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Jeans and trousers

How long should my trousers be?

How long should my trousers be?

Making trousers look good should be simple. There aren’t that many different options. They tend towards muted colours and patterns. And, unlike t-shirts and jumpers and jackets, there’s no complicated layering to worry about. Just pull a clean pair on and off you go.

Of course, reality isn’t quite as neat as theory, and that’s largely down to fit. Part width, part length, fit is the difference between a pair of chinos that look sloppy, and a pair that look like you had them made by a tailor. Exactly how you deal with where fabric meets footwear is a matter of personal taste and individual style, but there are some guidelines that work for most men, most of the time. Consider this a crib sheet to the three most common trousers, with the three shoes you’ll wear most often. Then experiment to find the fit that’s best for you.

Smart trousers

How long smart trousers should be

Brogues: “They should kiss the top of your shoe,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. Traditionally, you’d have a single ‘break’ – that’s a small crease in the fabric next to your shin, with the trouser cuff resting on your laces.

Trainers: Stick to the same approach as with your brogues – resting lightly on your shoes, with a single break.

Boots: If you’re wearing boots, it should be obvious. A slightly higher cuff – around the ankle bone – will show them off. Use hemming web for a quick fix, rather than taking them to a tailor.

Leeway: An inch either way. Longer is more classic, shorter more modern. “But whatever you do, it should look deliberate,” says Freddie. “You don’t want lots of fabric puddling on your shoes.”

Stylist tip: “Slim trousers look better short, wider trousers are good with a break,” says Freddie. “You need that extra material to get a nice fold. Otherwise your trousers just bunch up.”


How long chinos should be

Brogues: Resting on the top of your shoe, with no break.

Trainers: The same as with brogues. If you can see some sock when you walk, that’s no bad thing.

Boots: Roll them to show off your boots. A couple of inches or so below the top of your boots is good.

Leeway: An inch-and-a-half, but only shorter. “Chinos don’t look as good with a break,” says Freddie. “The fabric is quite casual so it can look messy rather than refined.”

Stylist tip: “Get a chino that tapers in at the ankle,” says Freddie. “They should be slimmer than your suit trousers. That way, the fabric doesn’t sway at the bottom.”


How long jeans should be

Brogues: Sitting just above your shoes, to reveal a sliver of sock.

Trainers: A touch higher, so there’s a little more sock on shoe. With straight legs, they should just kiss the tongue and heel tab.

Boots: Cuff them to around the some height as you did with your chinos. It should look rough and ready, rather than too primped.

Leeway: More than chinos, particularly if the fit is slim. “They can sit on your shoes with a little bit of bunching,” says Freddie, “but they also look great rolled up above your ankle.”

Stylist tip: “Smart shoes should always be with slimmer jeans,” says Freddie. “If you have a lot of fabric puddling on your brogues, it never looks good.”