Why Men Are Scared Of Real Trousers


It often seems odd quite how many men wear jeans outside the office, and no other trousers. I was sitting in a taxi with three friends a while ago, all facing each other as you are in a black cab, and it struck me that we were all wearing mid-blue jeans, in a vaguely straight cut, without any distressing or rips. They were pretty much interchangeable.

And then you go into the pub, and look around, and realise that all the other men are wearing the same thing as well. It’s a little spooky when you start noticing it.

Everyone knows why jeans are popular. They’re comfortable, hard-wearing and universally accepted. But as important, I think, is that they are a great backdrop to other colours, clothes and textures. The material and colour of blue jeans means they go with black and white, bright colours and muted colours, shirt and t-shirt.

They go with everything. And they effectively separate socks/shoes from shirt/jacket as well, so you don’t have to worry about harmonising these other items.

I find this with the unusual items I buy – the bright green jacket or spectator shoes, for example, that have featured in previous posts. When I’m considering buying an unusual item, my first thought is “it’s alright, I’ll wear it with jeans.” And they do both look great with jeans; it is that bit harder to combine them well with suits or flannels. My problem is I end up with too many unusual items and wearing nothing but jeans!

Those in the US have it slightly easier. For them chinos are almost as ubiquitous as jeans, and while the former is not quite as adaptable, it does mean the Americans are trained to matching a different material with the other items in their wardrobe. Not just jeans.

trousers-scaredThis also leads me onto my suggested solution for British men. Stay with your favoured material, cotton, but experiment with different permutations. Try cords, chinos, gabardine. Try different weights and weaves in each of those – within what you might think of as chinos, for example, is a world of materials from the very rough to the very smart, the heavy to the lightweight.

Don’t wear suit trousers, please. In London you often see men wearing worsted wool (suit) trousers with trainers and t-shirts and, while it can occasionally look funky, you never think to yourself – ‘oh yeah, that really works.’ It is unusual and that’s all.

Finally, experimenting with different cottons will help men survive the summer. As the temperature increases, you see men gradually shedding layers and shoes, until they are in thin t-shirts, flip-flops and jeans. They never lose the jeans. No matter how heavy they are, they never lose them until (deep breath) it just gets too sweaty and they plunge into shorts.

There are other options. Don’t be scared of real trousers.


Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.


  1. I can say that I probably most often wear jeans because they are low maintenance. Other types of trousers generally require ironing. And while American men do have the chino as an office staple, unfortunately if you look at the average american office, you’ll find little evidence that they “are trained to matching a different material with the other items in their wardrobe.”

  2. I disagree that jeans are comfortable. I think people say that, because a) there is little chance to disagree, and b) they never try anything else to compare it to. Jeans are brainless. Pure and simple. I asked an associate one day at lunch why they looked forward to casual days and jeans so much and their response was, “I don’t have to think.” I believe that gentleman hit the proverbial nail on the head.

  3. Dandy Dan says:

    Especially for the summer, when lightweight jackets can be paired with lighter-weight trousers such as stone chinos or linen trousers; this lends more versatility to one’s wardrobe and opens up more seasonally-suitable options in the warmer weather.

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more, because of this I stopped wearing blue jeans. Once when going out to lunch with colleagues I noticed that out of ten people, I was the only one not in blue jeans. I want to stand out and not be another sheep, also I find chinos more comfortable. Now that it’s summer, I’m wearing light cotton trousers with white being my favourite choice for summer, while around me, my colleagues are still stuck in the same old blue jeans. One friend asked me once why am I not wearing jeans and I told him why and he said that there is nothing easier than getting up in the morning and not having to think about what to wear – I on the other hand enjoy choosing what to wear every morning and I feel proud when I put together a good combination.

  5. Bespoken for says:

    American men don’t have it much easier — chinos on a weekend conjures an image of a middle-aged, over-weight, suburbanite who gave up on style a long time ago.

    Where the American man does get the advantage is if he is willing to channel a preppy look. Lightweight unstructured khakis (is that what you meant by chinos?) can work, but usually as a beach-going look or an ironic city style. Linen (especially in pastels) and madras are also preppy alternatives to jeans. But short of looking fresh off the ferry from Nantucket or East Hampton, jeans are it.

  6. Simon Crompton says:

    Many thanks to you all for your comments.
    I agree that the comfort of jeans is exaggerated, especially as most men wear them in such thick weaves.
    Also, I always find it odd when people say they don’t have to think about wearing jeans. Once you know a few guidelines, wearing a suit is actually easier and requires less thought (if that’s your aim).


  7. I must say that I rarely think jeans as an “easy” choice. They generally look out of the place pretty much everywhere – if I go to pub or gig, they’re a bit too “country-casual”. In daily use they just feel wrong – too thick, too uncomfy and rarely satisfying aesthetically. And matching them satisfyingly is very, very hard.

    When it comes to my daily “casual” choices, they vary around the jeans style cut, but made of corded twill, different checks, stripes etc. of cotton, linen etc. materials. Rather narrow and showing a bit of sock. As shoes I use neat sneakers (such as Adidas’ Rod Laver Vintage).

    I don’t currenly own even a single pair of jeans. And I’m an young man with a rather relaxed – but carefully thought, depending always on situation – style.

    I think that the whole “jeans are easy” -mantra belongs to 40+ generation.