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Men's Dress Pant Styles

Naima T. Fleming
black pants hanging in wardrobe closet

When it comes to developing a wardrobe you can rely on, owning enough pants is a must for men. Whether a man spends his days in an office, or his weekends enjoying leisure dinners and other events that may require him to dress up - he should have a variety of pants to choose from when getting dressed.

Different Types of Dress Pants

For men, having a wardrobe that consists of items that work with a range of lifestyle events and occurrences is ideal. You should have a selection of pants to choose from so that you are dress code ready. Here are some of the most popular styles:

Flat Front

The ideal dress pant design for men who are thin are flat front pants. Not only is this type flattering on men who have leaner builds, but flat front pants also have a modern appeal. This style dress pant is great for both casual and formal business settings.

Pleated

According to Lanieri.com, pleated pants are better suited for men who are on the heavier side. Often, pants with pleats provide more material in the waist and leg area to accommodate men with wider hips or thighs, and add balance and proportion for men with broader shoulders. Although this style complements heavier men, men who have medium or slim build can also wear this type of dress pant.

Wide Leg

As with a pleated dress pant design, wide leg dress pants are best for men who are larger on top. Whether a man has a belly, or a wide rear area, wide-leg pants will balance his lower and upper body.

Cuffed

A special touch on dress pants that adds a modern and elegant look are cuffs. The cuff of dress pants should be different for various heights. According to style blog Real Men, Real Style, the proper width of trouser cuffs should be 1 ½ inches for a man under 5'10" and 1¾ inches if taller. If a man is shorter, the cuff should be 1¼ inches in width instead of the conventional 1 1/2 inches.

Slim Fit

For a clean and fashionable appearance, men who are thin and tall should consider a slim fit dress pant. A dress pant of this type will fit a slender man's physique the best and can be made as a flat front, pleated, or cuffed design.

Dress Pant Fit

Often when a man sets out to purchase a pair of pants and searches for something suitable for professional outings he is looking for dress pants. Also known as suit pants or trousers, dress pants are often tailored to fit a man's body and are made of quality materials.

  • There are a couple of ways a man could gauge the proper fit of his dress pants. Although many dress pants have belt loops, the pants should fit well around the waist without bagging. The purpose of a belt with dress pants is to lightly cinch in the waist. Dress pants that fit too big in the waist would make the material gather under a belt.
  • The seat of the pants should not fit too tightly or be too baggy as both are a sign of ill-fitting pants. Instead, the back of a man's pants should be smooth, with just enough room for movement and without being too loose with a lot of material.
  • Throughout the thigh, the fit should be comfortable without being too baggy. In fact, when the fit along the waist and the seat of the pants are good, the line of the legs should be no more than about one inch from the inner and outer thigh of the legs.
  • The rise of the pants should follow the natural shape and size of the body.
  • The break, which refers to how the material sits on your shoe when you're standing, is a personal preference of how the pant leg sits or doesn't sit on your footwear.

Common Dress Pant Materials

Many of the dress pants for men are made of woolen blends or woven wool. There are three common types of wool dress pants for men.

  • Gabardine is a tightly woven fabric that is medium-weight. Dress pants made of wool gabardine are durable and will keep you warm throughout the winter months, making them the ideal dress pant to own if you live in a cool climate or one with cold winters. Their durability means that you will likely use for years to come.
  • Poly-wool blend dress pants are lightweight and made of fabric that is a combination of polyester and wool. Also known as a sturdy and breathable choice, poly-wool blend pants are ideal for those who live in a warmer climate.
  • The term worsted wool dates back to the 12th century when the English city of Worsted became a manufacturing center of cloth weaving. Dress pants made of worsted wool are typically lightweight and are ideal for layering on mildly cold days.
  • Lightweight wool isn't as bulky or thick as gabardine and it is lighter in weight. This material is also great for layering during the winter months.

In addition to wool and wool blends some of today's modern dress pants are being designed with Supima cotton, special cotton blends, or microfiber.

Occasions

When dates arise on the calendar that requires you to dress up, pants made of the wool textures or materials listed above appear most formal. The type of lifestyle scenarios most suitable for dressier styles are important business meetings, weddings, and any other event that requires classy attire. Whether made in print or in a solid color, wool pants are the best choice when a blazer or dress shirt is required. However, depending on the occasion or event, other dress pant materials can be perfectly acceptable.

How Casual Pants Differ

Casual pants differ from dress pants in terms of fit, material and style.

Casual Pant Fit

For casual office settings or weekends, casual pants are more comfortable and less formal than dress pants. They are also different in terms of fit:

  • According to Iamalpham.com, casual pants and jeans do not have to fit as precisely as dress slacks.
  • As with dress pants, the seat of casual pants should not be too baggy or too tight. A comfortable fit is suggested that provides room for movement.
  • The fit of the leg on a casual pair of pants a varies. For instance, if wearing a pair of chinos, the leg should be comfortably close to the leg without causing resistance. If wearing jeans, the leg fit is different based on the style of jean.
  • When shopping for casual pants consider a pair that has a regular or high rise, depending on your height and torso.
  • With casual pants, opt for less of a break with sneakers or casual footwear such as low cut boots.

Casual Pant Materials

Casual pants also differ from dress pants in terms of fabric. They are made of different forms of cotton or cotton blends providing a more comfortable feel.

  • Chino pants are often made with of a lightweight 100 percent cotton or cotton-blend fabric in a tighter weave.
  • Khakis are often designed in a heavyweight 100 percent cotton twill fabric.
  • Denim is also made from a cotton twill, but has a different warp and weft to create the denim style.
  • Corduroy material is ribbed cut cotton, described as wales, used to make casual pants.

Casual Styles

While some casual pant styles are similar to dress pants, there are others that are different. Skinny pants or jeans are best reserved for casual wear and not normally seen in dress styles though some contemporary dress pants are very slim cut. On the other end of the spectrum, oversize and cargo pants are not usually seen as dress styles and should be warn only in casual settings.

How to Pick the Most Flattering Pants

If you have been thinking about stepping up your game in the style department, keep a few things in mind while shopping for pants that will flatter your body type.

  • When selecting the best style and deciding between flat or pleated dress pant designs, you will need to determine the fit and look you want. Also consider your build and what will work best with it.
  • You should also be aware of your measurements. While at home or in the store, use a tape measure to gauge your waist and inseam measurements. In the event that you have a challenge with sizing, consider using a tailor.

Add This Essential to Your Closet

Owning flattering dress pants is key to building the best wardrobe. Regardless of your lifestyle, making a grand entrance in a handsome and well put-together ensemble begins with the right pair of dress pants.

Men's Dress Pant Styles