Proper pant fit is important because pants that are too loose or too tight draw attention. Too loose and we can end up looking clownish while wearing pants that are too small can bunch up in awkward places or make our pockets protrude from our hips. We want people to be paying attention to our faces, not our pants. Nicholas Taverna of Primer says “Pants will mostly be in the background of an outfit, serving as a foundation for the foreground of your shirt or outerwear.”
So how do we figure out if a pair of pants fits properly? While there is a lot of advice out there on lots of different sites, the basics can be boiled down to the lengths of the waist, the leg, and the rise.
The waist is the distance from the button to the button hole. Depending on the type of pants we’re wearing, we’re going to want a different waist size. Basically, the more formal the pants, the higher on the waist we’re going to wear it. There’s a lot of flexibility to this rule so it’s best to remember that the pants should fit comfortably and shouldn’t fall off without a belt or suspenders.
The rise is the length from the waistline to the inseam. Though not included in any measurements I’ve ever seen, the rise is an important consideration because it determines how much room we have in the crotch. The higher we wear our pants, the longer the rise will have to be. We know the rise is too low when things get cramped when we sit down.
While length is one of the most important considerations when determining the fit of our pants, there is no one right length for any body type or style. The most important thing to consider is the break of the fabric. The break is the fold the bottom of the pants leg makes as it rests upon the top of the shoe. A smaller break can make us appear taller while a full break – or fold – can shorten our perceived height.
As a final note, don’t rely too much on labeled sizes. Even a pair of pants by the same manufacturer can fit differently from each other. And the most important thing is to wear something that we feel comfortable in. At least 50 percent of fashion is confidence so it’s important we wear something we think looks good and feels good.
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