With the current controversy surrounding the appropriate length of men’s pants, I thought I’d enter the fray to contribute my judgmental opinion on the matter. Although less is usually more, I’m personally not a fan of the cropped trouser hem, and here’s why.
(Looking fly with your hem tucked into your sock isn’t easy. But when you’re a trendsetter like Christiaan nothing can touch you!)
WTF is a break anyway?
Any conversation about pant’s hems will undoubtedly throw this word around a lot. A break is, by definition, an interruption in the fall of a garment. Your pants’ ‘break’ refers to the fold or dent caused when your hem touches your shoe.
The break is determined by a combination of your trouser’s length and the width of your trouser leg, so both of these should be considered when choosing your look.
A full break is a dent or fold that travels all the way around your leg as in the image above. A half break only goes half way around, same for a quarter break, 1/16th break, 3/14th break etc. Geddit?
The full break is a bit of a risky affair. Because the fold is caused by the shoe pushing your hem upwards, there’s a good chance of the back of your pants slipping under your heel, which really isn’t a sharp look at all.
Because this break requires a wider leg to sit properly (and not just look bunched), it’s pretty out of fashion at the moment with the skinny leg obsession. It is, to be honest, a pretty ‘dad’ style. To keep the structure of the full break neat, these pants also often include a cuff, which is again pretty old school.
Depending on your taste such pants can be great, as they’re a lot more breezy and flowing. Personally I find they flap too much when walking, but as always it’s about what mates you comfortable.
Personally this is my favorite. It says ‘I’m accomplished enough not to need to look like a teenager’, and ensures ankle coverage when you sit with your legs squared. This break also requires a bit of volume to the pants, forcing you to turn from the dark side of skinny fit.
In my personal experience this break also works with the broadest variety of shoes and styles, making it a good choice for a considered wardrobe.
I’ve found this style the most common among professionals who are also trend addicts. The high hem enables you to slim the legs down quite a bit, and you’re still covering the top of the shoe for a professional look.
As a tall person I’m too self conscious about my pants looking too short to sport this look, but I do think it’s a great style for the modern man.
Here we enter the danger zone, where the hem of your pants only brushes the top of your shoe.
You can still cover most of your shoe with no break if the pant leg is wide enough, but if you’re going this short you’re probably opting for a slim fit anyway. Which I’m not a huge fan of because from here it’s a slippery slope to…
Yes it looks fantastic, and really with the limited arsenal at our disposal in menswear something as simple as a shorter pant really is an entirely new trend. Plus it lets you show off your socks, which are one of the few extravagancies afforded to traditional gentlemen.
Problem is (don’t be sucked in by fashion imagery) your foot still needs to fit through the bottom of the pants. This means the hem can’t be too narrow, and although crops looks phenomenal on standing models in photo shoots, the hems flap about your lower calf a bit too much for my liking when you walk.
As a last word, roomier pants with a full break are making a bit of a come back! That’s just fashion for you, as soon as a trend gets underway it’s over and we’re on to the next thing ;) Military hems (where the back is longer than the front, as pictured below) are also a great way to have full shoe coverage without too much break.
The great thing about pants though, besides the crotch which is a b*th*ssmotherf*cking nightmare, is that they’re pretty easy to adjust. If you’re buying off the peg I’d suggest getting something slightly baggier and longer in the leg. Any seasoned tailor will do the adjustments without cutting away the excess fabric, meaning that you can keep changing up the fit with the trends.
If you want to read more about what a good fitting pair of pants looks like check out this post. And if you liked the images here I scraped them mainly off three of my go-to style sites; HeSpokeStyle.com, RealMenRealStyle.com and ArticlesOfStyle.com.