I was recently able to reconnect with a friend I haven’t seen in a few years. He asked me if we’re still running the website which then transitioned into him asking for help on his wardrobe. This friend of mine is a pretty cool guy and he didn’t seem like he dressed poorly but he just didn’t know what to do about pants.
Manny and I have talked about many types of pants or trousers but because of my interaction with my friend, I think it’s necessary to sum up the info together into one post so that guys who are having trouble figuring out what type of pants to buy can know what to do.
We continually stress that you don’t need a lot of clothes, nor do you need anything really flashy to look good and this definitely applies to buying pants. For anyone who is lost out there, all you need are 3 different pairs of pants to look good. That’s it.
Again, the Basics
Before I get into which pants specifically you should be targeting, you need to remember there’s 2 criteria we stress repeatedly for clothing and your pants are no exception:
Proper fit is key. The highest quality, most expensive pair of pants in the world cannot overcome a poor fit. What exactly makes for proper fit? Easy:
- Straight leg/slim fit (but not tight!)
- Slight taper at the leg opening
- Medium Rise (high how the pants go up your waist)
Of course, if your legs are super jacked or you’re super skinny, you’ll need to adjust the cut of the pants accordingly but the overall look should satisfy the above conditions.
You want the pants to be interchangeable with as many different pieces of clothing in your wardrobe as possible and ideally, you should be able to dress the pants up or dress them down and be able to wear them in multiple seasons. You’ll find that 3 different pairs of versatile pants are more than enough to create a seemingly endless number of different outfits.
Pant #1: Dark Jeans
If I had to pick just one type of pants to wear for the rest of my life it would be dark jeans. What makes them so great? Versatility. They are pants that you can dress up or dress down for any occasion, can be paired with almost everything and can be worn in every season.
They are so versatile that I’ve written a comprehensive series on how to wear them casually, how to wear them in the fall, and how to wear them in the winter. If you need style inspiration on how to put together different looks with jeans, I recommend that you check out those articles if you haven’t already.
What about brands? Those of you with larger legs looking for a premium pair of jeans should take a look at Olympvs Jeans. We’ve reviewed them in the past and they’re at the top of our recommendation list. Their jeans are made with care in Italy and have a special hyperstretch technology which allows for a perfect fit and full range of motion. Keep in mind that they are based out of the UK so shipping and duty fees might be a bit of an issue. They told us that they are trying to get North American distributors so keep an eye out for that.
Those of you looking for a cheaper option can’t go wrong with Levis. They produce basic dark washed jeans that are decently priced, good quality and come in many different cuts to ensure a good fit. I recommend checking out the new 502s in Rigid Envy. Apparently they are replacements for the 522s and 508s which fit my athletic legs extremely well and the 502s also have stretch technology which is a game changer in terms of comfort if you have large legs.
Pant #2: Chinos
Here’s another type of pants that can be dressed up or dressed down. They key is to buy something towards the less dressier spectrum so you can wear them casually. This means you want to buy chinos rather than khakis. Chinos are a lighter weight cotton without seams which make the transition to dressing down much smoother.
My absolute favorite chino is the J. Crew 770 Stretch Chino. Manny has been raving about these for the past year and I finally got a pair in navy for myself and I am thoroughly impressed. The pants are a slim fit but they are not tight. The stretch allows for me to move without restriction. Style and comfort: can’t beat that combo.
We’ve covered how to wear them in the winter with some really sharp dressier examples but these pants can absolutely be worn casually for the warmer weather that’s just coming around the corner. Here’s what I plan to do once the sun starts shining:
In the above example, nothing fancy is going on and I picked everything from J.Crew. As you can see, the pants go extremely well with a well-fitted t-shirt, a light coloured pair of sneakers such as Vans, and a casual belt to tie it together. As an aside, I would be cuffing the pants and going with no-show socks in the above outfit to keep the harmony of a casual look.
Pant #3: A Dressier Pant
One of the best ways to stand out in a positive way is to incorporate a nicely fitted pair of dress pants into your wardrobe. Although I don’t recommend dressing these down to a completely casual look, you can definitely pull off casual-polished. The key is finding a pair of pants that don’t look overly formal. J.Crew’s Bowery line is a really good collection that looks just casual enough so that you can wear them informally.
The high end look is obviously easy to do with a dressier pant. Here’s an example where I’m wearing grey heather cotton pants from J.Crew’s Bowery Line, Allen Edmonds Strands, a white dress shirt and a made-to-measure blazer. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone dressed more sharply than me with this classic look.
An easy way to pull off a polished-casual look with dressier pants is to use sweaters. I often wear the pants with a dress shirt, a chunky sweater such as a shawl collar cardigan or donegal and a slick pair of shoes. Below, I’ve paired the J. Crew Bowery pants with a lightly patterned business casual dress shirt from Batch Shirts, a J. Crew shawl collar sweater, Allen Edmonds Strands and a L.L Bean braided leather belt.
What if you wanted to wear these pants for the warmer months? Easy. A classic look I go to again and again is the above look but without the sweater. The key to keeping the look casual is to make sure you roll up your sleeves. Pretty simple isn’t it?
What About Colours?
For the jeans, your workhorse pair should always be plain and dark. You can start playing around with lighter fades if you want to get a second pair.
For the chinos and pants, remember your goal is for them to be as versatile as possible. This means for the chinos, your best bet will be different shades of grey and brown, and of course navy. Depending on what you chose for your chinos, your pants can be shades of grey or blue. Experiment and see what looks best on you and what best complements what you already have in your wardrobe.
Like all things in life, the basics are key and less is more. You don’t need a closet full of pants to look sharp; all you need are 3 essential pieces. Be mindful of fit, versatility and the best colours for your complexion, you’ll sure to put your best foot forward in any situation you face.
Here’s to looking sharp!