Jodhpur pants on international runways, changing lengths, eye-catching prints, experimental fits—designer Rahul Khanna of Cue calls this the age of revolution for pants. If there’s one piece in a man’s attire that could do with a transformation, it’s the trousers, because the fit of your pants can make or break your outfit and decide whether you’re dressed up or dressed down. But, “it’s the hardest thing to get men to experiment with trousers,” says designer Ravi Bajaj. However, there are so many things you can do to change the look of your trousers by bending just a few traditional rules.
The long and short of it
Your tailor has probably told you that the length of your trousers should be such that your socks are not visible when you walk. As a rule, the pant leg ends at the top of your shoe heel, with one or two creases at the ankle. Any shorter, and it would look ill-fitting and clumsy.
Detailing can transform a pair of simple black trousers (Photo by: Ravi Bajaj)
But this season, the Italians are designing suits that are slimmer—the jackets are shorter, as are the pants. “Men worry that their legs will look too thin, but that’s the look this season,” says Khanna. The pant break can be shorter, and should hit the top of the shoe with no crease in the trouser leg. This fitted, tapered look is now in style, and while it is not age-specific, a trim torso is a basic requirement.
Bajaj has been wearing his pants at this length for a long time and says this is the best way to use socks as a style accessory. “Let your socks be visible just a little bit. They can add colour to your look,” he says. Designer Arjun Saluja suggests pairing red plaid socks with a black trouser to make a stylish statement.
Taking the skinny pants to another level is the churidar fit. Seen on the runways of Hugo Boss, Gucci and Alexander McQueen, this trouser leg is slimmer and fits like a churidar with creases at the ankle. “It’s inspired by Jodhpur-style breeches but looks good only if worn in a causal setting,” says Mohan Neelakantan, consulting fashion editor, Elle and NDTV Good Times. A pair of churidar-style chinos or khakis with a kurti-style T-shirt and sandals is one way to dress informally, according to him.
True style lies in the details. The trimmings, the embroidery, the piping and the buttons are little elements that can give a different look to the same old trouser. “Try pin-tucks (a narrow fold of fabric stitched together to create the appearance of a stripe) running down the front of your trousers, to a length of 3-5 inches,” says Delhi-based designer Samant Chauhan, who retails his menswear line at Aza Men and Bombay Electric in Mumbai.
Don’t reserve checks only for shirts (Photo by: Gucci)
Satin shouldn’t just bring lingerie to mind. A satin band or piping on the edge of the pockets and on the seams in the same tone as your pants can add that bit of gloss. If you want colour, then go for a contrast such as a pink band with grey trousers.
For those who never got completely comfortable with flat front trousers, a single pleat is fine as long as the pants don’t bunch up at the crotch. Trouser cuffs are another highly debated embellishment. While they’re mostly seen on pleated trousers, cuffs add “that something unique to any trouser”, says Lancy D’Silva, manager, Made to Measure, Brioni, Mumbai. However, cuffs cut out height and work best on tall men.
If attention to detail is your thing, then go for funky linings for your trouser pockets and inside seams. “Get linings in bright colours, bold prints and textured fabrics,” says Chauhan. Or match the lining of your suit jacket and trouser pocket.
CHANGE YOUR STRIPES
Checked trousers don’t have to look good only at a golf course. Experiment with old British weaves such as plaid, herringbone, houndstooth and stripes. “Woven fabrics are what you want when you are looking to experiment with prints,” says Khanna. He believes in a muted look, and suggests that such prints are best worn with plain shirts in basic colours such as navy, beige and black. “Tall and slim people can carry off plaid trousers well,” adds Bajaj.
Flashing a bit of sock is no longer a faux pas (Photo by: Gucci)
Saluja’s style is a little edgy and, according to him, if you have the attitude and a fit body, matching two prints, like pairing checked trousers with a vertical striped shirt is a great option. “But I don’t like big, bold prints. I prefer intricate plaid and stripes and concentrated patterns,” he adds. Bajaj is also a fan of prints and recently designed a line of jacquard print trousers that he says were a sellout. He owns a floral pair of pants, but acknowledges that these are not for everyone.