Trouser Break: Yes or No?

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One of the biggest debates I have with tailors when adjusting garments concerns the trouser break. In short: I don’t like them, tailors generally do.

My dislike of them stems from aesthetic considerations, whereas their support for a break is often a split between aestheticism and tradition; some tailors make an effort of describing why a break looks better, others simply shrug with resignation that they have been taught to cut trousers thus – anything that runs against this is either incorrect, sartorially repugnant or both.

The case for them is predicated on the aesthetic preference that the back of the trouser should touch the top of the heel; a trouser break is inevitable if this rule is adhered to. The case against them is, in my mind at least, based on maintaining the purity of the trouser leg; a break is an imperfection, an unattractive one at that, which could be avoided.

Other arguments for the break relate to the profile of the trouser on the shoe, which I can certainly appreciate; when a trouser has no breaks, the top of the shoe is not always covered and this can, if done badly, be unsightly. When a trouser has a fuller length allowing for a break, the top is covered.

However, other arguments against the break include the ‘fattening’ of the lower leg; the break makes the trouser look slightly wider at the break point which, if you are like me, is psychologically exaggerated when contemplating it in the mirror and is therefore enough of a reason to avoid breaks entirely.

However this is, as always, entirely personal. Most of my friends believe some of my trousers are too short. I believe their trousers are too long and their breaks too pronounced. It is also a matter of proportion. I think the wider the leg, the bigger the case for a break. Tapered trousers following the shape of the leg should end with little or no break; wider leg trousers on the other hand positively ‘swing’ above the shoe if they do not have a break. However, the break on wider-legs should be minimised as the possibility for lower leg ‘fattening’ is even greater.

Tradition is there for a reason; certain cuts of trouser do look better with a (slight) break. However, ‘tradition’ in the world of tailoring is a misleading term; the fluidity of trend and its influence on tailored clothing means that some ‘traditions’ end up being not only incorrectly, but also, unattractively applied.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. NJBenny says:

    I brought my pants to the tailor today. It’s my first time using a tailor. I prefer minimal breaks myself. I’ve never had pants look exactly the way I want them. Thats why I’ve joined this blog and others to finally learn to create the wardrobe I’ve always wanted.

  2. John. says:

    I personally prefer some break. I think that it looks particularly bad when one sits down and the trousers ride up so far. Even with a break there will be some sock when one crosses his legs. When there is no break, half the shin is exposed and I think it looks rather silly.

  3. John says:

    It seems to be fashionable at the moment among Styleforum devotees and the men’s clothing blogosphere to have little break, but that fashion will go the way of skinny ties in a few years. A decent break is the way to go and looks so much better when in full stride.

  4. James says:

    One does not wish to be seen as being in permanent mourning ie trousers flying at half mast. A moderate break is preferred by most. Perhaps you can get away with it with ‘skinny’ trousers – but one needs to be skinny in the first place (or a teenager) to wear these :-)

  5. Steve says:

    I’m with Winaton on this one.
    Wearing long socks will prevent shin exposure when crossing legs….

  6. Alexander says:

    I personally dislike anything more than a small break. To me a full break always just feels uncomfortably baggy around the shoe and brings back teenage memories of the backs of old jeans becoming muddied and frayed at the bottom.

    I much prefer to have a clean cut when standing and then flash a bit of colourful sock when sitting, even if it does sometimes draw comments of my trousers being too short for me.

  7. Juan Manuel says:

    When talking about trouser’s break I try to find a balance between the degre of formality I am looking, cloth weight, kind of shoes will be used and trouser’s width. As always is a matter of balance hadr to be achived.

  8. Neil S says:

    I find a break ruins the crease of the trouser, and in hot weather or after a long day, can reduce the crispness of the trouser to the shapeless form of tracksuit trousers. For wool however, it might add some character, and is inevitable on thicker fabrics where crispness is not always possible. On cotton however, creases look better than breaks.

    For such a small detail on for the most unambitious form of legwear in the modern wardrobe, tailors ought to follow the customer’s wishes rather than an ill defined tradition.

  9. David V says:

    “Full Break” is just name for not going to the tailor.

  10. AFJ says:

    Of course there should be a break

    This is Britain not the US

  11. Ben says:

    A full break is excessive and ugly. No break at all is too short and rides up too far when not standing perfectly still. Somewhere between the tiniest bend and a half break is appropriate. A tailor recently returned a pair of trousers with a bit more break than I’d normally prefer – similar to the half-break on the above illustration – and I’ve found that it actually does look very good when I’m walking or sitting. I’m not one for simply standing there, so that’s alright by me.

  12. John. says:

    I would like to add that I don’t like the illustration of the “full break.” If the line at the back of the pants is distorted, then it isn’t a break, they are just too long.

  13. Miami Mike says:

    There’s a guy running for office here who evidently thinks a full, double, super break is the height of sartorial elegance and is sure to get him elected. He looks like Larry the Lounge Lizard in his father’s four sizes too large rumpled hand-me-down suit – he DESPERATELY needs a tailor (a coherent platform wouldn’t hurt either). If I liked him more and wanted to see him win, I’d tip him off. Judging politicians by their content is a fool’s errand, it is always zero, all that is left is to judge them by their appearance. May the best tailored win.

  14. Miami Mike says:

    Update on “May the best tailored win”. Mr. slept-in-his-suit lost, he got 35% of the vote, the other candidate got 65%. Sic transit gloria tailori.