8 Style Tips for Wearing Pants the Right Way

pants in a store

Men’s pants | Craig Barritt/Getty Images for NYMag

What can you say about pants? You need them, you love them, you hate them, and you seem to wear the same ones in rotation over the course of your week. To keep your head from spinning out of control because there are so many ‘right’ choices when it comes to the types of pants you wear, here are eight important things you need to know about them to maintain great style.

1. Loose fitting pants are in

Men wearing loose-fitting pants

Men wearing loose-fitting pants | iStock.com

Don’t read that incorrectly: Slim pants are still in and are arguably the most flattering garments you can wear no matter your size, rather, a wider-leg trouser is in and can easily be swapped in for your slimmer cut trousers. These pants are meant to look easy going, and work best in fabrics like flannel, tweed, and corduroy, and as GQ suggests with a “crisp white sneaker.” Wider-leg trousers will take your outfit from one that’s rigid to one that’s more relaxed. “The key here is to make the looser-fitting pants look like you wore them on purpose,” the magazine adds.

2. It’s OK to tailor your pants to your ankle, but stop after that 

Man wearing pants that hit at the ankle

Man wearing pants that hit at the ankle | Pixabay

If sartorially savvy Italian gentleman have taught us anything, it’s that it’s OK to show some ankle cleavage. That being said, your pants should hit near the top of your ankle. You should not be going above that point because there’s a thin line of looking fashionable rather than like you’re wading through a puddle. For the season, take advantage and go sockless.

3. Never pleated, always flat front

Man wearing trousers

Man wearing trousers | iStock.com

Your work attire, specifically your pants, should never, ever be pleated. It tends to make your hips look really bulky and subsequently very unattractive. Think of them as “Dad Pants,” the “Mom Jean” counterpart. They make most men bigger, and if you’re a slender man, it can make you look even smaller.

Granted if you have a larger shape, an extra pleat may give you that extra room you need, but if you’re a slim man, then it’s definitely a no. Instead, always opt for a flattering flat front pant, a formalwear staple of the stylish man. Beware though — because with a flat front, the perfect fit is everything.

4. Say ‘no’ to jeans with embroidery

Jeans in a drawer

Jeans in a drawer | iStock.com

File this style under: “Never should have happened” and “deeply regret.” While the style has taken many different forms in womenswear, in menswear this trend was something of a bad dream. The style is unsophisticated, and it just doesn’t match the current menswear trends. There’s no reason to ever wear jeans with any kind of embroidery or detail, lest fear being dubbed sartorially un-savvy.

5. There’s a fine line between skinny and slim, don’t cross it 

Man posing in jeans

Man posing in jeans | iStock.com

Let’s clearly define both. First, skinny jeans/pants are those that are this close to being skin tight if they aren’t already. Skinny pants are most associated with emo/punk culture, where many guys would borrow their girlfriends jeans — think Russell Brand. Slim pants are meant to be a tailored look and fit straight from the waist to the knees to your ankles with no billowing in the thigh, and you should have no problem pulling them up or down. Slim pants are meant to hug you in all the right places, and have been the go-to in menswear for the past several years with no indication that the trend is going anywhere. That said, there is a line between “fits well” and “fits too tight” and you’ll be able to tell by simply looking in the mirror: You shouldn’t see the outline of your quad muscles.

Another way to tell if they’re too tight is that you should be able to fit your entire hand into your front pocket. If not, they’re way too tight and you need a pair that’s much roomier.


6. A cuff or a roll can really add to your outfit

man in denim jacket and glasses

Man in denim jacket and glasses | iStock.com/itman__47

Rolling your jeans can give them a little extra personality, so long as you start with the right fitted pair. There are several different rolls to try that can really up the cool factor of your jeans or chinos. Here is your full-proof Cheat Sheet guide on how to properly roll your jeans.

When it comes to your trousers, suit expert Jon Tietz for GQ offers this easy upgrade suggestion that will leave you looking like an expert Italian dresser: The pant cuff. Sound simple? It is. By simply adding a tailored cuff to your pants, you’re upping the value and style of your suit tenfold. Take your suit pants to the tailor and have them put a 1.5 inch cuff on them to crank up your suit style. This should cost no more than $15 to $20. Not to mention, this style also exposes your ankles for a little sock action or even some sockless action.

7. No type of pant should be baggy or pool around the ankle

Distressed jeans

Distressed and baggy jeans | iStock.com

The key to pant length is the break, i.e. where your pants fall on your shoes and create a horizontal crease in the fabric. You want a small break so that pants skim the shoes, but not too long so the creased fabric flaps. Pooling around the ankle? Uncool.

8. Don’t overdo it with the ripped pants

Stylish man in selvedge jeans

Stylish man in selvedge jeans | iStock.com

As long as you make sure your knees are properly moisturized beforehand, wearing ripped jeans can be the coolest thing you do all day or all season: Exuding punk-rock vibes through ripped denim. Make sure you don’t overdo it, though. A few shreds, scrapes, and strategically placed rips at the knee are sufficient to nail this trend.

So please, don’t do as Kanye does.