Give me a break – the length of men’s trousers

Michael Jackson was famous for wearing trousers that showed his socks. You might think the half masted look is a little odd, but for the moon-walking superstar, peculiar was normal.

But how should mens trousers be worn? Full break, half break or no break at all? Let’s find out.

What are breaks?

Primer trouser breaks
Because life is hard, and sometimes trousers need a break
Source: Primer Magazine
The break is where the bottom of your trouser meets your shoe, creating a fold in the cloth. A quarter break, or a half break is where there is less of a fold, but still a noticeable kink.

Longer trousers mean more than one fold or break. Go too long and your trousers will look like they don’t fit.

When there is no break, the bottom of the trouser sits perfectly at the top of the shoe around the ankle.

Suit trousers

medium Break
Suiting simplicity
Source: Effortless Gent
If it’s time for that business meeting, then you need to make sure your suit trousers touch the top of your shoes. A full break is fine, but a half or quarter break looks better.

To make sure they are the right length, look at the back of the shoe. This will take some flexibility, a mirror, or a friend. The leg of the trouser should stop just over half way down the back of the shoe.

One man famous for his socks, hasn’t quite got his break options correct. Channel 4 news reader, Jon Snow has taken the ‘no break’ thing to new levels.

on Snow socks for help the heroes
Breaking the rules for Help the Heroes
Source: Brand Rapport

Chino

Chinos with one break
Anyone afraid of red trousers?
Chinos are a versatile classic, perfect for a stroll at the weekend, and similarly suitable for the boardroom

For formal occasions, chinos should be worn with no break. As they have a loose fit, a full break will ruin the line of the trousers and deter from the smartening effect of formal shoes.

When keeping things casual with standard fit chinos, a full break will help exude relaxed vibes. To really show the shape of slim fitting chinos, wear with no break at all.

Jeans

Light Stonewash Thermal Jeans
I bet you can’t tell they are thermal jeans?
Most of us wear jeans for casual occasions, whether traditional denim, the alternative of moleskin, or lightweight cotton options. But though there are several different fabric to choose from, it’s important to get the break correct.

With no break your socks are always on show, so make sure they aren’t embarrassing ones. The safer option is to go for a half break – suitably casual, without looking too long.

When jeans are too long, with more than one break, you run the risk of soggy, frayed, disheveled hems.

Cords

Green cords with a break
Booting in the cords
Cords are hardwearing and come in an abundance of colours, but it’s important to know how to wear them.

Mens cord trousers are often worn as part of a casual country outfit. A full break is too casual for the heritage look. A simple half break will sit perfectly with a pair of comfy winter boots and similarly well with country brogues.

Cords and brogues
Kicking it in the brogues
Source: Ask Andy About Clothes

Michael Jackson was able to get away without a break, but for the rest of us, there are rules to follow. First, learn the breaks and then learn which one you need for your trousers. Get this wrong and you will look a bit peculiar, but get it right, and you’ll be the most stylish gent around.

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