At the dawn of the industrial age trouser patterns were systematized to include a J seam. It is a pretty convenient method for manufacture, and has also clothed our bottom halves since pretty much the Napoleonic wars.
Problem is of course that the J seam is a complete disaster! Having a flat piece of fabric from your waist to your foot only works if you don’t walk. But that’s a whole different story, let’s focus on the discussion at hand: Dressing to the side.
An important side effect of the J seam is that it requires a particular fit in the crotch to avoid disaster.
Too low and your bum sags, plus there’s additional stress placed on your crotch seam every time you step. Which is why a ripped crotch is your most common tear in pants.
Too high and we not only cut off circulation, but (the greater disaster) we get unsightly creases in the most inopportune places!
Hence the need to measure your inside leg when fitting pants. One could also measure from the waistband downward, but the curve of the fly would make this difficult to do accurately, and be even more intimate than measuring from the hem up.
In a standard construction this allows the crotch to fit a little lower than the jewels, making for a snug pair of trousers.
Segue to some entertaining, though apocryphal history: Legend has it that prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria) was so conscientious about how he dressed that be pinned himself to one side of his trousers with the aid of a genital piercing. ‘Which way do you dress’ is a polite way of asking ‘on which side of your pants is your member hanging’ so that we don’t get too personal when working in that region.
Safety is also a concern, as I’m in there with some very sharp pins, and don’t much see a business pivot towards acupuncture.
So the next time your tailor asks this question, simply answer with a ‘left’ or ‘right’. Some gentlemen wear baggy enough trousers to ‘hang straight’. Either you’d like this style replicated, or you’re at your tailor because you’re dissatisfied with this situation and want trousers with a higher crotch. In which case you’re straight hanging days are over and you’ll need to pick a side.
Measuring this seam accurately will allow your tailor to construct your crotch at the correct height, ensuring your trousers are neither sagging nor too tight. And if you’re one of those extra gents your tailor can cut the pattern with extra ease to the side you dress, allowing for maximum comfort.
Me? I dress how I vote: always to the left!!
For a sustainable way to keep things snugly in their preferred location, check out these cotton briefs from PACT Organic. I’m very happy with the socks I bought from them years ago, and reviewed them here
– If you want to know more about the world of Bespoke, these articles are for you –
–Introduction to Suits— Brief History of Suits – Suit Fit, The Trousers – Suit Fit, the Jacket – Suit Fit, the Waistcoat – Suit Fit, the Shirt — Off the Peg Suits – Made to Measure Suits – Bespoke Suits – Some Suit Mistakes –