If your pants are too short or too long, it can make for a nasty first impression. That's why it's important to give your pants the proper break. The trouser break is the point where the pant legs drape on your shoes, creating a horizontal fabric crease along the front. There are three types of breaks for men's pants: medium, full and short.
The Medium Break
Are you on the conservative side? Don't want anything too flashy? Then you may want to go with the industry standard--the medium break. Preferred by the Wall Street business-type, this cut creates a clean, semi-deep break across the pant leg. This is a good break for men of average height because the pant leg won't be too short, exposing the dress socks. Ask the tailor to cut the leg so that it lands midway on top of your loafer and down to the top of the heel.
The Full Break
Hip and trendy men tend to get a full break on their trousers. The full break has a deep crease along the front, creating a more modern and bold look. According to fashion writer Brandon Dyce, this is the look for men who are considered gamblers in life. However, this break isn't for everyone and looks much better on men who are taller. The additional length provided by the full break keeps the pants from looking too short on guys with a long stretch. At the tailor shop, make sure the tailor hems the pant leg to fall right at the top of the shoe sole.
The Short Break
According to writer Brandon Dyce, the short break is all about high fashion. The short break has no crease in the pant leg, creating a smooth, tailored look. A lot of expensive designers favor the short break, which looks best on slender men. But don't let that stop you from getting it. According to Dyce, the short break is for men who want to project a no-nonsense attitude. To achieve this look, the tailor must adjust the pant leg to land a little below the top of the dress shoe.
Nowadays, jeans are worn for more than hard labor or loafing around the house. Men are now wearing denim to work in lieu of slacks. But off-the-rack hems can be imprecise and ill-fitting, especially for men with a shorter inseam. Wash your new denim before having them adjusted. It's best to have them hemmed by a tailor. Jeans can be cut slightly longer than slacks but make sure your shoes don't get lost in excess fabric. However, a short break is usually done. Ask the tailor to use either the original thread or a matching thread to precisely recreate the original bottom stitch of your jeans.
Don't Forget Your Shoes
One thing to remember before going to the tailor shop: always bring whatever shoe you're going to wear with your pants. This helps the tailor get an accurate measurement as to where the break will be on your pants.
Ryan Thomas Riddle teaches creative writing for an after-school program in San Jose. Previously, he worked in broadcast news and has written several articles on the Filipino-American experience. Riddle holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Otis College of Art and Design.
Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media