Sat. May 30th, 2020

The Best Ways To Have Your Dress Pants Look & Fit

4 min read

In order to find the right pair of dress pants for you, there are surprisingly a variety of factors that you will want to consider before you make a purchase.

Here is a breakdown of the most important considerations before you click the buy now button:

Selecting The Right Dress Pant Cut

Dress pants come in a variety of cuts including the following:

  • Slim
  • Skinny
  • Tailored
  • Straight
  • Athletic
  • Relaxed

Finding the right one for your body type is difficult.  Especially when you factor in seasonal fluctuations of your body weight.

So, if you are purchasing a pair for the very first time and are unsure of what may work for you, we would recommend going to a store.

We aren’t talking about your local big box retailer, but rather one that has a stylist on-site that can guide you in the right direction – think J. Crew, Scotch & Soda, Bonobos, Peter Manning (great for shorter men), or even Club Monaco.

There you can try on a variety of dress pants with different cuts to get an idea of what works for you.

But if you just aren’t by a large city or simply don’t feel like dealing with any sales pressure, online retailers like Bonobos are pretty clear on how their cuts differ.

Check out this excellent chart that Bonobos put together demonstrating the different cuts in their dress pant line:

There you can easily see that the Athletic cut will be best suited for men who skew a bit larger while the Tailored cut is for medium sized men looking for a more contemporary look.

How The Length Of Your Dress Pants Should Fit

When compared to some of the other pants in your wardrobe (namely jeans and chinos), dress pants will sit just a little bit higher on the hip.

Furthermore, the length of dress pants will also be slightly shorter as well.

Unlike jeans that will rest comfortably on the top of your shoe, dress pants cuffed or straight, should extend to the back center of your dress shoe.

In just about all cases, no dress pant that you purchase online or at a local retailer will fit perfectly.  So, expect to bring your pants to your neighborhood tailor to have them hemmed.

For men that want to have a more contemporary look, a higher cut on the dress pant is ok – as demonstrated in the Stretch Italian Trousers by Bonobos:

However, just know that this look is a bit more trendy and won’t be as timeless as having the pant extend to the length of your shoe.

Cuffed vs Un-cuffed

Largely a personal choice, cuffed bottoms do provide some utility to the dress pants themselves.

Adding a slight bit of weight to the bottom will make it easier for the dress pants to remain straight throughout the day.

While cuffed pants may provide utility, un-cuffed pants will provide not only a cleaner and more streamlined look, but will also be a bit more contemporary as well.

If you are one to follow the norm, most dress pants on the market will not have cuffs.

Belt Or Suspenders

Nearly all dress pants will feature belt loops as a way to ensure that your pants remain fastened while worn.

However, when looking at more the super luxury brands or even Italian sourced pants, you will come across dress pants that don’t have belt loops.

In these instances, you will want to make sure that you have a pair of suspenders on hand to wear with the pants.

While a properly fitted dress pant should never slide off your hip, the additional assurance of suspenders will be favored by men.

Just be sure that if you plan on wearing suspenders, make sure that you wear a sport jacket or blazer in order to not call too much attention to yourself.

And of course, depending on the type of suspenders that you own, you will want to make sure the pants do have buttons inside the waistband.


Coming in either single or double varieties (with the latter being much rarer), pleats are great for men looking for a bit more fabric to allow for a greater range of motion in their pants.

Like cuffs, pleats are largely a utility choice rather than one of style.

If you are looking for a more contemporary and sophisticated look, you will want skip on pleats when picking up a pair of dress pants.

Overall Fit

It bears repeating that dress pants aren’t jeans, khakis, or chinos.

They should be a bit more form fitting than all the pant options mentioned.

The goal of dress pants is to draw attention upward to your face:

Original Picture Source:

But be sure to look out for problem areas when trying on a pair of dress pants.

They shouldn’t bunch up around the crotch or thighs and should still provide you with effortless range of movement when both walking and sitting.

Where To Buy Dress Pants

There’s a reason why companies like Amazon are investing so heavily in clothing (source – pay wall) – purchasing a pair of dress pants online is really difficult.

Especially given the fact that its estimated that around 40% of online clothing purchases get returned (source).

With that being said, here are a few retailers we wanted to direct you towards that not only have favorable return policies, but may actually make dress pant shopping a bit easier.

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