trousers

Final thoughts

Every man’s wardrobe should have a selection of these different types of trousers to be prepared for formal or informal wear. Consider different weights for the seasons and branching out with colors or patterns where you can.

The most important thing for looking good in business or casualwear is the fit of the trousers. Look for cuts that are flattering to your body type and fit you well. Your tailor will be happy to help you get the best look for your tastes and body type.